August Bank Holiday usually means one thing for festival-goers – Reading & Leeds. Alas, this year, the decision was made to abandon the illustrious twin weekender for Portsmouth’s very own 3 day event, Victorious. Celebrating its 6th year of existence, Victorious reclaimed its position on Southsea Common – a picturesque location with a sea view to the left, and an array of spectacular architecture to the right.
We were lucky enough to muscle our way into this year’s bonanza – here are our highlights!
Opening up the weekend, Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul Club captured the Real Ale Stage, with Craig Charles spinning the finest array of tunes in a car park tucked behind the festival’s main arena. With overpowering bass and a stellar selection of tracks, this 2 hour set served to be a difficult performance to follow – even if it was just a DJ set!
Next on my list of must-sees were ska innovators, and Friday night headliners, Madness. Despite only knowing a grand total of about 8 songs, their set was one that kept the crowd interested, and most importantly alive and dancing for its entirety. Reeling out the hits including One Step Beyond, My Girl, It Must Be Love, and Our House, it was pretty easy to see how the iconic group had lasted for 40 years in spite of numerous line-up changes! Sliding in a cover of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil, and rounding up their set with House of Fun and Night Boat To Cairo, Madness had sufficiently warmed up Pompey’s festival-goers for the weekend ahead.
Saturday morning arrived, as did another scorching day reaching at least 25 degrees. Out on Southsea Common, the place was heaving with what must have been half of the population of Portsmouth. Frank Turner was the first act I saw of the day, and played what may well have been a ceremonious ode to Portsmouth, as he endeavoured to indulge each song in a bit of Hampshire glory. With regional anecdotes slotting into his songs and interaction with the audience, Frank Turner’s stripped back solo set brought about singalongs to tracks like Wessex Boy and I Still Believe. Following on, currently hyped indie band The Hunna played a well received set on the festival’s main stage powering through their most well known tracks including Bonfire.
As the early evening came about, it was time for Welsh powerhouse Feeder to drench the Common in their grunge-heavy style. Summoning a huge singalong, Buck Rogers, High, and Just A Day saw the crowd fully engage. My initial impressions of Victorious as a tame family festival were smeared by Feeder’s set as the Common Stage hosted its first mosh-pit of the weekend. Flying the flag for the weekend’s share of alternative rock, Maximo Park followed on, playing a churned up set of greatest hits and new material. Unsurprisingly, Apply Some Pressure garnered the most cheers!
As the sun set, it was time for Jake Bugg’s set as the penultimate act of the day – predictably, the crowd were treated to an all-killer no-filler set. I remained skeptical of Stereophonics’ playing a 90 minute set, and after hearing Have A Nice Day and Maybe Tomorrow, decided to vacate the front for a more backseat approach to the rest of the set. Undeniably and rather obviously, Dakota amassed an incredibly impressive singalong from the largest crowd of the day to bring the Saturday night to a grand close.
Typically come Sunday at a festival, you’ve had enough and want your own bed and a nice warm shower. However, one bonus to attending Victorious is the possibility to actually go home each day – I’m sure as a direct result this contributed to the energetic atmosphere the Sunday held. With The Dandy Warhols kicking off proceedings as the afternoon’s special guest, early afternoon saw the punk duo Slaves take control (excuse the pun) of the Common Stage by inciting by far the most riotous assembly of people all weekend. In contrast, the Castle Stage played host to the psychedelic sounds of Toy and Kassassin Street.
Unashamedly, I offer the title of best set of the weekend to Peter Doherty for his ramshackle performance on the main stage, which eventually wound up being cut off. After rambling through what must have only been about 6 songs in total, a slow-dance with a security guard, and various periods of lying down on the floor, Peter and his band the ‘Puta Madres’ were cut off after over-running on their billed set time and refusing to leave the stage. Classic Peter.
Later on in the evening, indie-rock mammoths Franz Ferdinand took to the Common Stage. Opening with Do You Want To?, and slotting in The Dark of the Matinee, Michael, and Love Illumination, Franz Ferdinand musically were something else. Their live show is a real testament to their recorded material, with tracks such as No You Girls and the iconic Take Me Out bringing about one of the most impressive performances of this year’s festival season for me. Following on, the executive decision was made to abandon Elbow’s headline set in exchange for cheesy pop from the one and only Olly Murs.
Playing all the hits you’d expect, Olly Murs was a pleasant contrast to the more alternative acts that had played during the day – and let’s be real, who doesn’t enjoy a good old bop to Dance With Me Tonight and Troublemaker? However, with a quick dash back to the main stage, I witnessed Elbow play a rather poignant rendition of A Day Like This, finishing off the weekend through an emotional acapella singalong from the crowd.
Victorious Festival may not have all the glamour of somewhere like Reading Festival, but as city-based festivals go, it’s got a lot to show for itself. With a breadth of eminent acts on the larger stages and the smaller stages like the World Music Stage, Victorious is the perfect option for those unwilling to spend 5 days in a tent, wishing for nothing more than a shower and an actual mattress (though if this takes your fancy, they do offer this for an extra fee!)
Victorious Festival will take place from the 24th – 26th August 2018, with tickets on sale now from £20!
Words by Jasmin Robinson