VICTORIOUS FESTIVAL – SOUTHSEA 27.8.21
Friday – Day One:
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team had an August Bank Holiday getaway and so we headed off along the coast to the Victorious Festival which is the UK’s biggest metropolitan festival. Here’s our report from day one.
2021 is the tenth anniversary of the Victorious Festival, and the extent to which the festival has grown since then is illustrated by the fact that they can have an artist of the calibre of Peter Hook fourth on the bill.
Due to various travel tribulations which I won’t bore you with, I arrive at the Common Stage just as Peter Hook & The Light are commencing their set with Joy Division’s ‘Digital’. I’ve always been a bit wary of Peter Hook & The Light: I mean, why bother going to see a poor man’s New Order (although I doubt that Peter is exactly poor) when you can go to see the real thing? This afternoon’s performance changes my opinion entirely.
The set consists of three Joy Division songs (including ‘Transmission’ which is probably my favourite of theirs) and eight New Order songs. It’s very much a crowd-pleasing best of/greatest hits set which I suppose is ideal for a festival. Hooky is a great frontman and his vocals are far better than I was expecting. He smiles a lot more than he did when he was with New Order and seems to be enjoying himself.
The Light have two bass players including Hooky, so he can stop playing occasionally whilst his colleague gets on with the ‘meat and potatoes’ stuff. Hooky largely restricts himself to what he excels at: playing lead bass! The set is an embarrassment of riches: who can argue with (in succession): ‘Blue Monday’, ‘True Faith’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Ceremony’?
The crowd understandably go bananas, and why wouldn’t they? This is a great performance, and Peter Hook & The Light are every bit as valid as the current line-up of New Order. In my own humble opinion, this band should have been far higher up the bill than they were.
The difficult task of following Hooky and the boys falls to Feeder, but it’s a task that they grab with both hands and undertake with considerable gusto, after coming onstage to the sounds of Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly‘ theme.
It’s very easy to view Feeder as also-rans, as they hit big with ‘Echo Park‘ and then didn’t carry on at the same level of success. However, this would be something of a mistake, as they’ve continued to pop out high quality albums every two to three years, and their latest, ‘Torpedo’, is due for release next year.
‘Buck Rogers’ is an obvious highlight of the set, but the absolute highlight comes at the end when a small boy wearing ear defenders comes onstage clutching a Fender Stratocaster belting out power chords at a very high volume. Truly outstanding!!!
Next things take a turn for the more lightweight with the arrival of The Kooks. This description is possibly a little unfair as their songcraft has always been good, but this is entertainment as opposed to art. Luke Pritchard is a consummate showman as well as being a good singer.
This year is the fifteenth anniversary of their ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ album, so consequently we get half a dozen songs from that album, doubtless to promote the anniversary reissue. ‘Ooh La’ is well received, and a highlight is Pritchard’s solo acoustic rendition of ‘Seaside’. Occasionally they’re heavier than I remember them, and their musicianship is superb. They’re a very good live band. ‘Do You Wanna’ rocks relatively hard and there’s a tasteful overdriven guitar solo during ‘Ooh La’.
A lot of their material leans towards the whimsical and singalong, but that’s what makes great pop music, right? The band operates on different levels throughout their set, giving a fair variety of sound. The Kooks are entertainers rather than being rock ‘n’ roll. Coming to an end-of-pier show at your nearest seaside town soon.
Madness have made a decades-long career mixing entertainment with intelligent lyrics on a wide range of subjects, including occasional social commentary. They are a different band for different people. They provide a soundtrack to people who want to get drunk and dance. They provide a greatest hits show for those feeling nostalgic, and they provide something for those who want lyrics to think about as well. They’re a band who wear many different hats. Consequently they attract a great deal of loyalty and affection. They mean a great deal to people. I see one family having a group hug before the band come onstage as if they’re the ones about to play a gig!
At a festival it’s tempting to deliver a greatest hits set, and Madness commence with a 1-2-3 punch of ‘One Step Beyond’, ‘Embarrassment’ and ‘The Prince‘. However, seven songs into the set they play ‘Bullingdon Boys‘, a stand-alone single from 2019 which is a scything critique of modern Britain, hitting the issue of the increasing inequality seen in the UK head on. Possibly not the ideal festival setlist choice, but nonetheless a great song and a brave inclusion. It seemed to go down well anyway.
The bulk of the rest of the set is a seamless parade of solid state hits. Is there any other band still playing today that has so many brilliant singles in it’s catalogue? Not to mention their great album tracks and b-sides. Madness are the true heirs to Ray Davies.
The main set ends with ‘House Of Fun’, ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘Our House’, and ‘It Must Be Love’, with ‘Madness’ and ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ as encores. There’s even fireworks to finish! What’s not to like??? I hope I don’t appear to be over-egging the omelette by describing them as ‘peerless’…..
Read our report on Victorious Festival Day Two 28th August HERE.
Read our report on Victorious Festival Day Three 29th August HERE.