Rockshot sent me to write a massive review of Victorious Festival 2017. To read about Days 1 & 3 and see some fantastic photos of the weekend snapped by photographer Simon Reed, follow this link.
On Saturday, Frank Turner performed a solo acoustic set at 1PM (“It’s decidedly weird playing at this time of day”. It was a joke that almost every act seemed to drop, up until about 5PM), and cheerily dwelled more on the identity of the festival and its location. He even did the unthinkable and make a point of uniting mortal enemy cities Portsmouth and Southsea to just be Hampshire for the weekend, as well as discussing a campaign to save Southampton venue The Joiners Arms, Performing ode to his home county ‘Wessex Boy’ and referring to Victorious as “OUR festival” meant that he didn’t do a bad job. In true Turner style, “Hampshire” was battled only by “fuck” for the title of Frank’s Most Used Word 2017.
Later on the Common Stage, Sundara Karma were given a run for their money for hip-shaking, from an unexpected source – Sonya Madan of Echobelly, who could not stop grinning for the whole of their criminally short set. The only moment at which the mood seemed deflated was when the audience responded with silence when new and brilliant track ‘If the Dogs Don’t Get You, My Sisters Will’. Madan sounded slightly deflated afterwards when introducing their next song – “This next song was a hit so I hope you will do your duties”. She needn’t have asked, as the audience followed her command along with fan favourite ‘Dark Therapy’.
The sound took an even moodier turn on the Castle Stage when London four-piece indie band Palace arrived to deliver their signature laidback, caked in echo effects at just the right tempo to watch what very few clouds were there, drift by. It was a much more celebratory atmosphere on the Common as current indie favourites The Hunna performed a show that marked the first anniversary of the release of their erratic debut album, to the largest crowd of their career. According to frontman Ryan Potter, not a bad looking crowd either – “This song requires a lot of sexy dancing, and there are a lot of sexy people out there”.
As to be expected as they are promoting an upcoming ‘best of’ album, Feeder engage the audience with a set built almost entirely from their best remembered singles. Ironically, while frontman Grant Nicholas stated that “I think we connected on that one”, new song ‘Figure You Out’ got very little reaction. Or at least it seemed that way when followed by the inevitable mass sing-along closer medley (“Let’s rip it up!” – Grant) of ‘Buck Rogers’ and ‘Just a Day’.
(NOTE: This is the fourth time that I have seen Feeder live, and the fourth time that I have managed to go to the one show on the tour where they didn’t perform ‘Shatter’. Please play next time you stop by!)
However, it was Maximo Park who really got the crowd to jump, which can only be expected of a band whose latest album unites the cheeriness of disco with ranting about the misery of politics. While a smidgeon of that angst is still there, most attention was devoted to the weather – “Stay hydrated! That’s rock n’ roll! The spirit of Alan Partridge is in all of us”.
Jake Bugg on the other hand had no issue with keeping his trademark stone cold stare. That is not to say that he was especially grumpy, but he was definitely the act least enlightened by the sun – seemingly out of place and comparatively soulless. Being billed so much as a miserable lone man and his guitar, spouting melancholy, meant that it stuck out like a sore thumb. The set seemed to be a sign of closure as the final show before the release of new album Hearts That Strain, yet devoted half of his set to his debut album, and performed just one new song.
Back on the Castle Stage, there is an unfortunate booking dilemma, as it feels that later acts Frightened Rabbit and especially Band of Skulls were inappropriate for the stage’s headliner – pop star Rita Ora. Sadly, it appeared that the primarily teenage audience could not agree more, as the rock acts functioned more as background music for those waiting for Ora. Audience members were sat down, picnicking at the stage barrier. Admittedly, I found it almost impressive that so many people could even ignore what was going on the stage.
Welsh rockers Stereophonics were the act assigned the longest set at the weekend, at ninety-minutes. They even went out of their way to be the only headliners of the weekend not to leave the stage to designate their last couple of songs to be an encore, if only to squeeze one more song in. There was no denying that they went all out to bring a full Stereophonics show to that festival stage, and that doesn’t just include the spectacular confetti, fireworks and lasers throughout. Every musician onstage had a moment at which they really got to show off their caliber, for example, a stunning guitar solo courtesy of Kelly Jones during ‘Sunny’.
The entire set felt like a huge deal, and was going to need some seriously special performances on the final day for the festival not to end on a whimper by comparison.