Is there a better way to start a Sunday than dancing to the hits of The Rolling Stones as performed by tribute band ‘The Stones?’ Well, it could be sunny (it is about to rain for the whole day) but other than that the answer is a resounding no. With the strutting singer resplendent in a green embroidered trench coat and black top hat, front man Ben launches into ‘Brown Sugar’ and the audience are dancing deliriously. ‘Start It Up’ goes down a storm and the bouncy beat of ‘The Last Time’ has the audience ignoring the rain. The strident sound of a cowbell elicits cheers as ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ is heralded. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ has the festival fans providing the ‘woo hoos’ A fantastic finale featuring ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’, ‘Satisfaction’ – with the crowd divided into the ‘sexy’ half or the ‘beautiful’ half competing to be the loudest at the chorus (I was beautiful rather than sexy but was also predictably on the loudest side) and ‘Jumping Jack Flash.’ The Stones recreate faithfully the sixties and seventies songs of the Rolling Stones brilliantly and we will definitely be looking out for them performing near us in the future.
Next up on the Main Stage was Who’s Who. Launching straight in to ‘I Can’t Explain’ followed by ‘Substitute’, front man Gary really gearing up the crowd for a great gig by bouncing around the stage with a microphone lasso. The melodic ‘I’m A Boy’ has the audience joining in , including somewhat ironically, some cheerful chaps dressed as nuns. The show shuttles forward with ‘I Can See For Miles’ and then the crowd is clapping along to ‘Baba O’Reilly.’ ‘Who Are You?’ echoes across the field and your ears are asking the same question as it seems unbelievable that the guys on the stage are anybody but The Who and we have travelled back in time to catch them at their energetic, exuberant exciting best. ‘Pinball Wizard’ is neatly segued with ‘I’m Free’ and starts possibly the friendliest circle pit I have ever seen. Brilliant bouncy strangeness from ‘Moony’ then a rollercoaster ride through ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, ‘See Me, Feel Me’ and ‘Squeezebox.’ The melancholy melody of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ shows the vocal talent of Gary and the adaptability of the band. A thunderous ending comprising of ‘My Generation’, which creates crazy capering amongst the crowd and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ makes it clear that Who’s Who certainly deserve the accolade of best tribute to The Who.
Over in the Big Top tent, an enthusiastic crowd has gathered to rock with Maetloaf. An energetic ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ has the audience dancing fiercely and then singing along to an unaccompanied version of ‘I Would Do Anything For Love.’ After this short taster, a frenzied version of ‘All Revved Up With No Place To Go’ captures the spectacle of a Meatloaf show. Pulling out a fantastic performance of hits such as ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ and ‘Bat Out Of Hell’; Maetloaf was a real crowd pleaser.
On the Main Stage, we have The Modfathers. Style Council number ‘Shout To The Top’ has the crowd dancing enthusiastically and then going completely wild for ‘That’s Entertainment’ and ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight.’ Front man Tony Brown really does capture the authentic sound of Weller throughout his chameleon career. ‘Butterfly Collector’ is beautiful and shows Brown to be a real vocal virtuoso. A sensational show ends with high octane performances of ‘Town Called Malice’ and ‘Eton Rifles.’ The Modfathers certainly are excellent entertainment.
Not being a fan of pop music, I thought I would give Chesney Hawkes a miss and go see who was on in the other tents. He pulled me in, however, with a rocking version of Bryan Adam’s ‘Summer of ‘69’ and then a fervent cover of The Kaiser Chiefs ‘I Predict A Riot.’ His own song ‘Oh So Dull’ went down well with the crowd and with a rendition of Crowded House’s ‘Weather With You’, Hawkes had me hooked and I decided to stay and watch the set. As he sits at the piano to play ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ I start to wonder why I had pegged such an indie lover as commercial pop…maybe it was his previous boy band image, currently jettisoned for a stubbly look that makes the guitar wielding Chesney seem much more palatable. In fact, his new song ‘Come Back’ sounds like an indie rock anthem with a soaring chorus and I see Hawkes in a totally new light as he performs ‘The One and Only’ to a bouncy crowd where everyone of a certain age seems to know all of the words. Ok…I knew all of the words as well. The set was fantastically fun and left us wishing to see more…Chesney Hawkes is back and he is actually brilliant.
