Chaotic and energetic are the best words to describe Courteeners’ jam packed set at Isle of Wight festival this year. The Manchester band took to the main stage, warming up for the Friday night headliner Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Kicking off their anthem-infused set with none other than Are You In Love With A Notion? sent a roar through the crowd. Entering the stage in a fringed parka, with the rest of the band wearing an array of tight polo shirts and sunglasses, matched that of the sea of bucket hats that occupied the crowd before them.
In conversation backstage with Absolute Radio’s Danielle Perry, frontman Liam Fray spoke about the euphoric responses during their live shows: “It is nice. It’s weird cause it’s a communal thing, there’s a lot of division going on at the minute and it feels like music is the one thing where people go and forget stuff for an hour or a few days or whatever. It feels like everyone’s rooting for the same team.”
Initially, with the band performing a massive sell-out hometown show the day after you’d think that Fray and Co would be saving themselves for the “big show” at Heaton Park, but during the interview with Absolute Radio, he stated that, “you don’t say, oh we’ll give 70% tonight, you’ve just got to fucking go for it, so it’ll be the same tonight.”
Flares lit up the field as the sun evacuated the sky, creating a beautiful sunset of coloured smoke amongst the audience. Dropping new tune, Heavy Jacket, in the middle of the set, geared up the crowd for the release of their new songs later on in the year; “I feel that with our third album we went up a notch, you know? I feel like we’ve done that again. We’ve kicked it up a gear. It feels like we’ve gone somewhere different.”
On being an established artist, Liam said: “We’re in such a lucky position that we can tour now. We got dropped after our second record – if two songs didn’t get on the radio, you’re dropped. You know, it’s not as important for us. Maybe it is for other people. But, for us it’s not now cause we’ve been around for such a while that we’re established”.
Headlining such a prestigious festival as Isle of Wight, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds would have jumped at the opportunity, but oh boy did they perform. The music legend and his band took to the stage on Friday night with an effortless aura, whilst angst and nerves developed amongst the raring crowd.
The arguably better half of former band Oasis, Noel knows how to entertain an audience. Kicking things off with the first five tracks from latest album Who Built The Moon?, following suit in running order, resulted in a roar amidst the crowd for hit single, and ultimate anthem, Holy Mountain. Continuing on with the band’s most recent tracks, came Black Star Dancing, which was released that same day, giving the track it’s live Christening at Isle of Wight.
Prior to the set, Noel spoke to Absolute Radio presenters Pete Donaldson and Sarah Champion backstage at the festival. During their interview, Noel proceeded to reminisce about the ferry trip over to the island. “I was on the ferry with Peter Hook. I can’t say what actually happened because somebody will get the sack. I had the hat on and I thought, you know I’ve got the hat on now, you know let’s bring her in! I got on the mic: ‘would the foot passengers please form an orderly queue and vehicle passengers can you queue up by the gangplank.’”
In addition to his fooling around, Noel stated that he was approached by a fellow Gallagher on board: “Some guy came up to me, he had a lanyard on and he was showing me his name. His name was something Gallagher and he said ‘I think we’re related you know,’ I was like oh right, I said ‘how’s that then?’ He said, ‘well my aunt Mary right she’s still alive, she tells me that we’re probably related cause she knows your aunties and like all our family are from Newcastle too.’ And I was going right… well I’m from Manchester. There was kind of a long silence and it ruined his f**king day”.
With a hefty third of the set consisting of Oasis songs, the crowd at Seaclose Park, Newport were treated by Gallagher himself. No member of the audience was found silent during Wonderwall, Stop Crying Your Heart Out and Don’t Look Back In Anger; songs of which can unite a crowd so large and diverse with such a ratio of ages among it, yet everyone was swaying in unison.
If asked whether he’d rather watch Manchester United win a quadruple, or watch Liam Gallagher at Wembley performing only his new stuff, Noel replied: “I think I’d rather eat my own shit. I’d rather put shit on a pizza and be force fed it than listen to that bozo fucking murder his own songs. I’d do it in disguise though, I’d get dressed up like a fisherman and go to one of his gigs with four pairs of sunglasses on. I’d be like ‘fuck off, no you f**k off, you f**k off, no you f**k off.’ I’ll slowly watch burning an effigy in myself being hoisted above the stage at some point.”
Much to the dismay of the audience the set had to come to a close and there was no better way to do so. Isle of Wight festival 2019 was in honour of the first festival in 1969, that saw Bob Dylan grace the stage. To praise this, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds covered All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. Taking a huge song and making it sound like one of their own was a task that Gallagher and Co accomplished with tranquility.
After seven years away from the band, Keane returned to the stage as if it’s been no time at all. Frontman, Tom Chaplin himself played at the festival a few years ago showcasing his solo work but 2019 was the year for the band to reunite.
Headlining the Big Top on Sunday evening was the perfect slot for Keane as their poetic and melodic songs sent joy throughout the crowd. Commencing the set with Bend & Break from their debut album filled the jam-packed tent with excitement and a sense of pride for the return of the band themselves.
Prior to the set, things weren’t so plain sailing for Keane. In conversation with Sarah Champion of Absolute Radio before the show, drummer Richard Hughes spoke about their experience trying to get into the festival site: “Well, we were just trying to get into the site and one of the security guys wouldn’t let us in. The thing is… things like that just get funnier and funnier the more they happen. Then the longer it goes on, the guy is just standing there and we’re just sitting in this bus and it just got funnier as the situation got more absurd. He said:’ what time are you on?’ and we said: ‘11pm’ and he said: ‘well that’s okay. You can go round the one way system again it’ll only take an hour and a half… not living the dream at all are we?!”
The set itself was an ideal time to show off the new heartfelt songs Keane had been working on the past few years. With a new album set to be released later on in the year, formed of incredibly emotional and sincere tracks that display the journey of essentially a mid-life crisis, has taken the band from their uplifting, happy tunes such as Somewhere Only We Know, to a more emotional and real collection of songs, that despite their more melancholic nature, gets a powerful reaction from the crowd.