The Isle Of Wight Festival’s first official day was, for many, their second. Many of the crowd in attendance during the early stages of Friday arrived for camping spots during the downpour the day before and partied to the music on show under The Big Top and on The Acoustic Stage.
The “One Last Dream” competition allows an obscure unsigned band to reform and play the opening set at the Isle Of Wight but, after a rainy night, spirits are dampened and competition winners Waterburn play to a sparse and tired crowd. The next few bands have some work ahead of them if they are to impress.
Hockey tried their best but their lively tunes and stage energy suffered from a muddy sound mix which drowned their high end tones in a bass-heavy mess. Doves and Calvin Harris did better to lift the crowd with a larger selection of recognisable songs to jump to. Harris’s insanely commercial electro-pop songs like The Girls and Acceptable In The ’80s did especially well to get people on their feet.
But it would take the class and magic of Florence And The Machine to turn a mass of individuals in to a collected conscience of festival goers. On a sunny day they’d be playing in daylight hours at this time, but the gloomy weather on Day 1 ensured that the latter part of the set was bathed in glorious stage lighting, setting off Welch’s fiery hair and igniting her translucent flowing dress, thus ensuring that the epic tunes were best lit for maximum atmosphere and effect.
On a cloudy day it makes even less sense to wear your sunglasses at night, but if anyone can make Cory Hart cool again it’s Jay-Z, returning to a UK festival headline for the first time since his Glastonbury triumph in 2008. He started by doing what he does best and played to the crowd, paying a spoken tribute to the late, great Jimi Hendrix before hurtling in to a set filled with 99 Problems and Empire State Of Mind as the entire crowd threw up the diamonds.
He was soon joined on stage by Mr Hudson for Forever Young and Kanye West came on during Run This Town for a birthday rap-along verse or two. He left as quickly as he entered. Jay-Z spent a few moments picking individuals out of the crowd and talking directly at them, which is a nice touch, even if he does it every show. He came across genuinely touched and thankful for the support but, after conquering Glastonbury, he doesn’t have too much to worry about here.