V Festival, Hylands Park, Chelmsford
Tuesday 19 August 2008
The V Festival has reached its 13th anniversary by continuing to confound. Detractors point to its role as giant brand management machine, a suspicion helped by Wag-obsessed coverage beforehand. Here, wellies are a fashion statement, even in sunny weather, and if you are not boozing or listening to music, you are watching dancers cavort in underwear on the Sloggi stage.
Still, there is an eccentric charm in how one stage hosts both The Pogues – Shane MacGowan with arm in sling – and Sugababes, who pay lip service to dance routines, though rely mainly on rocking versions of their many hits. V is so unpretentious in its music policy, you find a rich seam of pop talent for people to gawp at as much as digest. This year, a new location allows for a larger audience, so now it is the sort of space for career-defining sets. Not this year, mind, for the festival relies on those who have proved themselves elsewhere.
Muse are at the end of a long journey that began at Reading/Leeds last year, though they raise their game with six radio dishes borrowed from the Seti programme that fire lasers and reflect projections. Such showmanship – and prog noodling – fails to detract from their whole-hearted passion. Richard Ashcroft also has this in spades, and The Verve are one of the warmest received bands of the weekend, despite rumours of another split in the offing. "The Rolling People" is a triumph for Nick McCabe's guitar work, while Ashcroft takes over for a moving "The Drugs Don't Work". Material from new album Forth occupies a barren hinterland in between.
The Prodigy augment their accelerated samples with industrial guitars to compelling effect, while Kaiser Chiefs present pummelling, unheard songs with their own verve, betraying a robust cynicism.
Maxïmo Park's Paul Smith handles the main stage with cheery ease, as does Amy Winehouse, only 10 minutes late and in commanding form, as she veers between the playful "Rehab" and wracked "Waking Up Alone". There is hardly room for unfamiliar names, though Jamie T finds a voice that is Kingston-upon-Thames rather than Jamaica's capital in a thrilling set that combines rockabilly, punk and ska. Noah and the Whale's folk pop is a slight curveball in such environs, though their good looks are perfectly in keeping here where how you look can be as important as how you sound.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Top 20 films that make you feel good
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
19 British bands signed to indie labels are getting government grants to help them make it big abroad
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
What if Nicolas Cage played every character in Game of Thrones?
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts