Written by Mei Jones, Level 3 CTEC Digital Media Journalism

Victorious 2023 marks the biggest event of the festival's history, seeing up to 70,000 people on Southsea Common each day. Headliners included Jamiroquai, Kasabian, Ellie Goulding and closing act Mumford & Sons. City of Portsmouth College also has a performance on Friday by music students from the Sixth Form Campus. Their 30 minute set included Harvey Carter, Angus Blakeley, Ruby Briggs, Aaron Hemsley, Finlay Croucher, Finlay George, Karishma Mistry, Tia Benton, Robin Gilroy and Ben Hatherley, performed on the Kids Stage to family, friends and guests. The students performed songs in pairs, using guitars, pianos and vocals.

For my group, we arrived on Friday morning to catch City of Portsmouth College’s performance at midday, where we were met with food stalls, small festival-themed shops and photo booths. The first act we saw was City of Portsmouth College’s music students, where they performed covers of existing songs in duos on stage.

Closely following we saw the Blossoms, who performed a range of their own songs on the Common Stage to a large audience. 2023 marks the English pop band's 10th anniversary. Lead singer Tom Ogden encouraged the audience to sing and clap along, enticing the audience with a friendly charm that not all performers are willing to give.

Cian Ducrot and Circa Waves were next at Castle Stage, which we watched from the back whilst sitting down with a Slushie and some doughnuts purchased from the many food and drink trucks in the Festival. Both performances, while very different, were enjoyable even from a distance. With loud speakers from all the stages ensuring there was never a moment without music when navigating the area.

Penultimately, we watched Raye’s performance, which was incredible, she had a sense of relatability about her. Her act was absolutely one of my favourites of the weekend. Singing one song about sexual assault, which flooded emotion throughout the crowd and Raye herself. Toward the end of her act, the rain timed itself well as drops began to fall at the climax of one of her most famous songs. Raye became an independent artist in 2021 and despite negativity, managed to keep her career flourishing, this year becoming one of the first acts to win a Brits Billion Award.

Closing off Friday, we caught the beginning of Jamiroquai’s performance as we made the mistake of spending already half a day on our feet, leaving us exhausted.

Saturday we arrived in the afternoon to watch Kate Nash’s performance on the main stage. The audience didn’t click with her lesser-known songs, with many (including ourselves) leaving the stage to explore the area. While Victorious is a family-friendly festival, I was still surprised by the number of children and strollers that I saw. The kids' area was extensive, with kids rides, activities and meet & greets located there. Beside it was the carnival, where we went on a series of different rides for just a small price.

After wandering around the area and getting various things to eat from the food trucks, we went to watch The Cribs' performance, who replaced The Coral after they pulled out at the last minute due to illness within the band. Having never heard of The Cribs beforehand, we enjoyed the indie rock bands songs on the barrier at Castle Stage.

Going back to the Common Stage once more for the evening, we watched the Kaiser Chiefs performance. Even far at the back of the crowd (due to arriving just after they began) the crowd sang along to well-known hits “Ruby” (which became the British number 1 single within a month of its release) and “I Predict A Riot”. Jumping, clapping, cheers and dance moves echoed throughout the crowd in a contagious atmosphere.

Ending the night we went to another headliner, Alt-J, at the Castle Stage. After being torn between their set and Hybrid Minds. The performance was unbelievable, the dark sky enhancing the flashing lights and lasers, making the set that much more memorable. Definitely another favourite of mine. Amongst the crowd, Jessie Tyrrell said that the atmosphere was “something else” and she’d “never seen anything like it”.

After leaving the festival, the energy continued along Clarence Parade, with crowds singing and dancing down the closed road. We sang along with a group of boys who were playing “Meet Me Halfway” by the Black Eyed Peas as we walked down the road to go back home before the final day of Victorious.

Sunday we arrived in the afternoon again to ensure we could last till the very last minute. From the second we stepped out of the car we could tell today was going to be the busiest of the weekend, with buzzing groups of people consistently filing in through security all afternoon.

Our first visit was to the Crawlers, where we secured a place in the second row behind some dedicated fans who gave us Crawlers-themed key chains, all three had signs for the lead singer: Holly. After a slightly delayed start due to some technical issues, the group came out on stage with charismatic energy. Saving their most popular song (which ‘blew up’ on Tik Tok recently) to the very end, the crowd gladly sang along. Holly kept the crowd enticed with her energetic movements around Castle Stage, and as they exited the stage, Holly threw a flower out into the crowd, and drummer Harry Breen launched his drumsticks to the eager fans.

With a one-hour gap ahead of us, we took our chance to buy a bag of doughnuts and some drinks to keep us going, as we intended to stay at the Common Stage for the remainder of our evening.

Ending Victorious we consecutively watched Sea Girls, Sigrid, Ellie Goulding and Mumford & Sons sets. Standing for 6 hours to get as close to the front as possible, we were left exhausted, but grateful.

During Sea Girls, lead singer Henry Camamile encouraged the audience to form mosh pits with as much energy as possible. Somehow we ended up right on the border of every mosh pit in our area, though that did help bolster us toward the front of the crowd. Ever closer to the barrier. Sigrid followed them, cheerfully dancing around every corner of the stage, the camera struggling to keep up with her energetic movements.

Ellie Goulding was next, the crowd became much more erratic after Sigrid exited the stage as they waited for her highly anticipated arrival. From the second she set foot on the Common Stage the atmosphere was unmatched. Chants of her name erupted throughout the crowds and all her songs were sung with full force by the crowds. During “Still Falling For You” white confetti was launched out of two cannons into the crowd, creating a beautiful scene with the lights shining on them, boosted by the excited cheers from the crowd. Again during her final song “Burn” orange confetti was unleashed for her exit of the stage. Small fireworks were launched on stage for the beat drop of a range of her songs, as Ellie Goulding energetically bounced around and ran up and down on the stage. I’m sure many would agree in saying that this was the best performance of the weekend, with an incredible, energetic crowd.

Victorious went out with a bang, as fireworks lit up Portsmouth’s skyline for Mumford & Sons closing act. With a one and a one-and-a-half-hour set, they had one of the most incredible lighting sequences of the weekend. Lasers, projectors and nearly blindingly bright lights lit up the sky. The crowd went on and on, being second to the front and looking back on the thousands behind us was unbelievable, drawing shock and laughter as I showed the friends we made in the audience the photo of the sea of people behind us, knowing that was what we had to get through if we wanted to cave and leave to sit down before the end of the night. One of them said it was “worth the foot pain” and that they’d “definitely return next year”.

Course type Vocational

Level 3 CTEC Certificate/Extended Certificate Digital Media Journalism

Course type A Levels

A Level Photography

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