This is it, V-Festival, day one! (Another long read, be warned, had to split it into two days)
We managed to acquire a tent, it’s a 6 people tent, and I’m not particularly good in tents so I wanted a bigger one. We had a trial run putting it up in the garden; we just couldn’t put it up. I got our neighbour to help, still no luck, arrrghhhh, it seems we have the wrong poles. Quick phone call, the company promised to replace it in time. And they did. Another trial run and we are pretty confident that it will be a doodle!

The car is packed up: tickets – √, food-√,wellies – √, sleeping bag – √, tent – √, spare clothes – √ and of course our mascot Tommy, he’ll be watching over the tent! Ready to go!! We set off Friday lunchtime; we want to miss the evening traffic. The drive up to Staffordshire went absolutely fine, except for the weather, rain rain rain. Ok, so you may think rain and mud belongs to British Festivals!! I agree to a point! But, we did not fancy putting up the tent in the rain, so we took the coward’s way out, booked into a Travel Lodge, nice dry room, proper bed and a hot shower, yes, that is the way to start the weekend! We got up early the next morning, and the drive to the site was great, just us and the wide open road, Thelma and Louise ride again! Getting carried away here I think.
Arriving at V-fest after following the signs, we only got lost once, at the very entrance, somehow it just didn’t look like an entrance. We were directed to the disabled car park and made our way to the gates. There we were told we had to exchange our tickets for wristbands at some point. When we originally booked the tickets we didn’t have an option to buy disabled ones, but were told to just contact V-Festival and they will exchange them. Now, that was a mission, and I had to get a bit cross first of all, but I won’t say any more as the organisers came shining through in the end, they promised our names will be on the list for disabled camping. Ok, so our names weren’t on the list, but once I showed the confirmation message we were allowed to camp, a lot of tents were already erected but we found a nice large space and set about putting the tent up once I carried all the stuff through. Once the tent was up and all belongings stowed away, Tommy in place, time to wander off to get our wristbands and a spot of exploring. It was still early, only about 9am, people were arriving in masses now, the queue of cars coming into the grounds were as long as you could see, we got the timing right!!!
Once wristbands on, breakfast and coffee devoured, it was time to get to the main stage to check out the situation. As much as we wanted to be at the barriers for Snow Patrol we weren’t sure we would get to the front or have the stamina to stay there. When we got there the centre front barrier was already taken as expected, we debated if we should take a space to one of the sides or go to the middle hoping people would move around after each performer and give us the chance to manoeuvre to the front. Feeling fresh and rested we opted for the centre front, ended up in about 7th row, not too bad.

The Stranglers were on first, great start, good old rock’n’roll, enough to start off your party mood, nice an (sleazy) easy does it! It’s amazing how many songs you still know even though they had been long forgotten. Looking around the vibe is really good, young and old are ready to have fun and not too much alcohol has been downed yet…lol. Next to us are a couple of young men, telling us that they have seen The Stranglers before and love them, and further down the line I see even the youngsters singing and dancing to “Golden Brown“, “Peaches” and “No more Heros“, oh yes, the party mood is in the field!!! Thanks for a great start Stranglers.

Tulisa is next, hmmm, wasn’t there a certain story circulating at some point? I think quite a few people here are trying to remind her of it as all of a sudden a few giant willies are being passed around in the crowd. Well Tulisa I’m afraid you are not for me, I don’t find your performance terribly appealing and I just couldn’t get the connection with you. :-(, the crowd seemed more into you, especially when she did “Titanium” everybody around me knew the words and were singing and jumping up and down!

Olly Murs next, I’m not sure what I was expecting, I have seen him a long time ago at Koko’s in London when he was doing the Album Chart Show for channel 4. But budging from our position just wasn’t an option, we have moved closer towards the barriers by now :-). We also had become a bit thirsty as we didn’t stop to pick up a bottle being in a rush to get to the front! And now there are masses of people behind us, no way would we get back to our spot. But remembering my son is working on site today (on tour with the Killers) I text him to ask if he could get us 3 bottles of water! He said he’d try! A little while alter we saw him coming along in the pit between barrier and stage, we saw him looking around and shouted his name, and everybody else joined in…hehheee, many voices shouting MARCUSSSSSS! It worked, he passed the bottles over and went back to do his work. Two girls sitting down could only see the bottles being passed over and asked “are they being given out? No I replied it’s not what you know but who :-). That would be so cool though if bottles of water would be given out even if they cost £1 at the time, actually they did that at BT London Live, so take note V-Fest!!
Back to Olly, once on stage you can see he is so up for this. The cheeky chappie is giving it all, with songs like “I’m OK“, “Thinking of me” and “Please don’t let me Go” he demands the crowd’s attention. His banter is brilliant, scripted I know but coming across very natural and fresh, a couple of sexy male dancers and a few suggestive moves complete the feel-good factor. His little story about his own V-Festival day with his mates and loads of alcohol is hilarious, including the medley about his fav Festival songs “Should I Stay Or Should I Go / Town Called Malice / Alright”. This was such a good move as most people know these songs and are really getting into the Festival spirit now. After finishing with “Heart skips a Beat” (I think) he skipped of the stage leaving us shouting and screaming! Loved the show Olly!

