With diverse bands, vast alternatives of food and drink and changeable weather the 2015 IW Festival will certainly be one to remember.
One of the first acts on stage was Billy Idol. Born sixty years ago in Middlesex the ever youthful Billy was the lead in punk band Generation X until their split in 1982. Billy, real name William Broad, moved to New York where he forged a new, very successful, career as a solo performer.
He had UK Top Ten hits with ‘White Wedding’, ‘Rebel Yell’ and ‘Mony Mony’ which was Number 1 in the USA.
When Counting Crows took the stage on Friday singer Adam Duritz took the opportunity to record the scene of the Festival crowd for posterity on his camera. Having played the first revival festival in 2002 Counting Crows were glad to return. Their hits include ‘Mr. Jones’ and their version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’.
Friday headliners, Black Keys enjoyed a well received headline slot at Glastonbury last year. Their last compilation ‘Turn Blue’ reached number 2 in the UK Album Charts. At Seaclose Park the heavy rain did not dampen the spirits of the crowd.
On Saturday James made their third appearance at an IW Festival. This Manchester based collective had hits with ‘Sound’, ‘Born of Frustration, ‘She’s A Star’ and the anthemic ‘Sit Down’. When they concluded their set with ‘Laid’ they invited some of the audience on stage with them.
Britpop performers Blur have been producing music for a quarter century now. As Saturday headliners they gave a somewhat lacklustre performance. Despite Damon Albarn’s forays to ‘meet the audience’ a lot of the crowd thought they were flat. One highlight was Phil Daniel’s contribution to ‘Park Life’.
Suzanne Vega flew in from New York to give an early afternoon show on Sunday. She was followed by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, who had played at the 1970 Afton festival. During his performance he related how as he left the stage, having finished his show back then, Jimi Hendrix walked on!
Sunday headliners Fleetwood Mac boasted their seminal 70s line up and wowed the audience with almost two hours of their greatest hits.
Kicking off with ’The Chain’ which displayed Mick Fleetwood’s power drumming and Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar work this was show number 90 of a tour started last September but as Stevie Nicks pointed out this was the only festival.
Evidently they were not just pleased to be on the Isle of Wight-they were thrilled, and it showed in their performance.
‘Go your Own Way’ was their finale with an encore of ‘Don’t Stop’ with a backdrop of rousing pyrotechnics in the sky.
Back on the ground, over the weekend a number of Island companies provided their goods to festivalgoers. Backstage Liz Earle offered pampering sessions to the Premier VIPs. Celebrating 20 years since the company was formed this year, Liz Earle had a selection of their cosmetic ranges for guests to try as well as providing a venue for relaxation.
In the VIP area Minghella Ice-cream was on sale with their usual selection of flavours served in special cones. When the weather turned warm and sunny on Saturday afternoon what better treat than an Island made Ice-cream.
In the main areas charity stands included those from St. Catherine’s School, Ventnor, EM Hospice which again had their sunflower wares for sale and Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater. In the Dimbola marquee fascinated visitors could view the Jimi Hendrix memorabilia and see the collection of photographs of the 1970 IW Festival which was held on the downs that overlook Freshwater Bay.
With this year’s Festival main stage dedicated to the ‘Electric Church’ of Jimi Hendrix the Dimbola exhibits proved popular and are, of course, on show at Dimbola throughout the year.