IOW Moves Up A Stage

The first of the U.K.’s major festivals got the season off to a good start as Isle Of Wight, which sold all its 55,000 tickets before Christmas, consolidated its position among Britain’s top six outdoors.

Seven years after re-inventing the old hippie bash in 2002, with such disastrous ticket sales that trying again in 2003 looked foolhardy, John Giddings has steadily grown the event to the point where it can attract top-drawing acts.

The event won the award for best major U.K. festival at last year’s U.K. Festival Awards.

The public has warmed to the formula that Giddings, now back with Live Nation, has created. The aim was to rekindle the spirit of the famous festivals held on the island at the end of the 1960s, which featured legendary performances by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Bob Dylan, among others.

Apart from a site re-jig two years ago and the addition of a second "Big Top" stage this year, little has changed in seven years – except that the crowd has doubled.

"We’re very happy to have the biggest tour of the last two years stopping by the Isle of Wight," Giddings told The Times, referring to The Police closing the festival on its Sunday night.

Part of IOW’s success is due to Giddings persuading the top acts that the new festival is a worthy continuation of the original, an argument that has clearly won over the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Coldplay, R.E.M. and David Bowie.

The other acts flying the flag for Isle Of Wight June 13-15 included Kaiser Chiefs, Sex Pistols, The Kooks, Lily Allen, N*E*R*D, Iggy & The Stooges, KT Tunstall, Kate Nash, The Australian Pink Floyd Show and Bjorn Again.