Justin Timberlake headlines first night of V Festival 2014

Ed Sheeran, The Wailers and Kaiser Chiefs also perform as Chelmsford leg begins

Justin Timberlake took selfies with fans and praised “bad motherfucker” Ed Sheeran during his headline set at V Festival in Chelmsford last night (August 16).

Timberlake injected some Hollywood glamour into the Essex festival, wearing a pork-pie hat and a trim Tom Ford suit, with a big band behind Cotton Club-style music stands.

The singer notes sagely while looking out at the crowd during a brief break between songs, “there’s so fucking many” people here. Looking down across the massive pit, Timberlake spied a fan holding a sign. Reading out loud he notes that it’s their birthday, and they’re asking Justin to take a selfie with them.


After posing for the picture he played a snippet of his Jay-Z collaboration, ‘Holy Grail’, complete with Nirvana lifts, covers the Jacksons’ ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’, and then plays a version of ‘Take Back The

Earlier in the day the opening band on the MTV stage was Starsailor, who can remember playing there when it was the main stage. In a tent half a mile west, All Saints are on.

Half-an-hour’s walk away, the Future Stage is playing host to bands still working their way up the festival circuit. There’s barely 300 people in to see To Kill A King as, for the final song, they bring out their mates, Bastille. Dan Smith and his friends will later repay the compliment over on the main stage, as To Kill A King join in on ‘Pompeii’.

Kaiser Chiefs follow the Red Devils parachute team, who drop in on V in the mid-afternoon sunshine. Ricky Wilson opts for maximum effort and repeatedly sprinting back and forth across the full width of the main stage during an extended, overhauled ‘Oh My God’.

With the Manic Street Preachers stuck on a Hungarian runway, the MTV stage becomes the afternoon destination-of-choice for older festival-goers. The only member of the Wailers line-up here today to have played on the tracks that Bob Marley made legendary is Aston “Family Man” Barrett, but performances of the likes of ‘Is This Love?’ and ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ keep the crowd happy.

Blondie‘s Debbie Harry later adds on-the-hoof improvisation to the mix: an errant in-ear monitor causes her problems through the first half of ‘Hangin’ On The Telephone’, so she stops singing and delivers the next lines – “It’s good to hear your voice, I know it’s been so long/If I don’t get your call then everything goes wrong” – in a pointed conversational deadpan.


It’s a day of looking back, but Ed Sheeran’s performance points to the future. Ostensibly a folk singer, Sheeran is also a rapper, human beatbox and improvisational percussionist. Using a loop pedal, he layered in different sonic elements, the tracks changing shape as he shifts focus from an echoed backing vocal to a rattling crack of plectrum on guitar body, usually while singing or rapping over the resulting construction.

Timberlake is a fan – while thanking the rest of the bill in general, he makes a point of singling out Sheeran, who he calls “a bad motherfucker.”

V Festival continues in Chelsford today (August 17) with The Killers set to headline.