Bestival Day 0

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Bestival 2011

The day before the days after

 

So – my first Bestival. And the big question of the weekend is (apart from what is it that that drives grown men to dress up in a Morph body suit for 5 days, displaying their less than impressive genitalia to anyone unfortunate enough to look in their direction) is – will it rain? Well, yes it will, but more of that later

 

It’s a hell of a journey to the Isle of Wight, so how it has come to pass that it hosts not one, but two major festivals is more than a little strange. The ferry points become something of a natural bottleneck, and the booking of time slots can make the journey down even more of a pain than the usual slog. Still, the fact that we have to cross water to get to it lends the festival a vague air of being abroad that adds to the feel of things. Once we have made it to the site and set up camp for the weekend, it’s time to wander into the arena and check out the lay of the land. The site is huge – Bestival clearly looks to Glastonbury for its inspiration, and there are a myriad of stages scattered around this site, some seemingly capable of holding only 20 or so people. It will clearly take a considerable amount of walking to be able to take everything in

 

I’m drawn to the Big Top stage by the sound of Propaganda’s Jewel –could it be a surprise Propaganda reunion? No of course it can’t, merely an 80s cover band giving a very accurate reading of the song. Still, we’re in and dancing. Following this is Richard X (of Girls on Top fame) with a DJ set of 80s classics. All this has me wondering if the nostalgia-heavy vibe of the festival is going to become a little overpowering, particularly as this is followed by Blancmange. Not that I’m complaining about Blancmange playing, I’ve been itching to see them since they reformed , so I’m excited about this. And Blancmange neither disappoint nor play their 80s credentials too heavily, with a set featuring songs from their new album and updated interpretations of their excellent back catalogue. Vocalist Neil Arthur seems younger than he really has any right to, and has an excellent voice. I’m not sure if it’s Stephen Luscombe on percussion, but if it is the intervening years have not been as kind, but he provides some powerful drumming nonetheless and adds extra oomph to the live experience. Their Northern charm remains fully intact, and God’s Kitchen particular tickles my nostalgia bone. Good stuff

 

Next up, it’s left to Santigold (formerly Santogold) to drag us into the 21st Century with a set of modern classics. Santigold herself is a born star, ruling the stage and backed up by two of the most entertaining backing singers we see all weekend. It’s nice to hear something modern for the first time this festival, particularly when it comes in the form of LES Artises. After this comes an electro set from New York legend Arthur Baker followed by a disappointing set from Hercules and Love Affair, who seem to have lost their lead vocalist and their sparkle along with her. It has affected their performance badly since the last time I saw them at Creamfields a couple of years ago, and we wander from the tent with the band unable to hold our attention. A quick wander round the site and a second set from Arthur Baker sees Thursday draw to a close. This is however but a preamble to the festival proper, so time to grab a few hours kip and prepare for what's to come

 

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