Isle Of Wight Festival : Newport Seaclose Park

Isle Of Wight Festival : Newport Seaclose Park

Bowie cheers everyone up after the footie...

In 1970, 600,000 tripping hippies tore down the Isle Of Wight festival’s perimeter fence so that they didn’t have to pay to see [a]Jimi Hendrix[/a]’s penultimate gig. Then [a]Who[/a] ripped through a three-hour set in the early hours and trashed the stage. In comparison, 34 years later, we get [a]Stereophonics[/a] playing to a field of sunburned footie fans. No fair!

Still 22-20s bring us some bluesy rock direct from the juke joints and bayous of Lincolnshire. Despite playing tour-hardened versions of ‘Shoot Your Gun’, ‘Why Don’t You Do It For Me?’ and the always-impressive ‘Such A Fool’, though, the trio are dwarfed by the big stage. This is something you can never say about [a]Super Furry Animals[/a]. Opening with singer Gruff Rhys dressed, as usual, in a red Power Rangers mask, they baptise the crowd with a gorgeous ‘Hello Sunshine’, while singalongs ‘Golden Retriever’ and ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’, confirm their reputation as the perfect festival band.

Slightly older, slightly fatter, [a]Manic Street Preachers[/a] herald comeback number 4,761 with two new tracks – the driving, piano-led ‘Empty Souls’ and the slower, uplifting ‘Solitude Sometimes Is’. Wary of a public lynching from the Richey diehards for unleashing another sub-standard shadow of the band’s early glory, James Dean Bradfield announces self-deprecatingly, “If it sounds shit, it’s because it’s new.” But they didn’t sound that shit. Shitter than the stirring ‘Faster’, ‘You Love Us’ and far shitter than ‘Yes’, but not as shit as ‘Ocean Spray’, which was really shit.

Falsetto soaring, Greg Gilbert is the focal point of [a]Delays[/a]’ dream-pop, his distinctive voice wavering between angelic choirboy and Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser on ‘Nearer Than Heaven’ and ‘Hey Girl’. It’s enough to make even the most hardened beer-swilling footie head reach for the Liberty Caps.

Despite Tim Burgess’ ill-advised solo outing last year, [a]Charlatans[/a] are welcomed like returning heroes. ‘The Only One I Know’, ‘Tellin’ Stories’ and ‘Just Lookin” are greeted like alternative national anthems before Burgess drags [a]Libertines[/a] Carl Barât onstage. Could they be collaborating? Nope, he’s just here to apologise for his band’s non-appearance. Double no fair!

As the baying football fans mourning England’s dismal defeat at the hands of the French threaten to revolt and storm hospitality, one man stands alone. Imagine walking out onto the pitch at Old Trafford and trying to sing and dance after Man United have lost ten-nil to Crewe. Now imagine you’re[a]David Bowie[/a]. Zinedine who? It’s ‘Rebel Rebel’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’! What do you mean [a]Stereophonics[/a] played the other night? He’s doing ‘Ashes To Ashes’! Now it’s ‘Heroes’! Football, what football? Euro what? ‘Ziggy Stardust’! Who lost? Who cares? It’s BOWIE! Fucking DAVID BOWIE!

Marc Hayward