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Shannon COTTON
11:00 15th June 2019

As the clouds break and the sun finally makes a welcome reappearance, day one of Isle of Wight Festival 2019 gets off to a high flying start.

Opening up the Big Top the day before setting off on tour with P!nk, Bang Bang Romeo take the slot in their stride. Over the past four years they’ve become synonymous with the festival, climbing the ranks and playing on nearly every stage. Today they come equipped with a cover of 4 Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Up’ in the setlist as singer Stars Walker explains, “If I go to another country as an openly gay woman I face dehumanisation and jail time and am told what I should be doing with my womb.” It’s rabble rousing rock makeover, BBR style, still delivers the same potent message. 

Over on the Main Stage DMA’s bring their Manchester-inspired sound to the masses. The Australian trio rip through tracks from their debut album and latest record For Now, getting Seaclose Park ready for the guitar-heavy day ahead - and of course, what DMA’s set would be complete without a flare or five. 

As the sun starts to think about setting, Scottish chants of “Lily, Lily, Lily fucking Allen” fill the Main Stage speakers. Opening with ‘Come On Then’, the almost career spanning set brushes off any tracks from third album Sheezus, but does include an appearance from brand new, unreleased track ‘Party Line’. “Someone booked us on an early ferry so I’ve just been sat in my dressing room eating crisps all day,” quips Lily to the mammoth crowd. Every track receives a joyous reception. Towards the end of the set the singer asks the crowd to take a moment for a one minute silence to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the fire at Grenfell Tower. One respect-lacking member of the audience, who decides to shout at Lily during the silence, gets called out too - “whoever was shouting at me through that is a cunt, this next song is dedicated to you, cunt.” It’s not the end of the dedications though, as she ends her set with ‘Fuck You’, this song is aptly dedicated to the Tory party.

The Courteeners have more than earnt their stripes as a festival band and the day before they play Manchester’s Heaton Park, they have the Isle of Wight Festival Main Stage as a warm up. Tearing through ‘Are You In Love With A Notion?’ and stopping off at ‘Cavorting’ and ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ before finishing with ‘What Took You So Long?’ they sound as bold as ever. 

Heading over to the This Feeling stage to catch tomorrow’s headliners today, Walt Disco and The Ninth Wave do nothing to dispel those rumours of a vibrant scene bubbling away up in Scotland. Walt Disco's 80s inspired, synth heavy, new romantic cuts like ‘Strange To Know Nothing’ and ‘Drowning In Your Velvet Bed’ see singer James Potter writhing around on stage and flirting with the idea of heading into the crowd. The sultry undertones of The Ninth Wave’s electronic gloom rock fills the tent perfectly, at times it’s a glorious sonic ruckus (‘Reformation’) and at others is more carefully considered and intricately constructed (‘Used To Be Yours’) all while remaining extremely captivating. 

Closing the Main Stage on the first full day of proceedings is Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Every track is instantly recognisable or posesses a familiar-feeling, even the new experimental stuff from his latest EP Black Star Danicng. Anecdotes are few and far between the breadth of a back catalogue he tries to fit into his one hour and 20 minutes, but he does enlighten Seaclose Park that, “A guy came up to me on the ferry claiming to be related to me. He had a name tag on that said Gallagher and told me that all of his family are from Newcastle too…what do you think of that?” The Manchester singer then launches into Oasis classic ‘Little By Little’ and dedicates it to the guy from the ferry. ‘AKA…What A Life’ sees the stage’s strobe lights dusted of and put into use for the first time this weekend whilst ‘Wonderwall’, as to be expected, induces a mass sing-a-long. Noel’s transition to the High Flying Birds from Oasis is and interesting one, and as he continues to exercise his musical boundaries it feels like a fitting end to the first day on the Isle. 

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds played:
‘Fort Knox’
‘Holy Mountain’
‘Keep On Reaching’
‘It’s A Beautiful World’
‘She Taught Me How To Fly’
‘Black Star Dancing’
‘The Importance Of Being Idle’
‘Little By Little’
‘Dead In The Water’
‘Everybody’s On The Run’
‘AKA…What A Life’
‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’
‘Half The World Away’
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
‘All You Need Is Love’

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Photo: Katie Willoughby