Last year's biblical flooding was still sour in the minds of many of the Island folk. Though the weather was set to be precarious at best, organiser John Giddings is still feverishly optimistic - he has contingency plans for contingency plans, and a veritable army of scurrying minions.

The militant locals needn't have got their knickers in a twist, as Gidding's baby runs smoother than ever before. The traffic is scarce, the noise curfew strict and event staff have had thorough dress rehearsals in case of a repeat of 2012's torrential downpours. It's a slick machine before the first revellers have even made landfall on the Isle Of Wight. Giddings isn't giving the council any reason to scrap future festivals.

Main stage openers Palma Violets kick start proceedings on the Friday evening. The Lambeth lads perform expectedly bombastic rock, which is lost on the mid-afternoon crowd, who seem vaguely impressed but mostly confused. It's strummed with gusto, but the fledgling band seem dwarved by the enormity of the stage - the sounds of 'Fourteen' and 'Best Of Friends' blare out into the ether, lost in the atmosphere, when they'd have flourished in the diminutive confines of a mould-riddled tent.

Introduced by Mark Chadwick of Levellers fame (god knows why), Everything Everything blast through a handful of perfect pop hits - frontman Jonathan Higgs coyly grins as they rattle through crowd-pleasing numbers like 'Schoolin'', 'Kemosabe' and 'Photoshop Handsome'. Opener 'Cough Cough' is a rhythmic smorgasbord, whipping the unwashed masses into a cider-soaked frenzy - at every minor lull, Higgs gently reassures the audience that it's actually quite acceptable to have a boogie.

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Over in the Big Top, neo-soul songstress Lianne La Havas unleashes a plethora of tropical ditties designed to make your heart bleed and hips quake. 'Is Your Love Big Enough?' is an enchanted slab of shimmering pop-folk charm. Underneath the sugary frosting, there's a bitter fondant centre: "Sing, and pretend that you're really angry. Pretend that he's broken your heart," she says to the crowd, inspiring a frothy-mouthed front few rows.

The scores that pack out the tent for fun. are predictably there for one thing. As soon as the first bars of 'We Are Young' hit, everyone throws their arms and iPhones into the air; they inspire ear-to-ear grins, and whether you think they're trite drivel or you have a soft spot for them, you can't deny that it's a pop anthem. Oddly, that's not their closer - they continue forth, providing a completely unnecessary soft-rock rendition of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.

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The Big Top headliner, Ellie Goulding, disappoints. She was once a glimmering, electro-pop princess; those who have heard her early demos can attest she was wonderfully palatable before the major labels descended like vultures. Unfortunately, every faint essence that was once alluring or impressive or interesting or vaguely nice about her have been violently wrung out of her.

The integral heart has been melon-balled out and replaced with a passion for grey, plastic corporate pop and the warm puppet strings of celebrity-dom. Her murder of 'Your Song' cements her transformation. Where there was once promise, there's now a quivering, flaccid, whinnying, reanimated, vainglorious corpse hellbent on checking her hair on the screens and chundering bland nonsense. Still, it's better than Jake Bugg.

Example, Russ Chimes, and Benga spew rapturous dance tunes over at the Dance Tent as the Stone Roses prep an intensely anticipated set. As they start, 90s dad-rock stinks up the mellow Friday night; a pompous, self-congratulating bore wafts through the suddenly sullen atmosphere. Punters gurn and swiftly head as far away as possible - the mass exodus from the kings of dull is frankly promising; perhaps people understand that just because it's headlining, or had the most money pumped into it, doesn't mean it's good. Equally, just because something is old, it doesn't instantly mean it's great. Take Reef - they're getting on, and no one gives a fuck, which is strange, as that's essentially what Ian Brown and his cronies sound like.

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Saturday

Laura Mvula's soaring neo-jazz/soul-folk disperses in the wind on Saturday afternoon. She's backed by a string quartet and a harp and all manner of percussion, creating a rich, luscious sound that combats the ensuing gales - she manages to be somehow expansive and intimate simultaneously, a valuable talent for festivals. It's like the biggest lounge bar the 60s could ever muster. The BBC Sound Of 2013 4th placer unloads singles 'She', 'Green Garden' and 'Like The Morning Dew', chatting with ease between tracks. She also performs one new track and "the only song [she's] written that [her] husband likes," conjuring a bucolic bliss amid the gusts.

