Tens of thousands of people descended on Seaclose Park at the weekend for this year’s Isle of Wight Festival, which was back with a bang after the pandemic years with top performances from the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Kasabian, Pete Tong and Muse.
The appetite for getting back to normal was evident as a nearly sold-out festival came alive on Thursday night with gorgeous summer sunshine beating down on Newport. Happy Mondays and Heather Small ignited the Big Top and kick-started a long weekend of fun.
Scorching temperatures throughout Friday reminded revellers that Summer had well and truly arrived on the Isle of Wight, although it didn’t stay quite as warm and dry for all 4 days of the event.
On Friday, as Sigrid finished her set on the main stage at 17:55 all eyes turned to the skies in anticipation of the arrival of the Red Arrows. Bang on 18:00, 7 gleaming Hawks entered from the West. Their display proved to be a somewhat disappointing and limited 15-minute show, which seemed to be centred well away from the main site. The crowds couldn’t hear the roar of the engines in the main arena at all.
Just weeks after their appearance outside Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert, Nile Rodgers & Chic were next to take to the stage – kicking off Friday night’s non-stop hit-after-hit entertainment. Nile appeared relaxed on stage and commented that he thought it was the biggest crowd they had played to all year, despite their recent Jubilee performance in London. It was Nile’s third appearance on the Island having performed at the Festival in 2018 and at Bestival in 2014.
Later on, festival veterans Madness gave their usual assured performance with frontman Suggs linking the songs with banter and witticisms. All through the set, the hits kept coming including their only number 1 single ‘House of Fun’, which is now 40 years old.
Lewis Capaldi enjoyed his first-ever headline festival slot after travelling across to the Island via the Red Funnel ferry. Whilst on board he was happy to pose for photographs with staff and fellow travellers. Although some argued he wasn’t headlining material, Lewis’ performance was well received.
Following the heatwave of Friday, the heavy rain showers of Saturday did not dampen the spirits of the crowd who were singing along to The Proclaimers on their first return to the Isle of Wight in over 10 years. Many took cover in the Big Top to see Take That’s Mark Owen, who was clad in a bright orange suit to perform to the strong crowds. Another popular performance of the afternoon was Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, of Beautiful South fame.
The adverse weather conditions led to the temporary suspension of music on the Main Stage, cutting Blossoms’ set short – a stark contrast to Friday’s glorious weather. Elsewhere in the main arena, 2 people were injured when a beer tent partially collapsed in the high winds – but luckily no serious injuries were sustained.
Weather conditions improved as headliners Kasabian made their triumphant return to the Seaclose stage with Serge comfortable in his new role as the lead singer and with the crowd cheering him on. However, technical issues with the sound did cause a bit of a false start, with Serge joking he only had a few minutes of stand-up comedy in him. As Kasabian’s set came to an end, football legend and regular Festival visitor Peter Crouch took to the stage in a bizarre turn of events.
The night was rounded off with a sterling performance by Pete Tong and the Essential Orchestra, who brought Ibiza classics to Seaclose Park. Conducted by Jules Buckley, the live orchestra added a unique atmosphere with a fantastic laser light show making Pete Tong’s headline performance one to remember. The set brought about 2 surprises for the audience with Jessie Ware and John Newman both taking to the stage for unannounced appearances.
Sunday was anticipated to be another wet and windy day, but a forcefield around the Island kept the thunderstorms at bay to make for another comfortable and enjoyable day for revellers. There was some bad news though as Freya Ridings had to pull out due to ill health – she was replaced by BRIT nominated artist Laura Mvula.
Island band Wet Leg, who have been taking the world by storm over the past 8 months or so, completely packed out the Big Top with 20-deep crowds outside, all desperate to catch a glimpse of Rhian and Hester. After an electric set complete with ‘Wet Dream’, ‘Ur Mum’ and ‘Oh No’, Wet Leg closed with arguably their most popular song, ‘Chaise Longue’. They are now off to Glastonbury ahead of a tour of Australia supporting Harry Styles.
Over on the main stage, where many say Wet Leg should have been, Sunday night artists included UB40, Tom Grennan and Rudimental.
Muse, who last performed at Seaclose in 2007, arrived on the Isle of Wight by hovercraft on Sunday afternoon to close this year’s festival. The group flew into the UK straight from Lisbon before boarding the hovercraft in Southsea en route to Ryde.
With an entourage in tow, Muse headed to the Festival site and later performed a rememberable and energetic set. Of course, they had to end the set with their tour-de-force opus ‘Knights of Cydonia’. All 3 members then marched along a specially built runway to watch the closing fireworks.
The Kooks were the final act of the night – and the festival – as they brought proceedings to a close in the Big Top, who the likes of Craig David and Shaggy had also performed across the weekend.
Celebrities enjoying the festivities included Peter Crouch and his wife Abbey Clancy, singers Kimberley Wyatt and John Newman plus Fiona Bruce and The Apprentice’s Tim Campbell. Many stars of Celebrity Gogglebox were also present across the weekend with Denise Van Outen performing in ElectroLove, Happy Mondays’ Shaun and Bez in the Big Top and Big Zuu held a surprise performance at the Co-Op’s pop-up shop.
Rumour has it that cinch’s sponsorship of the Isle of Wight Festival will continue for 2 more years.
PHOTO GALLERY – ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 2022
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