Glorious Victorious! That was the sentiment amongst the consensus of festival goers that we spoke to throughout the weekend. Victorious Festival brought good vibes, sunshine and an incredible lineup of music and comedy! Victorious always manages to capture the best touring artists and support the local music scene with up-and-coming bands/artists. This year was no exception with the likes of Sam Fender, Anne-Marie, Bastille, Self Esteem, Primal Scream, The Libertines, Inhaler, The K’s, Crystal Tides and Jerry Wiliams amongst others. There’s fun for all the family as well with the extensive kid’s area that provides an array of activities and entertainment too.
So how do we start the first day of a festival? I know how by booking the one and only Primal Scream to be the first band on the main stage who then opened with ‘Swastika Eyes’ – this is still and thinking about it now! The people had arrived early for this one and the sizeable crowds were loving every moment as the Scream worked their way through a hit-laden set which included ‘Come Together’, ‘Movin’ on Up’, Country Girl and Rocks. Self-Esteem brought her patriarchy-smashing pop hits to the sun-soaked Southsea Common and encouraged the women of the crowd to bark like dogs at the end of ‘I’m Fine’ after the closing lines:
‘This is like.. and it sounds so stupid but it’s genuinely something that me and my friends actually do
If we are approached by a group of men we will bark, like dogs; And people always laugh and they’re like “Ha ha, that’s so funny” (It’s actually really good) But there is… there is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged’. The women of Victorious didn’t let her down!
Anna Calvi was the epitome of cool and a delight during her 45-minute set – the singer/songwriter was recently tasked with scoring the latest Peaky Blinders series. Manchester’s indie rockers James came out on stage full of electric energy and frontman Tim Booth has always interacted with the crowd in a way only he can. Balancing on the crowd barriers in his denim flares, he sang his heart out giving eye to eye contact to adoring fans before throwing himself at the crowd’s mercy and crowd surfing through them until he was passed back to the front where security pulled him back over so he could take his place once more on The Common Stage. These guys were a great crowd warmer and pleaser and set the tone for the day.
It was going to be a tough ask after James had played for the next band, but Bombay Bicycle Club came out and did what Bombay Bicycle Club do well, bringing the chilled vibes just as the sun was going down. It’s always amazing to hear ‘Shuffle’ and ‘Always Like This’ played live, especially in a festival environment. Friday’s headliners Stereophonics were in fine form, Kelly Jones’s voice is second to none as they work their way through a 21-song setlist which includes ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, ‘A Thousand Trees’, ‘Traffic’, and ‘Have a Nice Day’. The last three tracks are fitting to close any festival with ‘The Bartender and the Theif’, ‘Just Looking’ and ‘Dakota’.
Saturday saw the opening of the whole festival site and we took the opportunity to first head over to the Castle Stage to catch Swim Deep’s set which was a delightful way to begin the day with their indie shoegaze numbers. A few bits of editing later, next on the list were We Are Scientists who are always good value just for their witty sense of humour during their performances. Hearing these guys’ music always transports me back to the noughties which was a great time for music in my opinion and the personal nostalgia that it brings! From then on it was a busy afternoon as we were darting between stages to catch sets by Inhaler, local lads Crystal Tides, The Subways and then back to the Common Stage for Britpop legends Ocean Colour Scene. Between the running around we still managed to keep to what has become a festival tradition by picking up some of the Himalayan dumplings, which are incredible year in and year out!
The Wombats were up on the Common Stage and we love how the band have continued to reinvent their sound over the years and pick up a new wave of fans! Their number ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ conjures up just that, memories of dancing to that very song, when it came out, in the mighty Scandals (RIP). 15 years later and the band see themselves second on the bill of a festival main stage warming up the crowd nicely before Paolo Nutini takes the stage. Hearing ‘Moving to New York’ and ‘Kill The Director’ provides further nostalgia for those of us old enough in the crowd.
