Bestival, Robin Hill Park, Nr Ryde, Isle Of Wight <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fivestar -->

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Curated by the Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and hosted by the Cuban Brothers, this year's Bestival promised to live up to expectations of an event that last year picked up "best medium-sized" and "most innovative" festival awards. The bands, DJs, performers and cabaret artists on 11 stages varied from The Fall and The Stranglers to newer talents such as Lilly Allen - who entered into the spirit of things in pink hair and bunny ears - Gogol Bordello and Mystery Jets.

This is the most carnivalesque of festivals - though there was a no-clown policy, as the organisers had apparently received complaints from coulrophobics worried that the circus-like setting would encourage lots of people to dress as clowns. So it was groups of blood-splattered doctors, swarthy pirates and papier-mâché monsters who gathered for the grand parade on Saturday night.

Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys told the crowd he felt "underdressed" despite his swish admiral's jacket and cap. Opening with the jittery "Psychological" from their album Fundamental, the duo showed that their electro-pop sensibility is not unaffected by modern-day anxieties, specifically the "war on terror". In a quietly venomous "I'm With Stupid", they warped the Bush/Blair "special relationship" into a parody of a love affair ("A sacrifice in love, it comes, it grows/ And now we're tied together, everybody knows"). The backdrop, a mixture of ballet, film footage and special effects - illustrated the Boys' devotion to aesthetic style.

The entertainment continued with Gypsy cabaret, jazz swing and a brilliant late-night session by the nine-piece Youngblood Brass Band. Bestival's line-up was a bold investment by the organisers in diversity and genre-hopping, mixing the famous with the up-and-coming as Hot Chip followed The Stranglers and well-known DJs such as Carl Cox and Sasha played sets alongside the more underground electro-soul sound of the Icelandic-based Mum, who captivated their audience on Saturday night.

On Sunday night, the Scissor Sisters were the main-stage finale. The glam-pop-disco outfit began in typically rousing fashion, exhorting everyone to "show them some blood". The honking horns and vamping piano deliver an irresistible momentum, and the way they slammed into "Tits on the Radio" was a highlight. And to end, it was time to face the fear as Jake Shears and Ana Matronic were joined on stage for "Filthy/Gorgeous" by - yes - sinister giant clowns.

Comments