Newport, Isle Of Wight. (June 13–June 15)
Like a big fat zit, Sex Pistols sit aching to burst at the centre of this year’s Isle Of Wight Festival. At a mature event ruled by The Police, the question remains: is this the coronation of Sex Pistols
as a similar English heritage act or a case of I’m A Punk, Get Me Out Of Here!?
First though, to Friday lunchtime, where we find Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong getting thrashy and catch NERD provoking mass mentalism, Pharrell screaming, “Let me see some titty!” He does. Kaiser Chiefs don’t need to cuss to be cool; they don’t need to be cool at all when they can effortlessly send 55,000 people potty with ‘Ruby’. The sun is out on Saturday for Kate Nash but she’s nowhere near as perfect as The Zutons who follow. It’s a surprise, but today they’re a double-mega cone with ace sprinkled on top.
Sporting new bingo wings, out lurches Iggy And The Stooges. Ig barks, spits, snorts at security and beats his chest like he’s Lord Of The Apes. Speaking of whom, Ian Brown, complete with black-eye after a fight at his warm-up show, is a bit miserable, sneering, “Saving your dancing for the greatest band ever?” Much to John Lydon’s ire, they aren’t. Sex Pistols come on, all fat and old and ugly – as proudly grotesque as they ever were. They’re tight, but their songs are too feral to be properly hug-your-partner anthemic, so the crowd is bewildered as to what to do – abort their unborn children to ‘Bodies’? Lydon gets irked: “Your silence is killing the energy – don’t let England down.” He doesn’t stop there, lecturing about “our proud tradition”, Gazza being “one of us”, and “posh bastards grinding you down”, while reminding everyone that the Pistols were spat out from the anger of the mob, not born with a silver spoon in their mouths. As the entire crowd snarls “I wanna be anarchy” back to Lydon, it’s oddly moving.
After that, the festival gives up. Sunday’s hall of shame goes: Newton Faulkner, Scouting For Girls, Starsailor, James, The Kooks. The only fun to be had is at the Big Top tent, where The Music are fan-funkadelic-tastic and New Young Pony Club are glamarama-jestic.
The Police? Well, their songs produce physical responses of recognition in the crowd, but c’mon, they’re soulless. Sting looks well, but as Lydon said the previous night: “Bands with tight gymnasium bums? Are you not sick of this calamity?”