The Isle of Wight Festival based at Seaclose Park in Newport started with a series of one-off shows between the late summer of 1968 and 1970, After lots of wrangling with the council the festival was revived in 2002 into the festival we know today.
Back in the day, the Isle of Wight Festival competed against other well-known festivals such as Woodstock. In 1969 the festival triumphed by winning over Woodstock local Bob Dylan, who decided to skip the New York event, trading it in for the UK experience. That just goes to show that the IOW Festival is one of the best festivals in the world.
A festival that once saw as few as 8000 attending now sees upwards for 60 000 people in front of the stage. In 20 years, the festival has boomed and attracted well-known artists and musicians from across the globe. Here are a few of our favourite performances to have graced the stage at the IOW Festival.
Jimi Hendrix (1970)
This concert had a record number of attendees at a staggering 600 000 people. The ‘Rock God’ himself showed up and took over the stage at Afton Down, playing alongside Leonard Cohen, Donovan, Joni Mitchell and Pentangle. This concert turned out to be his final performance in the UK as he died shortly after.
His legacy still lives on at the festival with musicians such as Jeff Beck performing a tribute to Hendrix at the festival years later in 2011.
David Bowie (2004)
The man behind the characters known as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke made a grand appearance at the 2004 Isle of Wight Festival, warming up the crowd with his hit song, Rebel, Rebel. He refreshed his fans’ memories and reminded them of his legacy as he pranced around the stage singing songs such as Fame, Ashes to Ashes and Heroes.
Bowie threw a few covers into the mix courtesy of his dear friend Iggy Pop. The performance was the Starman’s last tour and was definitely out of this world.
The Rolling Stones (2007)
In true Stones’ fashion, Mick and Keef made sure that their headline performance was one to remember. With over £100k spent on just the catwalk/conveyor belt that divided the crowd and provided Mick with all the space he needed, this performance was one of a kind.
If the band was not being moved around by fancy hydraulics, they sang with pop idols such as Amy Winehouse – a fantastic combination adored by the audience.
This pop star did not play it down when it was her time to perform. From trapeze acts to flying acrobatics, she did it all. She opened and closed the show way up above the crowd, attached to numerous wires while doing fantastic choreography.
The performance is undoubtedly one of the most significant Isle of Wight performances and included hits from the artist such as Funhouse and Sober.
Pulp’s performance was an excellent comeback for the 90s Britpop band known for Disco 2000 and Babies song tracks. Their rally didn’t last long though because shortly after the band’s performance the group broke up and never set foot on the Isle of Wight Festival Stage again.
Despite the possible tension in the group, they still managed to keep the crowd entertained and dancing.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2012)
In a performance that lasted almost 3 hours, Bruce ‘The Boss’ did not hold back when it came to his performance. When the fireworks finally ended, the crowd were still screaming for more.
Springsteen brought out songs such as Glory Days and Born in the USA, which is rarely performed live. The follow-up act was Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and, boy, did they have some stiff competition, as ‘The Boss’ is a tough act to follow.
Queen + Adam Lambert (2016)
2016 was a brilliant year for the Isle of Wight. With ‘The Who’ headlining on Saturday and Queen the following day this has to be one of the most incredible years for the festival.
Original members Brian May and Roger Taylor burst onto the stage in true Queen style with smoke machines and lights. Freddie Mercury replacement Adam Lambert, the 2009 runner up for USA’s American Idol, joined the band to the audience’s delight.
They closed the brilliant show with ‘We Are the Champions’, followed by ‘God Save the Queen’. This performance is said to have been another top performance seen on the Isle of Wight to date.
So clearly the Isle of Wight is the place to be if you’re big into your live performances by some of the best musicians in the world. The 2020 Festival may have been cancelled, and the status of the 2021 Festival is still unclear, but we can’t wait to see what and who the Isle of Wight has in store for us next.