The market stalls are now packed up, the stages deconstructed and Southsea Common is returning to normality. However my social media feeds are still full of my friends photos and updates from Victorious Festival. As I go through my own photos they act as a reminder about all the things I’d been up to over the weekend. Some of which I’d completely forgotten about, not because I’d had too much rum but because there was simply so much to see and do!
As I approached Southsea Common early on Saturday afternoon I noticed the queue to enter the main entrance was snaked around a maze of fences. Full credit to the team on the gates as the queue moved quickly and we were through in no time.
After a pit stop at the bar my friends and I headed to Castle fields to find a spot on the hill so we can check out Teleman from upon high. The next act on stage was Izzy Bizu. The south Londoner was right at home on the big stage in the south coast sunshine. I had high hopes and Izzy did not disappoint, it’s just a shame that she was only on for a 30 minute set.
Southsea has been lucky to have had Southend on Sea’s The Horrors play down in our seaside town on a few occasions including the Wedgewood Rooms and The Pyramids so it was pretty special to catch them on large Castle Stage as the sun went down on Saturday. The small but enthusiastic audience got to experience a tight and dense set including songs from their awesome albums like Primary Colours and Skying, such as Still Life.
Izzy Bizu on the Castle Stage
Travis on the Common Stage
The opening chord of ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ was unmistakeable and when the Manic Street Preachers launched into this at the start of their headline set on Saturday night, it paved the way for a brilliant end to a brilliant day.
They made performing look effortless and I for one struggled to contain my excitement as they powered their way through such classics as ‘Kevin Carter,’ ‘If you tolerate this’ and the angsty, punk chorus of ‘You Love Us.’ James Dean Bradfield still has the passion and charisma to capture a crowd and this was never clearer than during his stunning performance of ‘Ocean Spray.’
The chemistry between these three boys from Blackwood is always evident and this was cemented further by Nicky Wire’s moving tribute to the fourth member, Richey Edwards, before the band gave a memorable performance of ‘No Surface All Feeling’ that left me with goosebumps.
This set reminded the crowd just what a varied back catalogue this band have created, all culminating in the finale of perhaps their most famous track from ‘Everything Must Go,’ ‘A Design for Life.’ The crowd gave it their all throughout the anthemic chorus. Political, passionate and poignant, the Manics are as relevant today as they have ever been and Saturday proved that without a doubt.
Manic Street Preachers headlining the Common Stage
I made sure I arrived at the Common nice and early on Sunday afternoon. Sadly not quite early enough to see local singer songwriter Jerry Williams open the festival on the Castle Stage. Her early slot was a shame as I’d have liked to have seen her. From speaking to those who’d arrived early enough, they loved it and from the photos it looked like Jerry was having a great time on stage.
After not really venturing from the Castle and Common stages on the previous day I wanted to have a look around the rest of the site. I was really impressed with the Kids Arena, it was buzzing with activity and happy families. After checking in with our friends over at the Bored of Southsea stall I devoured one of the best burgers I’d had in a long time courtesy of Burger Theory.
Rhythm of the 90s was brilliant – sadly the seaside stage wasn’t big enough and it’s really hard to jump and dance on a slope.
Kelly Woods on the Strong Island Stage
With six performances on the Acoustic, Real Ale and Seaside stages over the weekend, The Southsea Alternative Choir were unquestionably the busiest band over the weekend. The performed a host of classics from Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ to Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ as well as even taking the time to sing happy birthday to a friend in the crowd. The group were set up with a view to raising money for a local charity and with the collection buckets circulation around the large crowds I hope that they’ve managed to raise plenty for what is a great cause!
The world music area had an amazing vibe…loved the people’s lounge!
Not everyone appreciated The Southsea Alternative Choir on the Acoustic Stage
Favourite moment, jumping up and down at the front of the crowds to Kassassin Street. Most amazing singer has to be the gorgeous Jerry Williams who I could listen too all day.
After supping a few ales with the Rhythm of the 90’s in the background it was time for the local psychedelia band Kassassin Street who were returning to the Seaside Stage. The band played a selection of their favourites and some new material which seemed to go down well with their loyal following.
As the evening closed in I headed to the World Music Stage to see Liam Bailey, who proved to be the musical highlight of the whole weekend. Liam and The World Music Village in general surpassed all of my expectations and speaking to many of my friends it was their festival highlight too. The small stage allowing for you to get up close to some of the finest talent at the festival.
Jack Savoretti on the Castle Stage
Kassassin Street on the Seaside Stage
Getting Sir Noel along for High Flying Birds/Oasis sing along at the end proved that Victorious is now a top tier festival.
The crowds were beginning to briskly make their way to the Common Stage in order to get a good spot for what was unquestionably the biggest performance of the weekend. There was a tangible sense of excitement descending over the festival as the time approached for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to take to the stage.
Like many around me on the periphery of the crowd we weren’t too familiar with the earlier tracks. When they began to play Oasis tracks such as ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ the whole crowd would join in and sang along. Noel and co put on a good show and I’m sure that closer to the stage the more die hard fans were loving it but for me it was only when they played the Oasis tracks that I felt interested. I would have liked to have heard more from Noel between tracks and had a bit more interaction from him.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on the Common Stage
My colleagues stationed on the Strong Island stall did a fine job this weekend! We often catch glimpses of our readers wearing our gear both locally and slightly further afield, but to see so many of your lovely faces visiting the stall and proudly representing in our clothing was quite humbling. Thanks again for your support!
Overall I still think that last summer’s line up was stronger however there was still a lot to enjoy musically. My own personal highlights being Izzy Bizu, Kassassin Street and Liam Bailey over on the World Music Stage.
There was also much more to this festival than just the music as over the weekend I was treated to some cracking food. I didn’t think anywhere would beat the spicy mac n cheese from the gang at the Tenth Hole but the Southsea Beach Cafe‘s chips with Ox cheek gravy was fantastic.
As the team behind the festival deserve a well earned break thoughts will soon move towards next years event. I wonder what acts we can expecting to see, maybe the likes of the Killers, Stereophonics, Paul Weller or Kings of Leon?
Words by Stuart Barker, Naomi Rendle and Paul Gonella
Photography by Stuart Barker, Tom Langford and Elliott McCrae