With just hours until thousands of people flock to Portsmouth and Southampton for their annual ferry trip to the Isle of Wight Festival, it's time to look ahead to the first big event in the summer festival calendar.
Twelve years since the festival was resurrected, organiser John Giddings has steered Isle of Wight from strength to strength. With around 60,000 punters travelling to the Island, it's not just Seaclose Park that's transformed for the weekend, there's a real community spirit that's evident as buses wind their way towards the festival site. Past years have seen a surprise appearance from Kanye West for Jay-Z's headline set, rock royalty like Jagger, McCartney and Neil Young take to the main stage, and bands such as the Foo Fighters casually chatting to fans on the car ferry. This year looks like it will live up to the festival's reputation without a repeat of 2012's well-publicised mud bath. Although there's perhaps not many surprises on the line-up, there's still plenty to look forward to.
The top twelve to watch from June 12:
Boy George: If you're arriving early, the former Culture Club front man is headlining the Thursday night festivities. But far from a nostalgia act, George is touring his first album of original material in 18 years. He's embraced DJ culture and is likely to put on an impressive show whether he's behind the turntable or the microphone.
Tom Odell: Playing the Isle of Wight Festival is like playing a hometown show for Tom Odell. Hailing from Chichester on the other side of the Solent, you can expect the 23-year-old to pull out all the stops for his friends and family in the audience following the success of his number 1 selling album 'Long Way Down'.
Anna Calvi: If you head over to the second stage on Friday afternoon you'll find a woman who's been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey belting out some real Alt Rock. Her second album 'One Breath' was released last October and adds some interesting material to her setlist.
Biffy Clyro: I've seen Biffy a number of times on the stage at Isle of Wight. On the back of double album 'Opposites', they've finally graduated to headliners. A welcome move as Simon Neil has threatened to steal the show at Seaclose Park before. Expect big riffs, on-stage pyrotechnics, and a rather special set given that this is their only English festival appearance this year.
The Polyphonic Spree: Five albums in and the Texan collective have lost none of their power as an essential live act. With a similar approach to that of Arcade Fire onstage, the sheer number of performers and the noise emerging from the PA is a truly uplifting experience - the perfect way to watch the sun set on the Friday evening.
The Specials: It seems there's a 2 Tone undercurrent going on at Isle of Wight, Madness have previously played this Saturday slot on the main stage. Terry Hall and the Specials are likely to take Seaclose Park by storm as The 1975 are warming up the crowd for them. Hot on the heels of a successful American tour last year, the Ska legends are likely to be the one act that festival-goers both young and old find themselves dancing to.
Gorgon City: Saturday on the second stage is very much a pop and electronic affair with Cher Lloyd and Dappy likely to draw crowds in the afternoon, but really it's headliners Gorgon City that offer a viable alternative to the Chili Peppers. The London duo may only have a couple of EPs to their name, but they're likely to be a real hit with those looking for a genuine club night in a field. You can expect Clean Bandit to turn up to perform 'Intentions' during the set too as they're also playing on Saturday.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: The only real whiff of rock royalty on the Isle of Wight this year comes courtesy of RHCP. Interestingly, they're currently holed up in the studio recording their eleventh album, following their thirtieth anniversary last year. My bet is that a greatest hits set will be peppered with unheard new material, which should leave long-time fans grinning from ear to ear.
The Delays: Another 'local' act will grace the main stage over the weekend, namely Southampton's The Delays on Sunday afternoon. Ahead of their fifth album being released later this year, it's likely to be a celebratory set in front of a 'hometown' crowd.
Passenger: On the same week that his new album 'Whispers' has been released, Michael Rosenberg will play to one of the biggest festival crowds of his career to date. His pop melodies will be perfectly suited to the late afternoon sun and offer a more laid back alternative to the more frenetic sets from Fall Out Boy and Kings Of Leon that will follow.
Travis: Interestingly, both Sunday headliners are already veterans of the top billing at Isle of Wight. Fran Healey and Travis have been relegated to the second stage this time around, but the strength of their overlooked seventh album 'Where You Stand' following a six year break, could lead this to being a performance on par with their 2005 appearance.
Kings Of Leon: And finally. the Followill family will bring Isle of Wight Festival 2014 to a close. Although they were on the same stage as recently as 2011, times have changed somewhat for the Tennessee four-piece. No longer riding on the coat tails of their biggest sellers 'Only By The Night' and 'Come Around Sundown', their set will also include material from the slightly under-whelming 'Mechanical Bull'. There's also an opportunity for the band to point to where they're heading next here too. All of those ingredients coupled with an encore full of anthems are likely to see this year's festival close on a high note.
Ultimately Isle Of Wight 2014 has far more to offer than just the two primary stages though. There's music being performed right across the site, with unsigned acts making appearances at venues including the Hard Rock Rising Stage. There's also a proper man-made beach (Life's A Beach), a ballroom, and lots of activities for kids too. It sounds like it could be another vintage year for the Island's musical heritage.
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