Rock Island, Isle of Wight Festival, June 2002A very personal report on my first meeting with Starsailor. Report by Boo
The Rock Island concert on the Isle of Wight was the big curtain raising event of the 2002 return of the Isle of Wight Festival, last held on the island in 1970 when Jimi Hendrix headlined along with The Doors, The Who, Moody Blues and Joan Baez.
The 2002 line-up was equally impressive with Ash, Charlatans, DNA Doll, Hundred Reasons, Robert Plant and Strange Sensations, The Coral, The Bees and of course Starsailor. The 2002 festival comprises two weeks of diverse music events all around the island, culminating in a two day Jazz weekend.
The 2002 Rock Island concert was held on the Queen's Golden Jubilee Bank Holiday of Monday 3rd June and this is very much my personal story.
Travelling down from Lancashire was quite an undertaking, with a bus to London, train to Portsmouth to catch the FastCat to the island and a further train to the resort we were staying in, Shanklin, but the anticipation of the event the following day made the journey pass easily enough.
Our biggest worry initially was the weather, the forecast earlier in the week had been for really bad and unsettled weather which concerned us, but come the day it was fine and bright with some showers in the middle of the day forecast, which we did get and passed listening to DNA Doll and The Bees, huddled under my daft waterproof cape and umbrella.
As the rain passed, my companion decided to avail herself of the facilities and pay another visit to the bar and while she was away I saw Barry standing with Les and Dave in the crowd nearby and I had to try and decide if I could scoop up all our wet belongings and get them into my rucsac before he walked off, which I failed to do in time, but while I was cursing my poor timing, Ben came out and stood in almost the same place, so I decided I wasn't going to be denied twice, so went over to say hello, hoping I could intercept my friend en route back from the bar, so she wouldn't miss out.
I thrust my wet cape and umbrella into my bag and headed over, not really thinking about the potential for making a fool of myself and tapped him on the arm and said hello. He had the good grace not to be irritated by my interruption and I explained my role with the message board and he explained that he didn't get time to read it as often as he liked and I told him of the campaign to try and get Starsailor down to Australia and New Zealand and showed him Di's 'pleading essay' to get them to tour down under. He read the message intently as I helped hold it still in the stiff breeze, commenting periodically on the content, laughing especially where Di said she was a 'DENIED Starsailor fan'.
When he'd finished reading he said "we'll have to go now, how can we not do after that?" and he went on to explain that they loved Australia and would really like to visit again. I added that if the message wasn't sufficient, I was prepared to resort to bribery and I came bearing Gummi Bears - at which his face postively lit up - I then had the embarrassment of trying to delve through my wet possessions to find them. I held them back and said I'd only hand them over if he'd explain the joke about them.
He explained that there wasn't any joke especially, other that they liked them and ate rather more of them than they should and Barry especially was very partial to them, in which case he'd have to hide them to prevent him guzzling them all.
I asked if he'd sign something for me and got out my Fever CD and we handed over birthday cards and gifts for James and some prints of the 'Come to Oz' thread from the Message Board and Ben having signed things for other fans, excused himself as he had to be somewhere else but promised to hand over the goodies and get the others to read the messages from us and he was going to hide the Gummis from Barry.
A while later we spotted Stel in a similar place and by the time we'd made our way over he'd been joined by all the others and Ben did start to wonder if I was stalking him. He said he'd hidden the Gummi Bears from Barry in a place he'd never find them, a fact Barry later disputed saying he knew full well where his hiding place was.
We spent a few minutes with each of them and they signed items for us and very kindly agreed to and posed for the pictures you see here. Ben pointed out to both Stel and James that I "was the lady who sent the Gummi Bears" (which amused me as I'm not often referred to as a lady) which received a thumbs up from Stel and a nod and smile from James. James and Stel later excused themselves, but not before Stel had pointed out that I was wasting beer by pouring it over someone's shoes, much to my embarrassment.
Ben and Barry stayed a little while longer and we watched some of The Coral's performance with them. They all seemed pretty astonished that I'd made such a long trip to see just them and each double checked that they had heard me right and for some reason when Ben told Barry of my epic journey he found the place name of my village to be highly amusing and was bent double laughing, although Barry knew the place well and could confirm I wasn't actually making it up as Ben claimed - Ben wasn't sure how I was prepared to admit in public that I came from such a place, so I did explain the origin of the words. I repaid him by dobbing him in to Barry about the hidden Gummi Bears!
