Visiting the Isle of Wight is almost like a step back in time. A sleepy island of vast, jaw-dropping beaches, country lanes posing as main roads, and the nostalgic smell of antiquity (or is that rotting seaweed?), it’s a funny little place that has the power to whisk you away from the hum-drum metropolises of the mainland to a weekend of fresh crab and lobster and garlic ice-cream. You won’t find a motorway, an ASDA, or IKEA store on the tiny isle, and its size (23 miles East to West, 13 miles North to South) means the longest car journey will take you under an hour. It’s an island of pure escapism. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? Right.
It all started in the 60s. That time of good ol’ fashioned sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Widely acknowledged as Europe’s equivalent of Woodstock, and with the 1970 line up featuring Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, and Leonard Cohen, it’s no wonder over 600,000 people (do that many people even fit on the island?) made their way across the Solent to gather for a time of music and peace. After an unfortunately lengthy stop-gap between 1970 and 2002, John Giddings relaunched the festival as we know it today. Still one of the major UK festivals, and still absorbing and expelling music and peace, since 2002 the festival has hosted huge names such as The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Springsteen, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, The Strokes, The Police, Blonde, Biffy Clyro… the list of unimaginable enormity goes on.
Since 2002 the festival has hosted huge names such as The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Springsteen, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, The Strokes, The Police, Blonde, Biffy Clyro
So what’s in store for 2017?
What with Bestival moving sites from the island to Dorset (why tho), the Isle of Wight Festival must prove itself and stand alone to keep the island’s festival legacy alive. The first names you’ll see when scouring through the lie up posters are co-headliners French DJ and producer David Guetta and Run DMC. An interesting choice, seeing as last year we were treated to The Who and Queen with Adam Lambert. If you like incessant hip-pop beats then this’ll be for you. A disappointing Friday night headliner, in my humble opinion, but it’s like that, and that’s the way it is.
Saturday night brings it all back, for me, with the Canadian art rock band Arcade Fire. Let’s face it, this is the main/only reason I’m attending the festival this year. Win Butler and the gang have teased us throughout the year with hints at a new album, secret intimate gigs debuting new material, and cheekily released their new single ‘Everything Now’ on vinyl at Primavera Sound on Wednesday (selling out immediately). They’ve just signed to Columbia for their next two albums. Exciting things are happening. Arcade Fire are one of the bands you don’t want to can’t miss.
And where would we all be without a little bit of Rod Stewart in our lives? He’s one of the best-selling artists of all time (mainly thanks to mums everywhere), and has done more tours than I have fingers to count on. In 2012 he released a Christmas album. If that’s not the big league, I don’t know what is. We’ll all be sailing, across the Solent, to see you, Rod.
And where would we all be without a little bit of Rod Stewart in our lives?
(Side note: the ‘See Also’ tab in Stewart’s Wikipedia entry simply suggests ‘Crooner’, which I think sums it up quite nicely.)
Aside from the headliners however, there’s a plethora of bands awaiting their festival slot. Look forward to Kaiser Chiefs, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Kooks, Bastille, George Ezra, Clean Bandit, Scouting for Girls, and Razorlight, to name just the thick creamy surface layer of the bottle of full fat milk (that still gets delivered on your doorstep from the local milkman – does anywhere still even do that? Delicious nostalgia) that is Isle of Wight Festival. So many more vitamins await you.
PHEW. What a massive line up. I think I need a lie down now, preferably not on a roll mat in a tent… that can wait till next week.