Festival Frolics: Bestival, Saturday.

As the heavens above turn a forever darker shade of pale and thoughts recur to 2008 when everything underfoot was turned to nigh on a metre of pulverised chocolate cake, afrobeat collective The Hackney Empire, playing in the heart of the colossal spider mechanism that annually threatens to incinerate Glastonbury's Arcadia, are a refreshing blast of The Very Best-esque catchy, if contrived sunray pop. Then the heavens are sliced and diced, then two overtly enthusiastic MCs chant away insipidly "It's raining, but we don't care", then "we" realise "we" care, and the Big Top, although about to be polluted with the operatic amateur dramatics of Hurts seems preferable to another eve in the welfare tent, head in sleeping bag, looking vaguely like some distant extra in a Star Wars bar.
Suited and booted, the duo aren't inherently as repellent as they appear this afternoon - the pulsating anthemia of Better Than Love is fairly insatiable at least until its repulsive, almost ecclesiastical chorus, and the off-kilter androgyny of Wonderful Life is ideal Honda ad fodder yet live, limp wristed and crew cut in identikit waistcoats and ill-fitting suits make for a largely farcical experience. The disengaging prominence of wailer Theo Hutchcraft as he witters on incessantly about fancy dress themes, and the aesthetic insignificance of synth maestro Adam Anderson, embossed particularly by the theatrical, yet vacuous Illuminated does little to ameliorate a set bloated with pomp and drained of significant substance. And as for the Italo Lento claims, well, today the duo come across as Italian as deep-fried Double Decker. Far more engaging and endearing, if around ten years out of date are Indian-infused indie stalwarts Cornershop, whose set in the Big Top hinges on a handful of explicit immortal lines written when Egyptian Hip Hop were still scrambling about Mancunian floorboards in Huggies. Brimful Of Asha is destined for the anticlimactic tag, although were every letdown quite so rejoiceful astronomy would certainly garner a few more followers and column inches. The congregation sweating it out like scrunched up snooker balls in an infernal triangle to catch a glimpse of Tinie Tempah shoot lyrics at terminal velocities, at greater speeds than Dappy can reel off a magazine of BB gun pellets in the direction of his adoringly naïve disciples, multiplies with a worrying vigour. Whilst Patrick Okogwu Jr. may not be the "next Damon Albarn" as he professes himself to be, there's a lyrical vibrancy that's irresistible. Gracing the Big Top for approximately half the time required to travel over from the mainland, covers as superfluous as Dizzee's Smells Like Teen Spirit of last night intertwine with humongous hits Frisky, Pass Out and forthcoming single Written In The Stars, all ghettoblasted, chopped but never changed by Tinie's accompanying backing DJ. Undoubtedly already omnipresent and omnipotent, the minute Tinie surgically enhances the backbone of the live setup, employs a few histrionic guitar toters and rekindles ancient grimier works Wifey and Hood Economics we'll sit down and discuss Albarn affiliations.

Further still from the chameleonic wonder of Damon Albarn are Mumford & Sons, playing their umpteenth dwindling festival slot of the summer to an umpteenth uncountable throng. A slew of topless students atop shoulders await all things drab from the Christian quartet, from the medieval twangs of Roll Away Your Stone, to the brassed up slurs of The Cave whilst Thriller-era Jacko blares his trumpet, yet enveloped by the fancy dress spirit, they've come as the Three Musketeers so Marcus Mumford's waistcoat falls by the wayside. Hurts earlier shrieked "When the world surrounds you, I'll make it go away, Paint the sky with silver lining" and whilst the sky isn't quite glistening, lack of musty old waistcoat is said silver lining. If all that glistens is gold, then Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi is 24-carat at the very least; the stirring gentleness with which he blusters through the inherent beauty of debut solo LP proper Go is bone marrow-quaking. Adorned in a tasseled jacket Gok Wan would turn back to chip fat for, the likes of reedy tonsil-quiverer Tornado and appropriately barge-sounding Hengilas are akin to the calm before the tempestuous eye of an apocalypse, an apocalypse that you almost want to be sucked into just to flood your ears with Jón Þór Birgisson's extraterrestrial falsetto. Whirring strings and dual drums as impressionable as Sigur Rós' very own Orri Páll Dýrason make Kolnidur entirely enamouring, engrossing and ultimately, irresistible. Although it's when Jónsi steps out from behind the shadows of his twinkling keys and hammers away at an acoustic guitar on a bewitching Go Do that the sound of hearts erupting and jaws dropping down into inches of muddied earth is vastly amplified. Fantastical in the extreme, a relentless finale curtailed by Grow Till Tall transforms reality to a fairytale-stained fiction, its pages few could possibly wish to close.

Injecting a little more bohemian bourgeois into proceedings are reformed, still Eno-less glam icons Roxy Music, launching unapologetically into a rambunctious Re-Make/Re-Model, before slinking off into a beguiling oboe-led Out Of The Blue. From Virginia Plain, to Ladytron, Love Is The Drug and Do The Strand, Bryan Ferry & co. take us on something of a Piccadilly Line's worth of unforgettable, eccentric numbers, before terminating at a vivacious Let's Stick Together. Ferry bows elegantly and endlessly throughout before a cast of thousands and barring a few wayward faves and a distinct lack of new material, insinuating this may be something of a swansong, Roxy Music prove still to be as sassy as Shirley Bassey in an infinity pool of bristling sequins, as quintessentially British as Pot Noodle. Or Posh Noodle... The stage is then cordoned off as construction begins...

Hard hats dusted, hammers at the ready and human hamster ball inflated, Wayne Coyne's The Flaming Lips emerge from the beaming nether regions of a psyched-up nude cavorting to the sound of supernovas exploding (or In Excelsior Vaginalistic), before Coyne rolls around on outstretched arms until oxygen becomes a rather sparse commodity. Clambering on the shoulders of black bears whilst emitting laser streaks from enlarged foam hands, the 'Lips offer an unparalleled experience in the realms of live music, as confetti cascades to Silver Trembling Hands and voice boxes are dented during She Don't Use Jelly. Unfortunately interests wane slightly, due to a heavy smattering of material from the underwhelming befuddlement of latest long player Embryonic, although with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. I and an aqueous-eyed Do You Realize? in the barrel of his acetate streamer rifle, these lips are always destined to kiss and tell of essential festival occasion.