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V Festival HEADLINErs
2002 – 2015

V Festival Headliners – and a Failure to Rize…

The year I moved to Chelmsford in 2002 was the year when Travis had to pull out from the V Festival and The Manic Street Preachers took their spot, headlining along with Stereophonics and the Chemical Brothers. Also, Supergrass made an appearance on the main stage, along with Nickelback and personal favourite Alanis Morrisette.

In 2003, the great Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, and (less appealing to me) Coldplay were all there.

Muse made a return to the main stage, headlining the 2004 iteration of V Festival, along with fellow V staples Kings of Leon. They were joined by Dido, Pixies, Fearless, The Strokes, and Massive Attack (who I really enjoyed).

Every year we were tasked with finding new ways to increase capacity, especially extra camping space. With an estimated 62,500 people, the tenth V Festival in 2005 saw the show get much bigger.

That year, Oasis headlined and Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, and The Zutons also played. Scissor Sisters returned, as did the Prodigy, who happen to derive from Essex and were excellent.

Oasis at the V Festival

In 2006, American alternative rock star Beck entertained sodden crowds and I was pleased to see Thom Yorke and Radiohead on the V Stage – whilst Kasabian, Fatboy Slim, Morrissey, and Girls Aloud all made appearances.

Then in 2007, the Foo Fighters’ acoustic set, appearing on stage under the pseudonym 606, then their main set in the evening. There was also Pink, Kanye West, and Pete Doherty, but I was less interested in them.

Familiar faces made their way back to headline V2008, including Muse, The Verve, Kaiser Chiefs and The Prodigy. Girls Aloud, Duffy, Lenny Kravitz and Amy Whitehouse also drew massive crowds.

Kaiser Chiefs at the V Festival

Lily Allen took the centre stage in 2009 plus a surprise appearance by classic Ska band The Specials. Others included Dizzee Rascal, Pendulum, and Pixie Lott.

2010 was a year of girl power, with performances from Daisy Dares You, Paloma Faith, Pixie Lott, La Roux, and Florence and the Machine. Also V Festival veterans Kasabian and The Prodigy also played.

In a curious duo, Eminem and Rihanna appeared on the Virgin Media Stage in 2011. Other headliners included the Arctic Monkeys and Dizzee Rascal, whilst regulars included the Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers and Razorlight.

In 2012, the festival hit a new high of 80,000 visitors.

Nicki Minaj dropped out and audiences made do with X Factor’s Olly Murs (performing with Suggs of Madness), Pixie Lott and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. It felt to me that the festival was beginning to falter but I was never an enthusiastic fan of the V Festival.

Suggs at the V Festival

Slightly renamed, the 17th V Festival of 2013 had Beyonce and Kings of Leon. Olly Murs returned and in the surprise new Glee Club Comedy Tent there was Eddie Izzard and Jon Richardson headlining.

In 2014, Justin Timberlake made his first appearance at V Fest, whilst old favourites The Killers, the Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, and Lily Allen played again. This time, the Comedy Tent played host to headliners Alan Carr and Adam Hills.

At my last V Festival in 2015, the festival regulars Kasabian, Olly Murs, and Paloma Faith all appeared and even Sir Tom Jones made an appearance although Irish rockers The Script were the stars of the show that year.

Also in 2015, Festival Republic acquired Maztec Ltd and the rights to the V Festival. Festival Republic are the leading music promoter in the UK and also operate major festivals throughout Europe. The V Festival therefore became part of a wider portfolio of festivals and the musical genre was re-positioned towards a more pop-based line up.

Later the organisers renamed the festival RiZE, taking the opportunity to not only re-brand the event but also review the whole operating model at with significant infrastructure changes, including staging. All of this knowing the volatility of the market and the risks associated with outdoor events.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the RiZE festival did not prove as successful as organisers had hoped and resulted in the local council losing approximately £500,000 in expected revenue.

It’ll be interesting to see what new events take place at Hylands Park in the future.

KT Tunstall