Bestival, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight

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The Independent Culture

Rob da Bank's Bestival sits at the tail end of the festival season. Its inception four years ago saw a hardy few thousand people make the ferry ride to the Isle of Wight, but this year, over 20,000 crammed into Robin Hill Country Park. Herein lies da Bank's greatest challenge: can he take the step into the big league and still cling to the hippie sensibilities so imbued in Bestival?

It was easy to wonder, as a sea of bodies twisted to The Chemical Brothers whilst slogans flashed "We Want Your Soul" on giant TV screens. The Brothers were in fine fettle, bashing out a crowd-pleasing set.

At one point, the clouds gathered ominously, but then Gregory Isaacs appeared, the sunshine broke through and everything began to make sense. As Isaacs launched into "Night Nurse", a multitude of wizards and pirates let loose – this was fancy dress day.

Liverpudlian singer Candie Payne was performing in the Big Top with verve, but wasn't helped by sound quality that strangled any sense from her lyrics. Conversely, Robyn, fresh from her No 1 "With Every Heartbeat", raced on resplendent in an inflatable lollipop and soon gained favour, spitting out sassy venom like a souped-up Kelis.

The BBC Introducing stage threw up some surprises; Foals were excellent, as were The Wombats, and Jackson Analogue provided a feast of Seventies power chords and punky riffs.

Yet, if the festival belonged to anyone, it was the Beastie Boys. "Have you heard?" asks Mike D. "They're gonna rename this place the Isle of Mike!" After a flurry of their classics, anything seemed possible.

Elsewhere, the frighteningly young and unspeakably talented Kitty, Daisy and Lewis provided a shot of moonshine for the assembled cowboys and Indians with their brand of good-time rockabilly rock'*'roll. While Kate Nash's set was pleasant but rather thin and lacking in charisma.

This, however, is not a charge that can be levelled at Gossip's Beth Ditto, whose presence swept down from the stage like the silver sequins on her cape. She launched into a high-octane version of George Michael's "Careless Whisper", before ripping through an electrifying "Standing in the Way of Control".

Rob da Bank was greeted like a hero on the main stage to spin proceedings towards their finale. "Increase the Peace" read a banner above his head. "Bananas Not Guns" on another. And as the sun set on the Isle of Wight, more silly hats and wigs than perhaps was once thought possible flopped along in unison.

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