‘VARIOUS ARTISTS’ – VICTORIOUS FESTIVAL, SOUTHSEA 26-28.8.22
With the festival session coming to a close, there is still one fixture worthwhile with a stellar line-up each and every year over the August Bank Holiday Weekend on Portsmouth seafront – Victorious Festival. With quality bands performing over the three days whilst the punters can take in the sea views watching ships go by.
Several music festival organisers have over the past decade or so been fully aware of putting quality events with a mixture of musical genres. For instance, there was the first Isle of Wight Festival on a chalk down (called Afton Down) on the western side of the island near the village of Freshwater, which took place between 26th and 31 August 1970. Less than a month later, saw the debut of Glastonbury in the shadow of The Tor at Worthy Farm on Saturday 19th September 1970.
Wind the clocks forward and many stately homes have since then swung open their specious gardens for the enjoyment of music concerts from all types of music. Only a matter of days ago, Glanusk Park in Crickhowell, Powys in Wales hosted the 20th anniversary of the Green Man Festival – see our review HERE.
A number of festivals are held by the seaside, including the new R-Fest on Blackpool promenade as part of the Rebellion Punk Festival (Reviews HERE) and also the three day Victorious Festival which is held on the southern end of Portsea Island.
Victorious Festival was founded back in 2011. In its first year, the festival was named the ‘Victorious Vintage Festival’. For the first two years, the festival was held in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, while subsequent years were held in the Castle Field and Southsea Common areas of Southsea.
Southsea Castle, Southsea Skatepark, the D-Day Museum and other local attractions are within the festival boundaries and are only accessible to ticket holders during that time. The daily capacity of the festival which sits along the edge of Clarence Esplanade by the sea has grown through time with 65,000 punters per day attending in 2019 prior to covid. Thus Victorious Festival is now the UK’s biggest metropolitan festival. Last year, the Brighton & Hove News Music Team attended the festival – Read our account of what happened by clicking this LINK.
The family friendly Victorious Festival was back with a bang for the 2022 August Bank Holiday, with headliners Stereophonics (Friday), Paolo Nutini (Saturday) and Sam Fender (Sunday), plus other acts included James, Bombay Bicycle Club, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sugababes, The Libertines and Primal Scream.
Let’s see how it went………………..
Day One – Friday 26th August:
For Day One there were three stages in operation: ‘Common Stage’, ‘World Music Stage’ and ‘The People’s Lounge’.
On arrival it was evident that it would be a busy weekend with crowds arriving by train and already gathering early on for the gates opening for a special lunchtime set by Primal Scream. Friday seemed the most chilled day with the main ‘Common Stage’ holding the big acts, including Self Esteem, 90’s legends James and crowd favourites Stereophonics.
The highpoint came from the Mercury Prize Shortlisted Sam Fender, who was headlining the ‘Common Stage’ on the Sunday night and the Self Esteem dance troupe being a big hit for all ages on the Friday afternoon in the blazing sunshine. With a backdrop of ‘I’m Tired Now’ they closed the summer with one of their best performances in their allocated 45 minute time slot available to them.
James‘ set was not to be missed with playing 90’s classics ‘Come Home’ and ‘Sit Down’ being played. Audience anticipation was high with a huge sing-along with lead singer Tim Booth’s crowd surfing antics! Not surprised James was one of the highlights of the day with the audience packed in nicely in front of the stage as the band have to date sold over 25 million albums worldwide!
With not much of a breather the audience were ready for the 3 times Mercury Price nominated Anna Calvi with her powerful guitar ballads and not to mention Suede with their bouncy, swaying stage banter and Bret Anderson screaming his way through a killer set.
Day Two – Saturday 27th August:
For Day Two there were many areas in operation: ‘Common Stage’, ‘Castle Stage’, ‘Acoustic Stage’, ‘Beats & Swing Stage’, ‘World Music Stage’, ‘Comedy Stage’, ‘Showcase Stage’, ‘Casemates Stage’, ‘The People’s Lounge’, ‘Southsea Castle Champagne Bar’, ‘Kids Stage’, ‘Kids Meet & Greet’, ‘Piano Tree Stage’, ‘Literacy Live Stage’, ‘Portsmouth Creates Hub’ and ‘Southsea skate park’.
