Isle of Wight Festival 2018 – The Verdict


Isle of Wight Festival took place last weekend, and Nerve Editors Stephen Wright and Dan Davis were there to give you the comprehensive lowdown.

Stephen Wright: Dan, let’s break down our thoughts of this year’s festival. For me, Kasabian and The Killers were the biggest highlights of the weekend. What were your personal favourites?

Dan Davis: I think Kasabian edge it for me! They’re easily one of the greatest live acts around and are relentless with their energy whilst performing. It more than made up for the shaky start we had trying to get into the festival on Friday, and set the tone nicely for the rest of the weekend. Blossoms were also excellent, and it was an added bonus that we appeared on the big screens belting out My Favourite Room!

Did any songs performed over the course of the weekend stand out for you?

SW: For sure. As far as standout moments go, seeing Kasabian perform Club Foot – a tune which I’ve known since the Pro Evolution Soccer 2005 era – was pretty special, as was The Killers opening with The Man on Sunday night. Hearing their different take on Mr. Brightside as well continues to make the hairs stand up on my arms!

Did any of the acts on the line-up disappoint you? I like Kodaline a lot, but their sound didn’t seem quite right to me.

DD: I wouldn’t say any acts disappointed me at all, really. Obviously, there will always be some bands that struggle in a festival environment and others that look more comfortable, and that normally reflects on how the crowds react. Some of the sound mixing wasn’t great, admittedly, for some of the acts. If I had to choose one act that I didn’t really like, it was probably Depeche Mode’s headline set. Their setlist order was confusing and a lot of the crowd seemed to meander away from the main stage through their performance. Thankfully, we stuck around and experienced Personal Jesus, I Just Can’t Get Enough and Enjoy the Silence, which had everyone bouncing.

For some of the acts, it seemed like they didn’t really get a great response. What did you make of the overall atmosphere in the crowd?

SW: I’d have to agree with that. For a few acts it felt like we were the only ones singing along and people were looking at us as if that’s not something you should be doing at a festival. I think The Killers have certainly had better crowds elsewhere (Brandon Flowers was visibly disappointed when they didn’t join in on certain sections), as have a number of the other names on the lineup, but I didn’t see anyone causing any trouble either, so I don’t want to slate the crowd too much.

DD: I know it’s always been a dream of yours to watch Liam Gallagher live, and finally on the Saturday we shared the experience together. How was his show for you? As you were, DD x.

SW: I thought his voice held up well, which is great considering that he does struggle with it quite a bit nowadays. His set was short but sweet at one hour long and included almost all of the songs you’d hope and expect to hear from him, apart from Champagne Supernova which seemed like a glaring omission. As you well know, I passionately belted out Morning Glory, and to see my idol live in the flesh was very surreal.

Speaking of idols, a childhood hero of mine – Peter Crouch – was also present at the festival! Everything else aside, I think the memory we will take with us for longest is seeing Crouchy moshing to Kasabian.

DD: Oh definitely, that will live long in the memory. Crouchy popped up on the big screens twice in quick succession, which gave him away! He was wearing a jacket and was trying to keep the hood up to remain incognito, despite being buffeted from side to side by a very excitable mosh pit. Peter, you’re literally almost seven foot tall, so it was obvious who you were eventually, but nice try anyway. I still feel that Crouch should have been on the plane to Russia rather than ferry to the Isle of Wight, but it was a good laugh anyway!

SW: It certainly was. On the subject of football, we can’t talk Isle of Wight Festival without mentioning the brilliant BT Sport Field of Dreams which broadcasted all of the World Cup games that were occurring over the weekend. There was no better place to watch England beat Panama 6-1 than on that big screen in the sun!

DD: It was amazing when England scored their first goal, and the atmosphere just got better and better when the goals went flying in! To be 5-0 up in a World Cup match at half-time in the middle of thousands of other England fans in the sun was something very special. There are some great videos of the scenes when England scored their first goal on social media, so go and check that out!

SW: Going back to the music, attending festivals is as much about watching your favourite artists as it is discovering new ones. We both checked out LANY who I thought seemed like a decent new band. Were there any others who surprised you, regardless of whether you knew them before?

DD: LANY were definitely a pleasant surprise. They were recommended to us by a mutual friend, so we headed over to the Big Top Stage to check them out. Their sound draws all sorts of influences, especially from Disclosure. Manic Street Preachers were also excellent – they’re a band that I’d heard about before but never really listened to properly, but their set definitely convinced me to check more of their discography out.

There’s been some criticism on social media about some of the bands picked to play at Isle of Wight this year. Is there anything you would have particularly changed about the festival to make it more suitable for festival-goers?

