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Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, Bank Holiday weekend 2018 - Ms Humdrum Reviews

My roundup of bands - clockwise from top left - Shed Seven,
Prince Brandon, Firendly Fires, Sleeper, Billy Bragg, Amazons,
Reactor 1, Bluetones, Neneh Cherry, Libertines and Prodigy in
the middle
Friday - Day One
Life is all about which choices you make. Wellies or flip flops. Shorts or jeans. Kaiser Chiefs on the main stage or Prince Brandon DJing in Beats n Swing. Whether to tune up your guitar over the DJ playing Martin Luther King's speech behind you. Whether to give Pete Doherty another chance after last year, or not.
I chose to wear trainers and shorts! I was propositioned for my North Face jacket - what for, I hear you ask? Two portions of dirty fries!
Coming Together - Arriving before the queues, we would have loved to have sat in the sun on the grass listening to Come Together play the whole of Abbey Road. They sounded really good but I'm afraid the lure of the bar and the shelter under Beats n Swing took us away; I hope we get chance to see you again though.
Lightning Seeds - Lucky Us - Only the main stage field was open, but we wouldn't have been able to wander round too much in the rain. A few G&Ts later (slumming it with Beefeater - actually really nice!), we waited for The Lightning Seeds. The rain almost turned into hail during their set, but we British don't care. Hoods up, hands up! Yes, I did remember more songs than I realised when they played them. Lots of social media posts show they were really enjoyed, but the shouts for Three Lions were ignored!
Shed Seven - Getting Better all the time - Ready for Shed Seven? I eschewed a place at the front for one next to the middle gap; being short, this affords me an actual view! Chris Moyles (Radio X) introduced the Sheds and tried to con us that Rick had vocal problems and that instead Chris would be singing tonight. Rick soon hoiked him off and started straight into the first song, Room in My House, from their new album, Instant Pleasures. Nearly a veteran, they never fail to amaze me live. There is a lot of love for the Sheds, not only due to their fantastic live performances, but also Rick's interaction with the crowd. He's just such a great bloke. Sadly this year, the sound didn't do them any favours and I think there were too many Kaiser Chief fans in situ, chatting while waiting for their set. Never mind, I'm seeing the Sheds again in November!
Kaiser Chiefs - Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, Ricky - We did choose the loo and food over Kaiser Chiefs. Prince Brandon made us dance to keep warm and dry our clothes off in the tent. A band were setting up and that's when we went off to meet our friends from seeing the Kaiser Chiefs. We did catch most of their hits walking across the field. They were good live and a tiny bit of me wished I'd gone. But, damn, I needed food! One of my party pointed out that they looked like the headline act - I wondered if that was because Victorious weren't sure if Mr Doherty was actually performing!
The Libertines - Can I Stand Him Now? Half my lot went home and I stayed with my Libertines-fan friend to watch them. I haven't forgiven Pete for his shambolic performance last year at this event. I was taking one for the team, staying with my mate.
Well firstly, he appeared. He played. He could stand. Carl Barat couldn't speak that well but they could all perform. I was only waiting for two songs I knew. I remembered a third. I clapped after five songs. When I got home, I ran into the house singing Can't Stand Me Now, ironically saying they were my new favourite band. I owe The Libertines an apology. They are not just Pete. Carl holds that band together and their on stage chemistry is lovely to watch - almost reminiscent of Rossi and Parfitt! The crowd were unfortunately chatting far too much around us, going from madly shouting all the lyrics to a song, to chatting through the next one. I'm trying to pitch how important they were to their audience at the time - lyrically I can compare them to The Smiths I think. But maybe musically they match something like The Eurythmics - everyone likes them, you can sing most of the songs, but you don't spend your life analysing every chord and key change. I don't know. It's all better than the grime crap my son listens to. I left not a fan, but an interested bystander. Well done Carl!

