Despite experiencing one of the hottest summers in over a decade, strong winds and drizzly spells dominate the Staffordshire skies as V Festival kicks off its annual two-day extravaganza. But fortunately (or not), here in the UK, we’ve become accustomed to this weather, so a bit of rain or mud isn’t going to dampen anyone’s spirits.
As 90,000 revellers flock to Weston Park for part one of the weekend’s event, they’re treated to a day that goes beyond just music, with the 1,000-acre countryside park boasting a funfair, comedy tent and a host of other fun activities – thus providing a family friendly atmosphere.
While the pop-heavy festival, now in its 18th year, predominantly focuses on acts at the more commercial end of the spectrum, Saturday’s line-up features a host of musically diverse acts, covering a variety of genres.
Newcomer John Newman proves a hit with the audience. Despite not having an album under his belt yet, the 23-year-old singer’s blend of catchy soulful pop visibly lifts the mood and is a perfect introduction for what’s to come. Over at the 4Music stage, Rudimental’s upbeat afternoon set really gets the party started, with the electronic quartet sending the crowd into a rave-like atmosphere.
West coast rapper Kendrick Lemar is one of the day’s highlights. After recently causing a storm in the US for his contribution to Big Sean’s ‘Control’, the California native seems unfazed by the hype and is on top form, as music lovers enthusiastically rap along to the likes of ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’.
As the day turns to night, Stereophonics’ new material doesn’t quite get the reaction it deserves from the predominately young crowd at the main stage, but classics such as ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ and ‘Mr Writer’ have revellers chanting in unison.
You’d be forgiven for doubting Kings Of Leon. The last few years have been difficult for the US four-piece: 2011’s world tour was marred by cancellations, onstage walk-offs, infighting and lacklustre performances. But those woes appear a thing of the past as the Grammy-winning band’s headlining slot is a landslide success.
New single ‘Supersoaker’ is the only track performed from the upcoming ‘Mechanical Bull’ album, but with an impressive catalogue of hits, fans are treated to an exciting, passionately raw set. While there’s very little verbal communication, songs such as ‘Black Thumbnail’ and crowd favourites ‘Use Somebody’ and ‘The Bucket’ are performed to perfection, proving that Kings Of Leon are officially back on form.
Sunday sees the return of the sunny weather, as Beyoncé closes the festival. Sporting a fresh new platinum bob hairstyle, the 31-year-old’s tardiness (20 minutes, to be precise) causes a section of the crowd to boo in frustration. However, the jeers are swiftly replaced with cheers as the former Destiny’s Child singer hits the stage.
Songs including ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Crazy In Love’ and ‘Halo’ trigger passionate word-for-word singing along. Staying true to form, Mrs Carter’s impressive dance-fused 45-minute performance contains five costume changes (they don’t call her a diva for nothing), narrative video interludes, as well as a visually eye-catching stage set, bringing the weekend’s festivities to a flamboyant, appropriately show-stopping end.
V Festival doesn’t pride itself on being a culturally artistic event, but if you’re looking for fun, drinks, and good pop vibes, then you’re in for a treat.
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Words: Vanessa Laker
Photos: Gobinder Jhitta
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