We preview some of the top acts on the bill this year.
Summer festival season kicks into high gear this weekend with the first big event of the calendar taking place on the south coast. Tens of thousands of people will be heading to Seaclose Park on the Isle of Wight for a bill, which is top heavy on heritage acts that bring with them a sense of nostalgia. While recent years have welcomed the likes of Jay-Z, Calvin Harris and Kings Of Leon to headline, this time round it seems big names with an even bigger back catalogue are being used as the main attraction.
However, many of the headline acts seem to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts. For example, Blur, whose new album 'The Magic Whip', their first since 2003, has won critical acclaim. The former Britpop poster boys will take to the Main Stage on Saturday night in the knowledge that this is one of the first times that UK crowds will get to see this new material given the live treatment. You can expect a set heavy on those new songs, but peppered with all the classic singles, certainly a formula for a memorable festival appearance. It's a similar story for The Prodigy who'll headline the Main Stage on Friday after The Black Keys. Both acts have played the festival in recent years and here they're repeating the joint top billing that was given to Biffy Clyro and Calvin Harris last year. As with Blur, The Prodigy's new album, 'The Day Is My Enemy', has revived interest in the band following an extended period out of the spotlight. Elsewhere, Fleetwood Mac will bring proceedings to a close on Sunday, bolstered by the return of Christine McVie to the band, a set covering Rumours era gems like 'Don't Stop' and 'Songbird' is a strong possibility.
Recorded in the remote town of Tromso in the north of Norway, James Walsh's 'Live At The Top Of The World' EP grew out of the closest major settlement to the North Pole. With string drenched accompaniments provided by the Tromso Chamber Orchestra, the former Starsailor front-mans' debut EP offers bare production, beautifully so, and a brief collection of sonic gems.
'Soul On Trial' opens with strummed acoustic guitar and a rhythmic plucked string accompaniment punctuated by the double bass. Throughout its' verses, the string accompaniment builds layer upon layer, counter-melody upon counter-melody, combining both plucked (pizzicato) strings and lush smooth bowed strings forming a bed over which Walsh's matured, vibrato-ridden vocal soars. 'Loaded Gun' continues in the same well-arranged vein with stabbing strings echoing the rhythmic nature of the strummed guitar whilst smooth, legato strings imitate Walsh's soaring vocal which seamlessly leaps between strong chest voice and falsetto. Despite the bare sound which steers well clear of the electronic-drenched over-production of many contemporary offerings, Walsh's EP still hosts a wonderful depth of sound from the high, soaring violins and gentle, barely audible suggestions of percussion to the low punctuation of the double bass, counterbalanced by delicate hints of piano.
Continue reading: James Walsh, Live At The Top Of The World EP Review