Search icon


30th Jun 2018

50 for 50: The best bits from this year’s Isle of Wight Festival

Will Lavin

Festival season is in full swing and Isle of Wight Festival might have just proven itself the best… so far

There’s always been something quite majestic about the Isle of Wight Festival. It’s a UK festival that feels like it’s in a far away distant land, even though in reality it’s just a one hour ferry trip from Southampton or Portsmouth.

And then there’s the festival grounds.

You know that Nancy Sinatra song, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”? Well it applies here, in a big way.

With bars, clubs, food trucks, kids areas, camp sites, glamp sites, caravan sites, V.I.P. areas, fairground rides and several stages spread out across more acres than a farmer would know what to do with, aside from being guaranteed to reach your step count, you’re well and truly spoilt for choice for things to do from the moment you touchdown after crossing the English Channel.

This year there was also the addition of BT Sport’s Field of Dreams, a place for all football fans to congregate and watch World Cup games, including the all important England game that took place on the Sunday versus Panama.

Then what about the lineup? Headliners included Liam Gallagher, Depeche Mode, Kasabian and The Killers, with other big names performing including The Script, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Manic Street Preachers, Van Morrison, James Bay, Blossoms, Sheryl Crow, Camila Cabello, Travis, Sigrid, Chase and Status and more.

With the festival celebrating its 50th anniversary, here’s a list of the 50 best things we saw at Isle of Wight Festival 2018.

The weather

With temperatures in the late 20s for the entire weekend, this was definitely one of the festival’s main highlights.

Liam Gallagher wanting a calm one

It’s not often you hear Liam Gallagher say that he wants to calm things down but during his Main Stage performance he told the Isle of Wight crowd who were getting a little rowdy to calm down. “I heard you lot were a relaxed bunch,” he said. “We didn’t travel all this way to have people spitting on other peoples handbags.”

Soul II Soul smashing it on the Big Top Stage

Never before had I ever seen Soul II Soul live. Seeing them in 2018 with a full band took me right back to being a kid again listening to “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” for the first time. Unbelievable set.

Interviewing Nile Rodgers on a golf buggy

Yeah, so this happened. It’s not everyday you get to interview your spirit animal on a golf buggy as he heads to his dressing room to prepare for his Main Stage takeover (which was insane I might add). Talking Chic’s new single and what his former bandmate Bernard Edwards, who sadly passed away in 1996, would have thought of it, you can read it here.

Watching Suzanne Vega perform “Tom’s Diner” live

Don’t know “Tom’s Diner”? Watch this and then tell me otherwise. One of the most recognisable melodies in popular music, watching Suzanne Vega play it in front of my eyes on the Hard Rock Cafe Stage was a moment.

The fairground

Offering more than just music, if you fancied a little break from the boat loads of music on offer you were able to feed the adrenaline junkie inside you with a trip to the fairground that featured bumper cars, a big wheel and so much more.

Watching the England game in BT Sport’s Field of Dreams

The atmosphere on the Sunday of Isle of Wight Festival was electric. Not just because The Killers and Travis were closing out the weekend but because there was this little football match going on featuring England. Put on a jumbo screen in BT Sport’s Field of Dreams, the World Cup Crowd was something to marvel at – I felt sorry for any artists scheduled to play at the same time because it felt like the entire festival was watching the England game.

Realising how many hits Kasabian actually have

I knew that Kasabian had hits but I had no idea exactly how many until their headline performance belted out of the Main Stage speakers on Friday. There’s an argument to be made that they might be a bigger band than the Arctic Monkeys if we’re strictly talking about hits.

Peter Crouch, ladies and gentlemen… Peter Crouch

There wasn’t a single day I didn’t see Peter Crouch raving it up at the Isle of Wight Festival. If he wasn’t in a mosh pit rocking out to Kasabian or on the V.I.P. viewing platform for Hacienda Classical, he was backstage kicking a football about with his mates or spending time with his wife Abbey Clancy.

Depeche Mode’s epic stage visuals

Watching Depeche Mode’s Main Stage set on the Saturday from the back of the crowd was almost certainly better than watching from within the pit. Why? The band’s on-screen visuals. Being able to see them in all their glory from the back was incredible. From music videos to stunning light shows, the rapid-fire editing was a masterclass in how to put on a show.