Madness next YESSSS, besides Snow Patrol my next top band to watch! And again we have moved closer, Martina manages to get a place on the barrier and I’m right behind her, yes, that is more like it! And here they come, the nutty boys!! “♫♫♪… Don’t watch that, watch this! This is the heavy heavy monster sound… ♪♫” the crowd is off and running, as far as the eye can see people are skanking or trying to anyway as the crowd has increased tenfold and it is getting tight. Funnily enough the atmosphere has turned a little aggressive, I guess that is mainly due to men tanked up with alcohol trying to push right to the front and purposely bumping into people to make them move out of the way. Sorry guys, I’m standing my ground and trying to protect Martina, I’m pushing back as hard as I can, ending up with arms and hands pushing my head to one side. I catch another guy doing the same to someone on my other side, charming! Eventually the security guard comes to check out the situation, both the guys pointing at me saying “she started it”, what? Luckily other crowd members helped making it clear that it wasn’t me, the guys got moved on and we could carry on enjoying the show. Loving Suggs and the boys how can you not? Even the sun makes an appearance and bathes the audience in a warm glow, perfect for the song “The Sun and The Rain”, Chris Foreman performing “You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)  a Beastie Boys cover, gives the other boys a chance to have a (fag)break!! ;-), “Baggy Trousers”, “House of Fun” and “It Must Be Love” transformed the crowd into a crazed bunch of dancing and singing rude girls and boys! When it came to the time bands went off stage just to come back for the encore, the nutty boys explained that they are simply too old for that on and off stage thing, they would turn their backs to give the audience a chance to run away! Said and done, few minutes later they turned round to face us again, Suggs looked around “….you still here????” he shouted, ok, we play some more! “Madness” followed and for the finish “Night Boat to Cairo” of course, messing around with towels on his head, doing the Egyptian walk it looked as though they were having far too much fun on stage! What a performance, you just can’t avoid feeling good and loving these guys!

Tom Jones is next, Weston Park is now packed, looking back we see people as far as the eye can see, I’d best keep looking forward, it is quite scary to realise how many people are pushing in behind you. I think tomorrow we’ll stay in the back just to get a different view…lol! I missed Tom Jones at Hyde Park last July as he was taken ill, so I’m really looking forward to today, I have no idea what to expect as I don’t really know him, on the other hand when I think about it I know loads of his songs! From the moment Tom arrived on stage we were in awe of him, what a persona and such a suave classy appearance. He is one of those men that would make you feel like you are the only woman (man) in the world. He commands the attention of the crowd from the moment he stepped onto stage, old and young alike are delighted and are mesmerised. Starting the first part of the show with songs from his new album ‘Spirit in the Room‘, also playing the amazing his recent collaboration with Jack White, “Evil”. Half way through he changes over to his sing-a-long back catalogue of hits, kicking it off with “Delilah”, “Green Green Grass of Home”, “It’s not unusual”. When performing “You can Leave your Hat on” even cool Mr.Jones had to crack up, as a young man in the crowd had climbed on his mates shoulder, being stark naked, well he did wear a hat. Tom Jones did comment that it was usual for females to throw underwear at him, but this young man took it to new heights! Brilliant response and fair play to the young man who had the guts to bare it all (or should praise go to his friend who carried him?). Otherwise there were huge inflatable flowers being held up, women shouting ‘I love you Tom’. Finishing off with “Kiss”, a Prince cover was perfect; I now understand the attraction of Tom Jones, as we are put under his spell too! Loved you Tom, thank you!

Tinie Tempah on next, what a contrast to Tom Jones, but I guess that is what Festivals are all about, a bit of everything. Many youngsters have now pushed their way forward, you can literally feel the excitement and I must say, it is catching (or could it be I’m getting hyper because Snow Patrol is next?). The stage has been prepared for Tinie Tempah, impressive set, looks a bit like a mini skyline, on the tallest one is the mixing desk. I spotted Coatsy on the side of the stage obviously preparing for later, at some point he was out on the stage, I shouted his name out and yes, he turned and waved! The noise is immense when Tinie arrives on stage, no need to shout “…make some noise…”, but I guess it’s all part of the script. He expresses his appreciation of being here “….it’s the fourth time at V-Festival, and the first time on the main stage…”  I have to admit this set is not really my taste, I get carried away with the people around me, and they are very hyper!! But, half way through I’ve had enough, still 90 % of the people I can see love it. He brings on Rita Ora for a song or two and also his DJ. At some point they remove their shirts and many guys in the audience follow suit. It is a fun and lively performance, a lot of energy has obviously been put into the show. So never mind if it’s my taste or not, it was a great show.

