Live Report: Victorious Festival 2023 

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The festival season as always came to a close on the August bank holiday weekend with All Points East, Reading & Leeds Festival and Victorious Festival down on Southsea Common, overlooking the sea and Isle of Wight. After a hugely successful 2022 – which culminated with a set from Sam Fender – anticipation was high for the 2023 edition with Friday sets from Jamiroquai and Pete Tong, Saturday sets from Kasabian and alt-J, and a UK exclusive set from Mumford & Sons on Sunday.

Friday was an expansion on previous years with multiple stages and more acts on the main Common Stage, Blossoms kicked the afternoon off in energetic fashion with tracks from across their four albums, opening with ‘Your Girlfriend’ and closing with a rousing version of ‘Charlemagne’ off their debut. The Stockport lads are celebrating 10 years as a band making this an extra special opening. Following an energetic set by Eurovision entrant Mae Muller, of course featuring ‘I Wrote A Song’ and a surprise cover of ABBA’s ‘SOS’, ahead of the release of her debut album in September. 

The Charlatans raced through their hits in an energetic set featuring storming versions of ‘The Only One I Know’ and ‘One To Another’. Friendly Fires delivered an energetic indie disco set that was one of the day’s highlights and set the tone for the evening. Raye showed why she is so revered with a set that married soul, disco, pop and dance in a celebration of her debut album ‘My 21st Century Blues’ and some of her earlier collaborations. Jamiroquai, in a rare UK performance, celebrating their 30th anniversary, tore through their back catalogue with Jay Kay in phenomenal voice, sporting his trademark hats and some impressive dance moves. The audience was treated to one sing-along chorus after another from ‘Little L’, ‘Cosmic Girl’, ‘Seven Days In Sunny June’, culminating in ‘Virtual Insanity’.

Saturday saw Natalie Imbruglia as the afternoon guest with a singalong of ‘Torn’, a highlight. This was followed by indie stalwarts Pale Waves delivering an impressive set with tracks across their three albums, a mix of pop-punk and moody indie. The afternoon was an eclectic mix of acts that crossed the generational divide with a humorous set from Divine Comedy with a terrific take on ‘National Express’ and witty quips throughout from Neil Hannon. Kate Nash saw a sizable crowd and thrilled throughout, before a storming version of ‘Foundations’, thrilling the masses. Belle & Sebastian meanwhile worked through their back catalogue, inviting dozens of members of the audience onstage for an extended version of ‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’. Saturday also saw the festival’s first-ever surprise set from McFly

Kaiser Chiefs saw one of the largest crowds of the weekend, perhaps indicating they could be future headliners, from opening number ‘Never Miss a Beat’ through ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict A Riot’ and closer ‘Oh My God’, Ricky Wilson and co had the audience in the palm of their hand, Wilson a virtuoso frontman at one point climbing halfway up the stage like spiderman. The Castle Stage headliner was Alt J, celebrating 10 years of their debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’ last year and treating fans to a wealth of tracks from it including ‘Something Good’, ‘Tesselate’ and closer ‘Breezeblocks’ with a very high-quality set that ranked as one of the weekend’s most impressive. 

Pop was the order of the day on Sunday following a set of mid-00s indie from Hard-Fi with ‘Living for The Weekend’ and ‘Hard To Beat’ warming the crowd up. Dylan delivered a phenomenal indie pop set that included a snippet of Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Paradise City’ and Harry Styles’s ‘Kiwi’, in amongst her own work, whetting appetites for her debut album. Sea Girls turned the volume up in a noisy set that got fans prepped for the evening, Sigrid showed her credentials with an outstanding set of wall-to-wall bangers from ‘Mirror’, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and closer ‘Strangers’, showing why she is such a talent, a perfect way to start the final evening. 

Penultimate act Ellie Goulding delivered a hugely impressive set from her latest album and number one single ‘Miracle’, back to her earliest work including ‘Love Me Like You Do’, ‘I Need Your Love’ and finishing with a huge singalong to ‘Burn’. This was followed by Mumford & Sons’ first UK show in four years and a festival exclusive, from opener ‘Babel’ and ‘Little Lion Man’, it was clear that this was going to be a special set as they raced through tracks from their four albums in a pyrotechnic filled set that closed with a huge rendition of ‘I Will Wait’, they are certainly one to look out for in a live venue in 2024. 

Words: Christopher Connor