“Tell your fisherman” – Tom Grennan

Interviewing Tom Grennan backstage was one thing but having him send a message out to his fans to buy his upcoming new album was another. Sounds like a pretty normal thing for an artist to do, right? It is but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an artist tell their fans to tell their bin men and fishermen to go and buy their album.

The bungee jump that I was meant to do, but didn’t

Before you say it, no I didn’t chicken out. Prior to arriving on the Isle of Wight I was asked by the festival how I felt about doing a bungee jump. I told them I wasn’t adverse to the idea to which they then told me to leave it with them. By the end of the festival I never heard anything back about doing it. I would have done it… honest.

The magic confetti shot out during The Script’s performance

Confetti is not new to festivals, or even gigs period, but the confetti that was fired out during The Script’s Main Stage performance on Friday was, dare I say, magic. I was watching it from the Hard Rock Cafe V.I.P. bar with a clear view of the crowd and once it was shot out it lingered. No, I mean really lingered. Like for at least five minutes. It looked like a cloud just hovering above the fans. What was this sorcery?

Colin Firth casually enjoying his son’s band’s performance

Did you know that Colin Firth’s two sons play in bands? I didn’t until I saw the actor at the Isle of Wight Festival soaking up the songs of his son Luca’s band Wednesday, who played the Hard Rock Cafe Stage on the Saturday.

Mullally showing the Isle of Wight crowd there’s still soul in pop music

Mullally, Atlantic Records’ new signing, took to the Big Top Stage on the Saturday with his brand of soulful pop and killed it. Definitely an artist to keep your eye on in the coming year, according to him, the reception he received at Isle of Wight Festival was a great early birthday present.

Sheryl Crow playing a new song

Seeing Sheryl Crow live would have been enough – “All I Wanna Do” live? Are you serious? There’s nothing better – but hearing her debut new song “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Like You”, which she said is about liars after bringing up Donald Trump’s name, was was a great festival moment.

Silent disco lighting up the night

Walking back to my car after one of the nights of the festival came to a close I noticed a big screen in one of the fields scrolling song lyrics. Then I looked down and saw lots of lights moving around like fireflies buzzing around. As I got closer I realised it was a bunch of people taking part in a silent disco with LED headphones. What a great idea, especially if you have a curfew with the neighbours because there’s no chance of waking them up. Although, I could’t even begin to tell you how far away the first neighbour to Isle of Wight Festival would have been. 10 miles? Maybe.

Riding on the back of a golf buggy with Tokio Myers while fans took selfies with him

Randomly bumping into Tokio Myers in the viewing pit for the Main Stage whilst watching Liam Gallagher led to me riding around on a golf buggy from stage to stage with him. I felt like I was on a Presidential motorcade with the amount of people screaming out his name. There was even one person, who worked for the festival, who while we were stopped in golf buggy traffic jumped off of her buggy ran over and took a selfie with him. Fame huh?

Watching Louise Redknapp do soundcheck during her actual performance

Louise Redknapp is still just Louise to me. I grew up listening to her solo music, and before that her work with girl group Eternal. Seeing her performance at Isle of Wight Festival confused me a little bit, and I think it probably confused her too. I’m not sure she was aware that she was turning up to perform and not for soundcheck. Why do I say that? Because she was dressed so casually and yet her backing singers looked dolled up to the nines. But it didn’t matter, I loved the performance all the same, especially when she sang “Stay”.

Being a part of the golden jubilee, sort of

Celebrating 50 years, Isle of Wight Festival decided to throw a golden jubilee party on the Saturday and festival goers were invited to dress up in gold. The result? Some of the most inventive costumes I’ve ever seen. I took part by wearing a pair of gold Seattle Supersonics basketball shorts… on the wrong day! I didn’t get the memo until it was too late.


Atmosphere Bathing’s genius idea

It was hot on the Isle of Wight, very hot. So to offer a bit of coolness and a chance to relax and wind down from the stresses the heat can bring, Atmosphere Bathing gave people the opportunity to chill out in a bath tub and have a drink. Can someone say heavenly?

Experiencing euphoric bliss watching Hacienda Classical

I never got the opportunity to visit the Mecca of dance music, The Hacienda, and I’ve only ever been to Ibiza once. So to experience the Hacienda Classical live show complete with an orchestra playing some of the greatest hits in dance music history was special, so special in fact that my head almost fell off. What a moment. If you get the opportunity to see this show, go!

