Mud and The Members: Isle of Wight Festival 2010

The Members, IW Festival 2010

No, not some ghastly combination on the Festival line-up this year, but the promise of glorious squelchy goo and the sounds of punk rock from 30 years ago.

Gentle rain softened the fields underfoot for my first experience of the festival campsite area. I’m not camping, but Jimjams is, so bought camping tickets. I had never realized quite how much the festival extended beyond the main arena and Strawberry Fields. It was already sticky and churned up by the time I arrived early on Thursday evening, just about in time for R U Experienced in the Big Top. I have a dim view of tribute bands, but until we all join the choir invisibule, hearing Jimi Hendrix in person isn’t an option, so the next best option other than what are now quite stale recordings is to hear someone else giving it a crack. Not a bad rendition, all things said, with some talented guitar, if not bordering on the genius of the original. Look forward to them later this year for the 40th anniversary.

On to the Kashmir Cafe, home of real beer at the festival. I only discovered this late last festival: a cash bar selling Yates’s beer from the cask, plus an alternative music set from the rest of the festival of a slightly folky or ethnic bent. So, main advantage: being able to buy decent drinkable beer without queuing for tokens that only buy quite appalling piss from Carling. Sat reading M A R Barker’s Man of Gold, drinking beer and eating liquorice from the St Valentine’s liquorice company, until Second Time Around had set up and started, Pleasant enough but ultimately I was heading for the Big Top for The Members and didn’t hang around for more than three numbers.

The Members are old. A 30-year-old punk rock band gone to greyness, baldness – anyone of a certain age who wears a hat indoors has, as it were, nothing to hide – and in one notable case fatness. Like having Danny Devito playing punk (observational credit: CJ Andrews). But fantastic. Close your eyes and the voices were the same: a magical trip back in time. Open them and it was scary old-age presence, with the threat of impending zimmer frames. Stayed for the whole set, which included International Financial Crisis (reworking of Offshore Banking Business), Working Girl (I still have the 7in vinyl single) and a memorable Sound of the Suburbs. Missed them? Well you can catch them again on the acoustic stage tonight (Friday): great blend of reggae beats and punk sound.

Squeeze, following on in the Big Top, were stale by comparison. They sounded old. Kicking off with Up the Junction was a mistake for there wasn’t much to look forward to after that, and after three numbers I drifted off back across the slightly drier fields to the trusty steed, padlocked to a farm fence, for a short ride back to base.

Torrential rain overnight will have softened the ground even more, so today (Friday) will be wellies day: the outlook for Saturday and Sunday is “scorchio”, so we’ll be caked in dry earth by the time Paul McCartney closes the show.

Festival album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=237489&id=749182570&l=fddcd78ad8