The final day of the festival throws a surprise – the main arena stage is transformed with a new set, complete with catwalk, which includes some suspiciously primed gas canisters and pyrotechnic equipment as well as trapeze wires overhead. Bands like Arcade Eden and The Coronas started the day off for some dedicated bleary-eyed revellers before bigger acts started appearing. Surprises were thinner on the ground when it came to their sets.
Before you could say “I hope she plays Marlene On The Wall” Suzanne Vega opened her set with Marlene On The Wall. The rest of her show was filled with her ’80s hits like Luka and Left Of Centre as she celebrated 25 years since her first record and her new Love Songs album. She closed her set with Tom’s Diner – of course – and it was haunting and beautiful.
The Courteeners and Friendly Fires followed soon after. The latter’s singer Ed Macfarlane made use of the first cowbell at the festival during Jump In The Pool, and also made the first foray on to the new catwalk. His energy was all but visible as he sweated his way into an ever darkening blue shirt while dancing maniacally to crowd favourites like Skeleton Boy and Paris.
Spandau Ballet came on soon after to do what they do best and have done for over 30 years. The set-up is pure ’80s saxophantastic extravagance, with double kick drums, bongos, a full band and the first and only use of a giant gong to be had all weekend. Hits like True and the closer Gold continue the crowd pleasing choices, and the veterans lapped up the solidly loud appreciation.
Pink brings her Funhouse Tour to the Isle Of Wight and literally explodes on to the stage, falling out of a box suspended above the crowd after a cartoon cannon fires at it. In a ridiculously sexually charged floorshow, flashing plenty of arse as she removes sections of costume to Just Like A Pill, Pink runs around the stage with the energy of a coked out stripper as she hands her garter to a reveller and grinds against various band members.
Rather than filling out her set with album tracks she chooses to play all the hits and a few rock covers like My Generation and Green Day‘s Basket Case. To a lively cover of Roxanne she jumps into a zorb globe, Wayne Coyne style, and zorbs over the top of the crowd. She somehow navigates her way back on stage and continues singing and dancing, seemingly unaffected by the effort. The climax continues as she then gets in to a trapeze rig for the encore and flies over the crowd to rapturous applause during So What. The whole set was a feat of physical energy and left the audience, if not herself, gasping for breath.
There was enough time while the stage set up changed slightly to allow the crowd to come down from their high before Paul McCartney took to the stage as the festival closer. According to Sir Paul, Jimi Hendrix played Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival and Macca reciprocated with a Foxy Lady cover, which went down well with the ever-increasing crowd. In common with much of this event, there were few surprises to McCartney’s set as he belted out a solid procession of his Beatles songs (and the George Harrison-penned The Long And Winding Road), Wings hits like Jet and Band On The Run and some of his own material, like 2007’s solid Dance Tonight.
Hey Jude, as has long been its way, seemed to go on forever, but the 50,000-strong chorus didn’t mind. The real spectacle came with the fine pyrotechnics display; fire, smoke, fireworks and confetti cannons all got a work out. Cue mass hysteria, screaming, euphoria. For those still in the mood, there was still time to head over to the Big Top and watch James belt out his classics Laid and Sit Down to close out the live music for the weekend. Cruelly the heavens open again once it’s all over and one and all start to find their way home, or back to their tents for one last uncomfortable sleep. But everyone is happy and warm in their collective musical souls. Hendrix would surely have approved.