Representing Bristol to the fullest, Rothwell proved she’s one to watch

Pop’s latest talent starting to garner a lot of attention is Bristol’s own Rothwell. Aside from her being an absolute laugh talking to her backstage, her live show is definitely something you don’t want to miss. Think Spice Girls-meets-S Club 7-meets-Louise and you’re halfway there.

Interviewing a band who played the very first Isle of Wight Festival

I had the honour of chatting to The Pretty Things at Isle of Wight Festival. Never heard of them? Firstly, shame on you. Secondly, they’re a British rock institution who played the very first Isle of Wight Festival 50 years ago – they were also quick to point out that they played the second year too. I asked them about the main change they’d noticed between then and now and the first thing they pointed out was the size and how the first Isle of Wight Festival had only a burger van for food.

Discovering my new favourite boyband, who aren’t really boys

Ever heard of Lany? Nah, me either until seeing them play the Big Top Stage. They’re a boyband but they all look like middle-aged men, and that’s not a diss. I genuinely enjoyed their music, so much so that I went home and streamed all of their previous projects. A little known fact, or to me at least, their lead singer used to date Dua Lipa, for whatever that’s worth.

Wild Front confirming what I’ve always known: I have impeccable dress sense

I had a chat with Wild Front after their Main Stage opening set on Saturday and they were very complimentary of my dress sense – I was rocking a New England Patriots number 11 Drew Bledsoe jersey. I bumped into them again on the Sunday and this time I was wearing a very summery floral short sleeved shirt, they were complimentary about that too. So they confirmed what I’ve always known: I have impeccable dress sense.

The sound system on the Cirque de la Quirk Stage

Tucked away in one of the many corners of the Isle of Wight Festival, this stage might have been small in size but it had a big personality and an even bigger sound system. Full of, well, quirks, the Cirque de la Quirk Stage played host to a lot of eclectic sounds and performers that were impossible not to hear because of those bloody speakers.

“Kevin Carter” by the Manic Street Preachers ringing off around the festival

I was on my way to another stage when the Manic Street Preachers started their set on the Main Stage on Sunday. Where I was I hadn’t heard a peep out of the Main Stage all day but for some reason once “Kevin Carter” started bellowing out of the speakers it was as clear as day who was on stage. It was then stuck in my head for the rest of the evening.

Fuel prices

Okay, so perhaps this doesn’t directly have anything to do with the festival but I needed to bring it up all the same. On my way to the festival from my hotel on the second day I needed to fill the car with fuel. I stopped at a local Morrisons and filled up without even thinking about it and when I got back in my car I realised that diesel was 117.9! I thought I was seeing things. Thank you Isle of Wight, thank you.


Killers interview with Absolute Radio being interrupted by a stag party

Imagine it – you’ve got interview time with The Killers ahead of their headline closing slot of the festival. The backdrop is picturesque – a peaceful marina, and the sun is setting. The camera is set up. And then a stag party on a dinghy decide to circle behind you chanting “oy”. Yeah, that happened to Absolute Radio’s Sarah Champion.

Disco Yoga proved the best way to get the day started

If you needed to shake off those hangover blues the Isle of Wight Festival had you covered with a spot of Disco Yoga. What’s better than getting into the downward dog position while pumping tunes bless your ears? Exactly.

It looked like the kids had more fun than the adults

There was an area within the festival called Kidzone and if truth be told I wanted to be a kid again just so I could gain admission. It looked like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but with less sugar and more glitter.

Fender really do make beautiful guitars

Fender were showing off their guitars backstage and even managed to get a few artists to swing by and pick up a couple, including Nile Rodgers. All I can say is that they really are a thing of beauty.

Lego superheroes might just be the best superheroes

When you see a Lego Captain America walking around you’ve just got to grab a selfie, especially when he’s with his mates Wolverine, Darth Vader, Iron Man, Batman and the rest.

Chase and Status made my head spin

Seeing Chase and Status close out the Big Top Stage on my first night on the island was insane. It was the complete opposite of what I had actually intended to do – I wanted an early night – but it ended up being the best plan. Inspiring mosh pits and a higher state of consciousness, I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

The Hard Rock Cafe V.I.P. bar viewing platform was amazing

Invited to be a guest in the Hard Rock Cafe V.I.P. bar on the Friday proved to be one of the best things about the day. With a viewing platform that overlooked the entire Main Stage audience, I was in the perfect position to see Kasabian close the Friday out.