The next act up on the Main Stage is The Sex Pistols Experience; a riotous replay of the pioneers of punk. ‘I Wanna Be Me’, complete with a belting belch in the middle of the song, sets the scene for a roaring, rebellious act. Snapping at the stage manager ‘Enough of the smoke man…we’re not U2’, front man Johnny Rotter embodies the spirit of the young anarchist. Kid Vicious sneers down from the stage during ‘Seventeen’ and is followed by ‘New York’ performed with the relevant sarcasm and spite. Johnny Rotter recreates the fearsome theatrics of Rotten by pulling at his hair and staring avidly into space. ‘No Feelings’ has the some of the crowd defying the rain by wrestling in the mud and then furiously pogoing around covered in dirt. A heckler is put firmly in his place by Rotter who jeers ‘Do you expect us to be nice?’ and then a brilliantly witty follow up by ‘I’m getting paid to be a cunt but you are doing it for free.’ Crazy dancing ensues for ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Submission’ is performed with sneering staring starkness. ‘Liar’, ‘EMI’ and ‘Holidays In The Sun’ have created a mud mosh pit next to me. ‘Bodies’ sees a can hit the stage and Rotter pick it up and drink from it without missing a beat. With some trademark spitting Rotter shouts out ‘I don’t want a baby that looks like that’ as he wraps the microphone cord around his neck. As Rotter falls puking to his knees and then declaims ‘I’m going for a shit’ and storms from the stage, it is clear that this is a tribute act that really does give the whole experience. Kid Vicious then conquers the crowd with ‘Something Else’, ‘Come On Everybody’ which gets the crowd dancing and a snarling ‘My Way’ with the band pretending to shoot the crowd to the drumbeat. A frenzied finish with ‘God Save the Queen’ a slashing swipe at this weekend’s jubilee celebrations and ‘Anarchy in the UK’ leaves us gasping for more; a festival highlight, this band really is an experience.
The cocky self-assurance of Oasish front man Paul is apparent from ‘Rock and Roll Star’ opener to the finale of ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol.’ A fast paced set list including ‘Roll With It’, ‘She’s Electric’ and ‘Some Might Say’ has the crowd singing and dancing and Paul’s plea for people not to throw cans back through the crowd ‘if you can’t drink it, don’t fucking buy it, yeah’ captures the spirit of Oasis and is further accentuated by the authentic outfits and instruments used by the band. A sing along session of ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ and ‘Live Forever’ was popular with the crowd and the inclusion of ‘Champagne Supernova’ was great, although as a huge Oasis fan I would have liked more of the less mainstream tracks. Given that this was a festival, however, and that the real Oasis are out of action, Oasish are as close as you can get to experiencing those heady days of the nineties that I still miss so much.
Back over in the Big Top tent, tribute band Four Fighters detonate a decibel bomb and rock the tent into tomorrow. An enthusiastic crowd reception to ‘Times Like These’ is followed by raised fists and singing along to ode to the ordinary ‘My Hero.’ With a blinding set that mimics the original sound and performance epically, ‘Learn to Fly’, ‘Breakout’ and ‘Best of You’ set off crowd surfing mayhem and matey moshing. ‘Walk’ induces much singing as does ‘The Pretender’ and a cover of the Pistol’s ‘God Save the Queen’ injects a bit of punk to the grunge and rock set list. ‘Everlong’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ round off the performances perfectly and the audience are beaming.
Headline act Mercury have perfected their performance over the years to recreate the flamboyancy and charismatic crowd pleasers that were Queen. Striding on to the stage in a superman top, Joseph Lee Jackson propels himself straight into ‘Seven Seas of Rye’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ with the crowd enthusiastically clapping, singing and dancing along. It is raining but Mercury’s performance is so electrifying that the crowd don’t care anymore. Ensuring hits to satisfy fans and festival friends alike, the set continues with ‘Hammer To Fall’ and ‘Killer Queen’ segued with ‘Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.’ Keeping the pace set to sprint, Mercury blast through ‘Bicycle Race’ and a sing along ‘You’re My Best Friend’ and then Jackson has the crowd eating out of his hand with a trademark singing contest. Mercury show case their front man’s vocal talent further through ballads ‘Somebody To Love’ and the poignant ‘Those Were The Days’ which has some members of the crowd in tears. Mercury keep the crowd captivated with ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with an instrumental break for Jackson to change into a bright yellow jacket, during which Glenn Scrimshaw plays May’s ‘Brighton Rock.’ With the inclusion of ‘One Vision’, ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’, ‘I Want It All’ and ‘I Want To Break Free’ the crowd is really rocking and join in by clapping during ‘Radio Gaga.’ The versatility of the band is shown through the inclusion of ‘Barcelona’ and then an audience participating ‘We Will Rock You.’ Mercury are fantastic and certainly an excellent way to relive the Freddie years – they will rock you!