The Festival Experience

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What do Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, David Bowie, The Police, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters, REM, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and my aunt have in common? They have all performed at the Isle of Wight Festival. And soon one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all time, Sir Paul McCartney, will be joining that illustrious list.

The weekend of the 11th to 13th June is the weekend of the Isle of Wight Festival, with Sir Paul McCartney headlining on the Sunday. At the moment I am suffering from pre-festival nerves. I've not even got as far as worrying about whether the weather will be dry. At the moment there is the panic over whether it is too good to be true and will Sir Paul McCartney do a U2. U2 recently pulled out of doing the Glastonbury Festival due to Bono's back surgery – what if Sir Paul is forced to do the same to the Isle of Wight Festival? How could I cope with such disappointment? My heart goes out to all of U2's fans coping with the devastating news.

Ticket To Ride?

The other big worry is that I still haven't received my ticket yet. I know that they delight in leaving sending out the tickets to the last possible moment – admittedly, that policy does mean that they are less likely to have a plethora of forged tickets, but it does result in days and nights of worry for everyone who has legitimately bought tickets and want the reassurance of having their tickets in their hand. The other annoyance about tickets is that there is a compulsory post and packaging charge. I bought my ticket from the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited – the Isle of Wight ferry company commonly known as 'Red Funnel' – which has its headquarters within a mile of where I work. It would be so easy for me to walk there, pop in with a passport or any other valid form of ID and collect the ticket, yet they insist on posting the ticket to me and charging me a fiver for the privilege of anxiously awaiting the ticket's arrival.

A Short History Of The Festival

The Isle of Wight Festivals have a proud history, with the 1970 festival being the biggest music festival in the world at the time. More people attended the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival than Woodstock, with over 600,000 people in attendance. In 1969 after his motorcycle accident, when Bob Dylan was living as a virtual recluse at his home in Woodstock, he was asked to perform at two different music festivals. The first, Woodstock, was held near his home in an attempt to tempt him to perform. Yet, even though the 1969 Woodstock festival was held close to Bob Dylan's home, he chose not to perform there, performing at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival instead, which was advertised as 'Bob Dylan's Only Appearance in the World'1. Even Joni Mitchell, who wrote a song entitled 'Woodstock', did not actually attend Woodstock but was present at the Isle of Wight Festival. Although this will be the first time Paul McCartney has been to the Isle of Wight Festival, in 1969 John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr attended in the audience, watching Bob Dylan perform. In 2004, Ringo Starr's son, Zac Starkey, performed at the Isle of Wight Festival, drumming for The Who.

The Isle of Wight Festival even has its own established joke, which goes something like this:

Did you know that the Strokes and the Kooks are performing at the Isle of Wight Festival this year?
The who?

Not this year, just the Strokes and the Kooks.

Line Up

Apparently it isn't even just Sir Paul McCartney playing, but they have even got some other artists too! This is a complete line-up:

Jay-ZThe StrokesPaul McCartney
Florence and the Machine BlondiePink
Calvin Harris Biffy Clyro Editors
Doves Vampire Weekend Spandau Ballet
Mr Hudson Crowded House Friendly Fires
Hockey Paloma Faith The Courteeners
Suzi Quatro The Hold Steady Suzanne Vega
Juliette Lewis Melanie Safka The Coronas
Marina And The Diamonds Detroit Social Club James
Shakespears Sister OrbitalOcean Colour Scene
Mini VivaLa Roux Local Natives
Woman N Dubz Reef
Daisy Dares You The Saturdays Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
I Blame Coco Noah And The Whale The Big Pink
Devendra Banhart The Alarm
Bombay Bicycle Club Saint Jude
The Brilliant Things
The Arcadian Kicks

I must admit I've not heard of over half of them.

Sir Paul's Songbook

I'm hoping that among the many songs that Sir Paul performs, he will include 'When I'm Sixty-Four', a song that includes the line 'Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight if it's not too dear', and 'Ticket To Ride', a song inspired by the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight2. I would also love him to release an album from his performance at the festival, to be called 'The Wight Album' as a sly reference to The Beatles' White Album, even though I doubt that that will happen3. Judging from songs he has sung at his other recent concerts, the old favourites he enjoys performing and songs released on recent albums, the songs I expect, and hope, him to sing are:

  • Back In The USSR
  • Band On The Run
  • Blackbird
  • Calico Skies
  • Dance Tonight
  • Drive My Car
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Flaming Pie
  • Get Back
  • Here Today
  • Hey Jude
  • I Saw Her Standing There
  • I've Got A Feeling
  • Jet
  • Lady Madonna
  • Let It Be
  • Let Me Roll It
  • Live And Let Die
  • Mrs Vandebilt
  • My Love
  • Only Mamma Knows
  • Paperback Writer
  • Sing The Changes
  • Something
  • The Long And Winding Road
  • We All Stand Together4
  • Yesterday
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

The promoters are promising that Paul McCartney will sing 'Hey Jude', forty years after Jimi Hendrix sang 'Hey Joe' at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

I'll mention what I said about my aunt

So, while I'm getting excited and nervous about the festival, it only leaves one question unanswered. Why my aunt is a member of the illustrious list of those who have performed at the Isle of Wight Festival. The answer is simple – in 2004, one of the local, uncredited acts booked to perform as the gates opened were unable to attend shortly before the festival. A replacement local group was required, and the one booked to perform was the Isle of Wight act RAW Samba, a Samba band with several members, including my aunt.

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The Bluebottle Archive


14.6.10 Front Page

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Paul McCartney, The Isle of Wight Festival & Douglas Adams
1Highlights of Bob Dylan's 1969 Isle of Wight Festival appearance can be heard on his Self Portrait album2Although this is a John Lennon song, in recent years Paul has been more willing to perform songs written by his old band mates.3Although albums from previous Isle of Wight festival have been released. As well as Bob Dylan's highlights from 1969, a highlights album of the 1970 festival, Message To Love, is available both on CD and DVD. Also from the 1970 festival available on CD and DVD are The Who - Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970, The Moody Blues – Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970, Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live At The Isle Of Wight, Jethro Tull's Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 and Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970'. Albums recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival on the whole do not seem to have particularly imaginative names.4To my knowledge he has never performed this song live, but wouldn't it be great if he did?

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