Grace Jones is a legend
Donning a horse-like head dress, Grace Jones clambers onto the shoulder’s of a security guard, who takes her to the to the front barrier, where she proceeds to high-five as many people as she can. Once she’s greeted the entirety of the front row, she commands the man to “take me back to my stage!” Jones may be 70, but she’s not letting up anytime soon. The global star’s 50-minute slot on the main stage (Jones appears slightly late) is filled with multiple-outfit changes, high-kicks, hula hooping – and a lot of sexualised dancing. She tells the audience that she had trouble getting to the site (rumour has it that she was flown in by helicopter after her limousine broke down), but she’s made it. And she’s ready to party.
On opener ‘Nightclubbing,’ the singer crouches on a raised platform, fiercely observing the crowd before her. She dons a black leotard and cape, which billows around her, along with a golden skull mask. Her deep, husky voice reverberates on the eardrums of listeners. As usual, her body is covered in white paint markings. Before long, she changes into another head dress, reminiscent of a lion’s mane, shaking her head wildly with gritted teeth – like she’s devouring an animal – as she performs ‘Private Life.’ On ‘My Jamaican Guy,’ she appears with a large dildo strapped to her crotch, which waves around as she gyrates her hips, before swinging one of her legs over a railing and reclining as she sings.
Jones chats to the crowd between songs, telling them they’re “here to party,” and getting the audience to echo the various “whooping” noises she makes. “Welcome to Jamaica here,” she says cooly. Next, on ‘Love Is the Drug,’ she puts on a silver trilby, which sparkles beneath the stage lighting as she sings, with the crowd bopping along. At one point, a burly pole dancer performs, subsequently shaking his bum at the audience, with Jones caressing his body using a whip-like implement. “I’m just having fun, this is my time to play with you,” Jones teases the crowd, before closing with a colossal rendition of ‘Slave to the Rhythm.’ Somehow, the singer hula hoops for the entire track, simultaneously thanking the audience and introducing her band. What a performance.
Shame go all out
“Well I’m not much to look at,” belts out Shame’s Charlie Steen, as he lifts up his hot pink t-shirt to caress his nipples during ‘One Rizla.’ This is just one of many of Steen’s theatrics, during the band’s short 40-minute set. Later on, he pours a can of Amstel over his head before throwing the remains of the beer over the crowd. On ‘Concrete,’ he takes the microphone off the stage before throwing it back on, only to hit bassist Josh Finerty, who skilfully kicks it so that it doesn’t fall over. This is Shame. It’s their first time at Bestival. And they’re here to get messy.
On ‘Tasteless,’ Steen, who is by this point topless, jumps off the stage and leans over the barrier as both he and the crowd chant: “I like you better when you’re not around.” When he’s back on stage, Steen repeatedly moves the microphone between his hands, sort of like a speed-walker strutting on the spot. Shame’s performance is energetic, emphatic – aggressive, even. On ‘Lampoon,’ Finerty swings his bass with such ferocity that it flies off him. And, ending with ‘Gold Hole,’ Steen climbs into the crowd, as he sings, before moshing with the punters until the end of the track. It’s all over too soon.
London Grammar headline Saturday night
“I’ve just been told I’m not allowed to start singing the next song until he gets down from the tree,” London Grammar’s lead singer Hannah Reid tells the crowd. The three-piece are partway through their Saturday night headline slot and have had to pause to wait for a man to climb out of a tree. This is one of the more eventful moments during London Grammar’s set, which, although mesmerising, is far from the dance-filled night many in the audience had in mind. One nearby woman says to her friend: “Not really Saturday night music, is it?”
Still, on songs like ‘Strong’ and London Grammar’s widely praised cover of ‘Nightcall,’ the audience is appeased. Couples sway in each others’ arms. Smartphones capture idyllic Instagram stories. It’s momentary bliss. But, there’s something fundamentally missing. While there is more drumming than on the band’s records, the whole set is weeping for heavy basslines and big beats. The band need someone, or one of them – like Jamie xx does for The xx – to come in and give the the show a Saturday night makeover. Because that’s what people want.
London Grammar deserve their global success. And Reid’s expansive vocal range, best shown on ‘Rooting For You,’ where she is met with cheers when she hits the high notes, is impressive. But they aren’t a headline act. Especially on a Saturday night . And, even more so, when playing after the legendary Grace Jones.
Stefflon Don cancels last-minute, after getting stuck in traffic
Stefflon Don pulled out of her 3pm set on Saturday, with the announcement being made just moments before the rapper was set to take the main stage. Bestival’s official Twitter account posted:”Sadly due to traffic issues @stefflondon has had to cancel her Castle Stage appearance at Bestival today. She sends apologies to all her fans. Keep an eye on our APP for set time updates.” Stefflon Don re-tweeted the post, adding: “??? was so beyond my control guys and im pissed off ?.” In response to a fan writing that she “should of got there earlier,” the star said: “You are right but was told it would olny take 3/4 hours to get there and not 6,” adding a sad face emoji.
Confidence Man gets down
Janet Planet and Sugar Bones of Australian electro-punk band Confidence Man are performing a workout at The Big Top on Saturday afternoon that would make Mr. Motivator himself proud. There’s stretching, squatting, muscle flexing, jumping and, even, a sub-standard handstand from Sugar Bones. All of this exercise is carried out to the frenetic soundtrack of cowbells, synthesisers, and drums. What more could you want on a Saturday afternoon?
About midway through their set, Sugar Bones takes off his black overall – to the sound of applause – standing proudly in his hot pants. Janet Planet, meanwhile, strikes some solid poses, as if she’s an Egyptian figurine. The four-piece are fast becoming as the best band to see live at festivals this summer, having made a name for themselves for with their energetic, ostentatious and, at times, bizarre performances. They are, quite simply, brilliant.
Behind Janet Planet and Sugar Bones, the band’s other two members – Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild, wearing their distinctive veils – smash around on drum kits and percussion in a frenzy of complete madness. Over the top of the musical mayhem, Janet Planet and Sugar Bones chant their lyrics, theatrically dancing around for ‘Better Sit Down Boy.’ On final track ‘Boyfriend (Repeat),’ Janet Planet asks audience members to “get down,” before everyone explodes, jumping around together in a big, sticky mass. In these dark times, Confidence Man are everything you could ever want – and more.