by Keith Sandys
Headliners for the Saturday of Victorious Festival 2017 were to include Rita Ora, Stereophonics and Olly Murs. There were other big names elsewhere on the bill too with Feeder, Maximo Park and Jake Bugg all appearing on the main stage.
In keeping with previous years, Victorious Festival is also proud to support local talent. Those arriving in the midday sun would be greeted by Blackfoot Circle taking to the stage. Full of energy and confidence, you could easily have mistaken the Portsmouth band as a wider known act.
Another local lad was on next, albeit from down the road in nearby Winchester. This time it was someone who’s definitely no stranger to playing in front of larger crowds.
Frank Turner has performed at the Olympic opening ceremony, sells out venues up and down the country and is a regular on the festival circuit. When it came to Victorious Festival 2017 he was given a special early afternoon slot, with another gig already planned for later the same day.
The solo acoustic set would take some beating. In fact, Frank Turner probably has everything you want from an artist, as he belted out the likes of “Photosynthesis” and “Recovery”. His naturally joyful persona puts the crowd at ease, while lyrically there’s something everyone can relate to. Even more so when it comes to reminiscing about a youth spent on the very field on which we stand.
Another act who would make local references were the Bog Rolling Stones. The tribute band remembering when they played their infamous Stones in the Park gig, “Not Hyde Park, Leigh Park” being one of many gems courtesy of singer Mick Slacker.
Echobelly were a pretty big deal in the mid 90’s, so it was singles from this era that entertained the large crowd. Sonya Madan’s vocals stood out, while the slide guitar of Glenn Johansson was sounding awesome on set closer “Dark Therapy”.
Having walked the length of the whole site, checking out some of the smaller stages (including the heavier side of things with Climb the Attic) it was time to embrace the family area. The main focus being on my own little tiddler, who enjoyed seeing televisions Mr Bloom.
The Victorious Kids Arena is more than just a token gesture, although CBeebies favourite gardener was entertaining enough. With arts and crafts, fairground rides, the University of Portsmouth Science Tent, parkour demonstrations, live karaoke and a circus tent, the list goes on… any way, back to the music.
Having missed the majority of Feeder, it was Newcastle’s Maximo Park up next on the main stage. Although half the set came from their latest album “Risk to Exist”, frontman Paul Smith knows how to work a crowd. It was of course the classic indie-rock tracks “Girls Who Play Guitar”, “Our Velocity” and “Apply Some Pressure” that were always going to be the real highlights.
Another walk took me to Sasha Ilyukevich & the Highly Skilled Migrants, playing a folk rock set that Gogol Bordello would be proud of on the World Music Stage. Sasha quite rightly telling the like-minded audience to “come closer, don’t fear the immigrants”.
Pulled Apart by Horses were on the itinerary over at the Butser Fest stage next and soon became one of my favourite performances from the weekend. Covering the heavier end of the spectrum it felt like a gig in a sweaty club rather than outside after dark.
With song titles including “I Punched a Lion in the Throat” carnage ensued. There was a friendly mosh pit throughout the set and singer/guitarist Tom Hudson crowd surfing during “High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive”.
Even if Deaf Havana were the stage headliners on paper, in reality they were going to have to do something special to follow. Although I was looking forward to seeing them, as it turned out they were pretty lame.
I wasn’t going to end my Saturday on a low point, so it was off to watch local band Is Bliss on the Seaside Stage. It was unavoidable not to briefly catch pop star Rita Ora bringing in the masses on the way through, so even though not my thing, it was soon obvious she’s damn good at it.
As for anyone disappointed that the Jesus and Mary Chain had been replaced at the last minute by Pete Doherty, then you probably should have been at Is Bliss. After all, what better way to end day 2 of Victorious Festival 2017 than supporting local music, with the sound of the ocean as your back drop?