Monday, 30 August 2021

Some Words On: Victorious Festival 2021

The weekend just gone was Victorious Festival, which is based in my home town. I bought a weekend ticket during the first round of early birds after the first band announcement, as there were quite a few acts I'd be happy to see. I personally tend to lean towards the heavier side of music more often than not, but there was plenty on the bill I would hopefully enjoy.

A quick word on the Covid stuff, seeing as it caused one of the 2020 headliners to not appear at the 2021 event and one of the 2021 Castle Stage headliners to pull out. You had to show a Covid pass to get into the event (along with a ticket, obviously). This was barely an issue for me, as I’m double vaccinated and do lateral flow tests fairly regularly. I entered at a fairly quiet time on Friday  and only saw one conversation about someone having a lack of a Covid pass, but the staff were great with dealing with that from what I saw. Not sure how that would work with a massive entry queue mind. Other than that, and some (very watery) hand sanitiser about the site (and a vaccination station) - you’d be forgiven for thinking the pandemic had ended. By the end of the weekend, it was a case of walking in the arena with the Covid pass visible on my phone, but no-one appeared to be actually asking for it. 

I’ve seen some comments about various organisation issues with the festival this time round, and can only write from my own experiences. The toilet queues at times have been crazy. Friday certainly seemed to be the worst day for them, and I wonder if they might in the future consider opening the toilet block by the Castle Stage just to alleviate the queues a little bit. I live up the road from the festival so this isn’t an issue for me (and, being male, I can use the urinals which barely involve a queue). I would have thought an event of this size would have a bare minimum of toilets required based on anticipated tickets sold, and then you would hope they wouldn’t stick to the absolute minimum. I think more is needed, and I would hope this will be addressed for 2022.

To the bands


Terrorvision - Brilliant way to start my festival, absolutely loads of fun. Saw them twice on the Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour, and thought they were superb, and this was more of the same. First time seeing them playing Tequila, which was cool. My only gripe was that they didn’t play Discotheque Wreck, which is my favourite song of theirs - that is a very small gripe though. 

Peter Hook and the Light - Good fun. 40 minutes featuring the best of New Order and Joy Division, what’s not to like? I mean, if you don’t like either of those bands, this set wouldn’t have been for you. I like a bit of each though so this was good for me. 

Feeder - Technical problems plagued this set unfortunately. They were really good despite this and got some (predictably) loud singalongs. It was the first time I’d seen Feeder in a long time (13 years, I think), and it was nice to see them again. 

The Kooks - I enjoyed their set more than I was expecting to. I was there thinking I knew 2 of their songs, and it turns out I know 4. Despite not knowing a lot of it, it was good. 

Madness - In truth, this was a bit of a disappointment for me. It had gotten fairly cold by the time they were due to come on (I appreciate this could be my fault I was cold due to having no jacket/hoodie and was wearing shorts). The stage music stopped, and all the lights went off the stage...and then there was what felt like a 10 minute wait with nothing happening. Even then it still took a long time for them to come on and get started. One Step Beyond is always a great way to start a set, but I thought it was a bit quiet - something which persisted throughout. The next song was Embarrassment, and I think Suggs got it a bit wrong as it appeared to end abruptly. It was okay after this, possibly still a bit quiet and a bit slow but fine. Suggs definitely forgot the words to Wings of a Dove, and there appeared to be a live band debate as to whether they should do it again, plus combined with singing happy birthday to the saxophonist/singer’s daughter. After Driving In My Car, there was a period of the set which contained songs I didn’t know, and seemed a bit slow again. At this point, I was cold and bored, so decided to make my way towards the back to leave. They did a bit of a best of, and that was fun but I was ready to leave at this point. 3rd time seeing them and probably the worst of the 3, which is a shame. I bumped into an old friend on Saturday who said how much she enjoyed the maybe it was just me? 


Turns out I am out of practice being on my feet for so much of a day, as the aches were real. I revisited my original plan for the day and decided on a paired back plan. The plan was to cycle to the festival and head into the arena for about 1pm and get a spot by the Common Stage for Craig David Presents TS5, then come home and chill out for a bit, then cycle back for Frank Turner. Best laid plans and all that. The Common stage times changed, so Bloxx were moved to be on before Craig David. I’m not sure what happened here - not sure if Craig David got stuck in traffic and Bloxx were already on site or...well no point in really speculating because it happened. Not knowing any of Bloxx, I decided to go and grab a beer before heading to watch them - in and of itself was a slight headache as I went to a cafe on site, which I only found out when trying to leave that you had to remain in the cafe grounds to drink alcohol purchased there. Not sure why but whatever - not exactly a hardship to sit outside a cafe in the sun drinking a can of Staggeringly Good.

