Well the sun certainly had its hat on for V Festival this year, as thousands of festival-goers flocked to Staffordshire and Chelmsford to spend the weekend watching live performances from some of the biggest acts in the UK.
Known for its predominantly commercial element, V Festival enjoys its sixteenth year with yet another sell out weekend.
We joined around 85000 people and headed to Weston Park, Staffordshire for the northern leg of V Festival. Kicking off Saturday's programme of events were sets from 90’s cheesy-pop trio Hanson, hip-hop from D-12, Brit-pop from Ocean Colour Scene and punk-rock from Good Charlotte. The Arena Stage was one big pop party for most of the day. There were many swooning girls for The Wanted, The Saturdays added a touch of glamour to the proceedings and synth-pop duo Hurts triumphed with an anthemic set bringing back 80’s new-romanticism for the modern day music lover.
Elsewhere, The Courteeners levelled out the influx of pop with a typically ‘indie’ set followed by Pendulum who would have blown the roof off the 4 Music Stage (if it had one) with energetic drum ‘n’ bass and an impressive light show.
Saturday night was the strongest when it came to the headliners, making it impossible to end the night watching a full set. Primal Scream brought back the sounds of their ‘Screamadelica’ album, transforming the 4 Music Stage into a euphoric 90’s rave with hits such as ‘Movin’ On Up’ and ‘Come Together’ as well as popular tracks from other albums such as ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Rocks’. Despite nearing 50, Bobby Gillespie delivered a performance that front men from other bands playing that weekend could only dream of. Calvin Harris had everyone in The Arena tent jumping with an eclectic performance. Featuring his new single ‘Feel So Close’, ‘Flashback’, summer anthem ‘Bounce’ and ‘Acceptable In The 80’s’, he also threw tracks from other artists into his mix.
Over on the main stage was the performance that everyone had been talking about since the line-up was released. Eminem, in his first UK appearance since 2004, played a fast paced set full of hits including ‘The Real Slim Shady’, ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘Stan’, and he was later joined onstage by Barbadian sex kitten Rihanna. After phenomenally gyrating her way through her previous set in denim hotpants and cut-off union jack vest, she returned to duet with Eminem for ‘Love The Way You Lie’.
Day one over, and the final day of V Festival is about to ensue, and what a scorcher of a day it is! True to form, the male species use the weather as an excuse to walk around t-shirt-less, exposing their pasty torsos for the world to see. Skirts and shorts were a necessity of the day, with some girls even choosing bikini tops. Sun-cream at the ready and sunglasses in position, there’s barely a pair of wellies in sight.
Aloe Blacc kept it smooth with effortless sun-soaked soul on the 4 Music stage. Kudos to his drummer who made a fantastic recovery when the backdrop fell on him mid-performance! Man of the moment Wretch 32 proved exactly why he’s worthy of the current #1 spot in the charts. Performing his version of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’, Jay Z’s ’99 Problems’ and ‘Unorthodox’, he delivered an unforgettable performance. It was a shame he was on so early in the day, as an artist of such high calibre certainly deserved a later slot on a bigger stage.
Example pulled in the biggest crowd that the 4 Music Stage had seen all weekend. He treated fans to a few tracks from his upcoming album ‘Playing In The Shadows’ and the crowd surge continued when he played ‘Changed the Way You Kissed Me’ – a track which seemed to have been the anthem of the festival, as it was booming out of the speakers of the stalls and vans around the site for the whole weekend. Jessie J, with her leg still strapped in plaster, played an extensive set with a voice that wowed every onlooker. Despite explaining that she had been crying all morning due to the pain in her broken foot, her performance wasn’t hindered in any way.
Tinie Tempah declared Weston Park better than Chelmsford during his set and over on the main stage Plan B accomplished an incredible performance. Dressed in his sharp suit he performed tracks from Strickland Banks including ‘She Said’, ‘Praying’ and ‘Stay Too Long’. He delighted his fans by also performing ‘Charmaine’ from his first album, and was later joined on stage with beatboxer Faith SFX for their cover of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’.
Another strong night of headliners saw Dizzee Rascal driving the crowd ‘Bonkers’ at the 4 Music Stage, Arctic Monkeys played tracks from new album ‘Suck It And See’ as well as old favourites such as ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘ I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, but the headliner of the night were Chase & Status. Security were drafted in all around the tent as thousands ascended to The Arena, causing mass hysteria. Revellers tried to push their way past security and jump metal fences to catch the electro-dance duo reel out hit after hit. Accompanied by Delilah for ‘Time’, who was donning a catsuit that left nothing to the imagination, crowds were whipped into a frenzy, which was only equalled when Liam Bailey also made an appearance for ‘Blind Faith’.
V Festival pulls it out of the bag year after year and continues to sell out. Sun and smiles all round. The only sad faces all weekend were when people were packing up to go home - disappointed it seemed to be over so quickly. But one thing's for certain: expectations are even higher for V2012!
Words: Jo Waddington
More about V Festival