Category: <span>Glastonbury</span>

Saturday and we awoke, grabbed a roll and sausage and some much needed caffeine and looked at the sky. Grey clouds everywhere. We decided to hang around the tent until later and, thankfully, the cloud started to break up and patches of blue started to appear. Off we scuttled again.

Now, I know a lot is said about the Glastonbury mud so please forgive me whilst I discuss it a bit further. From the previous day, the mud had been slick, sloppy and whilst messy and a little slippery, largely easy to walk through. However, by the team we got to the main site on Saturday, the sun had started to dry this up, leaving large patches of, essentially, quick dry cement.

Walking through mud, in wellies which are slightly too big for you, is hard enough when it’s soaking wet but in the drying mud it became impossible. We got to within about 100 feet of the John Peel stage before abandoning our plans (we had hoped to catch Anna Calvi) and retreating to the firmer ground at the Pyramid Stage.

We arrived just in time to hear Rumer start her set. Not planned, but as the sun came out, her Carpenter-esque melodies were a wonderul accompaniment to an afternoon snooze in the sun! Once her set finished, and the time arrived from the next act to appear, we were suddenly very aware that it was getting busy. Very busy indeed. Whilst the stage was getting setup for the next act, as the sun beamed down, I reckon about 80,000 people enjoyed an impromptu singalong to the song that came wafting over the intercom, Hey Jude. That, right there, was one of the ‘moments’ for me. Around me people of all ages and backgrounds tilted their heads to the sun… Naaaa na na NA NA NA NAAAAA, NA NA NA NAAAAAAA HEY JUDE!!

And then Tinie Tempah arrived.

The field at the Pyramid Stage had been filling rapidly and by the time TT was on stage the place was heaving. I’m not a huge fan, only really know a couple of his tracks but wow, what a show he put on! U2 should take note, this was no dialled in performance, this was a guy genuinely excited to be at Glastonbury and it showed as he bounced and grinned his way through his set.

After that we Paolo Nutini (no, I can’t really understand him either) entertained us. Again, not a fan but he was pretty accomplished and has some feelgood tunes that were perfect for a sunny afternoon.

But really, we were waiting for Elbow. Striding on stage, pint held aloft, Guy Garvey proceeded to give a master class in frontmanship with his down to earth, friendly,  warm and embracing, style. You could tell the band were excited to be there and with every song Guy cajoled us into joining in the fun. It’s hard to describe Mr. Garvey’s approach but I think this tweet says it as well as I ever could: “Bono assumes he is addressing the world; Guy speaks to everyone.”

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a HUGE fan of Elbow and they delivered a pitch perfect, late evening set. Nicely setting things up for Coldplay.

Except we didn’t hang around for that, nope, instead we headed to the Other Stage where, amongst a mass of whirling lights, to an audience of glowsticks, flares and raised, fist pumping hands, the Chemical Brothers delivered one hell of a set. Dancing like a mad thing on already aching legs and not caring one bit, all too soon it was finished.

We wandered back to the campsite again, worn out, the sounds of Jimmy Cliff wafting to us on the cool evening breeze.

All of a sudden it was almost over, with only one day to go.

Glastonbury

Friday sees the start of the music festival proper. We had a rough idea of who we’d like to see but were happy to change our plans and so it was that we ended up catching part of Beardyman’s set at Dance East, before trudging halfway across the campsite to grab lunch at West Holts and listen to a couple of songs from Gonjasufi. We then trawled back towards the Pyramid Stage, passing Mark Potter from Elbow on the way (one of those double take moments).

As we got there, the mighty Wu Tang Clan were in full flow and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. We hung about for the last couple of tracks and waited for B.B. King.

To say that B.B. King has a good band is an understatement, this was a slick, well-drilled unit who delivered solid backing whilst B.B. did his thing. Not bloody bad for an 85-year old!

However, we decided to beat a retreat towards the end of his set, hitting the nearest beer tent to avoid the first real downpour of the day.

Once the worst of the rain had passed we nipped out to catch the last few tracks from Biffy Clyro tracks before dashing up to The Park area for the ‘special guest’ slot which (thanks to a colleague we bumped into) we knew would be Radiohead.

Yup, THAT Radiohead.

Suffice to say that word had gotten out and the place was absolutely jampacked with barely room to breath. People were clambering up on of anything they could to get a better view,  culminating in one guy proclaiming his love to everyone in the crowd from atop a wooden caravan and holding forth until someone launched a (thankfully empty and plastic) bottle of cider at him from about 30 feet… SPANG, straight in the face! The round of boos the assailant received was, I thought, a little unjust.. can’t have been easy to hit the guy so accurately from that far!

We lasted a few tracks before bailing out of the madness and starting the long, slow, muddy trek through the rain back to the Pyramid stage for an Irish band you may have heard of…

We grabbed a spot, setup our recently purchased camping chairs, and huddled under a poncho to try and fend off the worst of the rain. U2 were good, slick, and looked every inch of the “we’ve been doing this for years” rock starts that they are… again, the weather forced our hand though and we left them to it and headed back up the appropriately named Muddy Lane back to the campsite.

Glastonbury

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I’ve finally been to Glastonbury.

No more can I sit at home, on my comfy sofa, in a dry place with clean toilets, watching the highlights and think that I’d like to go there some day, that it must be an ‘experience’ and that I’m missing out on something.

Been there, done it, got the t-shirt.

“What was it like?” I hear you ask (ok, probably not, but you should know by now that I a) make this shit up b) hear voices in my head c) like to put additional thoughts into parentheses for no good reason).

It was amazing, scary, exciting, huge, wet, loud, crowded, fun, exhilarating, exhausting, sunny and slightly surreal.

We were staying off-site in the Tangerine Fields campsite. I don’t do “slumming it” and this gave us both a clean pitch with plenty of room, decent toilets, hot showers and access to the car. Highly recommended, especially after seeing the chaos of the main campsites and the state they were in after a day of rain.

Arriving on Wednesday morning, after staying at Wookey Hole the night before, we were soon at the car park, parked up and trudging through the gathering gloom towards the campsite. The rain had started by then, a light drizzle, which soon became a down pour so we holed up in the tent for a while until the worst of it passed. Thankfully the sun came back out and so we got sorted and headed down to the festival site.

The next couple of days were spent wandering around the festival site itself trying to get our bearings. No mean feat given both the size of the place and the deepening levels of mud. Away from the main stages/tents there is a whole host of different acts and areas to explore. If we managed to see half of them I think we were doing well but I doubt we even managed that (some of them weren’t open, to be fair).

Glastonbury is huge, seriously large and for a few days of the year, about the size of a small town. I’d guess that on a nice dry day with no-one about it would still take about an hour to traverse, add in some hills, lots of people milling about and after a few hours we were completely knackered. Not a huge problem when there are so many places to stop for a seat and a refreshing pint of cider but it’s the scale of the place isn’t really something you get from the TV coverage.

Would I go again? Yes, I think I would. I’d try and make more time to enjoy the other areas, get off the beaten path a bit more, and will be much better prepared for the weather (from showers, to torrential rain on Friday through to heatstroke inducing sunshine on Sunday!). The vibe of the place is what makes it unique for me. I’ve been to T in the Park and, whilst it’s partly down to the audience, that felt a lot more like a big edgy crowd, with the security and staff acting accordingly. At Glastonbury everything was so much more relaxed and friendly, the policemen were walking about wearing silly sunglasses, and everyone seemed to be much more at ease and just there to chill out and have fun. There were no angry drunks to be found and those that were drunk were either profusely apologeticly as they stumbled about or fast asleep.

And then, of course, there was the music. More on that soon.

Glastonbury