Victorious Festival - blistering weather for a heavyweight line-up

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Pete Doherty at Victorious Festival

Now in its seventh year on the festival calendar Victorious, held on Southsea seafront near Portsmouth has to go some to compete with the likes of Reading and Leeds who share the bank holiday roster.

Truth be told this event has always done well attracting some big names with allumni that includes Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah and High Flying Birds. This year’s edition featured an excellent cast list that promised much but did they deliver?

Although it’s billed as a three day festival, Victorious is more of a 2 1/2 dayer with half of the site closed on on the Friday. The acts were of no less quality though with headliners Madness doing their usual professional job kicking off the weekend in style.

One feature of this seafront festival is that the main(Common) and second(Castle) stages are very similar in size and host acts that in any other festival would be gracing the main stage. This makes life somewhat tricky for the reviewer and requires the expenditure of a large amount of shoe leather given that they sit at either end of what is actually a surprisingly large site.

Saturday’s fare featured appearances by some superb bands including Hunna, Feeder and Maximo Park. Headliners were split along strictly age related demographic lines with Rita Ora (a gift for photographers) on the Castle stage and The Stereophonics on Common at pretty much the same time.

Ora was everything you’d expect from a confirmed pop princess with a good light show, some very energetic dancing and a bunch of backing dancers with attitude.It was all too much for me so I headed off for the more sedate setting of the Stereophonics which featured people actually playing instruments.

One thing that did strike me on Saturday was the massive age range of punters in attendance. I saw every age group from a babe in arms right up to those who have seen it, done it and worn the three piece suit.

Victorious has a vast number of activities for the kids which means either that mum and dad can relax a bit or, if their little ones are a bit too adventurous then the parents will need to be on their mettle. Of particular note in the children's area was the live band karaoke which gave the future stars a little taste of what singing in front of musicians is really like.

Sunday proved to be every bit as hot as Saturday with some stunning bank holiday weather gracing us with its presence. We tried as best we could to check out all of the smaller stages but the truth is that there were just too many which gives an idea of the depth and breadth of music on show.

One of the performances of the day was an early show by local band Kassassin Street who gathered a big crowd over on Castle in the sweltering sun and took full advantage by producing a superb set.

Another point to note about this event is the accessibility. The majority of the site is flat and there are some tarmac roads that run through. There’s a fair few disabled toilets and some excellent ramps up to viewing areas. The organisers also provide handy disabled drop off points to get you in.

Dandy Warhols gave aficionados a bit of early quality and the musical day got better and at points stranger as it went on.

Pete Doherty, one of my must sees provided a late afternoon talking point as his set ambled between mercurial brilliance and sheer nonsense. It featured him having a bit of a lie down in song two, throwing a mic stand at a photographer in song three before rambling through a pretty poor set then refusing to leave the stage whilst the stage manager chased him round the drum kit. Priceless.

Following closely on was a stunning set by Slaves who took the Common Stage by the neck and wrung it till it was dead. Another highlight.

It was at this point that the somewhat odd timing of the festival kicked in with the final four  acts all starting at the pretty much same time. KT Tunstall Vs Franz Ferdinand at 20:15 and Olly Murs and Elbow at 21:30 and 21:45. Hard choices needed to be made or alternatively in mine and a few other photographers cases a bit of a run across the site.

Ferdinand were their usual professional and excellent selves as was the gettingbettereveryday Tunstall.

Murs, whilst not my cup of musical tea was a superb showman and the crowd responded in spades. Elbow on the main stage gave a thoughtful, friendly and professional performance that involved a huge reverse Mexican wave. All good fun.

In short then what is Victorious like?

Food and beer is expensive, there are some travel issues and they really need to have a bit of think about stage timings. All that aside though they do loads for the kids, it’s a great open site and their music line-ups are always excellent.


If you are wanting a festival with great music that is safe for the kids then take a packed lunch and experience Victorious next time round.

Published on 30 August 2017 by Stuart Walker

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