First Night: Isle of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park, Newport

Pulp on form as festival season kicks off on the right notes
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The Independent Culture

The Isle of Wight turned up the volume on the UK's festival season with a star-studded line-up of British musicians, rounding off three days of music last night with the Leicestershire indie kings Kasabian and the Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers.

Master guitarist Jeff Beck, Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye and pop princess Pixie Lott were among the acts who drew thousands to the main stage yesterday despite driving rain.

Opening with the distinctive guitar riff of "Clubfoot", the single that first propelled the band into the UK charts in 2004, Kasabian vocalist Tom Meighan won the crowd over with ease despite strong winds disrupting the sound. Thanking the festival-goers for waiting in the rain, Meighan stoked cheers by telling fans "I take my hat off to you," before launching into "Shoot the Runner" to rapturous applause. However, such a response was notably not bestowed on the band's next offering, the debut festival performance of the title track from their forthcoming album Velociraptor.

Sporting a Union Jack tunic coat, Liam Gallagher swaggered on to the main stage earlier in the evening with trademark aggression to open Beady Eye's set with a sneering rendition of four-letter words. Brandishing a white towel, he swore at the drenched crowd, but told them: "You still look good mate," before launching into the popular sing-along single "The Roller".

Fairer conditions welcomed the Nineties Brit pop stars Pulp, who played their UK comeback show on the main stage on the gloriously sunny Saturday evening to a packed crowd.

Playing in the UK for the first time since 2002, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker and his bandmates delivered one of the best performances of the weekend in signature tongue-in-cheek style. "Shall I tell you a secret? We're actually better than we were then and there's more people here too," Cocker joked of the comeback, after beginning the set with the upbeat crowd pleaser Do You Remember The First Time?

The Sheffield group treated fans to Disco 2000 and Common People, which offered more style and charisma than Cocker's infamous dance moves would have suggested possible, and easily matched their best performances at the height of their fame.