Our arrival at V festival was greeted with a stream of daisy chain and hunter clad revellers walking through the gates. After working out where to go with the help of the extremely pleasant staff we managed to make it through as the Punchy pop-tones of 4 piece Lawson spread out from the 4Music stage, Only catching the final couple of songs it was hard to tell the overall quality but the early afternoon crowd seemed happy and what we did hear was excellent so, all was well.
After taking a quick saunter around the arena we ended up at the futures stage, an area of the festival dedicated to showcasing the rising stars of the music industry, as we arrive Former X-factor contestant Gamu is mid-set, with a unique, jazzy sound gaining a great response from the crowd.
One we’d seen the rest of Gamu’s excellent set the Arena tent was our next destination, before I go on to talk about the bands, I feel it is only fair to praise the organisers for the excellent arena stage, a large capacity tent, which is always nice, but, with the added bonus of having screens, meaning that from almost any perspective you can easily see the on-stage action, something that a number of other festivals should perhaps consider investing in.
In total we watched two very different bands within the arena tent over the course of the day, the first was Five, an “on-again off-again” boy band, who opened with a crowd pleasing cover of Queen’s we will rock you, and before the first song has finished they launch quickly into their own material, which proved to be a fun, light hearted set list. The second band were Mcfly, who’s place so low down on the billing seemed unusual but outside of this odd billing the band performed spectacularly, with all the energy and showmanship that gained them their fame some years previously and will likely continue to make them a crowd-pulling act for many years to come.
One of my personal highlights of the festival was American Folk-blues musician Seasick Steve, a man who’s main source of fame is an array of increasingly bizarre and battered instruments, he personally gave rousing set interspersed with amusing anecdotes and red-necked humour, but this was overshadowed perhaps with an unexpected appearance by Led Zeppelin legend John Paul Jones who accompanied Steve through his entire set. This astounding guest appearance combined with an excellent set has meant for me at least that this performance will be one of the most memorable I have ever seen.
Prior to Seasick Steve’s performance were the two very different acts in the Form of Reverend and the Makers and solo crooner Tom Odell. Reverend and the Makers an indie pop 5 piece a band I had no personal knowledge of before today were my personal “hidden gem” of the weekend, playing a constant game of one-upmanship between the singer’s on-stage Bouncing and that of the ecstatic crowd all the while the pulsing bass kept both in rhythm. The next act, Tom Odell, a singer and backing band while clearly all brilliant musicians, sadly his soft melodies were not best suited by the open air stage. So perhaps in future moving this more delicate act to a tent would be a wise choice by the festival’s organisers, but location issues aside he proved to be pleasant enough act to watch.
Perhaps the most unique performance of the day was that of Dj. Jaguar skills who’s lightning fast retro-house-esque mixes were blasted out from within a Giant Arcade machine, surrounded by giant steam-blasting video game characters, this larger than life stage presence and up-tempo music combined to drive the crowd into an almost trance like state with almost no one within the tent standing still by the time his performance reached its crescendo.
The Saturday’s penultimate act was the Alt-rock act Sterophonics, who are currently riding high from their latest in a stream of hits, Graffiti on the train. Their performance opened with a combination of older material and the new singles Indian summer and the eponymous Graffiti on the train that blended seamlessly together. The use of fireworks also added to a sense of grandiosity that mammoth rock acts such as Stereophonic and Kings of Leon bring to an event.
The day’s headliner Kings of Leon were welcomed to the stage with a chorus of cheering and screaming from an already excited crowd, the first chords played only serving to add to the joy of the crowd. Their performance should act as a how to for any band wanting to know how it’s done, playing a variety of material ranging from a brand new track to old favourites, each being performed with an almost clinical quality and precision.
So, overall the first day of V festival proved once again, that even through rain and mud, that good music and great staff can put together on a stunning show, this only leaves one question to be answered, what will the second day of the festival bring?
By Patrick Lawton