Thursday, 28 August 2014

Live review & pictures: Victorious Festival, Portsmouth 23-24/8/14

The second year for Portsmouth's Victorious Festival saw it move location (from the historic dockyard to Southsea Common) and double in capacity to 40,000 people a day. Despite the changes it was one of the best organised festivals, in one of the nicest settings, that I've ever been to. There were one or two issues with the queues for the bars and food stalls, but overall there was a great atmosphere and plenty of space, and on top of that there was free access to the Aquarium and the D-Day Museum as they were inside the boundaries of the festival site. At an early-bird price of £15 per ticket per day it was definitely the best value festival I've been to this year!

A view of the Victorious Festival site on Sunday morning
The festival gates opened at 10 o'clock each day, and the bulk of the acts through to late afternoon were local. On the one hand this obviously kept the booking costs down, but on the other it gave exposure to lots of new bands and made the locals feel that they really were a part of the festival. As you might expect the quality of these acts varied but there were a few golden nuggets to be found, including Kassassin Street (who sounded like Kasabian fronted by Placebo's Brian Molko) and singer/songwriter Eloise Keating.

Eloise Keating on the Acoustic Stage
Saturday was sold out and therefore the busiest day. X-Factor reject Lucy Spraggan drew a big crowd of the youngest festival goers (the things we endure for our kids...) and I caught part of Sophie Ellis-Bexter's set before heading across to the Seaside Stage for Saturday's highlight, Public Service Broadcasting. Their blend of public information films, historic newsreels, electronics and live drums seemed all the more poignant in such a historic setting and they won lots of new fans by the sea.

Public Service Broadcasting on the Seaside Stage 23/8/14
Razorlight were popular with people who remembered the time before we all realised what an arse Johnny Borrell is, while Dizzee Rascal pulled out all the stops and all the hits, getting everyone dancing while confetti cannons, smoke, flares and lasers filled the sky.

On Sunday there was time to explore the festival site a bit more, including a trip to the Pie & Vinyl stall (for vinyl, not pies) and the Aquarium before a chance to see Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip for their penultimate gig. It was a powerful performance that saw Pip in the crowd half way through the first song, followed by a blast through their hits which, to steal a phrase from Public Service Broadcasting, educated and entertained in equal measure.

Scroobius Pip telling us to 'Get Better' on the Seaside Stage 24/8/14
British Sea Power were only given a measly 30 minute slot which was nothing like they deserved, but they attacked every one of those minutes with their usual power and grace in the lovely surroundings of the Seaside Stage.

British Sea Power on the Seaside Stage 24/8/14
Sunday's headliner of choice for me were Slow Club, stripped back to a two-piece on the Acoustic Stage. We sat on hay bales and listened to their harmonies and songs of failed love and romance while the Britpop-loving masses chose Ocean Colour Scene and the old dudes went for Seasick Steve. As Steve shuffled off we arrived to see 2manydjs (surely the festival organisers were punching above their weight with that booking) draw most of the remaining revellers in for a late night dance to their eclectic choice of tunes. As we walked back in the rain afterwards we felt certain that we'd return again, and hope that they don't change things too much for next year.

Slow Club, Victorious festival 24/8/14

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