First Night: V Festival, Chelmsford - Reviews - Music - The Independent

First Night: V Festival, Chelmsford

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Feisty Lily finds her voice – as Oasis lose theirs

They were meant to help bring the V Festival to a close last night but, much to the fans' disappointment, Oasis were forced to pull out after Liam Gallagher contracted viral laryngitis.

The frontman was advised by his doctor not to take to the stage, despite performing at the festival in Weston Park, Staffordshire, on Saturday. "After a year of being on the road this is the first performance to be lost to a band member's illness, so naturally we are all gutted," said a spokesman for the group.

However, Gallagher admitted on his blog on the band's website that he did not enjoy himself and was not feeling well. "Boo! Just come off stage at V in Stafford. And I don't mind admitting that I didn't enjoy it one bit. Dunno know. Couldn't get into it. Very strange," the blog read. "Don't feel too clever. Outrageous stomach ache. Feel like I'm coming down with summat."

The news comes amid rumours over the band's future following Gallagher's revelation that he and his brother Noel barely speak. "He doesn't like me and I don't like him, that's it," Liam told NME last week.

Snow Patrol took up the tough challenge of replacing the festival headliners. Earlier yesterday, in Chelmsford, The Proclaimers proved a hit, their happy-go-lucky songs reassuring the crowd with their familiarity. They even covered Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World"; if your closed your eyes, you could forget you were standing in a field in Essex listening to two Scottish brothers.

Sporting a pretty pink sequinned number, this was Alesha Dixon's first festival solo appearance and she attracted a handsome crowd. Bouncing around on stage like a London-born Beyoncé, Dixon had sex appeal and a bit of attitude, yet she showed a sensitive side, too. "Hope you're gonna show me support on Saturday night," she pleaded, referring to her Strictly Come Dancing judge position. Then it was time for a trip down memory lane, with a medley of songs from her former band, Mis-Teeq. The crowd, from topless, tattooed guys to girls in cowboy hats, went suitably wild.

The day before in Chelmsford, with bright weather and a strong line-up, the V Festival looked set go according to plan. So fittingly enough The Script got the crowd started on a sunny afternoon, working their Irish charm on the Essex crowd. Sing-alongs were in order, complete with a heaving crowd as far as the eye could see. Thumping out songs such as: "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" and "Break Even", the band showed they could deliver for a major festival. The addition of a Bowie cover, "Heroes", went down especially well.

Continuing the Bowie theme, Lily Allen came on in a black backless top with hot pants and Ziggy Stardust-style eye makeup. She innocently declared she was "very nervous". This feisty star couldn't seem to get enough of exclaiming the F-word, whether in the lyrics of her songs or in on-stage chit-chat. Allen played a selection of new and older songs including "LDN", "Smile" and, suitably enough, "Fuck You". She also threw down the gauntlet to the likes of Lady GaGa and Katy Perry, adding some Drum'n'Bass and a cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer".

Dizzee Rascal did what he does best, using his tough-guy image and emphatic bass-driven tunes to get men and women alike grinding on down. But in truth, mostly the men. As the sun set and the air got cooler, Pete Doherty was spotted singing along to The Specials – and he wasn't the only one. Terry Hall and co pulled off another energetic set complete, aided admirably by their three-piece horn section and playing all of their hits, including "Rat Race" and "Monkey Man". The crowd loved them, getting even more excited when Amy Winehouse joined them onstage to duet on "Ghost Town".

Who to choose next? Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, or The Killers? I went for The Killers. But it was a disappointing and dull performance, topped off with a helping of arrogance: too many unknown songs, not enough chart-toppers. The audience slowly dissolved as the performance went on. I should have stuck with Norman.

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