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I’ve finally removed the filth from beneath my fingernails but the memories will remain. My first Glastonbury was 9 years ago and it was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I had several firsts that time, which I won’t go into now, but times have changed. Back then Oasis were playing the Pyramid stage, the sun was shining and I approached everything with the wide eyed wonder of a newborn. Now I’m a bit older and a lot more jaded. Glastonbury has changed with me, the cries of pushers and dealers that used to great every other step have all but disappeared. The fence has grown and as a result the amount of people in attendance has dropped dramatically.
This was my first Glasto’ with a ticket, I could stroll in without the usual drama. Yet, just walking in past the security, after having my ticket checked by four people and bags given a suspicious once over, was deeply unsatisfying. Gone, was the sudden rush of endorphins that come from tearing down the outside fence and scaling the lofty heights of the main fence. The feeling when you hit the ground on the other side (despite the crunch of vertebrae as your back compacts like a badly played concertina) was an integral part of the whole Glastonbury experience. Those days are gone now. Mores the pity, but someone has to pay or else how would those poor musicians earn their keep. Liam and Noel must be short on gold plated back scratchers, and I’m sure that old man McCartney will be glad of his share of my ticket price.
Still, things haven’t changed so much. Friday was a gorgeous summers day and Oasis were back on the Pyramid stage, although the last time they played I was actually bothered about seeing them, this time I was straight over to the Chemical Brothers as soon as The Kings of Leon had finished. A wise choice I feel. I was disappointed to see that The Kings had trimmed their mullets and shaved for the occasion. That hillbilly pig molester chic was a lot more unique than the Strokes stylists’ wet dream that they were rocking on Friday. Anyway Glastonbury is about the music not the facial hair despite what you may have heard. Even without their ‘Deliverance’ country moustaches the King of Leon put on a great gig and were one of the highlights of the Festival.
Earlier in the day I had the chance to see Badly Drawn Boy play again, this time he was accompanied by his band. All in all he didn’t disappoint despite some shocking whistling which was quickly, and thankfully, replaced with a rather more tuneful hum. It was good to see Bez, from the Happy Mondays, join him on stage and shake his thang as only Bez can. Many have tried, but none have succeeded. Imagine ‘Night of the Living Dead’ meets ‘Saturday Night Fever’ on Acid, or should that be Ecstasy?
Groove Armada and Franz Ferdinand also warrant a mention for some great tunes and inspiring the crowds to shake their collective arses. Performance of the day belongs to The Chemical Brothers. Whether knob tweaking can be considered a performance is a matter for debate. What’s important though is that their set was fantastic from start to finish and I loved every knob tweaking minute of it. So ended day one (as much as I’m going to write about it anyway), and so began the rain.
The rain and 160,000 pairs of feet made short work of turning 600 acres of lush fields into a quagmire that would attempt to bring down anyone who was unsure of foot. But the show must go on, and thankfully it did. Keane’s brand of melancholy melodies helped to lift my spirits and remind me why I was standing in a muddy field in the first place. Their singer was bounding around the stage and striking poses like a chubby Jim Morrisson after too much panda pop. Their piano player was attacking the keys with the ferocity of a bag of starved ferrets. Even though they had no guitars they still managed to create a rich sound, mmm nice.
‘My Morning Jacket’ provided the Long hair and loud guitars that had been missing so far. ‘British Sea Power’ provided the shrubbery and 10ft tall grizzly bear that should be made compulsory for every stage set.
I wandered down to The New Tent to check out ‘The Killers’ along with about 80,000 over people, I managed to struggle to the outside of the tent which had a capacity of about 5,000 and was rewarded with a good set.
After a bit of a break and vodka refill it was time to head over to the main stage to see a quarter of the most popular band in the world ever. Despite sounding like a rather embarrassing codger who wants to be seen as being groovy, when he was chatting between songs, Paul McCartney can still carry a tune. There was something extremely satisfying about hearing some of the greatest pop songs ever made being played live. ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ were well worth the hour long trudge through the mud I had to endure to get to Pyramid stage. Anything else was a bonus, almost anything. Thankfully The Frog Chorus did not rear it’s ugly wart ridden head.
Later that night I wandered over to The Glade to hear a bit of ‘Plaid’ but the sound system was terrible and my car stereo would have been louder. Nice video screens though.
Sunday came around and so did the sun, thankfully. I beached out by the Other Stage and listened to ‘The Ordinary Boys’ and ‘Eighties Matchbox B Line Disaster’ before rousing myself and heading to the front for a great set by Gomez. The majority of the tunes came from their first, and best, album. Definitely a band worth seeing live.
Over at the Pyramid stage I caught the end of James, the Godfather of Soul, Brown’s set. Before Supergrass blazed through the majority of their ample collection of hit songs. They even conceded to play ‘Alright’ through clenched teeth, still sounds good to me even if they’re sick to death of it. Even the inevitable downpour from the heavens was stopped short and made way for a perfect rainbow that spread out above the crowd in perfect alignment with the stage. After Supergrass the old master ‘Morrissey’ took to the stage with much aplomb, despite his flaws he’s still one of the greatest lyricists the world has ever known. A point he drove home to perfection with the Smiths classic ‘There is a light that will never go out’. Astounding.
The best was saved for last, Orbital were about to bow out in blaze of glory. The Hartnol brothers were performing for the last time (in England, anyway) before they split up and go off in their own directions. Glastonbury was saying goodbye to one of the greatest dance acts of all time. ‘All farewells should be sudden’, someone once said. Orbital had decided to call it a day after defining what dace music could be and creating some classic masterpieces. Orbital were also here that first time I came to Glastonbury 9 years ago, they were great then. This time they were even better. The show they put on was worth the ticket price alone, and so it ended. Not with a whisper, but with a bang.