The first thing that struck me about V Festival was how amazingly ‘easy’ it was – the site is a quick 30-minute train journey from London Liverpool Street, there were no queues for the 10-minute shuttle bus to the festival itself and our allocated campsite was positively roomy – there’s no danger of having to pitch a tent right by the loos here. And speaking of the loos, I was delighted to find that they a) had toilet paper and b) had seats. In other words, this was festival facilities heaven.
I therefore strolled into the arena on Saturday morning with casual optimism, ready for my first band of the day – Kodaline. Unfortunately for them, Kodaline did not get off to the easy start that I did – technical difficulties meant their set was delayed by 20 minutes and had to be cut short. With only five songs to play with, their set could have been a little lack lustre, but Kodaline kept it short and sweet – packing a punch with each tune. Hits – All I Want and High Hopes – buoyed a crowd heady on post A-Level exam success.
The Wailers sated my reggae cravings for the festival, banging out a plethora of their Bob Marley repertoire, from Buffalo Soldier to Three Little Birds. They bought a slice of Jamaican sunshine to V and I left their set with my throat hoarse from shouting the words and screaming in applause.
Following a pulled-pork style pit-stop, Ed Sheeran (Justin Timberlake’s self-proclaimed “brother from another (ginger) mother”) roused the crowd with a brilliant, up-tempo set. Ed’s performance is entirely inclusive; he makes every single person feel special because he seems genuinely grateful to be gracing the stage, whether it was taking a photo of the crowd or telling everyone they could make up the words to his songs if they didn’t know them.
And then, on tenterhooks of anticipation, it was time for Justin Timberlake to perform his headline set. And perform he did. JT’s dance moves were off the charts – with every hip thrust, mic stand drop and tip of his hat, he had the entire audience eating out of the palm of his hand, my boyfriend included. This man is just ridiculously cool and every one of us got swept up in the dizzying glow of his megawatt stardom and mind-boggling list of infamous songs. SexyBack ended the night with just the right amount of bang, before we sloped off to our campsite to get warm in our sleeping bags.
Sunday kicked-off with a thunderstorm, during which I was waiting for a grilled cheese sandwich, without any cover. The sandwich was great but potentially not worth getting completely soaked-through for. As soon as we found shelter in the VIP area to enjoy them, the sun came out: an infuriating case of sod’s law.
Nevertheless, we managed to dry off in time to catch Paolo Nutini’s set, which was charged with emotion – every ounce of love and loss imbuing his beautiful, raw vocal. A stunning cover of Chvrches’ Recover as the sun set was the breath-taking highlight, as was catching him backstage… he really is that good looking up-close.
A Rudimental vs Hospital Records sound clash on the MTV Our House stage made for an electric mix of dance-worthy tunes. With a winner-takes-all scenario coming down to the final song, Rudimental bought out Feel the Love, which looked set to seal the deal until Hospital Records came back with an unbeatable version of the Fugees Ready or Not. Rudimental took it with good grace though and my face hurt from smiling.
The Killers ended the night in classic rockstar style, with the anthemic Mr Brightside and guitar riffs soaring into the night. I personally never find The Killers to be the strongest live band, but everyone around me seemed to be having a great time and I had cider.
So, with raucous applause, my V Festival 2014 was over, but if you’re looking for a good time with some good music, keep V Festival 2015 firmly on your festival radar.