Isle Of Wight Festival Review: Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen And Tom Petty Show The Newbies How It's Done

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The Isle Of Wight festival may have been plagued by downpours, mud baths and traffic disasters, but in amongst all the chaos were three stellar performances from a trio of US rock legends.

Friday night saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform a two-hour set, from the epic Learning To Fly, to the catchy and heartfelt I Won't Back Down.

It was their first major UK festival appearance in two decades but the seasoned rockers got the huge crowd swaying in a mass sing-along to their greatest hits, with tracks like Free Fallin’ making it a night to remember.

tom petty
Tom Petty on stage at Isle Of Wight

By the time Pearl Jam made their highly anticipated appearance on the main stage on Saturday, the rain had begun to fall once again.

But that didn't dissuade their fans, new and old, and within minutes it was easy to see why they were one of the most influential bands of the nineties, having sold over 60 million records worldwide.

The Seattle grunge rockers delved into their back catalogue, covered the Beatles' Rain, in tribute to the weather, and frontman Eddie Vedder made a heartfelt tribute to The Clash frontman Joe Strummer.

Before captivating the crowds with a cover of Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros' Arms Aloft, Vedder said: "We were thinking about it on the way here, and sad to say, it’ll be almost 10 years in December he’s not been with us."

pearl jam
Eddie Vedder rocking the Isle Of Wight

Later, introducing Just Breathe, Vedder explained how Wille Nelson had covered the track recently and now he can't help hearing his voice when he tries to sing it, before making the crowd roar with a Nelson impersonation.

The stage-lighting turned red for Blood, after Vedder warned: "Give a man a bank and he'll rob the world," before they closed the show to Yellow Ledbetter/Little Wing.

I made my way backstage to try and catch them as they came off stage, but the band were already in their tinted-window people-carrier zooming up the road with a police escort. Unlike some of the younger acts over the weekend, including former X Factor winner Matt Cardle, they weren't going to stick around drinking in the Absolute Radio VIP bar.

By the time it had got to Sunday, many of the 55,000 festival-goers had abandoned their water-logged tents and fled the island. But for those who stuck around, the sun came ahead of a fantastic closing gig from The Boss and his band.

bruce springsteen
Bruce Springsteen shows how it should be done

Going one further than his fellow headliners, the 62-year-old belted out a three-hour set, starting with Badlands and ending with a cover of the Beatles' Twist and Shout.

Included in his 25-strong energetic set were classics such as Born In The USA, Born To Run and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.

All three headline acts nailed their performances, making the festival's other acts such as Tinnie Tempah, Elbow and Biffy Clyro look like amateurs in comparison. There's a reason why these rock legends are still around.

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