I first went to Victorious Festival back in 2013 when it was held at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and headlined by Level 42. It’s fair to say its come a long way since then.
This year, the festival, now held on the mega Southsea Common, boasted its biggest line-up to-date, with over 10 stages of music to choose from and lots of different activities and entertainment in between.
It was very hot and sticky as I arrived on site on the Saturday, ready just in time for the afternoon special guests The Boomtown Rats. Fronted by the quirky Bob Geldof, the 80s rock legends treated fans to some of their greatest hits in what went down as one of the highlights of the day- and it was only two o’clock in the afternoon. You never know what Geldof is going to do or say next and it is this what makes him so interesting and engaging to watch.
I then headed over to the Castle Stage to check out indie-pop four-piece Teleman. I’d honestly never really heard of these guys before but their set went down really well with the crowd and their feel-good tunes reminded me a little of some of Alt-J’s. It was then back to the Common Stage as rapper Wretch 32 took to the stage, a rather strange booking for this line-up but one that pleased thousands of youths. I hadn’t heard many of his songs in a while, but it would seem that I was an anomaly in this crowd. Next up were The Levellers who are always up for bringing the party to the festivals they play at and Victorious received the same folk-rock treatment. A little predictable perhaps, but an exciting set as always.
The Coral brought the crowds into the evening as the site became a little chilly. I was interested to hear some new music from them but, of course, it was their classics I was really there for. Much to my delight, and it would seem thousands of others, they played Jacqueline, In The Morning and Dreaming Of You in what was a pretty good set indeed. Scottish-rockers Travis were the penultimate act on the day, a band I always seem to miss at festivals, and their enthusiasm and energy meant they had the crowd on their side throughout- lead singer Fran Healy even jumped on one lucky fan’s shoulders at one point. Headliners Manic Street Preachers gave a solid performance to close the day, with many members of the audience taking up the opportunity to singalong to some of their biggest hits.
I arrived on the Sunday at 11am. It was raining, it was cold, but local singing sensation Jerry Williams was opening the Castle Stage. That’s commitment for you. She’s had over 1 million streams on Spotify, played at Hyde Park and supported MAGIC! in London, so I went along to see what all the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. Backed by her superb band, Jerry performed a cracking set and even attracted a decent crowd for the time of the day- I’m glad I got up so early! I then headed over to the Common Stage to catch Slow Readers Club, and to also get a good spot for the following act. Slow Readers Club seemed to have a surprisingly good fanbase and they reminded me of Everything Everything which, trust me, is a very good comparison indeed.
Will Young was next up- he was on so early because he had to be in Manchester later that day- performing some of his greatest hits, though, to my disappointment, not Evergreen. Nevertheless, the crowd was massive for his set and his humour and fantastic stage presence meant for an excellent performance. After a set from The Beautiful Secret, 90s legends Space were next up who, to my surprise, seemed very popular. I’m not familiar with their music but still managed to have a great time listening to them and watching them interact with ‘inflatable nude people’. I then headed back over to the Castle Stage to check out rising rock stars Pretty Vicious who seemed very polished considering how young they are- after a bit of research, Google tells me they are all teenagers.
Milky Chance were next up on the Common Stage, a band I was familiar with because their music is always played in TK Maxx. I find their songs quite relaxing to listen to, but their set was by no means relaxing, with many choosing to jump around and get involved- it was great to watch. The crowd size depleted for Public Service Broadcasting, but those who chose to leave missed out on an interesting and musically sublime set. The band’s motto is ‘Educate, Inform, Entertain’ and they did just that with futuristic sounds, accompanied by archive footage of iconic moments in history. It was wacky at times and very refreshing to see something completely different at a festival.
Wolfmother were playing over on the Castle Stage so I once again headed over to get a good spot for them. Fortunately it’s only about a 5 minute walk between the two main stages, but you are tempted into buying food on the way. The Australian band were on top form, with the crowd as equally lively, mosh-pitting throughout their set, which even featured the fittingly named hit Victorious. It was strange putting them on before a DJ set from Mark Ronson, but no-one seemed to mind as the energy levels throughout the arena were still sky-high. I left after seeing him play Uptown Funk, one of the highlights of the weekend should I say, to catch the end of Noel Gallagher’s set over on the Common Stage. Luckily, I managed to catch him play Wonderwall, AKA… What A Life and Don’t Look Back In Anger, so I felt like I’d seen it all really.
Victorious Festival proved to be another fantastic weekend with affordable ticket prices, a good selection of food, things to do for all the family and, most importantly, a world class line-up of music. It has been confirmed that it will take place over the same weekend next year, but it will now include music on the evening before on Friday as well. There are rumours that they are looking to add camping to the event, but I feel that a move like this will remove the family-friendly vibes from the event and put the casual music-lover off going. It’s too early to make any judgements yet, so we’ll see what happens!
We’ll be keeping you up-to-date with all the announcements regarding next year’s event, so make sure you stay tuned! Early-bird tickets have already gone on sale for next year, and can be purchased here.