For Glastonbury 2009 I had the relative luxury of a campervan. But for 2010, in order to experience the full festival experience, myself and my fellow glastonaut decided to camp in tents. So at 1:00am on Wednesday morning I was collected from home for the four hour drive to Somerset to be at the gates in good time for the 8:00am opening. Once in and tents set (all quite straightforward) we set-off to explore the site and to prepare ourselves for the England vs. Slovenia game being shown at the Pyramid stage.
The Pyramid arena was very busy and obviously many had turned up early to watch the game and savour the atmosphere. A fairly solid 1-0 win was the result, but I felt at this stage against the smallest country in the tournament, that the writing was on the wall for England.
The festival proper does not really start until Friday, so for the remainder of the day we wandered and eventually made our way back to camp for a BBQ and to meet our new tented neighbours . . . . .
Feeling energised from our previous night’s dinner of beer, sausages and burgers (!) we decided to explore the site from venue to venue, which according to my friends pedometer, was approximately 11 miles. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we filled up the cool box with ice and beer and commenced our tour of duty.
A few acts were planned from around 4:00pm on Thursday, but we found the venues to be packed. We eventually made our way to the Dance Village as Boy George was set to perform but we left before he made the stage. He apparently walked on stage around an hour late, but no great loss really.
First on the ironic front for us to see was Rolf Harris. Personally I can’t see the appeal, but my fellow glastonaut seemed to enjoy the performance! Perhaps it was the early morning beer/sunshine combination?
We went our separate ways at this stage as I wanted to see Corinne Bailey Rae who, in my humble opinion, was great; she sings like an angel. Perfectly laid back sunny afternoon music, and surprisingly, a drum solo too!
I’m not a fan of gangsta rap, but Snoop Dogg was very good. He is a consummate performer who seemed to have the huge crowd in the palm of his hands. Again, the laid back music and laconic rapping suited the sunny day perfectly.
However, mid-set I dashed off to see one of my favourites, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly in the small but packed LeftField tent. It was a performance full of energy and one of the highlights of my weekend; I actually got to see the whites of their eyes, not on a screen half a mile away :-)
Another dash finds me at the Acoustic tent to see McIntosh Ross. Not a packed tent this time as I think most of the site were either watching Florence + the Machine or Vampire Weekend on the main stages. At Glastonbury there are so many clashes to contend with but I was pleased with my choice as the ex-Deacon Blue kingpins were superb and sitting in the shade was a bonus too.
Up to The Park stage next for the mystery special guest slot, I was obviously not the only curious one, since thousands of festival goers were headed in the same direction.
This was the best view of Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead I could get:-
Hearing Karma Police and Street Spirit (Fade Out) were well worth the trek up the hill though.
Next up for me were Gorillaz. Now I like Gorillaz and love all three albums, but I don’t really think they worked as a headlining act on the Pyramid Stage. Barring a few technical glitches the show was good, but seemed a little too down tempo and fractured for a festival slot. I think this may have been a common viewpoint since a steady flow of people left the arena throughout the hour we spent there.
Good news though: there was a back-up plan since The Flaming Lips were performing on the other stage so we made the walk there. Full of energy and trippy vibes, Wayne Coyne and co. were on top form and, of course, have the most upbeat song about death as a finale:-
In hindsight, I managed to squeeze quite a lot into Friday and less on the subsequent days. I’ll not complain about the hot weather, but I do think it managed to sap my energy eventually.
I’m not a late sleeper, so I was down to the other stage at 11:00am to catch a recent favourite of mine Two Door Cinema Club. We enjoyed a good (albeit nervous) performance from the band to a surprisingly large crowd basking in another day of uncharacteristic festival sun.
We stayed at the other stage for Reef who have reformed in 2010 for a few shows including Glastonbury. Most of the crowd stood up for Put Your Hands On and then sat down again. I have to say they sounded a little jaded and somewhat dated.
Not much that caught my attention in the afternoon, so I sat on the grass and listened to Seasick Steve and The Dead Weather. I particularly enjoyed Jack White’s band, he truly is a multi-talented musician and a much better percussionist than his sister ;-)
Then another dash up to The Park for Saturday’s special guests Biffy Clyro which was probably the worst kept secret of the weekend. The band were great though and pulled a huge crowd. After the majority had dispersed I had some time to kill so stuck around and saw Candi Staton who I have to say was brilliant; sometimes it’s seeing artists unplanned that provides a pleasant surprise.
I was off to see Muse next who turned in a fine headline set on the Pyramid stage, although I was disappointed when they didn’t arrive in a spaceship (as had been rumoured). Perhaps the comparisons with U2’s infamous lemon would have been too much for their special guest?
I know I’m biased, but I think the Edge showing up and performing with Muse was illuminating in that it showed what the festival missed on the Friday night due to U2’s unfortunate cancellation. In my opinion, headlining acts these days need such familiar anthems.
Exhausted after another day of dashing around in the heat, we retreated to camp. One year I will check out the night time venues, when I have the legs for it :-)
Sunday for me was dominated by the World Cup match against Germany. Glastonbury Festival kindly arranged a big screen in a field and I wasted much of the day there (along with ~50,000 others) watching a disappointing, underperforming, shameful England team.
I had planned to see Crystal Castles, Faithless and Empire of the Sun but a combination of heat, exhaustion, football disappointment and my fellow glastonaut being poorly meant that the wise choice was to head home early.
I was glad to be home for a shower and to shave the beard off!
We certainly had a great weekend, so until next time . . . . . . .
Ps – I’ve heard that U2 may headline the Pyramid on the Saturday 2011 ;-)