ONE of the last, but arguably the most fun, festivals of the summer takes place this weekend at Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight.
Bestival, attended by 30,000 revellers, is a festival with a difference.
It features the brilliant line-up you'd expect from a major summer festival, with big names The Chemical Brothers, The Beastie Boys and Primal Scream topping the bill as well as the likes of The Go! Team, Kate Nash, The Gossip and Soul II Soul playing over the three days.
But there are also plenty of other attractions at the festival, which was created by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank, including a Bollywood bar, the chance to brush up on your salsa, tap and belly dancing skills, comedians, top DJs, Burlesque shows, a solar-powered cinema and a 'Cockney knees up'.
Daily Echo reporter SALLY CHURCHWARD complete with her home-made mermaid costume, is giving regular updates from the festival throughout the weekend.
Primal Scream review
Sunday night was rock night and that's just what Primal Scream did.
However, The Gossip were always going to be a hard act to follow and Bobby Gillespie and the boys weren't really up to it.
While they had a good repertoire of rocking songs, which they turned out in a fairly polished manner, they lacked any real rapport with the crowd.
As an audience member, you felt you might as well be watching a DVD of the group from the comfort of your living room as standing in a field on the Isle of Wight.
They played a range of material including some new numbers. The set also included vintage hit Rocks, Country Girl and Swastika Eyes.
Of the three headline acts this weekend, Primal Scream were eclipsed by Beastie Boys who made an effort to engage the crowd, but were head and shoulders above the Chemical Brothers.
Technically, Primal Scream's set couldn't be faulted and their fans certainly lapped up the better known numbers but given what had happened before this perhaps wasn't the most exciting end to the festival.
The band certainly had one ardent supporter, however, in Madness singer Suggs who took to the stage between songs to declare that they were the best rock n' roll band ever.
The Gossip review
Of all the acts which took to the main stage at Bestival, Beth Ditto owned it more than anyone.
She leapt, cavorted, climbed, rolled and stripped her way across it in the most striking performance of the weekend.
Resplendent in a silver, sequined poncho, which she threw into the crowd at the end of the gig, causing a small riot among some fans, she proved herself to be a goddess of rock.
Early into The Gossip's set, she kicked off her shoes and was clearly enjoying herself as much as any of the delighted audience.
The set included a cover of Wham's Careless Whisper which sounded as far from the mushy 80s track as you could have imagined.
They also performed fans favourite Listen Up and the set ended, of course, with the already classic Standing In The Way Of Control, an anti-homophobia song, which had to whole crowd jumping up and down.
The larger-than-life Ditto had a fantastic rapport with the audience, frequent inviting them to sing along as well as collectively saying cheers before she gulped her pint and then belched loudly.
To see The Gossip live is to love them.
There was only one place to be at 5.20pm and that was smack in front of the main stage to watch woman of the moment Kate Nash.Young singer-songwriter pianist/guitar player looked genuinely embarrassed to find herself in front of such a large crowd but she more than rose to the occasion.She did however, lose her stride a little when she saw someone wearing a giant Kiss me Kate' costume.And while she appreciated the effort of the people who had brought lemons, which they pelted the stage with during Foundations, she said she'd prefer that they didn't throw them as she was worried she'd get one in the face.She laughingly added that she'd write her next song about confetti or cake.Before heading to see Kate we tried our hand at some village fete-style games, and although we were unsuccessful at the coconut shy or splat the rat, we did manage to get one ball to stay in a bucket.We also enjoyed the chilled out atmosphere at the bandstand where Martin Harley was in great voice.We're now gearing ourselves up for what promises to be a great set from The Gossip.
Bestival is much more than just a music festival.If you make the most of what it has on offer it can be a learning experience.After getting creative with some bunting painting this morning we have now learnt to hula hoop and belly dance.Incidentally, hula hooping is much easier with a really big heavy hoop. We caught Marlena Shaw performing a soulful set on the main stage, and while nipping backstage we spotted a shy-looking Kate Nash posing for photographers.We're now taking a rest from our physical exertion with some tea and cakes at the Women's Institute tent.
Another day, another artistic endeavour for us at Bestival. Yesterday we made mermaid versions of ourselves out of clay. Today we've been painting bunting. We are covered in luminous and glitter paint but we're very pleased with ourselves.Sunday morning got off to a fairly laid back start for everyone. We had a leisurely breakfast in the BestiValley eating food from the farmers' market and watching Katkhuda in the other bandstand. The bands were wonderfully chilled out and kept their cool despite the generator going down for about 15 minutes in the middle of their set.There are still some pirates wizards and oddly coloured people wandering round in the remains of yesterday's fancy dress but we've abandoned the mermaid outfits and are making the most of the sunshine.The big bands we're looking forward to today are Kate Nash, Gossip and Primal Scream. We're also hoping to catch some more comedy too.