Enjoying drinks with friends at sundown
Saturday - Day Two
After a rather wet starting evening the night before, life was kind to us and the sun came out, drying our trainers ready for a full day of festival-going.
Cabbage
Our first set today was this band who, when we YouTubed them beforehand, were quite 90s grungy with a touch of 80s electronica. I have to say we watched them, enjoyed them, but I couldn't recall any of the songs' tunes or titles! But we really loved their energy on stage. I have noticed from their Wikipedia entry that poems formed the basis of their early songs so I think Cabbage warrant further inspection. Isn't that what festivals are all about? Discovering music to find out more about later.
Sleeper - Reform of the Century
I'm afraid that a bottle of prosecco from the Castle bar was calling and we missed most of the set. We weren't that upset as we are seeing Sleeper in November (at Shiiine Festival) but we did arrive to hear Louise's cover of Blondie's Atomic, with a little Love Will Tear Us Apart thrown in. Next, a song that takes me back to the Britpop clubbing days, Inbetweener (a throwaway but fabulous tale of an unsuited couple) with Sale of the Century as their last song. I loved Louise's Super Her (sic) t shirt. In my head, I look like her in it though. She is lovely.
Neneh Cherry - What is she like?Blessed with her DJ set two years ago, we were very disappointed not to see her last year when she had to cancel at late notice. Last time, she had a DJ with her to help her control the decks, but this time she did it all by herself! She came on to rapturous applause on the World Stage for Arms Around The Child, saying "I'm just playing records, I'm not going to be hollering on the mike, right?" So what did she do? She joined in with the songs she was spinning, whooping and singing! Hecklers were asking for her to play her hits, but she did remain clear in her reply of "No, f*@£ off!" with a smile. She can get away with any rudeness; the audience absolutely loved her. Every time she came out from behind the decks, we cheered. She honestly looked humbled by the response she was getting. Great tunes played, for a great cause.
Billy Bragg - Still seeking a New England
Dapper as ever in a pale blue suit, on came Mr Bragg with Sexuality, taking us through reducing the use of plastic bottles, fascism and cynicism. To lighten the mood, he talked about the crisis in masculinity - mainly in DIY, announcing "We are never going to be as good at that shit as our dads were." He talked about Morrissey being, well we couldn't hear if it was a Gary or gammon! New England was beautifully sung with a nod to Kirsty MacColl. He spoke with passion and integrity. It felt like the perfect thing to sit and listen to as the sun was setting. I must admit I had a few serious thoughts at that point, but that might have been to do with another bottle of that Castle fizz.
Reactor 1 - Pretty but not Vacant
This is a local rock band who play a mixture of their own stuff and covers. Performing at the same time as Brian Wilson was always going to be hard for them, especially as he is the lifetime hero of the lead singer! What timing... But their enthusiastic audience drew in a larger crowd and by the end of singing along to Pretty Vacant and Won't Get Fooled Again, Brian Wilson could've come along to ask to sing backing vocals and we wouldn't have noticed. My regular festival-goer friend said this was her highlight so far.
Paul Weller - A Changing Man
Our party of four split for this - two home, two to see the great man. I'm much more of a late era Jam fan with a splash of the Style Council. Whilst I like his solo work, and indeed it served as a soundtrack to most of my 20s, I was here to hopefully hear three or four Jam tracks. His voice is still amazing, his band tight and the indulgent, extended guitar solos drifted into slick, almost jazz licks at one point. His piano playing was a delight to watch. I managed to catch two of my favourite Jam songs (Start! and That's Entertainment) and I'll let Paul off for not doing Speak Like A Child (one of my favourites), choosing instead Shout to the Top and My Ever Changing Mood. Finishing with Town Called Malice, the crowd erupted and expecting an encore, we waited another five minutes but no, what you give is what you get. That was it!
Sunday - Day Three
Leftovers from our weekend, mud and empty bottles - and memories
I have just got in from the after party. Well, the ITunes disco I curated for my friends at my house downstairs. We are all still buzzing about the main event, but I will review the beginning of the day.
