Victorious Festival 2016 - Review

Victorious Festival took over Southsea Common and Castle Field again this year with an impressive line-up including Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Manic Street Preachers, Ash, Echo & The Bunnymen as well as a whole host great local acts. We had a chat to the local acts in the run up to the festival, you can check out the feature here:

Arriving Saturday at Victorious after weather worries the week before it turned out sunny and dry, fantastic festival weather - not a welly in sight (yet)!

Kicking off the weekend's live music for us were The Boomtown Rats on the Common Stage. With the 80's new wave classic 'I Don't Like Mondays' singer Bob Geldof was on top form in his spangling snakeskin suit, cavorting back and forth across the stage with charisma and attitude in equal measure. They are one of those bands where even if you are not that up on their work there are still sections of the audience getting excited "ahhh this one, this is great!" inspiring those around them to enjoy the music, a great start to the day.

A walk across the burgeoning crowd on the common to the Castle Stage was next for Teleman. A band in constant pursuit of the perfect hook, Teleman gave us a great performance of 'Dusseldorf' which delivered a beautifully crafted pure pop tune whilst combining their melodic indie leanings with Tommy's distinctively vunerable vocals. 'Tangerine' their new single also went down well, this live favourite is taken from their critically acclaimed second album, 'Brilliant Sanity'. A perfectly placed uplifting set from Teleman eased us into the weekend's festivities nicely.

Next up on the Castle Stage was breakthrough star Izzy Bizu the highlight of her set was the deliciously catchy 'White Tiger', an upbeat gem that stood out in her set full of nostalgic summery funk-and-soul elements intertwined with her mesmerising beautifully toned voice. Izzy's debut album 'A Moment Of Madness' and the single 'White Tiger' are out this week.

Back on the Common Stage The Levellers were churning out the classics with ‘One Way’ and 'Beautiful Day' inspiring sing-a-longs across the crowd. Teeming with a nostalgic folk-punk energy tinged with a melancholic counter-cultural undertow, it turned out to be a feel-good set, the songs still ringing relevant as they were when first penned.

Prolific in the 00's with their psychedelic hazey indie The Coral are back with a new album this year. They really shined in their more poppier moments 'Pass It On' was a reminder of the great pop tunes they crafted, 'In The Morning' and 'Dreaming Of You' sparked rousing sing-a-longs ... summery optimistic indie songs ignited expertly by James Skelly's trademark vocals.

Next we jogged back over to the Castle Stage for a winding darkening of pace with The Horrors. Singer Faris Badwan was aloof yet engaging, charismatic and captivating – a great front-man.  The Castle Stage had someone behind the scenes way too trigger happy on the smoke machine throughout the weekend but for The Horrors this really worked well complimenting the shoe-gaze haze of their garage rock sound. With a combination of 80’s-esque electronica and guitars layered over Faris’s wistful vocal there was a great retro atmosphere to their sound while somehow remaining modern at the same time. Intelligently constructed songs full of feeling, building and waning with lovely off-key elements this was not your typical pop or guitar band and brought an eclectic contrast to Victorious … a dark hazey ray of sunshine through the billowing clouds. 

Up next Editors continued along the same theme with their own brand of dark indie rock. 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' was touching with its rousing melody building and undulating along, while 'Munich' ramped up the pace with pure indie expertise as Tom Smith's grandiose vocals punctuated and intensified the musical layers. 'Papillion' with its more electro synth-based driving rhythm saw Tom moving to keyboards and playing up to the crowd with ALL the pyrotechnics! With the catchy riffs and vibe they gave this really was one of the best sets of the day ... unbridled energy, engaging and expressive to the point it would have been exhausting to watch had the performance not been so captivating.

Saturday's Main Stage headliners Manic Street Preachers started their set with 'Motorcycle Emptiness', an older and much loved track, my personal favourite and a strong start to the set. Still full of energy and passion for the music they celebrate 20 years of the album 'Everything Must Go' this year. Hearing the grand title track rolling out over a packed out field along with another cornerstone of their back-catalogue 'A Design For Life' complete with confetti canons it was a great way to round off a fantastic day of live music.

Starting off on Sunday's musical journey there was a much cooler outlook (luckily only the odd shower) which was actually a really nice change for a brand new day back at Victorious. We caught Pretty Vicious over on the Castle Stage who played a cracking set. These guys are firey-fresh like early Manics, with a swaggering attitude and sense of humour to rival that of Slaves. Although young that's not a bad thing as they really have found their unique collective voice and have their style down. Holding up the punkier end of the music spectrum at Victorious it was great to see them live as things are just taking off for them. We spoke to the guys before the festival, you can find the full interview here:

Public Service Broadcasting gave a great show, backed by archive public information film footage on a massive retro TV. They have a great innovative vision uniquely weaving samples of old public information film samples mixed with live new beats and electronica - the music music telling the story too, especially in 'The Otherside' telling Apollo 8's tense journey around the dark side of the moon. Their unusual tongue-in-cheek live set up where the only voices you hear are samples adds a uniqueness to the experience, there was even a spaceman in their set! Blending the past with current, bringing it to life in the tracks 'Spitfire' and 'Go' they intelligently entertained us with their spell-binding future-spun retro sounds, making archive footage relevant ... educating informing and entertaining us along the way. We had a chat to them before the festival, check out the full interview here:

Well what can we say, Ash were vibrant and enthusiastic as ever, with a great mix of old and newer songs. Having followed Ash since their inception we are a little biased, favouring the older material generally, quite possibly due to nostalgia ... we remember first hearing Jack Names The Planets on John Peel back in the day and thinking What is this?! We love this! and then checking in HMV every week until Trailer finally hit the shops. They are setting off on tour later this year celebrating 20 years of their '1977' album and you can see why they have such staying power. The pure passion with which they perform is awe inspiring, Mark Hamilton has possibly the best bass-stance we have ever seen, all the guys are full of pride and commitment to their craft ... when they played 'Oh Yeah' it's one of our least favourite tracks but the audience really went wild for it singing along arms aloft. Ash are masters of the catchy pop melodies and if the guys have any hint reticence of having to consistently play the older songs they absolutely showed none of it. The first time we saw them was 21 years ago - this must have been about the 14th time since then and it really never gets old. As you can see from our images below they still have all the captivating passion and raw infectious enthusiasm of those three guys in their late teens all those years ago, banging out energetic indie garage rock with such fervor.

Sunday night's main Stage headliner was Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Noel’s solo project since leaving Oasis in 2009 and although there were a good few singing along with the High Flying Birds tracks it was the Oasis songs where it all kicked off, we  were treated to 'Champagne Supernova', 'Wonderwall' 'Half The World Away' and the very last song of the festival 'Don't Look Back In Anger' . Noel was engaging, full of banter as ever and it was a really fitting end to a great weekend of live music with Southsea Common full of happy people many on others shoulders singing along so loudly you could hardly make out Noel over the rapturous community of fans.