Yesterday's fancy dress parade ended near the Jestival tent so we thought it was a good time to check out some comedy.
Phill Jupitus hosted the early edition - a review of the day's papers.Unfortunately, Jupitus seemed far more interesting in bragging about how many drugs he'd taken the previous night than actually being funny, which was a bit of a problem.He also gave away the identity of the surprise guests of the day, and most of the crowd were delighted to hear it was Madness.On our way back to the main stage to watch Madness we met our two favourite fancy dress groups.The first was a table football team who were strapped together on three poles, while the second was about 20 Smurfs who we couldn't resist having our photos taken with.We were backstage when Madness arrived. We had to take pity in Suggs, who had to contend with all the photographers taking snaps of him as he waited for and emerged from the mobile toilet.He took it in good humour though, and tipped his hat to the waiting crowd as he emerged.Madness' set began rather unfortunately with a power cut, but ever the professionals, they kept the crowd entertained until it came back up.They performed the set of the day, if not the festival so far, performing crowd-pleasing hit after crowd-pleasing hit.After Madness we decided to check out some of the other attractions including the Come Dancing area.In somewhat jarring contrast to the rest of the festival, this was in a proper building and featured a swing band with couples elegantly ballroom dancing on the floor, as well as a variety of pirates, superheroes and wizards, etc.Preceding the main act were the Cuban Brothers, who performed a somewhat strange though highly entertaining routine.This combined singing classic hits such as Lionel Rithcie's All Night Long and James Brown's Please, Please, Please.At the same time they showed off some stunningly impressive break dancing routines, including head spinning, handstands, and other perilous looking moves.They also stripped to their underwear, with the lead singer ending the night wearing the skimpiest of G-strings, leaping around on stage and leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.The main act of the night was the Beastie Boys. The audience was packed and a buzz of excitement went through the crowd when they took to the stage.They performed pretty much all of their well-known hits, though had probably too much in the way of instrumental numbers to keep the energy up.
Beastie Boys review
Beastie Boys were the main, and hotly anticipated, act of the day.Much of the crowd appeared to be ardent fans of theirs, if their fancy dress outfits were anything to go by, with them dressed as the Boys in their various guises from over the years.The band arrived onstage wearing smart suits, and looking as little like a hip hop outfit as you can imagine.But as soon as they burst into their first track, the thumping Sure Shot, it was clear exactly who they were and why they were here.They bounced off the crowd, with Mike D deciding to re-christen the Isle of Wight the Isle of Mike, explaining that that was why they'd agreed to play at the festival.Their set included crowd-pleaser Heart Attack, instrumental B for My Name, Rhymin' and Stealin', and new song Electric Worm.The set lost pace in the middle, with some of the rap numbers maybe being a little indistinguishable from one another for casual fans, and a perhaps misjudged number of back-to-back instrumentals, which caused the pace and energy of the crowd to drop significantly.However, the boys pulled it back with a storming encore, which included Intergalactic and Sabotage, and any dull patches earlier on were quickly forgotten by the appreciative audience.
Special guests Madness were the surprise (in all senses) hit of the festival.They took absolute command of the stage, and the audience.They highlighted the difference between a really good live performance and just some people being on the stage, however good the music is, as with Chemical Brothers the previous night.Everybody was a Madness fan, at least for the hour or so they were on stage.They played hit after hit, opening with One Step Beyond, and energetically singing and dancing their way through such numbers as You're An Embarrassment, My Girl, House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House, and It Must Be Love.Suggs had a fantastic rapport with the crowd who, still in full fancy dress gear, were definitely up for having some fun.He apologised for not being Robbie Williams, after some people he met on the ferry had told him that's who they were sure the surprise guest would be, but no apologies were necessary.
We have just paraded with the best of them.
We were in a ship, alongside several pirate stilt walkers, the cast of the movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, some flying sharks, ninjas, Noddy, various bugs, a robot pirate and several other mermaids.
The parade followed Gregory Isaacs' who played an uplifting reggae set which included such hits as Night Nurse.
Before that Billy Bragg gave a crowd-pleasing performance.
This included a new song Farm Boy, The Milkman of Human Kindness, as well as I Keep the Faith - a song about taking a stand against racism, fascism, sexism and homophobia.
The crowd cheered along to such lines as "take the money from Trident and spend it on the NHS" and his set ended with a roof raising rendition of his best known hit, New England, which featured a chorus dedicated to Kirsty MacColl.
The parade started at the main stage with cannon fire and ended at the Bollywood bar where a fancy dress competition took place. Proud as we are of our home made mermaid costumes we decided not to enter.