Despite the stigma, X-Factor groomed act Little Mix know how to put on a show. It's vacuous, bubblegum cheese, but it's entirely fun to wiggle to after a few cheeky bevvies. It is fun to just mindlessly sing along once in a while without needing to dissect the music - isn't that what part of the festival experience is about? It's made doubly fun by the addition of beatboxing, Katy Perry covers and watching them usurp Westlife as the crown princes of sit-down balladry.

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As the gales attempt to subside and floating latex sausages roam free, recent Radio 1 champs Bastille take to the stage. Drawing a crowd to match the previous night's headliners, main man Dan Smith is taken aback: "This is definitely the biggest thing we've ever done." It's no surprise, probably tens of thousands have descended to catch the rising stars in action. They've perfected schmaltzy pop-rock - they're not dissimilar to Scouting For Girls (never a good indicator), but instead of crappy Brit-revival, they careen towards sample-heavy synth-rock.

Multiple drum machines and spoken-word samples punctuate 'Laura Palmer' and 'Pompeii', bringing the metaphorical house down, and once again, Mr. Giddings has displayed his sixth sense for putting pop maestros in the right place at the right time. You may dismiss them as shite spotmonkeys, but they can work a crowd better than any other act so far this weekend.

Folk-rock titan Ben Howard floors the swarm ahead of him. Squinting into the dying orb of fire, the massive crowd softly coo and sway along to every word that escapes Howard's lips during 'Black Flies' and 'The Fear'. He plays new material, much darker than his famous debut, to a doe-eyed audience who are left with jaws agape.

The Maccabees churn out brain-scouring art-pop that cauterises minds and etches beautiful memories. The fuzzy noises expand like packing peanuts, softly cradling you as you experience a sonic sojourn into the Brighton Boys' world. 'No Kind Words' is completely chilling against the fizzing embers of the sun, and 'Love You Better''s thick psych-laced indie envelops the site, tranquillising the sozzled throngs and toddling toddlers.

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With a Greg Wallace lookalike drum tech on percussion duties, even though regular sticksman Matt Tong is reportedly on site, Bloc Party take to the stage for the sundown slot. His absence gives credence to the rumours of the turbulent indie foursome taking another lengthy sabbatical, due to what essentially seems to be that they fucking hate each other.

It's disappointing that they're due to splinter again, as 'Ratchet', a new cut they whip out, seems to be the best thing they've made in years. The track is a party-startin' spoken-rap track with rock motives, not unlike 'Ares' or 'Mercury', replete with disjointed riffs and loose, jagged rage. It's an unfortunate sign of the future they'll never have. 'Banquet' and 'Helicopter' are staple bouts of fantastic sound; 'Song For Clay' and 'This Modern Love' are highlights. 'Flux' is a crushing dance-punk stab; 'So Here We Are' oozes emotion. As great as their back catalogue is, it's overshadowed by 'Ratchet' and the visible awkwardness between the remaining members. Even a tentative bow after the set does nothing to dislodge notions of clandestine animosity.

Leather-clad Las Vegas stadium rockers the Killers saunter onstage rockstarly late. In the space of a decade, they've risen faster and higher and through more charts than Franz Ferdinand, whom they initially shared a rise with. Their set is studded with monumental singles, lashing the drunken louts with all the grandiose pomp that they can gather. The crowd are hyped to dangerously levels after opener 'Mr. Brightside', dancing with reckless abandon to each following song.

Brandon Flowers chortles from start to finish - he knows he holds the Isle Of Wight in the palm of his hand. 'Smile Like You Mean It' is a lighter-swaying tour de force, 'Somebody Told Me' reminds us just why they're the biggest rock band of the 00s. Confetti cannons burst rainbow blooms, crackling fireworks graze the sky and the neon-dappled audience writhe in ecstasy to 'Human' and 'Read My Mind'. Set closers 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine', 'All These Things That I've Done' and 'When You Were Young' rocket into the stratosphere, providing an epic conclusion to day two.