Ben was asking if I'd ever seen their show before, so I explained that it would be my first time, so Ben said he'd better make it a good one for me, a sentiment echoed by Barry when he heard how far I'd travelled; "I hope we're good then and you won't be disappointed". We talked about future plans for the new album and touring and I asked if Ben could put in a word for some nearer to me, as I didn't fancy this trip to the Isle of Wight on a regular basis and he commented on how far some of the fans in the US went to see them perform and more about the Campus Invasion Tour.
We asked about their set list for the day and Ben confirmed it would be the first UK airing of the new track Silence is Easy and was curious as to how we knew about it and I explained that the PinkPop festival of a couple of weeks previously had been web cast and we'd heard it there, they asked about that and asked if they were any good on it!
I asked Ben about his recently reported tumble down the stairs in Paris and said that I was worried he'd heard I was going to be at the Isle of Wight and was trying to get out of it that way (a girl could take it personally), either that or he was so excited at the prospect he could hardly wait, which he decided sounded a rather better explanation, so we stuck with that. He landed hard on his right elbow apparently and it was pretty painful at the time and made his set that evening pretty unpleasant, but was now thankfully improving, he reported.
Ben excused himself to warm up for his set as they were due on in 30 minutes and we spent some more time with Barry and his friends from Wigan. Hundred Reasons were on by now and when the front section of the crowd started pogoing enthusiatically I did point out to Barry that he wouldn't be seeing me doing that during their set in case I had someone's eye out and he was disappointed that I wasn't really prepared to make the effort for them.
As time for Starsailor's set drew nearer we were concerned that Barry was still front of house and we chivvied him off to prepare, he hadn't realised they were on so early, so there were nearly only three Starsailors on stage!
As their set drew nearer, we made our way towards the front of the stage and settled in just behind the front barriers, getting a good view of the stage area slightly above us and could hardly wait for them to come on, which they soon did to tumultuous applause, opening the set with Fever.
The set list included (although I was too excited to bother trying to remember the order) Alcoholic, Lullaby, Born Again, Poor Misguided Fool, Way to Fall, Tie Up My Hands, two aborted and unfinished renditions of 'Some of Us' (which Ben said may well make it onto the new album) and James played Love is Here "for all the northerners in the crowd", which had this particular Lancashire Lass in a tizzy! They also did the fantastic new track Silence Is Easy which went down well (and we did our very best to sing along) and finished with Good Souls, at which time James decided some microphone bashing was in order, but his hard man image was rather scuppered by a tangled cable, so he abandoned the idea with a resigned shrug.
For me, the only thing that spoiled the set was the rather immature chanting and heckling by two groups of individuals at differing times who were either drunk, stoned or just plain stupid, but James handled the situation well enough and no real harm was done! We had the opportunity for a few brief words with James again after the set and we told him how much we'd enjoyed it and apologised for the stupidity of a few idiots in the crowd, but James claimed not to have noticed and was more generous about it than he needed to be.
So, what did I get from my trip to the Isle of Wight, apart from a sore bum from sitting on public transport for in excess of 28 hours, a mysterious bruise on my wrist and a creased Rock Island poster?
I had the most wonderful time, I saw a great live music gig (all artists not just Starsailor) in a superb venue, I saw a band live that I've been yearning to see perform in person for over 12 months, I got to meet four lovely blokes who have given me a great deal of pleasure and who did not disappoint when put to the ultimate test.
I have my precious Fever CD autographed by all four, I made some lovely new friends that day and I have a head full of memories that have made me smile for two days - and counting.
I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank James, Stel and especially Barry and Ben for their incredible generosity of time and consideration when we met on Monday, they were more giving than they needed to be and made a couple of old girls very happy. I'm proud to be associated with Starsailor in my very modest way and I wish them all the luck in the world for their future, but I hope they'll always remain the kind hearted and generous young men I met this week.
'Boo, June 2002 and edited December 2002
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