The weather was not kind to us - the rain was worse than it had been on Friday night. We decided to head down for the Dub Pistols, after frantically finding my hidden Smack My Beach Up T shirts, specially ordered for the main event tonight. Unfortunately I cannot review Dub Pistols as I had to send my son back home in a taxi as it was too wet for him. Apparently they were good and had the audience jumping. Next time...
Bluetones - A Quick Return
Having played the Wedgewood Rooms very recently, they were no stranger to our shores. Bunched over on the side of the set, Mark said he felt like he was on the X Factor as he wanted to hang out with the boys, but felt he had to use the whole stage. The Bluetones never disappoint, the hits are delivered beautifully and I still can't work out how he can have such a high vocal range given he's, ahem, around my age. Brilliant, as ever.
Amazons - We could've watched Reverend and the Makers but as my friend said, they are old indie, Amazons are new indie. We did google a few tunes the night before, but YouTube doesn't do them justice. They need to be seen live. They took grunge to the limit, I thought I was back in the 90s. In their penultimate song, they all faced the drummer and it was then that I realised they were all about the music, not the audience reaction. These guys are definitely ones to watch.
Sleaford Mods - I only saw them because I wanted to keep my space for later on at the front. I'm not a fan, I'll admit, but my friends were. They, and the audience, sang along, enthralled at the man, who looked like he hadn't got dressed this morning, waiting for his dad, who was less useful than Bez (if that's possible) to press play on the next backing track. As with the Libertines on Friday night, I tried to have an open mind and I was surprised how much I liked the Libs. The Mods? Well I liked his energy and the lyrics made lots of people laugh. He worked the crowd well. It's a shame that I compared them to Slaves last year, unfavourably. They felt as edgy as Blur doing Country House to me.
Friendly Fires - Jump in the Mud
By this time, the rain had almost stopped,but the ground damage was done. The mud puddles were splashed everywhere. Still at the front, we bounced when they came on in full band mode, with three percussion areas! I love a percussion area, so I was smitten already. The lead singer has such a stage presence, with his almost Keith Lemon/George Michael in Club Tropicana outfit. He danced around the stage like he was trying to out-step his Fitbit. The band took us through their hits; it was hard not to dance to their funky disco tracks. Hearing Jump in the Pool was one of my festival highlights. These guys were an excellent feel-good act, kept us from worrying about the rain returning.
Prodigy - Smacked Me Up! What can I say? Well my other half can say that the first time we saw them at Reading, I lost my flip flop so we were at the back. The second time at V, my friend had a blister so we were at the back. Guess where we were for third time lucky? At the front barrier! The build-up was amazing, the light stage being set up was vast. Then they came on. I need some time to work out the set list and I need some time to work out what to say about them. Apart from they were fabulous. Energy. Attitude. Wall of sound. Better than their records. Fit. Still fit! Personalities. Liam threw a bottle of water out, which smacked me up - I'm expecting a black eye tomorrow. Small price to pay. Keith loved the front row, he kept telling us we were the real VIPs. Liam referred to his Prodigy People. Watching him standing on stage, watching us - what was going through his mind? Was it, "Thank god we can still do this at our age?" The security guards worked very hard keeping us all safe at the front. I was able to see, for once, being short - perfect view. I couldn't take my eyes off them. What a show. What showmen. They just get better and better. Thank you Prodigy!

Thank you Victorious 2018. I've enjoyed loads of sets you've put on. The food had been great and the prosecco in the sample bottles went down very well this year. I'm sad that I wasn't able to see everything I wanted to, and I missed the Southsea Alternative Choir today, who gave up their slots for other acts. I wanted also to do more looking around at the great stalls, but the weather didn't afford much movement today. Thank you to all who worked to make today safe and enjoyable for us, and the whole weekend. I can't wait to buy my early bird tickets for next year! One thing, please bring back the silent disco...

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