Thoughts from the IW Festival 2008

Self Portrait, 13 June 2008

Friday 13 June 2008, and my second Isle of Wight Festival begins. I’m a johnny come lately to the event having ben too strapped for cash to afford tickets for the first five, and only having got the business successful enough to go for the first time in 2007. The 2007 festival started me writing blogs and being more enthusiastic about life after seemingly grimly hanging on through a recession in my former industry and determinedly working at the new business.

I go the the IW Festival because it’s one of the best short breaks I get. All life comes to Seaclose Park in Newport, and the Island buzzes.

My daughter Jimjams and I go. We don’t go together because that’s just too embarrassing for her as she has friends to hang out with. And besides, dear old dad’s tastes in music are rather different. So I buy the tickets and in effect say goodbye to her for three days, checking from time to time that she’s still OK. She’ll be back when she wants money.

The festival is different this year in that it has diluted the musical focus. One of its strengths has been that it has just one stage and no sideshows apart from the sparsely attended Bandstand for up and coming/vanishing into nowhere young groups. Either you paid attention to the main stage or you went and did something unconnected with live music.

This year, however, the musical integrity has been diluted by the addition of the Big Top venue in the Strawberry Fields area of the site. The Big Top is 10 to 15 minutes’ walk from the main stage, depending on the flow of the tide of humanity, and so forces a decision on which to attend. I won’t say that its arrival is unwelcome, though. There is some notable talent playing in the Big Top, including on Friday the re-formed original line-up of Curved Air, and The Stranglers – with The Stranglers vastly extending the duration of live music at the festival with an 11.30pm start (compared with main stage headliners The Kaiser Chiefs at 10.35pm).

Anyway, totals for today: Cigarettes smoked: 0; Units of Alcohol: 9 or more; Mineral waters: 1; Festival T-shirts bought: 1. Food: Felafels on wholemeal pitta – good, healthy; Original burger and chips (Fine Burger Co) – damn fine, unhealthy. Hangover: none. Bands liked: The Answer, Curved Air, The Hoosiers. Disliked: The Wombats; Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong. Ignored: N*E*R*D. Underperformers: The Kaiser Chiefs (made me yawn).

The Big Top, IW Festival 2008


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