Bestival, Isle of Wight
Bestival closes festival season with a feast of song and dance
Monday 14 September 2009
The summer festival season was brought to a close last night as Elbow headlined the main stage at Bestival. The Bury band played an impressive set, with tracks from their 2008 Mercury Prize-winning album, The Seldom Seen Kid, going down best with the crowd, particularly the riff-heavy "Grounds For Divorce". They finished with the uplifting, anthemic "One Day Like This" – which could have been written for festivals – and left the stage amid a blizzard of confetti.
Before them on the main stage were Fleet Foxes, whose beautifully understated folk-rock songs worked wonderfully as darkness fell. It may not have been a showy performance, but their lovely harmonies achieved the impressive feat of making the large field feel like an intimate venue.
During the day the crowd had a chance to relax before the final night of music, with the main stage playing host to a special show from the English National Ballet. Dancing to a medley of tunes from artists including Michael Jackson and Faithless, their combination of street dance and ballet certainly impressed.
Adding to the variety on offer on the main stage yesterday afternoon was the composer Michael Nyman and his band, as well as Björn Again. There cannot be many acts that can lift the spirits like the ABBA tribute group from Australia, and a field full of people singing "Waterloo" and "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" is always going to put a smile on your face.
This year Bestival's fancy dress theme was "A Space Oddity" and the quality of the costumes ranged from the last-minute to the meticulously prepared. Unsurprisingly, Saturday night's headliners Kraftwerk declined the invitation to dress up, although the German dance pioneers' futuristic show fitted in quite well anyway. In a typically enigmatic performance the group stood virtually motionless behind their laptops for the whole set – apart from one point when they were replaced by robots – which seemed to bemuse and intrigue in equal measure those in the audience who were unsure what to expect.
Earlier in the day, this year's Mercury Prize-winner Speech Debelle gave a sparkling performance. Playing with a full band, she impressed a surprisingly large crowd for the beginning of the afternoon, and on this evidence should have no problems capitalising on her recent award success.
The prize for best fancy dress among the artists on Saturday must surely go to Little Boots, who together with her band took to the stage as characters from Thunderbirds. Her lively electro-pop got people dancing, and the singer, who was dressed as Lady Penelope, even had a miniature car in keeping with her costume in which she drove on and off stage.
Also on Saturday Lily Allen showed her festival experience with a hit-filled set that delighted her adoring fans despite some sound problems. "LDN" and "The Fear" went down well, and her versions of the Kaiser Chiefs' "Oh My God" and Britney Spears' "Womanizer" were lapped up before "Fuck You" got the crowd swearing in unison.
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