V Festival is the poppiest of all the UK music festivals, and generally the “lowest class” in terms of the calibre of artist (lots of Top 40 acts, no one cool or “left field”) and the clientele (unmistakeably white trash). I lost my V-irginity yesterday, having never been before, and who better to lose it to than the Saturday night headliner, Justin Timberlake? Seriously, every time I see Justin live it’s like being fucked expertly. He’s incredible. But more about that later. Here are my highlights from the day in more or less chronological order.
BEING STOPPED BY THE POLICE ON THE WAY IN AND SNIFFED FOR DRUGS
Just after we had laughed heartily at some other poor fuckers who were having their bags rifled through by a sniffer dog. The shame of it all!
ALL SAINTS // THE ARENA STAGE
All Saints, the Sugababes to the Spice Girls’ Girls Aloud, kicked off our day with a set that began with ‘Chick Fit‘, took in most of my faves including ‘Bootie Call‘, ‘Under The Bridge‘, and ‘Never Ever‘ before ending on ‘Pure Shores‘. All Saints were a kind of cool the Spice Girls never attained – never forget that one of the Appletons not only dated King Of UK Pop Music, Robbie Williams, but ended up marrying in to rock royalty – and time has not aged their act or their music. With the exception of ‘I Know Where It’s At‘ which was always a strange hyper-pop anomaly in their back catalogue, none of the songs they performed sounded even a little bit dated and their choreography, despite not being complex, had an effortless swag you won’t ever get from the current crop of girlbands (Little Mix, Neon Jungle) who owe more than a little of their style to All Saints. Second best act we saw all day.
PIXIE LOTT + JOHN NEWMAN // THE MTV STAGE
I wanted to see Neon Trees on the Futures Stage, but I got outvoted by the boys who insisted on seeing John Newman. We wandered over in time to see the tail end of Pixie Lott’s set. Call it schadenfreude, but thinking about how that would probably be one of the last time Pixie Lott performs before she inevitably gets dropped, almost made the experience enjoyable. Life’s too short for average pop music by basic blondes and Alexa Goddard is already dancing on Pixie’s grave.
Anyway, it turned out Manic Street Preachers had cancelled so all the times for the MTV Stage were out of whack and we could probably have seen Neon Trees and John Newman. Whatever. I’m not bitter. He eventually came out on stage and performed songs I didn’t know because the only John Newman song I know is ‘Love Me Again‘. They all sounded the same, and they’re not bad, but I wanted to see Neon Trees so I sat down and steadfastly refused to enjoy myself. By the fourth song everyone gets on my level and realises we’d have more fun if we went to get food and drink so we bail before he performs his biggest hit. I have to say I’m sad that Sam Smith kinda came in and took John Newman’s spot because despite the fact that they’re both boring (Sam Smith? John Newman? do they sound like popstar names to you?) John Newman at least has some razzle dazzle about him and his songs have a bit of grit. Someone should tell him that spasmodically moving his feet like that isn’t dancing, though.
ICONA POP // THE FUTURES STAGE
A delicious gourmet sausage roll, a beer and a strawberry/marshmallow/chocolate concoction later we’re at the Futures Stage for the last half of Icona Pop’s set. I’m almost all Icona Pop’d out, having seen them all across Katy Perry’s Prismatic Tour, but they’re a lot of fun live, so it didn’t matter they were wearing the same costumes or that they never seem to do their hair. The new single ‘Get Lost‘ is absolutely incredible, and despite there only being half a crowd, the tent completely fills when they perform ‘I Don’t Care‘. We danced the most here. Probably the third best act we saw. It would be nice for Icona Pop to achieve some success beyond ‘I Don’t Care’. I do think they’re a lot better than a one-hit wonder.
KEISHA BUCHANAN GETS AN UPGRADE
There’s nothing going on for a good while so we wander back to VIP for more sustenance and pass Keisha Buchanan of Sugababes / MKS fame purchasing an upgrade for her ticket. LOLZ. I wish I’d got a photo with her because she looked quite fab, but I’d dropped chocolate down my shirt (my hair dipped into my strawberry cup and then wiped itself all over my clothes) and also I have always been slightly intimidated by Keisha even though she is 100% my fave ‘Babe, so I didn’t approach her. I also get stopped by some girls who run a street fashion instagram (as far as I understood) who took my photo, with my hoodie strategically placed to hide the chocolate stains. So glamour.
BLONDIE // THE MTV STAGE
The day is starting to wind up and it’s basically just count down to Timberlake O’ Clock, but we caught the first bit of Blondie’s set, because you know it’s Blondie and it’s Debbie Harry and she’s an icon. To put not too fine a point on it, we left pretty quickly. Opener ‘One Way Or Another‘ was great because everyone was singing along and having a great time, but the sound was shit and I don’t know what Debbie was on but her performance was kinda weird. I’ve never seen Blondie live before so maybe that’s what they’re always like? I do want to catch them at iTunes Festival and hopefully I won’t be disappointed then.
ED SHEERAN // THE MAIN STAGE
We stopped off on our way back to the bar to see what was going on with Ed Sheeran’s set. The answer was basically: nothing. It’s just him and a guitar. Ed Sheeran, his ginger tree troll face, and a guitar. It was like a fucking open mic night in a working men’s club. Have you ever seen someone thrash an acoustic guitar? Not only does it sound fucking horrendous, it looks fucking stupid. I’m not that familiar with Ed Sheeran songs other than ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You‘ which we heard and I enjoyed, and the one that Demi Lovato keeps covering that honestly goes on for approximately a thousand years. We buggered off after that. I say “after”. He was still bloody singing it.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE // THE MAIN STAGE
Fully rehydrated and ready to go, we made our last trip out for Justin Timberlake. The crowd was packed out and there was some old dude (like, mid-30s or a bad looking late-20s) already practicing his best Justin moves before he came out on stage. Justin appeared, in a suit and trilby, to ‘Pusher Love Girl‘, which is unnecessarily long, before smashing through his latest (tracks like ‘TKO‘, ‘Take Back The Night‘ and ‘Suit & Tie‘) and his very fucking greatest (‘Rock Your Body‘, ‘Like I Love You‘, ‘Summer Love‘, ‘Señorita‘, ‘Lovestoned‘, ‘My Love‘ and the still powerful and incredible ‘Cry Me A River‘). Justin is like no other male pop act around, right now. That triple threat of “god-given” vocal talent, technical and fluid dance expertise, and undeniable stage presence – there are very few acts in general delivering his level of performance, and definitely no other male artist is on his level. Every routine is sexy. He lives in the music; no movement is wasted, rhythmless or off beat. He even climbed down from the stage to take a selfie with a lucky
bitch fan on the front row.
If there’s one thing Justin can’t do, it’s rap: he took on Timbaland’s verse from ‘My Love’ and it sounded awkward and passionless. It was the only flat moment of the set, other than ‘TKO’ which is definitely his worst single.
We bailed early to ensure a pain-free journey home, so unfortunately missed the end of his set. I expect ‘SexyBack‘ and ‘Mirrors‘ were among the closers. All in all, Justin Timberlake was an excellent way to end the day and easily the best performer on the line up. The 20/20 Experience may have been lacklustre in both parts, but there’s no denying that his place is on a stage and that music is much less exciting without him. Talented, sexy motherfucker.