Isle of Wight Festival kicks off with a Happy Thursday

Experience some rarely played chamber pieces at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Indie legends Happy Mondays kicked off the 2013 Isle of Wight festival off with a swagger tonight.

And music lovers enjoyed a largely hassle-free trip to the island today following the travel nightmares of last year.

Bez of Happy Mondays performing at the Big Top stage, at the Isle of Wight Festival, in Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight. Picture: PA

Bez of Happy Mondays performing at the Big Top stage, at the Isle of Wight Festival, in Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight. Picture: PA

They were treated to an impressive line-up for the first evening, topped by Shaun Ryder and his mad-cap Manchester band.

The good news for those travelling to the festival was there was no repeat of the problems 12 months ago.

Despite early concerns about high winds affecting hovercraft services, travel operators reported good services across the Solent and little in the way of queues.

The swathe of measures introduced by festival organisers also ensured the journey to the festival site went smoothly.

Festival-goer Esther Steward, 35, from Waterlooville was surprised by the ease of her journey.

Miss Steward said: ‘It’s nothing like last year. It was a nightmare then. There were 300 people queueing for the buses and taxi drivers were being unhelpful.

‘The roads were totally jammed, but it took me 25 minutes to get to the festival from the Fastcat terminal this time.

‘The changes have clearly made a difference.’

Happy Mondays were the highlight of the opening evening’s entertainment, with mash-up DJ Jaguar Skills performing a typically eclectic mix as he headlined the dance tent.

The festival begins in earnest on Friday, however, as the main stage opens for some of music’s heavy hitters. Paul Weller is expected to be a highlight, but the excitement is really mounting for the night’s headliners The Stone Roses, after rave reviews following their performances in London last weekend.

Festival organiser, John Giddings, has been enthused by the response to this year’s line-up.

Mr Giddings said: ‘People are saying it’s the best line-up they’ve ever seen. The reviews of The Stone Roses last weekend were incredible. People are getting very excited about seeing them. It’s great.

‘We are holding tickets back on the door each day to beat the touts, and there’s been a good response to that.’

* Follow our reporters’ tweets throughout the weekend on Twitter @portsmouthnews and by using the hashtag #IOWfest