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Isle of Wight Festival 2024 Review

Isle of Wight Festival 2024 Review

For festival fanatics across the UK and beyond, the Isle of Wight is host to the Festival that kicks off the UK summer season each year. While many come for the emerging acts of the modern generation, thousands are drawn towards the memories the Festival reignites, with its emergence dating back over an astonishing 54 year period. 

The Isle of Wight Festival began with a series of Festivals between 1968 and 1970, widely acknowledged as Europe’s equivalent of Woodstock. In 1970, a line up over 5 days included (amongst others) Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Supertramp, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Chicago, Procol Harum and played to over 600,000 people.

Since 2002, The Isle of Wight Festival stages have hosted bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Muse, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Kasabian, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, Coldplay, The Sex Pistols, Fleetwood Mac, The Police, Blondie and Red Hot Chilli Peppers and stand-out solo performances by David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Jay-Z and Amy Winehouse gracing the Main Stage. 

The Isle of Wight festival has been commemorating great British bands and artists since 1968 when it began as a counterculture festival in light of the hippie movement. However, 56 years later, the festival has certainly embraced popular culture as well as a fondness for nostalgia, with esteemed headliners that included Green Day, The Prodigy and Pet Shop Boys. This three-day booze fest was undoubtedly a monumental 72 hours of endless entertainment; an adult playpen that celebrates and nurtures exceptional musical talent.

Friday, June 21, 2024.

The Darkness opened the evening acts of the first day amid the elusive sunshine with some classic 1970s glam rock. Frontman Justin Hawkins is known for his ornate and elaborate stage swank, as well as his high-pitched vocals. However, his unabashed sense of humour also shined. With obvious influences from Freddie Mercury and Bon Scott, Hawkins appeared in a red and black jumpsuit with the entire front torso cut-out as he belted their hits from 2003: I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Love Is Only a Feeling as well as an uncanny cover of Led Zepelin’s legendary Immigrant Song.

Before the highly anticipated The Prodigy, The Streets prepared the ocean of people to channel their inner South London hood rat with some authentic UK grime from the early noughties. Described by Pitchfork as “the landmark for UK rap”, the band certainly marked their territory on the mainstage at the Isle of Wight with their hit singles, Blinded by the Lights and Dry Your Eyes from their chart-topping 2005 album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free. Lead rapper Mike Skinner’s sincere performance and emotionally stripped candour proved that these poetic spoken lyrics are deeply heartfelt and worthy of all the success as he dived into the crowd for a surf whilst reassuring that it’s “all downhill from here” after this first day of summer.

Electropunk royalty The Prodigy were a hard act to follow. A product of the formerly underground rave scene, the antisocial metal heads of the 90s breakbeat genre owned the entire weekend with their iconic dance-floor anthems, Breathe and Firestarter. Despite the great artistic loss of their frontman Keith Flint, the current remaining original band members, Liam Howlett and Maxim, exceeded all expectations as they delivered a grandiose spectacle with the aid of the unsettling backdrop that featured numbered reels reminiscent of a slot machine and hooded figures with laser eyes that penetrated back to London. Right before Firestarter, an outline of Flint’s horned head sprawled across the screen as a visual moment of silence for his tragic death back in 2019.

Although the main acts of the day were over, the party didn’t stop there. The Pretenders were rockin’ at Big Top, and partygoers could always count on Cirque de La Quirk for a guaranteed all-nighter!

Highlights of the day included Dagny, Beth McCarthy set the big top alight with her superb set, Crowded House forgot to bring the weather with them but still delivered an excellent set of perfectly crafted songs.

Beth McCarthy performs at Isle of Wight Festival 2024.
Beth McCarthy performs at Isle of Wight Festival 2024.

Saturday, June 22, 2024.

With The Pet Shop Boys for headliners and Jake Shears, Natalie Imbruglia, Jesse J and S Club 7 for support acts, the second day of the Isle of Wight Festival 2024 seemed to be deliberately centred around pure Brit Pop. S Club 7 emerged in matching denim outfits and epitomised the pop cheese of the early 2000s with their nursery rhyme melodies and elementary dance routines. For the masses of inebriated millennials, it was an enjoyable hour of hits and catchy lyrics. However, for the remaining Keane fans, it was merely a prelude in anticipation for the main act.

