Saturday is fancy dress day at Bestival, meaning that yesterday’s leisurewear-sporting visitors are now bedecking in glitter spray, unicorn horns and superhero outfits. The ‘fantasy’ theme seems to have been interpreted quite broadly by the attendees – at least seven ‘Where’s Wally?’s were spotted – but there were some very impressive displays of sartorial experimentation.
With their perfectly coiffured, besuited image, synth pop duo du jour Hurts – playing in a surprisingly lowly slot in the Big Top – were always unlikely to embrace the fancy dress theme, and so it proves. Singer Theo Hutchcraft admits as much, “unless your fantasy is a businessman”. Despite the sombre clothing, Hurts are an agreeably ridiculous proposition. Like much of the ’80s pop they ape so studiously, they do a nice line in high seriousness and mostly have the tunes to back it up.
Cornershop are up next. Front man Tjinder Singh resembles a man who’s been forced on stage at gunpoint, and plays with all the enthusiasm of a flu-stricken individual filling in a tax return. It’s a shame, because the music Singh and his bandmates produce is completely at odds with his surly demeanour: it’s upbeat, witty and keeps the crowd satisfied until the inevitable appearance of Brimful Of Asha near the set’s end.
Everything Everything follow Cornershop and they look a great deal happier. As well they should: their recently-released debut album Man Alive has been garnering rave reviews. On record, their music sounds like a bag of gremlins tumbling down a fire escape, but this afternoon the band’s hyperactive, tangential tendencies sound intentional, clever and – on MY KZ, YR BF and Schoolin’ – funky.
“Your costumes are wonderful,” coos Jnsi, a couple of songs into his early evening set at the Big Top. He’s accompanied throughout by images of woodland creatures frolicking, and the whole performance is a lovely, twinkly, bucolic delight which suffers only because it’s being performed in a big tent rather than a moonlit forest bestrewn with candles.
To use that rather patronising term, there are several ‘veteran’ acts performing at this year’s Bestival. Undoubtedly the kings of the old-timers are Roxy Music, second on the bill on the main stage and performing a set that’s interestingly drawn mostly from their early, Brian Eno-assisted albums. Bryan Ferry may have a reputation as the king of cool, but he’s anything but frosty tonight: bounding across the stage, shimmying and clapping above his head, he looks like he’s having the time of his life. As well he should: songs like Do The Strand, Re-Make/Re-Model and In Every Dream Home A Heartache are works of sui generis brilliance that still sound fantastic. The only misstep is the decision to finish with Jealous Guy, their 1981 John Lennon cover (and only Number 1 in the UK) rather than, say, Avalon.
No other act embodies the friendly, flamboyant spirit of Bestival as successfully as The Flaming Lips, so their Saturday night headlining slot is well-merited even if their commercial success has failed to match that of their spectacular live shows. Tonight Wayne Coyne is rolled on top the audience in his now customary giant plastic sphere, sings on the shoulders of bear (not a real one, obviously), fires confetti into the crowd and encourages us to impersonate animals. None of this may be new to regular Lips-watchers, but it’s still hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the band’s performance. The music’s pretty good, too: there’s a welcome airing of early single She Don’t Use Jelly, a riotous Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and the set closes with the ever-moving Do You Realize? which, on tonight’s evidence, might be the greatest song ever written.