V Festival @ Weston Park, Sunday 20th August, 2017

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After a great Saturday at V Festival Sunday had a lot to live up to.

In the wise words of Justin Bieber “Never Say never.” It is perhaps an idiom that Busted should’ve listened to. The band dispensed, only to reunite in 2016 releasing an album alongside their reconstruction. For fans and band alike, the reunion and the album have been welcomed warmly. Despite the early time fans flocked into the main stage arena to catch a glimpse of the madness that is a Busted set. Along with fan favourites “What I Go To School a For,” “Air Hostess,” and “3am” the band played a slew of old and new tunes. As the dance circles broke out the hype continued to grow. It is clear that fans love Busted, and Busted love their fans. The perfect Sunday morning set, delivered by Busted.

Midday found itself gridlocked in a pop battle. Artists Ella Eyre and Calum Scott are both brilliant artists who circle the pop genre. Equally talented and equally successful, the artists dueled it out on parallel stages to see which pop star would reign supreme. Ella Eyre had a slight advantage, starting 15 minutes before Calum. Atmospheric “Together” opened the show. Bouncing on the stage Ella’s silky smooth vocals danced around the arena. From one end of the stage to the next, Ella worked the crowd with pop diva perfection. Tunes “Waiting All Night,” “Worry About Me,” and “Yours” intertwined with new hits, had fans increasingly screaming the lyrics back to Ella. With electronic undertones a majority of Ella’s tunes are lively and charismatic and under the sunny sky it felt like a blissfully perfect afternoon.

Ella Eyre certainly put on a show, but so did Calum Scott. With a debut single that has sold over 1 million copies, Scott is no stranger to massive crowds. The soulful singer songwriter pop star has a boyish likeability on stage, enduring both during the song and in between. Scott mixed high energy tunes such as “Sore Eyes” with lulling ballads like “You Are the Reason.” A Beatles cover of “Golden Slumbers” that melted into Ed Sheerans “Thinking Out Loud” a clear crowd pleasure. The emotive and rolling set showed how Calum has the masterful ability of pairing vulnerability with upbeat pop vibes, a task not easily perfect. Closing with “Dancing On My Own” and “Give Me Something” Calum Scott solidified his spot as a pop god. So who won the vicious pop battle? In all honesty it has to be a draw. Both Ella Eyre and Calum Scott delivered stand out performances that prove why they have continued to be queen and king of the pop scene.

Ahead of a headlining arena tour, James Arthur took to the festival stage delivering the standout performance of the weekend. Part rock, part pop, opening song “I Am” found James with guitar in hand. Playing and singing with insatiable passion, it is undeniable that James loves life on the stage. His enthusiasm is  mirrored by the fans, who longingly draw closer and closer to the stage. Pop rock ballad “Sermon” continues the emotional pull of Arthur, commanding the stage and the audience as he paces from side to side. A song for the ladies, “Sober” is a synth heavy guitar driven tune. A “Thong Song” cover gives an interesting break, followed by collaboration track “Sun Comes Up” and breakout tune “Impossible.” “Can I Be Him” and “Say You Won’t Let Go” round out the set. James Arthur delivered a truly knock out performance that was easily one of the top of the weekend.

Beyond talented and adoring of his fans, James Arthur has the alluring combination of factors that will hopefully keep him on the stage for years and years to come.

Madness is a band that creates what they want and plays in a style that they want. Whereas some may be consumed by chart potential and fandom acquisition, Madness has garnered a following over the years by simply creating and being who they are. What does this translate to? Well their tunes are a mixture of sonic elements that seemingly don’t fit.

Their live show is a concoction of this sound, forced together by insane energy and genuine enthusiasm for live shows. Madness took to the main stage, playing hits like “Embarrassment” and “The Prince” along with a multitude of others. Engaging and clever, their set proved that you can put together different elements to create an incredible set, that genre limitation is just that, a limitation.

George Ezra took over the stage next. After his Pink Panther anthem walk in, a guitar clad George launched into bluesy pop “Cassy O’.” The lighthearted upbeat song seems to juxtapose Ezra’s gruff voice, the mixture creating a lovely melodious harmony. As the crowd bops around you can immediately tell it is going to be a lively show. George declares that he is here to “help you swing away the rain,” launching into new tune “Get Away.” A quintessential storyteller, the new song paints a landscape of escapism and longing, a theme that George says will permeate the new album. “Barcelona” is followed by another new one, “Shiny People,” continuing the pattern with “Listen to the Man” and slower paced new tune “Hold My Girl.”

Current single “Don’t Matter Now” is the lighthearted tale of escapism, bringing a giant smile to George’s face as the crowd sings along. Bluesy swinger “Blame It on Me” is followed by new tune “All My Love,” with Ezra ending with “Song 6” and of course “Budapest.” Rain or shine, George Ezra always delivers a cheeky performance that brings excitement and enjoyment, even on a rainy day. With new tunes filling almost half the set you can’t help but look forward to what is coming soon from George Ezra.

Edinburgh rocker singer songwriter Callum took to the V Street Stage, bringing some rock edge to his singer songwriter set. For those unfamiliar with Callum, he is a mega talented musician out of Edinburgh. The artist has “done hundreds of gigs” and the well conditioned musician has now taken his unique musical sound to the V Festival stages. Callum’s songs are vulnerable yet powerful, an explorative sound that is backed by storytelling lyrics. Callum “wanted to be an artist that wrote my own songs, I like to watch a band and know that the guy has written something about a time in his life and he’s singing it to me.” Callum writes about his life, but does so in a poetic introspective way that gives imagery and light into what can be a bland genre creation. Like his songs his live show is entertaining and personal. “Upbeat and heartwarming” his show was boisterous, bringing the anthemic songs to life.

Jess Glynn and Craig David both continued the pop excitement to the main stage, before Pink would finish the night.

In a cacophony of flashing lights and bright stage costumes Pink wandered onto the main stage playing hits like “So What,” “Get the Party Started,” and newest single “What About Us.” In pure Pink fashion the show was part music show part circus nice party. With each song Pink’s dancers filled the stage in choreographed synchronicity. Pink trotted around the stage, bringing her velvety voice to every corner. During the show Pink climbed into an inflatable ball and crowd surfed. To top this at one point she hooked herself into a belt and propelled herself through the air to the fans in the back. Like a fairy Pink danced and floated around the audience. Pink may have been silent for a few years, but her new songs mixed with her incredible stage performance made you realize that she is back and back in full force.

A superb V Festival weekend!

 

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Marc Osborne

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