Now everywhere you look you are surrounded by giant spanners, cave girls, Tutankhamun, and even Pavarotti.
Next we are off to the comedy tent, making sure we are back at the main stage for 6.15pm to see who the surprise guest is.
We are officially having the most festival fun ever.
The side show of the event has to be the 'daemon' or doppelganger clay self portrait workshop.
We have just recreated mini versions of ourselves as mermaids in honour of our mermaid fancy dress costume and stretched artistic muscles that have been dormant since schooldays. Our hands are now filthy.
The festival crowd were quite subdued first thing this morning but things are starting to pick up with more and more fancy dress to be seen.
We spent a relaxing morning in the village eating veggie breakfasts and watching an acoustic set in the band stand.
It Hugs Back sounded quite like The Magic Numbers and were a wonderfully relaxing way to ease ourselves into the day's music.
The only lowpoint is the toilets which are already shocking even by festival standards. I wish I was a man.
We are off to sample dancing, comedy and some more live music.
After yesterday's delays in arriving we were tired and a little spaced out as we made our way into the main arena at the festival.
This contributed to the uniquely surreal atmosphere the festival has and as we wandered round looking at dressing up tents, past walls of fairy lights, through fancy-dressed crowds and past giant wicker animals, we felt something of what Alice must have experienced when she tumbled down the rabbit hole.
The Go! Team were Friday's highlight.
They were fantastically full of energy and had the whole crowd dancing and cheering right to the back.
We were quite disappointed by The Chemical Brothers.
There just wasn't the atmosphere you would expect from such a big name probably because they seldom ventured out from behind their decks.
And we actually got quite bored and wandered away from the main crowd to get some food when they were on.
We checked out the backstage area with our press passes. No free bar - boo! But we did spot the lead singer of The Go! Team, Ninja.
The partying went on late into the night.
Entertainment options ranged from hardcore dance to chilling out with a sauna and shower.
This morning we are feeling a little rough around the edges although yesterday was warm, last night, it was bitterly cold.
What's more, while we are camped in the designated quiet' zone we are in base thumpingly close proximity to what has got to be one of the noisiest stalls on site.
A bar which pumped it's music out until some point when it was already getting light again, meaning sleep wasn't a serious option.
Happily however, the fancy dress parade takes place today and the excitement of the prospect of getting dressed up as a couple of mermaids has perked us up no end.
The Chemical Brothers Review
Friday night's main act The Chemical Brothers proved to have something of the Marmite effect.
While it was clear that large number of the huge crowd were having a fantastic time throughout the hour-plus set audience members were leaving consistently to find entertainment more to their taste elsewhere.
The Chemical Brothers set included Galvanize, Do it Again, Hey Boy Hey Girl and Block Rockin' Beats.
They had an impressive visual display with giant robots, a scary clown, dancing figures and more appearing on a huge screen behind the stage as well as a laser light show.
But the fact remained that it was essentially just two blokes playing records rather like a giant mobile disco and for me it lacked the atmosphere of live artists and was eclipsed by The Go! Team.
For many however, it was clearly the highlight of their festival.
The Go! Team put in a stormingly energetic performance featuring what are sure to be some of the most frenetic dance moves of the festival.
Their set list included new single Doing It Right and lead singer Ninja's favourite song from the new album Keys to the City.
To which she asked the crowd to jump along to as well as the exciting Flashlight Fight.
The crowd were delighted. Dancing, leaping and singing along to a super fun band ideal for the spirit of Bestival.
Roll on The Chemical Brothers!
Levellers, The Maccabees and Barry Peters have all taken to the main stage.
The crowd is buzzing as we are waiting for the much celebrated The Go! Team before the headline act The Chemical Brothers perform.
It is a really happy atmosphere and everybody is having a great time and getting very excited.
So far an early celebrity spot includes Lucy Cave from Heat magazine and various The 100 Greatest countdown shows on Channel 4 - but we are hoping to catch someone exciting soon.
We are here and we've pitched a tent in the Black quiet' site - which doesn't seem to be too quiet at the moment.
Getting here proved to be a bit more time consuming then expected due to the ferry crossing to the Isle of Wight delayed an hour and a quarter, and an epic queue to get into the car park.
But like everyone else, we are in good spirits.
The ferry was filled with singing, beeping and general revelry and we've already spotted plenty of pirates, wenches and wizards getting into the spirit of fancy dress ahead of tomorrow's parade. We however are going to save our mermaid costumes until tomorrow.
A choice of costume that was inspired by finding some spectacular discount fabric in the fabric shop and mermaids fitted in nicely with the event. Especially as a dozen people have just swam across The Solent from Gosport to be here for the weekend.
We are looking forward to catching The Go! Team and The Chemical Brothers tonight.
Keep checking the Daily Echo website for updates.