Isle Of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park, Isle Of Wight

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The Independent Culture

Since its revival in 2002, the Isle of Wight Festival has risen from underdog of the season to mainstay. An event that has to live up to hosting Hendrix and Dylan in its original incarnation now attracts suitably legendary bands such as REM.

Since its revival in 2002, the Isle of Wight Festival has risen from underdog of the season to mainstay. An event that has to live up to hosting Hendrix and Dylan in its original incarnation now attracts suitably legendary bands such as REM.

Currently mid-tour, the trio looked razor-sharp, breezily headlining a chilly Sunday. Michael Stipe, complete with painted blue mask, opened with "Bang and Blame" followed by the blistering classics, "The One I Love" and "Me in Honey", and the bold new "I'm Not Gonna DJ". Then it was literally fireworks for "Man on the Moon", and the audience was all smiles.

The run-up to this year's festival may have been spoilt by the late withdrawal of Morrissey, who claimed he'd never agreed to do it. Fortunately, Travis stepped in to join Faithless and Roxy Music, and this was a festival firing on all cylinders.

On Friday, Edinburgh's Idlewild proved their mettle with a glorious Widescreen rendition of "American English". The festival veterans Supergrass ensured that the vibe stuck firmly on fun, and Razorlight, with an eye on next year's headline slot, wilfully knocked out hits, but in the glare of their new track "Stop", they're clearly here for the long haul.

Faithless were the weekend's first headliners, and although their appeal usually hangs on just one song, their set was imbued with classic festival atmosphere; they were on fantastic form. Their best moments were an energetic "Insomnia" and a vital "God Is a DJ".

Saturday began slightly earlier, and Manchester's Nine Black Alps proved a highlight, illustrating that there's life in grunge yet. Babyshambles were suitably shambolic, and, remarkably, Ray Davies looked fresher, despite being four decades Pete Doherty's senior. The evening was made perfect with Davies' transvestite classic "Lola".

The Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain and fellow-countrymen Feeder played their hits efficiently, but Roxy Music brought gravitas with a non-populist set. At last, they chugged into "Virginia Plain", and lapsed fans were instantly tugged back to the faith.

Travis opened with "Sing", and though Fran Healy forgot lyrics, melodic sensibilities prevailed. They have festival blood in their veins, and "Turn" was received like manna, while a boisterous cover of Morrissey's "Every Day is Like Sunday" provided some comfort to the disappointed.

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