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Sunday

Anthemic folk-rock sails out of the billowing Big Top during Irish troubadours Kodaline. Early in the Sunday afternoon they perform unusually loudly - it could just be the hangover talking - but the floor shouldn't be vibrating yet, surely? The quaint sounds lure punters into a Mumford-tinged glass case of emotion, as as the plinky-plonky hooks of 'High Hopes' echo out, the swelling tent cheers vigourously. Newton Faulkner is still butchering 'Bohemian Rhapsody' like the smug chin-strapped goit he is as the denizens of the 80s encroach upon the Main Stage for a pretty special comeback set.

It's the first time in 27 years that the Boomtown Rats grace a stage together. It's a magical moment as Bob Geldof struts into the frame with a vengeance, wearing a faux-snakeskin suit and his usual silver bouffant. The new wave vets slide back into their old zone comfortably, bathing in nostalgia and visibly reminiscing before launching into 'Someone's Looking at You'. "You can't ever go back. You can't," muses Geldof. "But these songs could've been written yesterday. They're about coming out of school and not being able to find a job and banks screwing you over. They're about Facebook and Google and Amazon and Twitter and whoever trying to find out who you are when you don't even know yourself. They're about this NSA gathering your details shit and the same fucking thing you read in the paper this morning." It's almost like we're watching Kanye rant.

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The Irish philanthropist throws himself around the stage between mocking fame and his own fashion choices: "We are a living Mount Rushmore!" He screams, before wryly adding: "Kind of..." Brash chords reverberate, blazing out into a crowd eager to glimpse reincarnation. The Boomtown Rats are immediate, childish and sloppy, doused in the punk nonchalance that made them legends in the 80s. As far as reunions go, this is a gleaming example. Swooning into 'I Don't Like Mondays', Geldof becomes dour, lamenting the frequent US school shootings - it's as sadly pertinent now as ever - before swiftly lowering the tone by chatting casual sex and mocking "an ugly fucker with a cunt hat." 'Rat Trap', with its bolshy sax riff closes the set proper - though the Rats charge back on for a semi-improvised eurodance/pop-punk effort. Perhaps it's new, perhaps it's made up on the spot - regardless, it's previously unheard. It's a glorious return.

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Imagine Dragons breeze by inoffensively, before pop-punk upstarts Kids In Glass Houses take to the stage. The floppy-haired Cardiff neo-emos lure screeching teenage girls with their radio-friendly caterwauling and chunky power chords. 'Undercover Lover' is a delirious highlight in the summer-streaked sky, igniting a rousing singalong from the chockablock tent. It may just be rock-flecked pop goo, but this is pleasant to bop along to and a mighty fine chance to 'ave a pogo. Blondie and I Am Kloot complete the Big Top's evening, providing a more intellectual/serious side of rock in contrast to the glam-fisted goings-on of the Main Stage.

Bon Jovi can now be added to that list of classic rockers who've performed here, slotting into the annals of the Festival's illustrious history alongside Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, the Doors and plenty more. The New Jersey hard-rock outfit arrive about forty minutes late, with Jon Bon's chalk-white teeth reflecting lights like a disco ball. They're potentially better suited to a patriotic American audience - there's a lot of stars'n'stripes love going on - but the set goes down a treat nonetheless.

'You Give Love A Bad Name' and 'It's My Life' roar into the waning light, inciting titanic chanting; say what you want, but this is the way to close a festival. The band are lively and jovial, with Jon Bon comparing the Isle Of Wight to his home turf and joking through the set. They play a mixed bag of classic hits and new material - the former being far better received. The true immensity of their performance comes in the form of 'Livin' On A Prayer'; 50,000 people singing one song sends shivers. It's one of the best moments of the weekend, and proof of a seminal headline set. It's bittersweet however, as the band leave early, and after arriving late, it means that they only play for two of their allotted three hours.

The Isle Of Wight Festival has never had the quirk of Bestival, or the prestige of Glastonbury. It's not championing up-and-comers like The Great Escape. Its role in the festival world is to act as a starting pistol for the rest of the summer and inject an unparalleled sense of fun into June. After the shambles of last year, John Giddings has done just that, redeeming himself in the process.

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