One of the highlight for Saturday’s family orientated day events was Bastille playing the Castle Stage in the evening. They thrilled folks with their sixteen tune set which kicked off with ‘Distorted Light Beam’ and ended with the iconic ‘Pompeii’.
It was also evident that the younger fans gathered in their droves to watch the early set of the Sugarbabes, who have been off the pop scene for over a decade, Everyone packed in the main field early just after 1pm. The band’s vocals were clear and sharp, more a different kind of vibe to the Saturday’s 90’s band revival feel!
Today was more of a variety of stages, acoustic acts and activities for all ages including carousel rides for the youngsters as well as some roller skating action down on the purpose built skate park!
The Isle of Wight’s very own Coach Party set the scene for an early afternoon highlight on the Castle Stage, with their unique blend of attention grabbing punk. Since launching the EP,’ Nothing Is Real’, the band has gone from strength to strength!
Moving along swiftly, Only The Poets were a last minute stand-in and showed great potential. I decided to stay put watching the full set from the focused and determined riot grrl Baby Queen, before most guitar Indie fans headed to the Common Stage to kick off the evening’s run with Inhaler. Familiar favourites were played as well as showcasing their new single, ‘These Are The Days’.
Next up on the Common Stage was Ocean Colour Scene and Declan McKenna, who was bouncing around with the backing of his ensemble of two further guitarists, drummer and keyboard player. Sounding more accomplished than his early songwriting days, the crowds did sing along to his more familiar anthem ‘Brazil’.
Saturday’s headliner was Paolo Nutini who after a long absence has recently made a comeback with the release of the new album ‘Last Night In The Bittersweet’.
Day Three – Sunday 28th August:
For Day Three, the same areas were in operation as Day Two: ‘Common Stage’, ‘Castle Stage’, ‘Acoustic Stage’, ‘Beats & Swing Stage’, ‘World Music Stage’, ‘Comedy Stage’, ‘Showcase Stage’, ‘Casemates Stage’, ‘The People’s Lounge’, ‘Southsea Castle Champagne Bar’, ‘Kids Stage’, ‘Kids Meet & Greet’, ‘Piano Tree Stage’, ‘Literacy Live Stage’, ‘Portsmouth Creates Hub’ and ‘Southsea Skate park’.
It was clear that Sunday is going to be the busiest day with more local families and music fans making the most of the warm late summer sun.
One of the biggest weekend special guests with a bustle of early arrivals were The Libertines with Carl Barat and Pete Doherty playing their usual merry and leery guitar hits, but this clashed with Example who played at the same time to a large crowd of younger wide eyed teenage fans.
Cold refreshment from the bar offered a brief respite from the pushing and shoving crowds and moving between the stages. It was then off again with The Reytones who sounded surprisingly good. They are a reminder of a revival 70’s punk band with shouty vocals.
Next up on the Castle Stage was songwriter Alfie Templeman who I caught with only minutes to spare, before having to head back to the Common Stage in order to watch a polished set from Embrace, who played out their three biggest hit singles ‘All Your Good Good People’, ‘Come Back To What You Know’ and ‘We Are It’ in succession. A real crowd pleaser for the early evening set were the Editors on the Common Stage, who drew in the crowds! Stylistically the Editors always manage to keep festival crowds engaged with earlier thumping synth drenched material to songs including those from the more recent album ‘Violence’.
It was a near impossibility trying to catch a glimpse of Sophie Ellis-Bextor as everyone seems to want to watch her at the same time. Packed in like sardines with nowhere to go she greeted everyone to a loud emotional cheer. Her popularity is understandable as she grew a following during lockdown with her heart-warming live streams!
As the ‘Victorious Festival’ draws to a close, with more space to breathe, Sunday’s highlight were Suede. Brett Anderson climbs the front stage monitors and vaults across the stage in an energetic fashion belting out his 90’s hit singles. The all out action set with Brett one minute whirling his microphone around his head to crumbling to the floor in a ball is always irresistible to watch.
Overall the weekend was a pleasant picture of musical styles and has grown in size since its beginnings with bigger headline acts performing.
Next year will be Victorious Festival’s 10 anniversary and who knows which big names the organisers will bring to Portsmouth to grace its stages of the last August weekend!
For further information, visit victoriousfestival.co.uk
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