And now, Snow Patrol, the reason why Martina and I have been standing here for hours on end without much to drink or a toilet break. Amazing what you can make your body do when you really want to! So 8 hours or so later it is finally time, yes we are just a little bit beside ourselves! Are we really here at V-Festival and at the barrier centre front? YES, we certainly are! The couple we got talking to earlier, they were Xfm winners (great to meet someone who won a ticket through Xfm), moved on which gave Martina a proper space at the barriers, I stayed behind her, she may need protecting…lol! Gary arrived on stage first, followed by Pablo, Nathan and Johnny, the wait has been worth it!  I was soooooo sure they would start with “Take back the City”, but no, they proved me wrong, the first song was “Open your eyes”….but who cares, We know every single song anyway, singing wholeheartedly along, yet again going through every emotion possible, from total hysteria to the odd tear running down my cheek. This is awesome, we are loving it, and the crowd seems ok so far too, not too much pushing and rudeness, I’m sure that will change for the Killers later. I love the way Gary observed the crowd and picks up anything funny, like the giant blow up penis that was still being passed about: ” …..giant penises are always inspirational .”….hahhaha. yeah right Gary. I know we have seen the show a few times already this year, but I don’t care! Yes, there is the usual loving between Gary and Pablo, the moving along the stage, the punches in the air and jumps to “Just Say Yes”, the dreamy sad look to “This isn’t everything you are“…. and of course the large proportion of V-festival goers taking over the singing for “Run” and “Chasing Cars“. These song may be old and boring to some but I found even the non-snowflakes couldn’t help but join in. Of course it helps that Gary shows his warmth with those big smiles of his, you just have to love him! Good god, my list of people who HAS to be loved is getting longer and longer….hehhehehehe!! Far far too soon Snow Patrol say thank you and goodbye, arrrggghhhh, this is my last SP gig this year….nooooooo!! But I’m glad to have made the effort to come to V-Fest and stand my ground at the barriers.  I may embarrass my children now, but Gary, I can feel the LOVE!!!!

The Killers are the final band on the main stage for today. The vibe in the crowd has changed dramatically, it seems more aggressive, a lot of people are trying to push in at the barriers, and will we last? Quite a few people have already been pulled out over the barriers by the security guards; I guess they just couldn’t take it anymore. There was a couple next to Martina, girl at the front and her boyfriend behind her, but oh my god did she get stroppy…lol! She made a real good effort not to let me put my hands on either side of the barriers to hold on and protect Martina, she is literally digging her elbows into my hands, oh, the pain :-). Martina had already decided to just stay for a couple of songs and then make her escape; it has been a long day for her! Anyway, I tried to talk to the girl to explain the plan, but she wasn’t talking, I had no choice but to speak to her boyfriend, I ask him to tell the “little girl” (she didn’t like that expression at all) that after a couple of songs she can have plenty of space at the barriers and that I wasn’t trying to push in. Well the boyfriend got a bit cross, and basically told her not to be so stupid, which worked, she eased off. Now to The Killers, this is the show my son is working on, I can spot him too, putting the specially designed lightning bolts into place at the front of the stage. Proud, ME? Of course, this is my boy you know!! He is far too busy to make eye contact with us, but that’s ok, he is working after all. Finally all is in place, the crowd is getting quite annoying, too much alcohol during the day I guess, at least I have not been showered with a pee-bomb so far! Small mercies!! The band is on stage, Brandon Flowers starts with “Runaways” followed by “Somebody told me” and “Smile like you mean it” brilliant start, now they can play what they want, they have the crowd in their hands. Martina decides enough is enough and asks security to pull her out, she will make her way back to the tent and I will join her later. I claim her spot at the barriers, glancing at the ‘little girl’ next to me I see that she has not been standing her ground and is getting pushed out slowly but surely. The Killers are doing a great set, loving the light show and happily sing along to the well known tracks, I can’t fault them! But I guess I peaked at Snow Patrol, and nearly 10 hours later I’m actually getting tired. I love the performance, but it isn’t quite giving me the buzz I had hoped for. Brandon does have  a certain charm, looking cool and collected in his leather jacket, alternating between playing the keys behind one of the lightning bolts  which doubles up as a stand and working the stage. I love the tribute to one of tomorrow’s headliners Noel Gallagher, Brandon’s version of “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, they play some songs from their new album ‘Battle Born‘ but keeping mainly to well-known anthems. At the end they disappear from the stage in a thick cloud of smoke, quite atmospheric really. Looking around at happy sweat drenched people there is no doubt The Killers owned the night, I’m glad I stayed to see them from the frontrow! And to top it all, I managed to get my hands on the Snow Patrol and Killers set list!

Now, back to the tent, another long day tomorrow!!!

 

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About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

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