An exclusive interview by Peter White with Festival organiser John Giddings.

John Giddings has undoubtedly pulled off one of the biggest achievements of his illustrious career by persuading pop music icon Robbie Williams to be the headline act for this year’s Isle of Wight Festival.

Superstar Robbie has strung together a list of massive hits, after making his much-publicised break from boy group Take That, incredibly 28 years ago, to pursue his solo career. 

After chasing his dream to bring Robbie to the Island for many years, John is finally set to realise the vision. He couldn’t be happier for himself, or for the thousands of fans who will converge on Seaclose Park, Newport, in June for the music spectacular.

Chasing Robbie

Festival front-man John said: “I saw Robbie Williams in Hyde Park a few years ago, and he is one of the best live entertainers I have ever seen; he was absolutely brilliant. You can’t compare him to any acts we have had in previous years, but I have always felt that if I could get him to the Isle of Wight, he will go down a storm. I’ve been chasing him for at least four years, but it was a question of timing, availability, and the right price; all those factors had to come together.

“I know Robbie’s manager and agent well, and they knew the Isle of Wight has a tremendous reputation for looking after its artists. I honestly believe Robbie can carry on performing for many years to come, just like Paul McCartney. He won’t lose that ability to perform, and will be right up there with the greats.”

Giving the audience what they want

Appropriately, one of Robbie Williams’ greatest hits is ‘Let Me Entertain You’. He is just one of a host of top-line artists who will be appearing at the Festival, which takes place from June 15 to 18. John said: “We have a collection of artists like Blondie, George Ezra, Pulp, Human League, Sam Ryder, Anne-Marie, Gabrielle and countless others, who have had more hits than I’ve had hot dinners. I just know how much the audience are going to love them. I think this year’s line-up is strength in depth, because you need to entertain an audience all day long.

“You can’t just have them sitting around for 10 hours in a field waiting for a headline act, you have to provide entertainment in the form of other groups all around the festival site, as well as other entertainment. The aim is to make it fun for everyone. The most important thing is for the audience to love every second of the headliners, and other artists on the stage, because I know there have been occasions in the past when they haven’t, because the act has not played what they want to hear.”

The audience comes first

John added: “The people who come to watch are more important to me than the acts, because whilst I pay the groups, it’s the audience that pays me. So I try to look after the audience, and my message to them is to prepare yourself for any weather, treat other people as you would like to be treated, and everyone will have a great time!”

Festival to remain at Seaclose Park

John Giddings has expressed his delight that an agreement has been reached with the Isle of Wight Council to keep the annual IW Festival at Seaclose Park, Newport, for at least the next five years. 

Seaclose has been the Festival’s venue since it was revived in 2002. Now John and his organising team can look forward to the future with confidence. He said: “We are very pleased that the council has approved a new five-year agreement enabling the continued use of Seaclose Park for the Isle of Wight Festival.

“For more than 20 years we have worked with local stakeholders to turn the Isle of Wight Festival into one of the biggest and best in the country and this agreement secures that for the future. The festival delivers a significant economic boost to the Island each year, and with this deal in place we can focus on making sure the event stays at the forefront of the UK live music scene.”