The 2014 Isle of Wight Festival’s improved ticket sales were largely contingent on the announcement of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who headlined Saturday night on the main stage.
It was unfortunate therefore, that the Los Angeles based funk-rockers hit the stage more than 20 minutes belatedly and produced a so-so set with little crowd interaction.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis sporadically took his customary leave of absence from the stage, compelling his supporting cast to produce a scattered selection of instrumental solos that were hit and miss over the course of the one and a half hour set.
In spite of those frustrating elements, there was undeniably a main event feel about the band’s presence, an A-List aura that comes with decades of successful output.
The Kings of Leon managed to get everyone bobbing and weaving on Sunday night when they played “Sex on Fire” as part of their encore.
The three Followill brothers (and one Followill cousin) had their moments, although ultimately their gritty guitar shredding gradually wore down spectators and felt as if they were just going through the motions, like a karaoke album of Kings of Leon cover versions!
This is the second time in recent years that the quartet have been booked at the head of the Isle of Wight bill and the second time that they’ve been ok, never exhibiting the showmanship to pull up too many trees in their drawn out bouts of southern-rock stodge that rely too heavily on a few prominent single releases.
One band that did exceed most expectations were the spectacular Pretty Reckless, whose lead lady Taylor Momsen lived up to her post-grunge rocker billing with a series of f-bomb garnished observations between tracks, a welcome variation from the usual benign chit-chat bands feel obliged to spout and in stark contrast to the hesitance of the top-line acts here.
One of the most memorable main stage performances came courtesy of Matt Healy fronted quartet The 1975, who played everything from their self titled debut album, as well as a few less heralded compositions.
Pumping out a divine concoction of passion and melancholy, the Cheshire based indie pop-rockers weren’t lacking in confidence or charisma.
A slimline Boy George fused reggae with old school pop to delight early revellers in the Big Top on Thursday evening, casting aside any doubts that the one time Culture Club icon still has the desire and calibre to dazzle when called upon.
Biffy Clyro were understandably the least heralded of the three main stage headliners and the least memorable to boot. Despite that fact, high-octane adaptations of “Black Chandelier” and “The Golden Rule” punctuated a breathless, well received set.
Concluding the weekend’s top-line activity, Travis had the Big Top crammed for a superlative, affable gig that closed with the irksomely catchy “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”
The folky Glaswegians have a reputation for bordering on vanilla, but gave a hell of a send-off to fans who poured out of the fields following a second enormous ovation at the denouement of their most distinctive release.
On a humorous note, the egotistical Dappy, formerly of N-Dubs, had his set curtailed in its relative infancy, officially for his increasingly colourful language, although in truth probably just because he’s Dappy and nobody wants to be subjected to more than a few minutes of his wannabe gangster antics… And ting.
Looking solely at the three acts with their names in the largest font on the poster, it would be easy to assume that this year’s Isle of Wight Festival was a flop.
It’s only when one scratches beneath the superficial that they realise the immense stature of that which lurked a little deeper.