John Giddings proving he’s cooler than a polar bear’s toenail no matter the weather

The man responsible for Isle of Wight Festival, John Giddings, is cool. So cool in fact that he didn’t let the extreme weather conditions belting down from the sun ruin his wardrobe decisions. For most of the day on Friday he stayed in black jeans, a black t-shirt, a black leather jacket done all the way up and black sunglasses. Fonz anyone?

Finding out Catherine McGrath isn’t media trained

So I interviewed Catherine McGrath, who we selected as part of our 2018 Ones To Watch list, after her performance on the Big Top Stage and I couldn’t believe it when she was told me she wasn’t media trained. Judging from how on-point her answers were and how easy they came to her I could have sworn she was. The future is bright, the future is Catherine McGrath (interview coming soon).

Nile Rodgers testing the new Chic song on the crowd the same day it was released

Chic are back with new music for the first time in 25 years and Nile Rodgers wanted the crowd’s opinion on it. Doing it like they did in the old school, they tested out “Till the World Falls” by playing it and allowing the audience to decide whether it was any good or not. It’s good. Real good.

Jessie J’s voice was as sharp as ever

It’s been a while since I last saw Jessie J perform so seeing her at Isle of Wight Festival was a rare treat. Having just released four new EPs it was exciting to see Jessie back on the stage and belting out her signature vocals.


 Old Mout Cider Kiwi Camp took me back to the 80s

I was walking through one of the many fields at Isle of Wight Festival late Sunday afternoon and a song caught my ear. It was “Maniac” by Michael Sembello, taken from the movie Flashdance. I turned around and made a beeline straight for where it was coming from and it turned out to be the Old Mout Cider Kiwi Camp. I had missed it all weekend but once I found it I absorbed myself in 80s music and danced the night away with everyone busting out their best moves.

Glamping? More like 5-star accommodation

Does this look like camping? What about glamping? Neither, right? It looks more like 5-star accommodation. Walking past these every day made me question whether or not I needed to rethink my current living situation. You think I could pitch one of these up in London somewhere, maybe by the Thames?

Watching one of the Blossoms endure a football conversation he didn’t want to be in

I spoke to the Blossoms backstage and the conversation moved on to football, specifically England, being that they were playing the following day. I asked for predictions, which was all fine and well until I noticed that Myles wasn’t getting involved. Turns out he’s not a football fan and had nothing to add to the conversation. I felt kinda sorry for him as we were on the subject for a good few minutes but it was pretty funny watching him squirm and look like he was enduring some cruel and unusual punishment.

The Hard Rock Cafe Stage shining a light on new and lesser-known talent

One of my favourite things about festivals is discovering new talent. Sometimes it might not be new but it might be new to me. The Hard Rock Cafe Stage provided a lot of suggestions over the weekend for my next Spotify playlist.

Watching Camila Cabello perform “Havana” live

Slay is often a word reserved for Beyoncé or Rihanna but at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival Camila Cabello showed up, showed out and slayed on the Main Stage, especially when she performed “Havana”, her chart-topping smash from last year.

Van Morrison

Just because it’s Van FUCKING Morrison.

John Giddings proving he’s not just a promoter

John Giddings took to the Hard Rock Cafe Stage to play guitar with the band Fantasy and proved he’s much more than just a festival promoter. He told me it was the first time they had performed together in over 15 years.

James Bay doing James Bay

I’ve seen James Bay perform a few times this summer and each time I’m more impressed than the last. He’s in his own lane right now, he’s doing his own thing. James Bay is doing James Bay. Combining new songs with old, if you haven’t seen him live yet I suggest you do so, quickly. Not sure if you’re a fan? You will be by the end of the set.

Absorbing Sigrid’s contagious energy

I might not be the biggest fan of Sigrid’s music but I cannot deny her energy or the aura that surrounds her. The Norwegian pop star comes across innocent, fun and like you’d be best friends if you knew each other in real-life. Her energy is undeniably contagious. Can we be friends Sigrid?

The name Bang Bang Romeo

Is there a cooler name for a band? I’m not sure there is.

Early Bird tickets for Isle of Wight Festival 2019 have now gone on sale. Get yours here.