A stampede of campers and a vast variety of age groups made their way to the main stage. The alternative rock band from East Sussex, Keane, graced the music scene in 2004 with their unique sound and poetic lyricism. It appeared to have expressed a newfound appreciation and embracing of alternative rock music for the mainstream. The Brit award-winning foursome played legendary tunes from their best-selling album, Hopes and Fears, which featured some of their most notable hits, including Bedshaped and Somewhere Only We Know. Tom Chaplin bonded with the crowd by channelling his inner Freddie Mercury. As he fisted the air, he belted “AY-OH” and the audidence echoed, boasting his hypnotic vocal range.

Jesse J’s performance was a notable one. Her neon lime outfit shimmered in the pounding sunrays along with her stage presence and charisma. As her third time playing on the iconic Isle of Wight main stage, the Price Tag songstress bemused attendees with her astounding vocal abilities during her song Domino’s.

At the Big Top stage, Tom Meighan appeared in a big fur hoodie and sunglasses for Fire. The former frontman of Kasabian seemed to have redeemed himself as a soloist as the fans reacted impressively to songs from his album The Reckoning. However, the reaction to the notorious Kasabian song Club Foot didn’t even compare.

Suede headlined the Big Top stage on Saturday. The festival also saw performances by Loreen, Blossoms, Apollo Junction, Bradley Simpson, and Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters, among others.

By 10pm, the main stage was filled to its limit with people who assummably just bought day tickets for The Pet Shop Boys. Neil Tenant and Chris Lowe made their grand entrance in masks and cloaks and their iconic 80s synthesisers transported the fans back in time as they opened with Can You Forgive Her?, a 1993 hit single from their fifth studio album, Very. Their synth-pop duo romanced the audience as they weaved their covers of U2 tracks Where the Streets Have No Name and I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You into a medley. Devoted fans seemed to be having the time of their lives and caused the moshpit to go wild in perfect time for West End Girls.

Sunday, June 23, 2024.

It was clear that it was a pop rock day at Isle of Wight Festival, with all the Billie Joe Armstrong lookalikes roaming the festival and Nothing But Thieves, Simple Minds and McFly on the lineup. Day tickets for predominantly Green Day fans had sold out and the swarms started gathering in the mighty sunshine for McFly. 

An earlyish start on the Sunday was well worth the effort as it meant catching Beverly Knight who has what was probably the voice of the festival and is well deserving of a later slot next year. McFly put on an energetic set that proved they can rock with the best of them, Zara Larsson drew a large crowd as did Caity Baser another local artist who has taken the pop world by storm and yet again delivered an energetic fun filled set in the Big Top.

There wasn’t much time to recover from McFly until Simple Minds graced the stage with tunes from their 18th studio album, as well some olden goldies. 

Simple Minds as the penultimate band on the main stage are no strangers to stadium shows and had the crowd mesmerised as Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill and band delivered a set of ten songs, each one being a worldwide hit. Kerr is such a fascinating front man who still has that ability to captivate an audience and make them feel like one of the band, joining in on classic tunes such as Promised You A Miracle and Alive and Kicking.

Mostly known for popularising punk rock, the sole international headliner, Green Day, brought the Californian sun to Newport with them and finally presented themselves with one of their classics, Basket Case. The five-time Grammy award-winning trio have certainly mastered the art of entertainment. Lead vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong had a particularly heartwarming exchange with a young girl named Molly who he invited on stage to sing. She was clearly a die-hard fan, wearing a T-shirt that had the band’s album artwork sprawled across it and Armstrong’s iconic red tie.

Between their breakout album Dookie in 1994, and their most recent musical pursuits, including a 14th studio album called Saviours, it must have been difficult to condense a list of record-breaking singles and albums from over three decades into a two-hour set. Nonetheless, they didn’t leave out any classics. The heads started to bang for Boulevard of Broken Dreams, American Idiot and Wake Me Up When September Ends and continued right until the end of their gig. And on that high, so ended another fabulous edition of Isle of Wight Festival.

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