Gig Review – Victorious Festival, Portsmouth, 27 to 29 August 2021

567 days after the last time I was in a photo pit I’m finally back. It feels really good to be out photographing concerts again. Last year I did do a couple of shows including a set of socially distanced drive in shows, but this was the first time since February 2020 that I was actually inside a photo pit.

I was also accredited for the Reading Festival but I chose Victorious as I was more familiar with the line up, plus there were a number of artists I’ve never seen before that I was keen to photograph.

Day 1 for me kicked off with Terrorvision. 7 years after I’d last shot them it was great to open with them, and I had stage access for their set as well. To say they were entertaining is an understatement – it will be fantastic to see these guys out on tour again at some point.

The rest of the evening on Friday was more sedate until Madness headlined. They’re another band I’d not seen for several years. Tonight it seemed they wanted to be heard and not seen. The lighting for them was incredibly challenging, especially on Lee Thompson, their saxophonist. But I just about got away with it.

On Day 2 all the other stages were running as well. So between the main two stages it was a busy and fun day, and the great weather helped. Craig David was on the main stage before Stereo MC’s. I did see them last September but in almost non-existent light. Having first seen them 28 years ago supporting U2 at Wembley Stadium they were a big draw for me.

Reef followed later on the second stage. I last saw them in 1996 so to say I was a tad excited was an understatement and they certainly didn’t disappoint!

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man played the main stage later in the day.

The only shame was that we had to decide between photographing The Streets headlining the main stage or the Manic Street Preachers on the second stage. No competition for me. I went to see the Manics having not seen them for years and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Day 3 was pretty much as busy with great artists on both of the main stages. Miles Kane put in a great performance on the main stage.

Later in the day was a run of high profile artists to round things out. Mel C played the second stage.

Supergrass were on the main stage.

Ella Eyre then played the second stage in incredibly tricky lighting but it was okay in the end.

Royal Blood headlined the main stage and I had to leave after one song to get to Nile Rodgers alas.

There was no time to pause. I jogged between the stages to get to Nile Rodgers and Chic with about 5 minutes to spare before showtime. I’ve wanted to photograph Nile for years. The actual shoot was disappointing. Whenever he came forward (usually the best shots) there was no light on him at all – it was as if the lighting tech had nodded off. But further back on the stage he had a glorious white follow spot for great shots. What a way to round off three days finally back shooting!