Five star festival review
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Before I set off for this year’s Bestival I had a nostalgic click through some photos from Besti-years-gone-by. 2008: the year the incessant rain and mud-encrustation made fancy dress attire unnecessary for the theme of ‘30,000 Freaks Under The Sea’. 2009: the birth of ‘Moonpig’ – a cherished homemade outfit I’m as proud of today as I was back then, emerging from my tent dressed in pink swimming costume and biro-coloured egg box to a combination of silence and ridicule. And what about 2010! That was the time I carried a John Lewis paperweight in my rucksack from London to the Isle of Wight, only to be so exhausted from the first night of Bestival magic I didn’t have the energy to furnish my David Bowie-in-Labyrinth outfit with the carefully sourced glass ‘orb’…
But as I flicked through the photos and memories, which increased in ridiculousness as the years went on, there was one thing I couldn’t remember…the artists. And since Bestival is curated by Rob da Bank and there’s always such brilliant and varied line-up – emerging talent to established indie bands and floor-filling DJs – this was a bit of a disgrace. This year, I resolved, would be all about the music.
And so it was on Friday that my office-frazzled brain was slowly thawed by the beautiful sounds of The XX, and it wasn’t long before that inimitable festival feeling crept in. I hadn’t seen Friday’s headliner Florence and the Machine since a pre-Mercury XX supported her at Shepherd’s Bush in 2009, and tonight, as then, she was enthralling – ethereal yet commanding, her voice soaring across the main stage crowd who did indeed feel like putting their hands up in the air. The Horrors filled the Big Top tent with their moody 80s-esque indie, and 2 Many DJ’s topped off the night with a crowd-throbbing set. So far, so many musical Bestival memories. I was on a roll.
My music mission started well on Saturday, with De la Soul providing the backdrop to a chilled afternoon boogie in my Wildlife-themed outfit (a relatively standard giraffe). But it seemed that music was the popular choice this year, with the Big Top full to bursting for some of the acts I’d ear-marked, so the Meadows area beckoned where the very fun Drambuie stage provided the dancefloor. A much taller and better-attired giraffe throwing shapes in the Rizla Tent put me off going in (no self-respecting giraffe wants to feel inferior by a whole metre), so it was over to New Order to be greeted by that infamous kick drum intro: Blue Monday – perfect timing. At night we zig-zagged from tent to tent on the fringes, from Psychedelic Worm to Knees-Up to Wedding Party to Swamp Shack to Enchanted Tree to Roller Disco…here was the Bestival of my memories.
Sunday brought more musical goodness from Bat for Lashes, Sigur Ros, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (one of my highlights) and Miike Snow. At around 8.45pm, though, as I squeezed my way to the main stage, I realised that the whole festival crowd this year wasn’t all about the music – it was about one special musical man: Mr Stevie Wonder. As he sang, preached and rallied through a sing-a-long medley of his greatest hits – How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Higher Ground, My Cherie Amour, Signed Sealed Delivered, Uptight, a cover of Michael Jackson’s The Way you Make Me Feel, Superstition, For Once in My Life – with a swaying chorus of 50,000 happy people hanging on every word, I knew right then that in legendary hit-making multi-award winning soul musician Stevie Wonder, I’d found my Moonpig of Bestival 2012.