Paolo Nutini was high up among the ones to see at Victorious and in our eyes didn’t disappoint. We have been loving his new album, his first in 7 years, it has a rockier vibe to it than most may be accustomed to for Paolo but suits his voice perfectly. We have heard mixed opinions of his set with some saying that he should have come out and played the hits at a festival but to be fair to Paolo he stuck to how his sound has now developed even reinventing the older numbers to fit. Paolo’s voice is second to none and transposes from the record to the live environment effortlessly. Personal favourites of his set included ‘Lose It’, ‘Through The Echoes’ and ‘Iron Sky’ which is just an incredible song.
As if it couldn’t get any better with Friday’s opening band being Primal Scream, Sunday then delivered a further special guest in the form of The Libertines who are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their seminal debut album ‘Up The Bracket’ and played a mixture of songs including ‘Vertigo’, ‘Death on The Stairs’, What Katie Did’, ‘Gunga Din’ and ’Don’t Look Back Into the Sun’.
Doncaster’s finest, The Reytons, delivered an all-action, in-your-face set that drew a sizeable crowd who were bouncing from the off to ‘Red Smoke’! It genuinely felt like they were enjoying every moment of being on stage at Victorious Festival and guitarist Joe was representing by rocking a Bored of Southsea tee! Next up for us were Editors – having had tickets on three separate occasions over the years and not making any of their gigs, today was finally the day! Straight off the bat, they launched into ‘The Racing Rats’ which set the bar and tempo for what was to come with ‘An End Has a Start’, ‘Papillion’ and finishing with ‘Munich’. Lead singer Tom Smith’s facial expressions and moves throughout the set were strange at times, Tom thanks the crowd for turning out to see their depressing band!
Nu-Disco/Wonky Popsters Metronomy delivered a boppy early evening set with their signature electronic, dreamy melodies on The Common Stage.
Sophie Ellis Bextor packed out The Castle Stage for her afternoon fun and energetic set, getting revellers in full party mode singing along to some of her more popular hits like ‘Groovejet’ and ‘Murder on The Dancefloor’ as well as some pop covers including Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ and Moloko’s ‘Sing It Back’. Young and old seemed to thoroughly enjoy partying along with Sophie and her Jaws mask-wearing band, despite there not being much room for movement on the heaving Castle Field.
We have seen some fine frontmen in our years of attending gigs but Brett Anderson is up there with the very best, the man was completely mesmerising during Suede’s set on the Common Stage. Brett brings, gives and leaves everything out on stage as he and the band give the crowd just a snippet of their extensive back catalogue which included ‘Animal Nitrate’, ‘Trash’, ‘Beautiful Ones’ ‘Filmstar’, ‘So Young’ and latest work ‘She Still Leads Me On’.
Castle Stage headliner Anne Marie dropped a heavyweight set to an enraptured and feverish crowd, kicking off with ‘Ciao Adios’ and playing hits like ‘Psycho’ ‘2002’, ‘Don’t Play’ and finishing her 15-song set with ‘Friends’. The crowd went wild for this young star who brought her A game to Victorious along with inflatable teddy bears and impressive pyrotechnics to wow the crowd.
There had been excitement around the festival over the day for the Common Stage headliner Sam Fender, we had seen people walking around in Newcastle United football shirts as is customary at his gigs as well as people adorning his merch. During a walk around the site during the day we had seen his band Johnny Blue Hat, Joe and Dean casually strolling over towards The People’s Lounge. As soon as Sam hits the stage the screams ring out from his adoring fans on the barrier, Sam took little time in getting straight into things with ‘Will We Talk’. This was only Sam’s third headline slot at a festival and you wouldn’t have known such is the professionalism of him and the lads from North Shields. The set has everything from pyro’s to confetti canons, and smoke machines to fireworks complementing ‘Spice’, ‘Howden Aldi Death Queue’ and ‘Get You Down’. The man’s encore is nothing short of exceptional with a crowd rendition of ‘Saturday’ which moved into a full band performance followed by crowd favourite ‘Seventeen Going Under’ which had people jumping, dancing and singing at the tops of their voices before ‘Hypersonic Missles’ brought the set to an end!
Victorious had another successful year on Southsea Common to a packed out estimated 70,000-strong crowd, its biggest so far in the Portsmouth festival’s nine-year history! We can’t wait for next year!
Main image photo credit – Tom Langford