Isle of Wight Festival 2013 review – Hold on to your sideburns!

Isle Of Wight Festival

Isle Of Wight Festival

There should be a warning on the Isle Of Wight Festival website about the distance from the car park to the camp-site. I nearly gave myself a hernia just trying to lift my bags out of the car; as you know the meaning of travelling light is lost on us young women. After two minutes of the wrong kind of festival puffing, I decided I may even start donating to that charity that helps working donkeys, as I can definitely relate to their suffering. A couple of two mile trips later, we were finally forced to decant our contraband alcohol into plastic containers. An act that almost made me lose my fizz as I watched our precious celebratory champers make its way into a 50p plastic cru.

After deciding I’d come to party, not to work out, the next task on my agenda was finding some suitably helpful young chaps to erect a tent. It was only a little three man, but I was not up for any more exercise. After locating a couple of heroes, I was able to supervise and bark orders at them for half an hour, which may have demonstrated that my ploy of not knowing how to put up the tent was a little transparent. After a suitable dinner of cider and the promise of the Palma Violets we decided  to fire off and chase the mayhem.

We managed to catch the infectiously happy, but thankfully flea-free, poncho-wearing Gypsy Queens at the Bohemian Woods on the way to the Big Top, for a band that I was desperate to see. FUN were easily one of the highlights of the weekend even though at one point I was pretty sure I was going to disappear into the abyss of Nate Ruess’s beautiful mouth. Not the worst way to go by any stretch of the imagination.

After the Stone Roses on the Main Stage, there was a ridiculous queue to get into the Dance Tent for Example. As mental as the show was, you couldn’t help feeling a sense of accomplishment whilst looking out at the guys and girls  queuing out in the rain, who didn’t have my polished sense of planning. My God, did it rain on Friday night? In my alcohol induced euphoria, I almost thought I could see some bearded men hammering away at a giant boat surrounded by pairs of animals. Finally it was back to the tent for some sleep, without the air beds we’d neglected to carry from the car, I suddenly realised we were in for a rocky night.


After a rude awakening to the sound of vomiting echoing out of at least two locations around the camp-site, I started a barbeque crisps and chocolate digestive breakfast, which for some reason tasted better than a Gordon Ramsay nine course spectacular.

Saturday gave us gale force winds, and I was about ready to start tying myself to the nearest mast-like landmark. It wasn’t quite abandon ship however, not with the Killers headlining that night. Bastille and Bloc Party stole the show that day, and there was a great vibe in the crowd. There is nothing quite like a thousand people shouting along to ‘Hunting for Witches’ and ‘Flux’ while doing that arms and leg pump dance, without managing to fall into the dreaded abyss of twerking. I did however stumble across something shocking and terrifying going on in the Big Top during the day. Past the sea of teeny cut off denim shorts that had been sliced strangely above the pockets, was something monstrous. Who in god’s name decided to hire Little Mix? This offshoot of Saturday night, cheesed-up entertainment so severely threatened my buzz that I almost stepped off this planet. A few crowd weaving moves later and I was ready to breathe, live, laugh and love once again.

Maccabees Isle of Wight

The main stage was the place to be on Saturday, with the Maccabees playing an upbeat set, after the crowd went crazy over the super talented Ben Howard, who in many ways is more than the world’s greatest camp-site musician. Then it was the Killers, who came on in a blaze of bright light, high cheekbones and the searing, emblazoned guitar licks of ‘Mr Brightside’. In my opinion this band have never quite reached the heights of their first album, but boy did they not disappoint during this performance.

The nights at IoW Festival were dominated by the Dance Tent. On Saturday night Sub Focus gave the double-denimed an excuse for wearing their wayfarers inside, giving them a look not unlike the Dukes of Hazard do Ibiza. It did feel a bit like a nappy-night at your local club, as it seemed as though parents thought IoW would be a good warm-up festival for Breezer swigging teens. For the record, you are not wasted after one sniff of the barmaid’s apron, and Living on a Prayer is not the only good Bon Jovi song. 


Sunday was a special day, it was time for me to finally fulfil a slightly embarrassing and guilty lifelong dream. I was running around at 7am, and even had a shower for the occasion. Yeah, a festival shower just for Bon Jovi. It was pretty hard to focus on all the other great bands and artists playing with the promise of Jon’s glistening locks, and so Imagine Dragons, Kids in Glass Houses and Paloma Faith got overlooked.

It also happened to be the day our neighbours bailed out, leaving us with three boxes of wine to finish before the next day, which just seemed to have challenge accepted written all over them. Thanks guys, I missed the Boomtown Rats reunion because of you and my inability to quit while I’m ahead. My friend managed to console me by suggesting that we’d also avoided any chance of accidentally bumping into Peaches whilst we were there.

The main stage hosted a pretty nondescript performance from The Script that left Danny O’Donoghue quite literally battered and bleeding. A word of advice? Don’t jump into a Bon Jovi crowd, because the mass of teenage girls will offer as much support to your stage-diving ass as a single ply of wet tissue paper.

With half an hour to spare, I began my battle to get to the front for the mammoth two hour Bon Jovi set. Ensuring I had been for a last minute toilet stop, I commenced upon my apologetic journey to get closer to where the leather-clad magic was about to happen. Being 5” nothing tall, I pleaded with the giants in front of me to let me go ahead of them with a pretty high success rate.

Bon Jovi

So, they were half an hour late, that’s OK. The Killers were 20 minutes behind schedule and it must take Jon Bon Jovi a long time to get his hair so perfectly coiffured. We had ended up next to what can only be described as the world’s biggest Bon Jovi fan, with a heart so large he just wanted to grab every other Bon Jovi fan in the world in his huge, huggy arms. Yeah, like we were going to fall for that, and we edged further away from his explosive affections.

When the man finally arrived, it was well worth the wait. Bon Jovi closed the festival in style, playing classics such as ‘Bad Medicine’, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ and ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’. He also played some other more recent songs that only the die-hard Jovi fans would recognise, leaving the posers mumbling along to songs they had clearly never heard before, which gave me a smug air of self satisfaction. There is nothing more hilarious than catching someone out whose lips aren’t even remotely moving in time to the lyrics. The show was wisely concluded with a huge Livin’ on a Prayer sing-along, helping out the less confident in the crowd.  I would personally have preferred an encore to the measly fireworks that followed, but I had to settle for gun-powder as the band had clearly had done their top number.


So the Isle of Wight festival stayed pretty dry for 2013, and although there was a couple of dud acts and a lot of teens playing hippy, the real acts showed that IoW can still compete with the likes of Reading, Leeds and Glasto. Maybe the organisers should stop the early curfew, and claim back the festival for the adults, but they can’t really be faulted too much for this year’s proclivities. The event was far more organised this time around, there were no huge traffic jams, no sleeping in cars or peeing in bottles… well, that I saw anyway. The only problem for me now is how to come off my cider addiction with the minimum amount of tremens delirium.

For more information, see our Isle of Wight Festival Guide.

Image credits: Liz Murray Photography