Live Music + Gig Reviews

Bestival @ Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight

8 September 2007

What was your festival Saturday like this year? Probably involved a hangover from hell, a wizard hat and a vain hope that your wellies would mostly win out against the mud, right? Even if it wasn’t quite that bad, you’d have to go a long way to beat Saturday at Bestival. Here, Saturday finishes with you playing Ring of Fire live on the main stage, sandwiched between Madness and the Beastie Boys. Top that, Glasto.

All that it takes to make this dream happen is a ukulele, a complete abandonment of any common sense or self-effacement, two practice sessions with The Dulwich Ukulele Club and a deep breath. And there you are, on main stage. The MAIN STAGE. Of a FESTIVAL! How ace is that?

And if taking part in the Night of 100 Ukes isn’t enough, what about an afternoon spent playing bridemaid in the Inflatable Chapel of Love? All you need for that is to bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a couple of years who’s already booked a session and away you go. Bestival even lends you the bridesmaid’s dress to do it in!

Saturday started relatively normally, you may be pleased to hear. After filing last night’s copy, musicOMH finished listening to the Chemical Brothers (not as posh as Klaxons, but probably much richer, for those of you still playing the Posher Than Klaxons? festival game), The Kissaway Trail (also less posh) and failed to get in to see Fred Deakin (who may be as posh, and wins in a tie for having posher fans) before retiring back to the tent to wake up to the new morning at a respectable 10am.

First up was Fionn Regan on the main stage (not as posh), whose usually fragile and intimate folk tunes didn’t correspond as well as we might have hoped to the big open spaces of Bestival. Then it was the first ukulele event of the day – The Dulwich Ukulele Club in the Big Top – and our first whiff of ukulele tribalism, a call much stronger than heroin addiction, we were soon to find.

In the Bestival Village, amid the Women’s Institute tent, morris dancers, Arts Council projects and smoothies, we attended our first ukulele practice. Little did we realise that this was not just ‘uke familiarisation: part one’ but that once we had so much as said hello to the ukulele people, they had our number. We were handed a laminated Ace of Spades and told that we were now part of the main stage show – on at 8.00pm. Eek!

Mock weddings and buckets of Pimms aside, the rest of the afternoon was spent in fevered ukulele practice, ignoring the moustache championships and fancy dress parades going on elsewhere. What, you say? And music? For goodness sake, don’t worry about that at Bestival – there’s far too much fun to be had!

Madness (less posh than Klaxons) turned out to be the afternoon’s surprise guests, where some had hoped for Madonna (less posh, but much, much richer) after the first three letters were leaked. As always, Suggs and the lads knew how to get the crowd going, but not as much as us and our ukes.

After me: uk-u-lele! U-ku-lele!

A storming set of only two and half songs was cruelly cut short by lack of time. Now we know how Mystery Jets (about equally posh) felt last year, except that we’re not rubbish psychedelic folk. We have ukuleles! No worries though, as there’s a fabulous firework display to watch instead as we stand backstage and revel in our newfound glory.

Remembering we are actually here to work, we momentarily delay attending the ukulele aftershow party to file today’s copy. Next up on the main stage are Beastie Boys (less posh, richer). We may stay and watch them but, up in the Bestival village, there may be more ukulele action. We are now officially addicted.

Tomorrow: iLiKETRAiNS! (less posh, we think). We can only hope it will all end in the Inflatable Chapel of Love. Again…

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