The event is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is traditionally one of the last festivals in the summer schedule. It is organised by Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank, who said:
“2013 will be a vintage year. Band and DJ-wise we’ve cast our net far and wide.
“There’s no increase in capacity but more land, a raft of exciting changes around the site including some great new spaces and all dressed and made up in Bestival‘s signature style.”
Each year has a different theme with this year’s being nautical.
Elton recently spoke to the Guardian, the fest’s media partner. . . .
Q: Elton, you’re not known for doing festivals. What made you choose Bestival?
A: I am known for doing festivals I played my first festival 47 years ago! That was the sixth National Jazz and Blues festival at Windsor in the summer of 1966, when I was keyboard player in a band called Bluesology. In 1970, after changing my name and becoming a solo artist, I played at the Knokke festival in Belgium, the festival of the Midnight Sun in Sweden and the Yorkshire Folk, Blues and Jazz festival in Krumlin.
Since then I have played at many festivals all over the world, the most recent being last summer when I played at Ibiza 123 Rocktronic festival with Pnau. But I haven’t played any of the major festivals in the UK in recent years, so when the opportunity to play Bestival came up I was very interested. Bestival seems to be more of a people’s festival, not too big, and very friendly I like the idea of that.
Q: Bestival is based on 50,000-plus people in fancy dress. Tell us about what you’ve heard and your own ideas of the power and fun of fancy dress.
A: As the person who played a concert at New York’s Central Park in 1980 dressed in full Donald Duck costume including webbed feet, I think I know quite a bit about the power and fun of fancy dress! When I was a young teenager my parents insisted I wore very conventional clothes, so when I started having success with my music I rebelled against all that and wore whatever I wanted to onstage. In my early years I dyed my hair, wore the stack-heeled platform boots, the crazy glasses and a variety of wonderful costumes, each more outrageous than the one before. At various times I wore enormous feathered head-dresses, cloaks, hot pants, jumpsuits, clown suits, a Minnie Mouse outfit, French Maid, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. During one memorable Australian tour I wore a complete 18th-century Mozart costume including powdered wig, silk frock coat, breeches, tights and buckled shoes.
I’ve heard that the Bestival audience comes in fancy dress and I can’t wait to see that, they must all look amazing from the stage. Wearing fancy dress makes us all feel less inhibited so I think it’s a great way to enjoy live music.
Q: You were at the original Isle of Wight festival in 1969. What are your memories of your week there and of the island.
A: I went there with a group of friends from DJM Records. We went specifically to see Bob Dylan, who was a big hero of us all, and he was fantastic. Sitting in that field I could never have imagined that just a year later Melody Maker would run the front page headline ‘Dylan digs Elton, ‘ after he came to one of my first shows in America.
Q: What can Bestival expect from your headline performance?
A: I’ll be playing Bestival with my band, some of whom have been with me since the early days. We will play many of my big hit singles, plus some of the best-known album tracks. 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, and we’ll be celebrating that anniversary in the summer, so you can expect to hear several tracks from that album. My shows always involve audience participation, singing and dancing, so make sure there is plenty of room for movement inside those fancy-dress costumes!