SW: I think there was a decent range of artists to be honest. Obviously, you have the stages which specialise in the more niche genres, but I felt the main stage had a nice mixture of pop, folk, and rock music for old and young. Seeing The Script and Jessie J really took me back to listening to Heart FM with Matt and Michelle on the school bus in year 8, so that was at least nostalgic if not my normal cup of tea.

DD: Looking ahead, which artists would you like to see top the bill at next year’s festival?

SW: My newfound obsession with George Ezra means I can’t rule him out, although for some reason even given how big I think he is these days he still only seems to make the BBC Introducing stage at Reading & Leeds, so I doubt he would headline Isle of Wight. The Vaccines are another top live band who would go down well, as would Catfish & The Bottlemen, Stereophonics, and Mumford and Sons, to give a few suggestions. Arctic Monkeys and/or The 1975 would be pretty huge too. Dua Lipa is a guilty pleasure of mine as well. Am I asking for too much?

What did you make of the facilities around the music and the football, such as the food stalls and the organisation of the event?

DD: I thought the facilities were great! There were plenty of food stalls to choose from, ample toilets and several stages to go and visit whilst waiting for the headliners. The Field of Dreams had a decent sized screen, and was a great place to watch a few World Cup games over the weekend. Staff around the site were extremely helpful as well. My only concern was on Sunday night, after The Killers’ set had finished. Everyone left the main stage and headed towards the campsite, forming a very narrow bottleneck. We saw someone who got injured and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few people felt very uncomfortable in there. Hopefully this is something that can be worked on in time for next year.

SW: I agree, I’ve been to a couple of other festivals where you end up being quite bored during the day because nothing really happens until the main stage kicks off in the evening. At Isle of Wight, the site was large enough that we found plenty of fun things to do, including sampling a beautiful Strongbow Dark Fruit ice cream! If I had to make a suggestion, it would be to move the press accreditation area a lot closer to the actual festival entrance, because as it was we had to do a half-hour walk carrying heavy luggage to get into the site after collecting our tickets!

Unfortunately, the festival wasn’t perfect for us, as before we even made it to the Isle of Wight, your Bag for Life had both of its handles break, which is as good an example of false advertising as any, but would you recommend it to others? The festival, not the bag.

DD: I had several baggage themed nightmares across the course of the weekend! Having finished my placement at the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton on the Friday, I decided to travel straight from there to the Isle of Wight. I folded everything neatly and put it inside my Bag for Life, which promptly decided to break moments before I got on the train! Both handles popped off the top at the same time – it was ridiculous and I’ll be sending a strongly worded email to ASDA very soon (I won’t). Thankfully, a lovely lady at West Cowes handed me a big black bin liner, so I shoved everything in there. It was then searched thoroughly for cannabis when I arrived at the festival, which was a pretty scary experience. However, I completely understand that the staff were just doing their job and their attitude and respect was exemplary towards campers.

Over the weekend, we found a very quaint pub in Newport, which had very reasonably priced drinks and also showed the football. The only downside was a group of very drunk people making far too many Friday Night Dinner references. What did you make of the Isle of Wight overall?

SW: Shout out to our mutual friend, Isle of Wight local, and Bournemouth uni student Todd for showing us around and introducing us to that pub called The Hogs Head. Overall, the festival was easy to get to, both on the ferry from Southampton, and on the bus from West Cowes to the festival site. I’ve not got anything bad to say about the location for the festival, nor for the strangers who helped us idiots put up our tent! The weather was absolutely glorious for us all weekend too, which definitely helped make the experience so enjoyable, even if our tent was too hot to have a lie-in in the morning!

DD: You tripped on tent wires far too many times, spilled hot chocolate all over someone and also had a bottle thrown at you. It must have been a very interesting experience, but how are you feeling now you’re home?

SW: It’s fair to say all the walking, carrying, and singing took its toll on my sanity by day three, hence I stumbled over tent furniture I couldn’t see and spilled very hot liquid over someone unlucky enough to be stood next to my shaking hand. The guy who threw a bottle at me for standing up during the England game despite the fact everyone else was stood up – I’m not going to cut him any slack! I guess it’s not supposed to be easy, but it was certainly a relief to return home, have a shower and appreciate having a comfortable bed to sleep in. I also enjoyed some Taco Bell at your house and lost a couple of games against you on FIFA, which somewhat soured my good mood, but with all said and done, it was a top festival which we both enjoyed thoroughly.

Thank-you to Isle of Wight Festival for inviting us to cover the event this year. Keep an eye on Nerve Media throughout the final third of July for its coverage of Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival 2018.