Victorious: Great Music, Expensive Food and My Giant Blue Vagina

Inflatable festival sofa

S&C contributor, Andrew Larder, reviews the music and experience of last week’s Victorious Festival and offers a somewhat embarrassed apology to musician Marley Blandford.

‘One day like this a year would see me right’ sang Sunday headliners Elbow.

But this year, music fans had three days as Victorious extended the weekend event to Friday. Those nutty boys Madness topped the bill on the first night and did not disappoint: running through all their old hits and a few more recent ones, including Mr Apples.

The Friday crowd included quite a few middle aged blokes in Fred Perry tee shirts. Blokey blokes, geezers, Mitchell Brothers tribute acts, who like nothing better than to drink lager and have a proper old tear-up. Yet there they were, singing and dancing to ‘It Must Be Love.’

Madness were supported by the Charlatans, looking older and wiser but sounding just as good. Craig Charles was in the D-Day carpark doing a DJ set. Local band The Glorias headlined on the Rhino stage providing a quality musical alternative to the Castle stage.

Now, my festival did not start well as my ticket would not scan at entry point.

The lady in charge of Ticket Technical Troubleshooting took her job very seriously. She had a laptop and had already reduced one Festival goer to tears as they had printed off the e-ticket for the wrong day. Luckily, I did not have an e-ticket but a genuine perforated, hologram old school ticket.

Within seconds Ticket Technical Trouble-shooter had virtually accused me of being a master forger trying to gain access to the Festival. Like the Spanish Inquisition, but a lot less fun, she established that I had bought my ticket, in person, from an official outlet, using cash. Ticket Technical Trouble shooter scanned my ticket over and over but each time her handheld computer said’ No’. Her laptop was consulted and the Supreme Commander informed.

Eventually a kindly Security Guard suggested that the ticket was genuine and Ticket Technical Trouble shooter said that certain data had not been unloaded and asked had I bought the ticket recently. I replied ‘January’ which led to her circuits overloading, head exploding and the kindly Security Guard letting me through.

Saturday came and went far too quickly. Whilst obtaining a drink at the bar was like joining the Post Office queue from hell, the music was good. Stereophonics headlined and in a recent radio interview, lead singer Kelly Jones revealed Bob Dylan is a fan of theirs. They certainly like to tell a tale in their songs. Their latest release relays events ’All in One Night’ as a drink driver crashes, then helps deliver a baby. Not the normal hormonal related rock song scenario.

Echobelly lit up the Common Stage Saturday afternoon with some polished guitar pop. British Sea Power entertained on the Castle Stage producing a fantastic soundscape of intelligent music. Lyrics such as ‘Are here of legal drinking age/On minimum wage,’ would not have been lost on the Rita Ora fans already setting up camp for later in the evening.

What is the correct term for a Rita Ora fan? Rita-ette? Rittatties? Oreos? Answers in the comments box, folks, I’m dying to know.

Victorious offers a vast choice. There is too much to be able see everything, even in three days. The World Stage offers an array of eclectic music, some deserving to be playing to bigger audiences. Billed as a family-friendly festival there are areas for children, and activities for all ages including stars from children’s TV. Things could turn ugly as Paw Patrol meet Mr Bloom. There is the People’s Lounge, giving poets and writers a chance to perform. Hosted by S&C’s critic and reporter Emily Priest from the Front Room, performance poets presented the power of the spoken word.

A Fun Fair, a retro computer games tent, stalls selling jewellery, clothes and services such as foot massages are available. Butserfest stage with some top young metal acts, acoustic stage, Rhino stage, the list is endless. Music, music everywhere. Mostly live, and nearly all good. A general feeling of euphoria and congeniality floats in the air along with the smell of food. If we could only all live like this all the time.

One problem with that Utopian ideal would be the cost of food. £10 for a burger and chips nearly sent me into shock, although my son said it was very tasty.

Very tasty? It should endow the consumer with some sort of magical powers for that price. Invisibility or protection against food poisoning might be an idea. Oh, and a baguette is not the same as a large hot dog roll. Look at my girth, I know the difference. £4.50 for a crepe is also a little steep but they were big and freshly made.

Local breweries and restaurants compete against mobile caterers from around the country and produce some excellent quality fare. A pint of lager is £5.70; local real ale £5; and both appear to be a clear case of overcharging a captive audience. However, on the flip side, patrons can leave the festival and re-enter up until 8pm. Vendors have to pay up front for a pitch and one bad day of weather could lead to a loss.

Another criticism levelled at the organisers is that most of the small acts do not get paid. Yet no one forces them to play, and artists get the opportunity for experience, exposure and something substantial to put on their CV.

Sunday arrived too soon. I started off at the Seaside stage a bit late, watching two excellent bands. Slow Readers Club and Fjokra ripping up the Sunday afternoon peace and quiet as a ski jet raced up and down in the water. These are two bands I will certainly seek out again.

I would now like to apologise to singer Marley Blandford.

You probably could not see me Marley but I fear I disrupted your set. Whilst folding chairs are banned from Victorious, you are permitted to bring ‘wind’ chairs. These are a thing now. Two large nylon tubes that can be inflated and sealed to produce a giant pair of lips. This produces a sofa or air bed. The instructions state ’simply whoosh the tubes in the air’. Sadly, my whoosh was very much substandard. I whooshed to the left, I whooshed to the right, I whooshed in a figure of eight. All in vain.

By now Marley’s audience was watching me. I climbed the slope as if being at a giddy altitude of twenty feet above sea level might help. A kind lady suggested I walk in a circle whilst whooshing, which I tried, then I ran in a circle. Someone shouted it looked like I have a ‘giant blue vagina’. I suggest that guy revisits his school biology books as he clearly hasn’t been near a real one for a while.

I ran down the slope, nearly falling over. At last my lips were inflated! I sealed the tubes off and gently sat down, only to be devoured by the giant blue lips as I slid in between the tubes.

So Marley, I’m sorry.

Back to the music. I made my way to the Common Stage to catch Pete Doherty, a last-minute replacement for another band. A troubled soul, his battle with his own personal demons is well documented. Pete drifted around the stage, at times appearing surprised to find an audience watching. At once both charming and frustrating, Pete bimbled through his set teasing everyone with glimpses of his genius. The stage manager cut the power as the band had over-run their slot, but Pete tried to continue playing. The moment had gone and no one could hear him anymore.

Next up, Slaves. A woman shouted ‘It’s Christmas!’ in her best Noddy Holder voice, until someone pointed out they are Slaves not Slade. A force of nature, fortunately Slaves cannot be plugged into the National Grid, because if they could they would surely blow some fuses.

Drugs are often associated with festivals but as Olly Murs took to the stage the only drugs in the crowd were Calpol and Junior Disprin. For a while I thought Mr Bloom was back to headline the Castle Field stage, but Olly had the crowd eating out of his hand and some very catchy pop tunes to boot. Hardly hardcore, but Olly left a lot of people happy.

Next year the Festival may change as the owners have sold a majority share to the second biggest festival promoters in the country. I hope the weather remains kind and they still aim to produce a family friendly Festival, as this year officially rocked.

Image taken from Ebay.