Words by Keith Sandys
The first Victorious Festival took place in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2012, against a backdrop of Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory and the home of the Royal Navy. Now in its 6th year the music festival has since moved to a much larger location, along the nearby Southsea seafront.
It’s not just the venue that’s become bigger, for 2017 included off-site camping facilities and a Friday night opening party. The additional evening now making it a 3 day event for the first time.
As I took a stroll around the grounds, Sundara Karma were already playing on the Castle Stage. The sizeable crowd being far removed from seeing them at Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl for an acoustic instore session. Listening to them on the bigger stage, it was clear what all the hype had been about.
Before returning to the main arena there was time to check out some local talent. First up was DJ Gentle Bren in the Champagne Bar, while DJ Tom Mayhem was over in the Beats & Swing tent. I would say I’m biased, but it’s well known whenever Tom’s behind the decks the party’s started.
Beats & Swing may have resembled a messy school disco by the end of the night, but on the Rhino AV Stage things were more in keeping with the nights headliners. Portsmouth/Southampton based Ska Dogs played a blistering 40 minute set with plenty of 2-tone classics to keep the older crowd dancing.
Sounding even more psychedelic than usual with their mid-nighties indies rock, were penultimate band The Charlatans. From early single “North Country Boy” through to Deep Purple inspired “The Only One I know”, Tim Burgess and Co were already on top form before ending on an epic organ fuelled “Sproston Green”.
That left ska legends Madness to wrap up the first night of the festival. Overall they were as I had expected, it’s just with anything post ‘90s, Madness don’t really live up to their heyday. Even Suggs sounded surprised when announcing the recent success of their 11th studio album.
It was of course Madness classics such as “Baggy Trousers”, “Our House” and the Prince Buster cover “One Step Beyond” that had everyone bouncing along. Even though things sounded a bit flat at times, when it came to “It must be Love” you couldn’t have asked for a better tune to close the main set.
The obligatory encore followed, ending with “Nightboat to Cairo” and soon it was time to start skanking towards the exit. Friday may have been an abridged version of the rest of the Victorious Festival, but it was only one more sleep before doing it all again.