VICTORIOUS FESTIVAL – SOUTHSEA 28.8.21
Saturday – Day Two:
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 two.
Kicking Saturday’s door open are hard-rocking Northern Irish female power trio Rews. Led by songwriter Shauna Tohill they are melodic, with good harmonies and are very mobile on stage. Their material is memorable, and I won’t mince my words – they’re bloody great!
Rews are followed by Wild Front, purveyors of rock with a side order of funk. It sounds potentially complicated but they have the musical chops to carry it off. However, there are occasional disturbing hints of Level 42….
They’re not scared of being innovative either: at one point the singer sings into the pickups of his guitar, something I’d not seen before. He also plays his guitar with a violin bow – perhaps not quite so innovative. Possibly a band to watch though.
Next up are The Mysterines, about whom there’s been something of a buzz. They’re certainly confident, and have the kind of onstage telepathy which suggests that they’ve been together forever. They have some interesting material, particularly ‘A Bad Thing‘ where the chorus has the occasional bar in ¾. The song speeds up during the middle eight in a controlled way.
Vocalist Lia is arresting and confident, having a clear voice with occasional husky, gravelly undertones. At last – a buzz band worth the buzz!!! They’re on the road in October for their ‘Life’s A Bitch’ tour. Check ‘em out!
Bad Sounds’ name is a bit of a misnomer, but is quite likely a sign of their self-confidence and humour. The music is indie with electro overtones which reminds me of the Happy Mondays. This is not the only link with the Mondays, as one member seems to be a bit of a Bez. However, as well as playing synth, he also plays guitar and sings as well! At one point he jumps on the bass player’s back whilst simultaneously throwing his tambourine across the stage. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this guy was related to Keith Moon (ask yer grandad)!
The singer (probably intentionally) looks like an archetypal nerd. Indeed, he may have got dressed in the dark. The key thing about this band is that they are unadulterated FUN!!! The music’s pretty good too.
Another buzz band follow: Porridge Radio. They’re very powerful and serious with passionate feminist lyrics. They have a good sense of dynamics which makes for very atmospheric music. Apparently they had a bad journey to Southsea, and almost didn’t make it on time, so Bad Sounds lent them their drum kit and bass rig. Which was nice. One song has the air of a Jacques Brel ballad about it. Their set is far too short and ends with ‘Sweet’, which has quite deservedly been all over the radio during the last year or so. I’m sure more good things will follow.
More immediately Black Honey followed Porridge Radio. They already have two albums to their name and have probably already outgrown their relatively lowly position on the bill. Their performance certainly suggests that. They exude self-confidence and perform accordingly. Standout songs for me are ‘Fire’, which tackles the issue of the widespread inequality suffered by women to this day; and ‘Disinfect’, which was written before the pandemic (singer/guitarist Izzy Baxter Phillips says she “can’t predict the future!) and includes some heroic feedback antics from guitarist Chris Ostler. A very good band indeed. Believe the hype.
Frank Turner has occasionally been derided as a ‘privately-educated man of the people’. This is chiefly because he went to Eton on a scholarship and studied alongside Prince William. I suspect that the left-leaning politics for which he is noted are a result of his experiences at Eton and the people he met there.
Having seen him perform live I don’t think that his sincerity can be doubted. No-one can take away his passion or the quality of his frankly (pardon the pun) brilliant lyrics. Today he is playing a purely acoustic show accompanied by Matt Nasir from his live band The Sleeping Souls on mandolin. As a musician eight albums into his career, and a headlining act of some years standing, I’m quite surprised that he isn’t further up the bill. Perhaps this is an indication of his modesty.
A highlight of his set is a song from his new (and as yet unreleased) album ‘FTHC‘ called ‘The Gathering’, which like the rest of the album was written in lockdown. It has a wordless chorus that the audience is soon singing. That’s the beauty of Turner’s material: they’re relatively simple songs with great tunes that people can relate to. Frankly (there’s that word again….) if you’re not drawn in by Frank Turner’s songs then you probably haven’t got a pulse. He’s a diamond geezer.
In passing I catch part of Blossoms’ set. Their tuneful dance music played with real instruments has never really floated my boat, but you have to respect what they do, and how well they do it. They play a really rather good cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Miss You’. A tribute to Charlie perhaps?
The reason I was passing the Commons Stage where Blossoms were playing is because I was on my way to see Reef. They may now be viewed as yesterday’s men, but there’s no shame in that. The only remaining original members of the band are vocalist Gary Stringer and bassist Jack Bessant. It seems odd to see traces of grey in Stringer’s beard, whilst Bessant with his long grey hair and beard would be a shoo-in for Game Of Thrones were it still being filmed. They now have two interesting guitarists: Kenwyn House’s replacement is Jesse Wood, son of Ronnie; whilst their additional live guitarist is Andy Taylor, late of Duran Duran, of whom more later.
So what about the music? Their set commences with ‘Shoot Me Your Ace’, the title track of their forthcoming album, which will be released as a single in the coming weeks. So much for them being yesterday’s men!!! Having said that, there are plenty of hits in the set including ‘Naked’, ‘Place Your Hands’ and ‘Come Back Brighter‘ (Stringer: “Not showing off but this was a no.1 record!”).
They rock like men half their age, but the biggest surprise is saved for the end: they cover Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘Wild Boys’, both sung by Andy Taylor. They tour the UK in April 2022. I might just go along…..
There’s always been something a bit ‘old-fashioned showbiz’ about The Fratellis, and so it is tonight. They have a horn section, really quite frantic backing singers dressed in corporate style uniforms, doing synchronised dancing whilst singing which really can’t be easy. They have a touring keyboard player too. All of this is topped off by the band’s name in pink neon behind them.
It’s easy to forget how much good material this band has, and how complex much of it is. There are three songs from their debut album ‘Costello Music’ (including the inevitable yet very welcome ‘Chelsea Dagger‘), whilst the rest is fairly evenly taken from across their back catalogue.
Covers (and unlikely covers at that) seem to be a bit of a theme today, and The Fratellis cover Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ and they finish with Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’. This really is top quality entertainment. I’d never noticed before but The Fratellis bear a striking resemblance to 1970s band Sailor. Just a thought.
The Manic Street Preachers are last minute replacements for Richard Ashcroft, who has refused to play the Victorious Festival as there are minor covid restrictions in place. It would be tempting to call him a plonker but I won’t stoop to that level. Ultimately we’re the winners as The Manics are a great band, whereas Ashcroft’s music outside of The Verve is stiflingly dull. Why does he bother??? Oh – he hasn’t!!!
The Manics start in style with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, and then sound as if they’re going into ‘A Design For Life’, but it grinds to a halt. After discussions between Nicky Wire and Sean Moore they go into ‘Orwellian’, from the soon to come new album ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’.
There has been some talk of this album being the last Manics album, and the band coming to an end. I don’t buy this as a possibility, not in the near future anyway. They retain every ounce of their vitality as a live band, notwithstanding this being their first gig since they played in Japan in 2019, and even their older material still seems relevant today.
The covers keep on coming though. From The Manics we get Echo And The Bunnymen’s ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’, together with a very authentic version of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’. However this is not at the expense of gems from their own back catalogue: including ‘You Love Us’, ‘No Surface All Feeling’, and (finally!) ‘A Design For Life’.
The Manics are well on the way to becoming one of the last great rock bands: a band that delivers live and still releases songs that actually mean something. This has been a great performance. Richard the Turd doesn’t know what he missed.
Read our report on Victorious Festival Day One 27th August HERE.
Read our report on Victorious Festival Day Three 29th August HERE.