Bloxx - As said, I don’t know any of Bloxx’s music so I took a spot to the side of the stage and had a sit, and then lie down to listen. I liked their music, and it was nice background music to lie down on the common to. Enjoyed their set.

Craig David Presents TS5 - The reason I was there some hours early. No idea what the TS5 bit was going to be, but it turned out to be Craig David being his own DJ while remixing songs and singing (not sure if that is what he always did back in the day, and this was just a rebrand). Anyway, his set was quality. Hearing his songs from Born To Do It was ace (also, in typing this and googling the album title to make sure I got it right, I saw it was released 21 years ago and now I am sad). Craig David is perfect for a festival when the sun is out (festival depending, obviously - I reckon it would be a laugh seeing him in the middle of the day at Wacken but probably wouldn’t go down well). He closed his set with 7 Days, which was just a great way to close a great set. One of the highlights of the festival for sure. 

This is when I took a break and popped back home. The two main reasons for going home (ignoring my being old and wanting to sit on my couch!) were to get my bike lights and to pick up a hoodie for when it got a bit colder in the evening, and I successfully forgot to pick up a hoodie...ho hum. The good news was that when I headed back to the arena, there was barely a queue to get in. This meant I was in the arena for the end of Morcheeba and able to grab a beer before taking a spot for Frank Turner. 

Morcheeba - I don’t have a whole lot to say as I only caught their last song, but their last song was Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day, and that song is ace, so I’m happy to have seen them play it.

Frank Turner (Duo Show) - I don’t think anyone that knows me will be shocked to learn that I loved this set. The 45 minutes just flew by, with the set containing a good mix of his back catalogue. The set closed with I Still Believe, which inspired probably one of the biggest singalongs of the set (though there were quite a few) and featured a brief cameo from Jess Guise on harmonica. Just like Craig David earlier in the day, this set will be another one of the highlights of the festival for me. This set was also neat for me as I’ve seen Frank live with The Sleeping Souls and on his own, but this was the first time in person watching a duo show (I saw a live stream duo show during one of the lockdowns). 

Blossoms - So after being fairly close to the front for Frank Turner, I moved off to the side for Blossoms as I’m not overly familiar with their music. I enjoyed what I heard. I didn’t stick around for the whole set as I decided to get a bite to eat (second visit to the South African vegan curry stall). While I was queuing, I heard them do what sounded to these ears as a very good cover of Rolling Stones - Miss You. Not sure if it is something they usually do live, but it sounded good to me. Nice nod to Charlie Watts, who recently passed away, as well. 

Reef - I had planned on seeing more of Reef, but I joined what looked like a short beer queue and my word, it took an age to get served! I think I was there for the last four songs, which meant missing seeing them play Place Your Hands, which is a shame. They closed their set with two Duran Duran covers, with a member of Duran Duran on stage, which was unexpected - cool though. 

The Fratellis - I really enjoyed this set. I started watching it from a spot on the hill on Castle Field, which was fine but it seemed a bit quiet (I was quite far from the stage, to be fair) so after a couple of songs I walked into the crowd proper which was much better. I’ve not listened to much Fratellis after Costello Music, but this set made me want to do so. I loved their cover of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (originally by Baccara) as well as the cover which closed the set, Runaround Sue (originally by Dion). My highlights, possibly unsurprisingly, were Whistle For The Choir and Chelsea Dagger - the latter inspiring one of the biggest singalongs/dance alongs I saw since Baggy Trousers the night before. I’d only seen them once before, and this performance was significantly better. 

Manic Street Preachers - Manics late addition to the bill to replace Richard Ashcroft was, in my view, an upgrade. I very much liked their set. It was peppered with songs I love, which obviously is a good thing. They did an Echo & the Bunnymen cover (Bring On The Dancing Horses) - I’ve never really listened to them but the Manics cover of the song was good. The real surprise on the covers front was a cover of Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses, and a very nice surprise it was as well. The set closed with A Design For Life, a belter of a song to sign off an excellent set. 


I woke up less achy on Sunday, which was a plus, but still a bit achy, so decided to again slightly alter my plan and remove a few of the bands that were in my plan just to fill gaps. 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - I was really surprised, pleased but surprised, to see Pigs x7 booked for the Common stage. Victorious isn’t exactly known for heavy music - there was a side stage a few years ago with a few heavy bands on, and I assumed when Pigs x7 had been announced, there would be another one, but not to be. When it was revealed they’d be on the Common stage, I thought the reaction to them might not be positive but I am pleased to report I was very wrong. There were a few people around me who walked off, but almost everyone else seemed to enjoy it to varying degrees. I did not anticipate seeing a circle pit at Victorious, that’s for sure. For me, I thought it was great. 

