Isle of Wight festival – review

Seaclose Park, Isle Of Wight
This was a muddy weekend of nostaglia acts and wearying populism but thankfully Peal Jam, the Vaccines and Bruce Springsteen created a sense of heroism

When the Isle of Wight festival shifted to Solstice weekend to stake its claim as this year's Glastonbury, it didn't expect to inherit the traditional Thursday monsoon, causing waterlogged car-parks, evacuated tents and island-wide gridlock. As a result, IOW inherited Glasto's us-against-the-elements survivalist bonhomie as well. Noah & the Whale's louche 1980s radio rock was the perfect balm as Friday got off to a sunny start, even if headliner Tom Petty might have assumed they had been formed specifically in his honour. An erratic evening followed – Example started a tendency, later mirrored by Wretch 32 and Professor Green, for electro acts to turn metal the second a live band was plonked behind them; Elbow lulled us into a warm pulse of security with their Lowry lusciousness and on-stage shot drinking; a packed Big Top gathered to talk over Lana del Ray. Petty's set was hit-and-miss, with classics such as Free Fallin', Runnin' Down a Dream and American Girl dotted between boring blues work-outs and country-rock clapalongs.

Saturday was crammed with nostalgia acts – of which Madness were the undisputed kings – and mainstream chart performers, among whom Labrinth and diva-next-door Katy B stood out, the former for actually playing his own whoomps and widdles with the charm of a grime Ray Charles and the latter for her inventive toying with Egyptian and Latino rave. Thankfully Pearl Jam brought meat and substance to a day of wearying populism, upturning their reputation as grunge nostalgists with a tight, energised set of crackling classic rock that only occasionally descended into barrages of bawling and riffing.

The rock resurgence carried over to Sunday, when the Vaccines and Band of Skulls triumphed, and Noel Gallagher went solo in style, peppering his rousing melodic rock with Oasis B-sides and casually dodging a lit flare flung at him during Don't Look Back in Anger. But it took almost three hours of Bruce Springsteen's powerhouse rock'n'roll, protest gospel and blue-collar country to bring a true sense of heroism to IOW's clumsy step into Glastonbury's mighty wellies.

The view from Twitter

Oh dear. The tent we're playing tonight at the Isle Of Wight Festival is full of water haha.



In my dressing room at the Isle of Wight festival! UKG Blaring! Rollers in! Ready for action!

— KATY B (@KatyB) June 23, 2012


That's a lot of

— example (@example) June 22, 2012


@IsleOfWightFest you rule! Thanks for missing the football and sticking around! Damn the council noise levels! Cheers everyone!

— PulledApartByHorses (@PulledHorses) June 24, 2012


Amazing! Thanks to everyone who came to see us play Tellin' Stories at @isleofwightfest - hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Big love x

— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) June 24, 2012


#PJFans at #IOW Festival #PJEuroTour2012

— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) June 23, 2012


Tweet us your own reviews – #gdnreview


Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

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