“Michael Eavis said, how did you get Fleetwood Mac? I said – I paid them!” Isle of Wight festival boss John Giddings won’t have been kidding when he explained earlier this month how he brought the ‘Rumours’ titans back to British soil for – let’s face it – the summer’s biggest festival booking. Muse at Download will be a razzle-dazzle pomp-rock triumph, at the hallowed home of the sort of scorched riffs ‘Drones’ has in abundance: Donnington. The Libertines at Reading and Leeds will be a suitably raucous, debauchery-filled introduction to the new material the Albion boys have been cooking up in Thailand for months, their first in over a decade. And Kanye’s a coup for Glastonbury, of course. But even Yeezy’s inaugural spot at Worthy Farm doesn’t pack the significance, anticipation or sense of history the Mac’s UK festival return promises. They won’t have come cheap, but they’ll be worth every penny.
For a while, it seemed this year might be the year the band topped the bill at Glastonbury. Alas, Giddings was the more persuasive and persistent. He claims to have spent years doggedly trying to convince the band to come to Seaclose Park. This weekend, it finally happens. And it’s the only place you’ll be able to see them this summer: the group signed an exclusive worldwide deal with the festival upon agreeing to headline, making this their only festival appearance of 2015, and an absolute must see for everyone making the trek to Newport.
The stage couldn’t be more perfectly set. The reintegration of Christine McVie into the band in 2014 after a 17-year hiatus means that this is the most complete Fleetwood Mac line-up we’ve seen in decades. We’re also a couple of years into the group’s comeback now meaning you can forget about them being rusty – as anyone at their London O2 Arena show a couple of weeks back will attest, last year’s monster 33-date US reunion tour has fashioned Stevie Nicks’ crew into sharp crowd-pleasers. Recent set lists have been basically a guide to their greatest hits. Which is just as well – tracks like the massive ‘Rhiannon’, festival staple ‘The Chain’ and of course ‘Dreams’ are anthems made for swooning along to in sunny festival fields as the sun falls on a rowdy, cider-soaked main stage crowd.
How much longer will the Fleetwood reunion last for? It’s possible the much-heralded Glastonbury slot may never materialize, that this could be their UK swansong. If that’s the case, expect them to bow out in formidable style at Isle of Wight this weekend. And in case you need any more convincing the festival is going to be a belter, here’s five other artists to look forward to.
This year might have seen the release Blur’s first new album since 2003, but the band are well drilled on the festival circuit, delivering triumphant performances at Glastonbury, Hyde Park and many others in recent years. ‘The Magic Whip’ has given the foursome some fresh energy though and tracks taken from the album, like the jangly ‘Lonesome Street’ and rousing ‘Ong Ong’, are likely to be central to their set. Still, expect the boys to dip into the past on at least a few occasions, with classics like ‘Tender’, ‘Beetlebum’ and ‘Girls and Boys’ all potentially on the setlist for some rousing sing-alongs.
The Black Keys
Rock duo The Black Keys just last week returned to live performing after a shoulder injury to drummer Patrick Carney forced the cancelation of a number of shows earlier this year. The time away might just have reinvigorate the band though if their thunderous May 28 comeback set at the Primera Festival in Spain was anything to go by. They’ll headline the main stage at Isle of Wight this year, delivering a set that will likely draw from all corners of their 14-year history. We anticipate thumping blues rock numbers ‘Howlin’ For You’, ‘Strange Times’ and ‘Gold On The Ceiling’, as well as their traditional cover of Edwyn Collins’ ‘A Girl Like You’.
Essex ravers The Prodigy are currently touring the Number One album ‘The Day Is My Enemy’ – the group’s sixth record and one that should lend itself well to their always blistering live performances. Having previously headlined The Isle of Wight Festival in 2009, the group have a rich history at the event, and attendees can expect classic tracks like ‘Breathe’, ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ to appear alongside latest singles ‘Nasty’, ‘Wild Frontier’ and ‘Ibiza’, all of which should reinforce The Prodigy’s reputation for delivering visceral live experience that very few UK acts can match.
Kool and The Gang
Casual Kool and The Gang fans will likely be surprised by just how many of the funk-R&B group’s classic hits they actual know. Songs like ‘Celebration’, ‘Jungle Boogie’ and ‘Hollywood Swinging’ are deep within all of our hardwiring and are sure to spark plenty of manic dance moves around Seaclose Park when the New Jersey disco and funk outfit take to the stage. While the group’s line-up has changed over the years, with a couple of members sadly passing away, there still remains a solid core of their founding members to bring some sixties swing to Isle of Wight this year. Get down with the boogie!
Jesse Ware will bring her sophisticate brand of pop-R&B to the Isle of Wight this year with a set that’s likely to draw from her excellent first two records to offer up something a little gentler than the banging headliners. The singer’s ethereal vocals and sparse, 80s-era production will be on display on tracks like ‘Say You Love Me’, ‘Wildest Moments’ and ‘Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe’. Ware actually received a boost in profile this year by lending new song ‘Meet Me In The Middle’ to the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, and she made a surprise appearance at Nicki Minaj’s show at The O2 in London in March to perform their collaboration ‘The Crying Game’. Maybe it’s time for Nicki to return the favour? You never know.