Ever get that feeling you’ve picked the wrong day? With drizzling rain and high winds greeting my walk to the festival grounds, I found myself despairing for the 20+ degree heat of glorious Saturday.
Thankfully the Real Ale tent was on hand for those wanting a proper pint as opposed to the solitary £5 Tuborg that most other festivals offer. Granted, by the time of our 4 pm arrival on site, most of the Ales had run out, but our pints was well worth the £5 outlay. There was also a small music stage set up next to the real ale tent, meaning we also had some music to soundtrack us as we waited it out in the winding queue. Josh Savage’s mix of alt-folk helped the time go by quicker.
That was perhaps one of the most impressive features of Victorious Festival. Yes, you may have the Main and Castle stages with the established names like ASH and Noel Gallagher, but everywhere you looked there seemed to be a small stage set. The stages were full of local artists playing to passers-by, whether they were queuing for a drink or sampling the vintage wares in the market stalls. There were also a high number of tribute bands playing a variety of hits from across the years. Usually, I’d argue that it’s original acts or nothing at a festival as large as Victorious, but somehow it slotted in right. There’s more of a laidback feel at this fest as compared to the often intense Reading Festival; it felt right that it had bands on who’d play the hits to a boozy and merry crowd.
So over to the Castle Stage. Jack Savoretti was someone who I’d heard good things about before the festival, and it’s easy to understand the hype. Falling in the crevice between Pop and Indie, he won over fans of both genres with an appealing blend of his soulful voice and his almost strategically upbeat choruses.
ASH are one of the most dependable bands on the circuit, and they didn’t disappoint here. Playing a tight show, but leaving enough points of interaction and sing-a-long, they got the crowd bouncing and shouting back every word of hits like ‘Girl From Mars,’ ‘Kung Foo,’ and ‘Shining Light.’ Newer tracks like ‘Machinery‘ did fall flat, and it was disappointing to hear nothing from the underrated A-Z series.
After the long walk back to the main stage we managed to slip back just in time for Echo & The Bunnymen, who played a solid set if nothing else. The wind was starting to play havoc with the sound and even in our prominent spots in the premium enclosure, we struggled at times to pick out much more than a vocal and baseline. It was for this reason that the crowd seemed at their most subdued, although frontman Ian McCulluch isn’t exactly famed for having an upbeat personality to rival Jedward either.
It seemed every man and his dog was here to see Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds, and they didn’t disappoint. Noel as ever was spirited, witty, and outspoken. The former Oasis man even found time to crack a joke at poor old Portsmouth FC’s travails in the depths of League 2. It was predictably the Oasis hits that drew the biggest sing-a-longs from the huge crowd; ‘Champagne Supernova,’ ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘Half The World Away,’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger‘ all got airings, much to the satisfaction of the merry crowd. That’s not to say that his solo material wasn’t well received, but it was pretty obvious that we were all there for his Oasis material.
The sound was a major issue, again. It’s hard to put total blame on the organizers as crosswinds of 30mph are always going to make a difference, but at the same time, you have to question the idea of putting it on Southsea seafront if there wasn’t a full contingency plan in place to overcome the wind.
All in all, a fantastic day out. Victorious is a festival that pays off best when you drop the focus off seeing every act possible and just take in the huge selection of stalls, stages and beer tents around you. We could have honestly attended the same day two or three times over and found loads to do, without even entering the top two stages.