I then took my leave to head home. It was definitely worth the effort to come into the arena for Pigs x7. There wasn’t much of a queue to get in as I was leaving, and this remained the case when I returned. It was a much quieter day all round really. 

Miles Kane - Miles Kane is the first of a few acts I saw for the rest of the day that I didn’t know much about. I thought the set was really good. As an indicator of how little I know, only when writing this did I look up the set list for a bit of a memory jog and saw that Miles and band played two of The Last Shadow Puppets songs (and that Miles is in that band with Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys, among others). There were some very loud singalongs to some of these songs, particularly the last two of Come Closer and Don’t Forget Who You Are. 

After Miles Kane, I decided to go get a bite to eat and drink before heading over to the Castle Stage for Melanie C. Once I’d eaten, I realised I could go back to the Common stage again and watch about 15 minutes of Fontaines D.C, so that’s what I did. 

Fontaines D.C - I stayed for about 3 songs, and thought the band were decent. Glad I went to catch a little bit of their set. 

Melanie C - “We’re fucking out out!” This set was a lot of fun and very good as well. I’m not massively familiar with some of Melanie’s solo material (I know some of it) but everything played was good. The singalongs for the two Spice Girls songs played (2 Become 1 and Who Do You Think You Are) were very loud, some of the loudest I witnessed over the weekend for sure, and indeed they were also loud for some of Mel’s solo material as well.

Supergrass - Much like Miles Kane, I didn’t know much at all about Supergrass really (I knew Alright and Caught By The Fuzz going in). Despite that, I really enjoyed this set. Of course, the songs I knew were the highlights for me (and the singalong for Alright was huge), but it was all really good.

Royal Blood - I knew before Royal Blood started that I wasn’t going to stick around for the full set due to wanting to see Beans On Toast, so I stayed for the first 4 songs, and was in and around the Common stage area for the next 3 songs. From what I heard, they were really good. As I was walking off to the acoustic stage, I did wonder if I had made an error by leaving. Maybe I did, but what I saw was excellent

Beans On Toast - Maybe it was an error to leave Royal Blood early, but it definitely wasn’t an error choosing to see Beans on Toast. This was a great set full of singalongs and positivity. It was just an excellent way to close out the festival. Towards the end of the set, Beans went out into the crowd to sing two of the last songs which was fun. 

And that, as they say, is that. I had a really good time over the 3 days and am glad to have got a weekend ticket. Before the festival, when the first bands were announced, I was sceptical about it going ahead due to the pandemic. I’m so glad I was wrong about this. I would usually sign off a festival review by saying I’ll be back next year or will think about it. Victorious is one of those strange festivals that tries to cater to a lot of people and, pandemic aside, I haven’t been since 2016 (though I would have gone in 2017 if I didn’t have alternative plans). As long as I live in Portsmouth, I will always consider going to Victorious. As for 2022, I wonder, if the world is more back to normal next year (and there isn’t a need for a Covid pass), if the festival will invite Ian Brown and Richard Ashcroft back (or if those bridges have been burned). There were a few acts that were due to play in 2020 that didn’t/couldn’t play in 2021, so I wonder if they will also be invited back (looking over those acts, none of them overly excite me). I don’t know who I’d want to play - I have an eclectic music taste, but I tend to favour rock/metal music and that tends not to appear at Victorious, very often at least (typing this the day after Pigs x7 played and Royal Blood have just closed out the festival, but they are by far the heaviest headliner to date). It won’t happen for 2022 (due to the Hella Mega tour), but I think Weezer would go down really well at Victorious. Possibly headlining the Castle stage or sub-headlining the Common stage - they’d be great. Selfishly, I would love to see Ginger Wildheart and The Sinners get booked to play - I think they’d work well as they appear to be a bit more laid back than The Wildhearts. As for 2022 though, I really don’t know what to expect. As said though, I will always consider going if the line up has enough to appeal to me. 

Final thought - I think it can be a bit boring when people say they have an eclectic music taste (like I just did above). That said, I did have to chuckle to myself while watching Melanie C sing Who Do You Think You Are, because I realised a week on (all being well of course), I’ll be in a small room in Brighton watching Conjurer or Svalbard (give them a listen, they are a touch different to Mel C). Life comes at you fast.