Another year for Victorious festival and it keeps on getting bigger and better. This year saw an increase in stages and audience members with some of the UK’s biggest acts including Madness, The Streets and Royal Blood all set to perform their hits.
For value of money and location, Victorious Festival is worth a trip, early bird day tickets started from around £40 pounds which is less than a ticket to see most of the acts by themselves. It is only a short walk from a train station and minutes from the town centre. Covid had affected the line-up and a lack of international acts was prominent, however the UK is blessed with a multitude of acts, so there was still plenty on offer.
Some of the weekend highlights included an excitable Frank Turner playing an acoustic set in a sort of homecoming festival slot. Blossoms are growing in confidence, they are leaps and bounds from when they were first on the scene and Tom Ogden seemed an awkward, shy performer. Nowadays he can be found dressed up like a 70’s Soho club owner delivering mid-song kung-fu kicks and whipping the stage with his mic lead. They have a perfect hour-long set of indie- pop bangers that more than satisfied the Portsmouth crowd. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man has already become a national treasure and his charisma matches his frame, he is a very likable performer with ‘that’ voice and also has a brilliant new album brimming with quality singles like ‘Alone’ and ‘All You Ever Wanted’ – he may have forgotten the lyrics a few times, but this just made him more endearing.
Saturday’s headliner was The Streets, however, The Manic Street Preachers on the Castle Stage (late replacements for Richard Ashcroft) was too tempting to miss out. The moment James Dean Bradfield delivered the opening riff to Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and to find out this wasn’t just an aside and that the band were going to cover the entire song was pure joy. This wasn’t their only cover as the band went on to cover another 80’s classic – Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’, though less people were singing this chorus. Their 75 minute set was made up of the usual big hitters as well as a couple of new tracks from their upcoming album ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’. Nicky Wire was unusually quiet but still enjoyed his trade mark po-go jumps and has managed to not age over the last 10 years. They ended as always with ‘A Design for Life’. A parade of fists grasping onto cans of lager filed the field as the crowd sang “we don’t talk about life, we only want to get drunk”. A very fitting anthem to end the evening.
Sunday felt quieter as if the two days of drinking and dancing was showing its affects. It took Miles Kane to create the first mosh pit of the afternoon. The locals adore the mod scene and Kane fits the bill and surely won the award for the most stylish band. Jade Bird was impressive on The Castle Stage, her audience grew with each track and by the end of her set people were chanting for more. Melanie C sprinkled some disco joy to the proceedings with tracks from her last album as well as treating us with a couple of Spice Girls classics like ‘Two Becomes One’ and ‘ Who Do You Think You Are?’. It was Supergrass on the Common Stage who stole the show. I had waited twenty years to see the Oxford lads once again. They are still relatively young compared to their 90’s contemporaries and gifted Victorious to a greatest hits set including ‘Richard iii’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Pumping on the Stereo’, with the same hell-bent enthusiasm as always. Danny Goffey proved to still be one of the finest drummers of his generation, and dazzled during set closer ‘Caught by the Fuzz’. As they exited the stage with the sun dipping in the horizon I couldn’t have been the only fan hoping that the next time they play live it will be to support a new album.
The headliners for Sunday were Royal Blood and Nile Rodgers’ Chic, contrasting talents and a perfect way to please the rock and pop fans. I chose the option to split my time with both acts and witnessed the behemoth live show of Royal Blood and kept thinking that they sounded like Muse if they listened to Led Zeppelin instead of Queen. It’s rare to witness a gong on stage these days, but BenThatcher’s certainly arrived to impress with his deluxe drum kit and delivered a blistering drum solo. But it wasn’t a one man show and it is always fascinating to watch singer Mike Kerr play some fine riffs on a four string bass. ‘What a splendid racket these young lads can make’, is how the lady next to me described them as they completed their opener ‘Typhoon’ and I would have to agree, though after 40 minutes the excitement had plateaued and my feet were itching for some funk. The Castle Stage party was up and running and I made it in time to catch Nile Rodgers band perform Diana Ross‘ ‘Upside Down’. Rodgers’ band was as expected; premier league. The vocalists, horn section, bass etc were out-of-sight and watching the funk legend play through some of the choice cuts of his career was a blessing. Tracks like Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’, David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, and Daft Punk’s ‘ Get Lucky’, (all tracks that Rodgers had a hand in creating) were just a taste of some of the hits he has been involved with. Sadly, there was no time for them to perform Duran Duran’s ‘Notorious’, which was a shame as they could have easily updated the chorus to Victorious – a missed opportunity that will surely haunt Nile Rodgers for life. The disco did have to eventually come to an end and an extra long version of ‘Good Times’ that segued nicely into ‘Rappers Delight’ ended the festival and what a way to end it. Good times indeed.
Another year and another great line-up that rivals the more expensive and supposedly bigger festivals. Some could grumble, about the queues for the loos and food and that the camp sites are far away and that a lot of the bands could do with a longer stage time (most bands average 40 minutes) but this is a festival that gets better by the year and is making the other festivals up their game.