V Festival - Sunday - Weston Park
My Sunday at Weston Park’s V Festival produced several entertaining encounters, with an aggressive three songs from The Stranglers setting the day up nicely, followed by a trip back to the 90s, taking in a full 'Greatest Hits' stint from All Saints, including storming versions of ‘Never Ever’ and ‘Pure Shores’. Pop princess Pixie Lott also brought a bit of fun to a slightly dreich afternoon but it was a trio of sets that really made the event for me, starting with disco diva Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Sophie’s V performance was the third time our paths had crossed this festival season but this was the first time I’d taken in a full show. Miss EB’s summer showcase is a game of two halves as she spends the first part focusing on her current album Wanderlust, a collection that’s a bit of a departure from her previous releases as it’s a slightly left field compilation, with sumptuous ballads, eastern European Polka’s and indie rockers the order of the day. I think it’s her best work to date, but it was well worth hanging around for the remainder of the set to see Sophie getting her dancing shoes on, delivering the songs she’s most famous for, like ‘Take Me Home’, ‘Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)’ and closer ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’.
Swedish duo Icona Pop’s track ‘I Love It’ was everywhere last year, including topping the charts in the UK. I had several opportunities to see the girl’s perform at SXSW in 2013 but never managed to catch them playing. I realised at V that this had been a mistake as the pair produced an extremely energetic set. If truth be told, I hadn’t planned on staying after I’d taken a few pics, but I was having so much fun I hung around till the end, watching the crowd go crazy to songs like ‘We Got The World’ and the previously mentioned hit.
Highlight of the day and joint favourite performance of the weekend (tying with Saturday’s Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott’s turn on the same stage) came from soul sensation and ArchAndroid Janelle Monae. I’ve mentioned on the site many times before that I first stumbled across the singer at SXSW back in 2009, being completely blown away by her showcase. I’ve championed her ever since as she’s the best performer I’ve seen on stage in years, as she’s so visually exciting to watch and has a fair few decent tunes under her belt too!
The Arena set was as stunning as always, with tracks pulled from her The ArchAndroid and The Electric Lady albums, with a cover of James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’ thrown in for good measure. Uptempo singles ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ went down a treat with the ecstatic crowd, but my personal fave was the slower paced ‘Primetime’, a track that was originally a duet with Miguel.
Janelle’s performance certainly made the day but my V trip was a pretty good one all in all, with the acts on the smaller stages certainly making my weekend. I’m curious to see what V have up their sleeves for their 20th Anniversary next year.
Sophie Ellis Bextor
Manic Street Preachers