Aside from next weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival, and September’s Bestival, one of the final major events of the annual summer calendar has now closed its doors. Concluding its nineteenth year, this year’s V Festival promised to be the biggest in its history, and organisers couldn’t have been more spot-on.
Between the dual-site venues (Hylands Park, Chelmsford & Weston Park, Staffs), V Festival 2014 saw over 270,000 guests walk through the gates to witness some of the world’s biggest artists. Headlined by The Killers and Justin Timberlake, it was fair to say the weekend catered for those with varied musical tastes (there were over 100 big-name acts in total), however, there did seem to be slight disconnects between ticket-holders.
Take Janelle Monae’s stellar performance as an example. Criminally less than 300 people were there to witness an artist, whom we believe, is up there amongst the modern soul & funk greats. Taking to The Arena on Saturday (Chelmsford), Monae blew us all away; energetic, choreographed to an absolute T, and stunning vocals all round; she knew how to entertain. However we’d argue whether the stage was actually the right ‘arena’ for Monae; perhaps a more central-location would’ve attracted a larger crowd…
Then again, the same venue did prove an impressive testing ground for Rita Ora, packing out the tent (yesterday) whilst also providing fans a short glimpse of her new material. Opening on the Nneka-featuring RIP, Ora continued through some of her biggest hits, whilst also taking on an impressive cover of Coldplay’s Magic (fusing in Beyonce’s Drunk In Love toward the tail-end).
Meanwhile, it was Sam Smith who earlier in the day, captivated the MTV Stage. Nobody could doubt Smith’s stellar 12-months, and the might of the crowd were there in full-force to show their support. Sam ignited passion into the same set carried over from Glastonbury & Somerset House, though this time bringing along Chic frontman Nile Rodgers for their collaboration Together.
Rodgers appeared with Chic in their own set several hours later across the Main Stage; an absolute highlight for us for 85-minutes, and saw the infamous disco-funk group blast a set comprising of huge anthems from Chic’s own work alongside Rodgers’ vast repertoire of credits for other artists (Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Diana Ross’ Upside Down to name but two). At one point a gust of wind threw earlier rainwater from the top of stage across the audience – whilst most would have been frustrated, this was a Chic gig, and the splurge of water only added as an additional moment to remember.
One aspect many seem to notice at any Chic gig, is that the crowd are purely there for fun and to party. We witnessed zero animosity during their set, a stark comparison to the masses who befell Justin Timberlake the night prior. With such a headliner of major proportions, fans should’ve expected a tight squeeze, however many took it into their own to argue with others for ‘invading their space’. It seemed a common theme of many we spoke to, with some moving back away from the stage to avoid any further conflicts.
However, Timberlake knew how to work the crowd. Opening on Pusher Love Girl, all the way to the stunning close of Mirrors, no-one could doubt his showmanship as an all-round entertainer. He even took time for a quick quip at the age-old British Summer – “so wait, let me get this straight… this is summer weather, right?” he asked the score of thousands, jibing “this is warm to you guys? I guess I’m a pussy.”
Timberlake continued to exhume his star quality, heading to the front of the crowd to take a selfie (below) with two fans celebrating their birthdays, culminating in rapturous cheers from the packed crowd.
Earlier on during day one, James Arthur used his set at the Arena Stage to admit his past mistakes, whilst reminding the ever-expanding masses why he was crowned the X Factor winner back in 2012… that guy can definitely sing!
All in, V Festival 2014 was a cause of celebration. From the big-name acts who graced the multiple stages, to the VIP pampering of the Louder Lounge (a HUGE thumbs-up to the organisers for that one), the weekend seemed to go without any obvious glitches or hiccups.
Which leads on to next year’s event…. the big one, where V Festival will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. Early bird tickets have already been confirmed to go on sale this Wednesday (20th August), with no price increase for the first allocation. Head over to Ticketmaster UK (here) at 9am on Wednesday to secure your entry for what’s expected to be a mammoth lineup!. Oh, and be sure to check out our backstage at Louder Lounge gallery, below: