V Festival 2012 – Hylands Park

V Festival 2012 proved to be the best weekend of my life. Only coming near to it, was last years. Yes, it was ‘too hot’ and I got overly and excessively sunburnt before Saturday had even come, but that’s a much better option than rain. Yes, it’s in Essex, but that tends to mean there’s good looking people there. Yes, it can be described as chavy, but seriously, it really really isn’t – the people that say that just haven’t been. Plus with a line-up like this years, who gives a fuck anyway. The usual suspects were in attendance, Example and Professor Green for instance, as well as a wide choice of headliners from The Stone RosesThe Killers on the main stages, with Ed Sheeran and Nero also high up on the bill. Say what you want about V, because all I saw was thousands of people having the time of their life. Here’s a little run through of my weekend, supported by proper videos of most of the action.

(As a side note, the person who threw that bottle of piss at Cher Lloyd, casing her to break into tears and stopping her set short. You’re an awful person… But Christ that would’ve been an amazing shot.)

Saturday 18th August:

Jack Beats:

The first stop at The Arena tent, a tent which seemed like a home to me on the Saturday. And boy, did Jack Beats manage to get that tent going off. With a mix of their own tracks, notably “Careless” and “War“, alongside classics such as “Knas”, everyone seemed to pile into the tent to witness the duo send people into madness. The sweating had begun, and very rarely stopped.

Wretch 32:

At last years V Fest, Wretch 32 was the first act I saw. It was also the same weekend that the Josh Kumra featuring “Don’t Go” reached number 1 – Wretch’s first. So it marked off what has been a magnificent year for, in my eyes and many others, the UK’s finest MC. He was recommended by many artists interviewed in advance of the festival, such as Tinie Tempah, Example and Ed Sheeran – who in fact joined Wretch on stage to perform their collaboration, “Hush Little Baby” amid masses of screams. Wretch then ended the hit-filled set with “Traktor“, which after witnessing it a few times now, is a perfect end.

Example:

I make it 6 times I’ve seen Example now, so you might think I’d be a little bored by now, surely? Never. Every set is different in some way, yet maintains that immense crowd reaction, a reaction I don’t think many artists can come close to. As he was performing on the Main Stage, it was a (very) big crowd, so he had a lot to live up to, but the bigger the crowd the more confident Example seems to be. The whole band fed off the energy of the crowd, and the crowd fed back off that energy. With the new single, “Say Nothing” debuted along with a previously unheard, “Perfect Replacement“, it just got everyone hyped for the upcoming album in November. It was also the first time I’ve seen a kind of avenue of mosh pits merging together. Elliot tweeted afterwards, “best gig of my career,” which tells you something.

Professor Green:

So, follow that… But when has Professor Green ever lost a challenge. After a very long, sweaty wait, Pro emerged to that beat from “At Your Inconvenience“, and from there on in, there was no stopping him. Track after track, you felt Pro just wanted to keep the music coming, fitting as much in to the set as physically possible. Flowing through tracks off both albums, from “I Need You Tonight” to “Into The Ground“, he had everyone on side, rapping and singing along. I’d say “Remedy” got the best reception, especially with that incredible ILS remix – in which Pro’s mate Lewis jumped past security and then proceeded to jump around a lot, whilst topless, and that may be my favourite moment of the weekend. A set worthy of a headline position.

Ed Sheeran:

Wow, didn’t Ed Sheeran pull it out the bag. With that combination of loop pedal and microphones, Sheeran took to the same stage he’d been on earlier with Wretch – he also performed with Devlin and Rizzle Kicks earlier too –  although he had possibly a bigger light show than normal, with building blocks of LED lights dazzling behind him. Gliding through the beautiful tracks of “Grade 8” and “Give Me Love“, Ed was on fine form.

But the special guests were what made this so, well, special. First on, was Example. Performing an amazing acoustic version of “Changed The Way You Kiss Me“, then later on came Mikill Pane to join onto the end of “A Team” to perform “Little Lady” – which was exceptional. But as Mikill left, the crowd knew there was just that one song left, “You Need Me“. A song which has had so many variations and remixes you never know what you’re going to get. This time, Ed gave us practically everything. After 10 minutes on the track himself, he brought out Rizzle Kicks, then Random Impulse who performed a verse from his own track, “On A Roll” over the beat, before finally bringing on Wretch 32. It lasted around 20 minutes, and Ed never lost it. The most incredible performance of one single song I’ve ever seen.

Sunday 19th August:

Rita Ora:

First set I attended on the Sunday was courtesy of Rita Ora. On course to attain her second number 1 single, she was in great spirits, and often sounded emotional when talking to the crowd. Joined on stage by Nneka to collab on “RIP” as a finale, she really got people to come see her. So much so that I couldn’t even get inside the tent, and also so much so that one girl came out of the tent during “RIP“, fainted, and faceplamed the floor – which was kind of nasty. (She was fine in the end, by the way)

DJ Fresh:

If the sight of that girl fainting and passing out leaving Rita was anything to go by, DJ Fresh’s upcoming live set would be fairly mental. So mental it’d been kept in an asylum for 10 years. Partly helped by the over crowded, over heated tent,  it became the sweatiest set over the course of the weekend. Blasting through “Gold Dust“, and “Hot Right Now” (weirdly without Rita Ora), DJ Fresh LIVE isn’t for the faint hearted, or the overly sun burt… Christ, it felt like my skin was being grated off at points.

Tinie Tempah:

After missing the start, but yet managing to worm a way into the heart of the extensive crowd, I was about to finally see Tinie in action. With the sun still up, it became a relatively sweaty affair as he breezed through “Written In The Stars“, “Miami 2 Ibiza“, before ending on the big one… “Pass Out“, which he effectively played out 3 times it seemed, including crowd only verses, before going back and redoing the verse with THAT production from Labrinth. A modern day UK music legend.

Snow Patrol:

I basically saw Snow Patrol because they were in between Tinie and The Killers, but by the end of their set, I’d rekindled that love that I once had for them. There are just so many classics you forget about, and somehow you still remember the lyrics too. Dedicating songs to their good mate Ed Sheeran, and Madness who performed earlier, they got a lot of crowd participation – in terms of singing along, and bottle throwing at people daring enough to try stay on someone’s shoulders.  “Run” was just incredible, although I was slightly downbeat they didn’t play “You Could Be Happy” – however I guess it’s good, otherwise I may have broken into tears. It was a real set to remember.

The Killers:

Beautiful. I remember the moment I first heard the sound of The Killers, it was on a late night highlights show of Glastonbury 2004 (I think), and it was incredible. The next day I made my mum take me out and buy the last remaining “Hot Fuss” album on the shelves – a lot of people had the same idea seemingly. So the idea of seeing them rock up to V Festival 2012 sent me back to that day. Often you hear people say hearing your favourite childhood bands later in life can be disappointing, but I don’t think anyone in witness of this set would agree. It was just wonderful.

They kicked off proceedings with “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile like You Mean It” and from there on in everyone was hooked. And by the time they’d belted out the historic “Mr Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done“, Brandon took the band off amongst echoing choruses of “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier“. These continued until the sounds of “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” begun, and by the time “When You Were Young” had ended, and The Killers had finally departed, if you had any voice left, you didn’t fully enjoy it.

Classic after classic performed with the whole band on top form. In no way did they disappoint my 10 year old self.

(Words: Will Ackrill)

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