Following a successful Friday night headlined by Madness and a Saturday closed by the Stereophonics and Rita Ora, Sunday at Victorious Festival 2017 had a lot to live up to.
The weather continued where Saturday left off, no signs of the typical British festival rain here in sunny Southsea. As for the line-up, with Olly Murs on hand for X-Factor fans and fellow headliners Elbow having the indie-rock crowd covered, everything was set for another great day’s festivities.
Although there’s no overall theme to Victorious, there is a love of bands from yesteryear. This would continue with the early afternoon guest slot for America’s Dandy Warhols. If there was anyone watching who wasn’t already familiar with the band, memories of early Vodaphone adverts no doubt came flooding back during “Bohemian Like You”.
Elsewhere in the set, “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” was far too catchy for an anti-heroin song (but in a good way!). While many of the main acts came from this side of the pond, Dandy Warhols totally deserved the tag of special guests.
The world stage of course attracted more international names, the well-travelled Maya Youssef for example, brought Arabic influences to Victorious. Her 78 stringed zither unfortunately being drowned out by a sound-clash with the Peoples Lounge in the tent next door. Fellowship of Groove however followed with a horn section that would have given the foghorn on nearby Southsea Castle a run for its money.
Portsmouth’s Kassassin Street continue to gain a much wider recognition, this year the 60’s influenced psychedelic indie rock heading to one of the main stages. I only caught the last couple of tracks, but as always the boys proved why there going places.
Turin Breaks may not be a local band, but during their set they mentioned plenty of fond memories of the area. Renting out a flat in Fratton while at Portsmouth University, practicing their tricks at Southsea Skate Park and playing football on the very same piece of land as they were now playing. You could tell they felt at home on stage too, putting in a great performance, unlike Field Music who followed.
Initially Field Music came across as the perfect festival band, with accessible tunes sure to appeal to the masses. Then everything got a bit too samey and rapidly went downhill. Frontman David Brewis looking disheartened with it all, the set eventually cut short, which in honesty seemed to do everyone a favour.
In contrast the Mighty Z All Stars kept things more lively in the World Music Village, where summer vibes always go down well. That said, I couldn’t stick around so can only assume they continued in the same vein.
It was then a mad dash to catch one of the weekend highlights, with a 2 piece from London about to make some big noise. In conventional terms, Slaves shouldn’t work on such a large scale. The pair look and sound as though they’d be more suited to small and sweaty clubs.
Slaves drummer Isaac Holman stood behind his kit and takes on lead vocals, every so often going for a wander, as Laurie Vincent almost takes a backseat switching between bass and guitar. Holman comes across as a loveable East End geezer, charming the crowd between songs. Tracks such as “The Hunter” and “Cheer Up London” were thrashed out like a personal attack, while “Fuck the Hi-Hat” answered any questions about the bands minimal use of symbols.
It was soon to be more reggae back on the world stage, as Macka B took to the stage. Well, it would have been had the dancehall legend not been a bit of a diva. While the rest of his band stood in waiting, trying hard to drag out their soundcheck the singer eventually came on board.
Luckily the late start was the only disappointment (forgetting any cucumber references). Macka B keeping the crowd bouncing along to tunes from his mid-career albums, as well as recent single “Never Played a 45”. There was a lot of love in the crowd and a coming together of like-minded individuals for “Everybody Loves Bob Marley”.
It wasn’t Macka B spreading the L word alone though, as Elbow were about to prove during the weekends finale. There’s something heart-warming about front-man Guy Garvey, he’s a nice normal bloke with an exceptional and naturally beautiful voice.
They may be a bit middle of the road, but on record Elbow sound great. It’s not just about Radio 1 airplay and a Mercury Award winning album though, as the weekends final headliners soon proved.
“Magnificent (She Says)” from the latest release was placed early in the set and with a live string section on stage, the newer tunes floated soulfully across the field. Guy Garvey would repeatedly bring back that “love” word and it truly was a special performance.
Closing with the 2008 hit single “One Day Like This”, Elbow couldn’t have provided a more beautiful ending to another successful Victorious Festival.