From Leeds With Love #1

Before we get back to business, another new feature. (Yes, I am stalling a bit)

I’ve mentioned them a couple of times in passing recently, but Leeds’ The Wedding Present are one of my favourite ever bands; if Super Furry Animals are not, as I’ve previously proclaimed, the band that I’ve seen live most often, then that honour must go to¬†David Gedge and co.

One of the reasons I love them is not just because of their own, self-penned songs, but also for the wealth of songs they have introduced me to by other acts¬† – and not in a “I really must go and buy the new single by¬†Raymonde/Ludus/insert-any-number-of-bands-here¬†because Morrissey was apparently (but not definitely) seen at one of their gigs” kind of way (although I have shelled out for plenty of records¬†on that basis)¬†but in a more straight forward way: by doing a cover version.

Over the years, The Wedding Present have provided me with a veritable smörgåsbord of cover versions to chow down on; in my late teens/early twenties, when I was at the peak of my completest obsessive record buying mania, these would mostly crop up on semi-obscure various artist compilation albums, which ticked many boxes.

Box One: I owned a brand new Wedding Present cover version which was, generally unavailable elsewhere at the time, and which nobody else I knew had a copy of. Tick!

Box Two: Often I would not have heard of the artiste who had done the original version, which led me to seek out their records. Tick! Tick!

Box Three: There would be at least 9 other tracks on the album by bands I’d never heard of before either. Generally 8 of them were so¬†awful I made a conscious decision to swerve any other records by them, a fact made easy by just how terrible they were.¬†But that 9th one…often a gem.¬†Often, but not always. Okay, often is too generous a word. Sometimes. Sometimes is better. Tick! Tick! Tick!

So, I thought I’d start a new feature where I let you hear the original version alongside that of The Wedding Present – a compare and contrast, if you will. I expect there to be a 2,000 word essay discussing each version on my desk first thing in the morning.

You will see as this series of posts unfolds that a Wedding Present cover version is an indicator of a record which was class in the first place, a seal of approval, if you will. But where to start? The choices are many.

As I write this, it is my brother’s birthday. At least it is where I am; he currently lives and works¬†in India (which is handy, as it’d be a hell of a commute if he didn’t), and in India¬†it is already The Day After My Brother’s Birthday.

As regular readers will remember, my brother’s own record collection had an enormous effect on my own when we were growing up, so¬†to mark both of these facts, today’s post seemed¬†to be an ideal place to kick off from.

The Kindness of Strangers was released in 1988 to raise money for the Save the Children charity. As you will see from the album sleeve, that 1 great Wedding Present cover version¬†: 9 utter duffers ratio is apparent here. I can’t¬†say I listened to the rest of them more than once, if that.


The Wedding Present – Happy Birthday

(Like it? Buy it here) (actually, I can only find The Kindness of Strangers on ebay, so the link is to not to that but to The¬†Wedding Present’s “Complete Peel Sessions” box set instead. This¬†is, to the best of my knowledge, the only other place you can purchase this track)



Altered Images – Happy Birthday¬†(You don’t really need me to tell you about this, do you???)

(Like it? Buy it here)

Happy Birthday, bruv!

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I seem to be in the mood (i.e. hungover) for a few more of these mellow Sunday Morning tunes, so indulge me and allow me to share a few more.


Love’s Been Good To Me

Johnny Cash covered this one on his wonderful Rick Rubin produced American Recordings series, and his version is top-notch of course. But for my money, you can’t beat Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version. And any mention of Frank always makes me think of the much over-looked Fast Show character you can find here at 09.08. The whole episode is worth a watch if you have time; Series 3 is when Whitehouse, Higson, Thompson et al¬†were at their absolute peak, in my book.

Like it? Go buy it here.


Leaving New York

From their absolute dog of an album “Around The Sun”, the opening track and frankly, you can eject the CD¬†as soon as you’ve listened to this one. (Do people still play CDs..?) Archetypal R.E.M., it’s all gorgeous harmonies and backing vocals to die for. As I mentioned in a previous post, when I used to share a flat with Heledd (although I don’t think I actually mentioned her name. Consider that rectified. And hello Hel!), our Fridays would often involve a playlist I had prepared. Apart from laughing at my attempts to sing along to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It”, Hel is not a big fan of¬†Stipe, Buck, Mills (and Berry), but this tune caught her ear, and as a result cropped up regularly post-playlist when we were both in “a bit pissed and ready for a sing-song” mode. Right after we’d played Max Boyce, usually.¬†Many songs remind me of many people, but as a result of those Friday nights, this song more than any other reminds me of Hel.¬†She doesn’t own it,¬†yet she totally owns it. Cheers!

Like it? Go buy it here


Sweet Jane

A Lou Reed cover, as you no doubt know, and if you ever want an example of a song being re-worked so far it almost sounds like a completely different song, this is it. Better than the original, in my opinion. There. I’ve said it.

Like it? Go buy it here


I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be For Ever)

Taken from the first Stevie Wonder album I ever bought, and as the premise behind me writing this blog stems from the book High Fidelity (see Introduction, Explanation, Justification for my mission statement), it seems appropriate that I get things back on track by posting the song which is played over the end credits of the film adaptation of the novel.

Like it? Go buy it here.

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For… (Part 4c)


Sunday Morning. I hate Sunday Morning at Glastonbury.

Hate is maybe too strong a word, but there’s an air of sadness and resignation about the whole place. Everyone knows it’s the last day of fun¬†we have before we must¬†go back to our boring, normal lives. Back to being mothers, partners and daughters, as the FA so succinctly, and sexistly, put it after the Women’s World Cup.

As I stir from my slumber, I am confronted by Chad, avec sausage.

I should clarify that.

He is cooking breakfast, as he has done so masterfully every day we’ve been here. Chad also swerved the Kanye fiasco the night before, but he went to watch (deep breath): The Mothership Returns: George Clinton,¬†Parliament, Funkadelic & The Family Stone.

Chad and I¬†had discussed the Saturday night headliners we would watch in advance, and I had proffered the argument that at every Glastonbury, there is an act that I probably wouldn’t pay to go and watch (see Paul McCartney 2004) but who I would watch just because they were there and I would never see them again, and that this year, 2015, The Mothership Returns: George Clinton,¬†Parliament, Funkadelic & The Family Stone, were that act.

But they were up against Suede, and I couldn’t ignore those boyhood (okay, early manhood) urges any longer.

Chad’s argument was that they’re exactly the sort of¬†act he would pay to go and see and that was reason enough not to miss them. I have to admit he has a point. Especially when I watch this.

But I am perfectly happy with my choice of Saturday night headliner. Could’ve been worse. Could’ve stood through Kan Nay.

So, for Chad, here’s a download of the above, fill yer boots.

But as we all know, Sunday at Glastonbury is the day we all get to gather at the Pyramid, indulge in a bit of a sing-a-long, and watch a classic artiste strut their stuff. This year, it’s Lionel Richie, and Llyr and I head off, determined to meet up with his flatmate James for this. Up until now, he has¬†eluded us.

James is not camping this year; he has managed to wangle the use of a camper van for¬†free (Sorry, I can’t type the words Camper Van without linking to a bit of Beethoven) (NB – It’s not actually Beethoven) and our paths have not crossed, although a valiant effort was made on the Thursday night and again on Friday afternoon.

On Sunday, at the Pyramid Stage, we finally manage conscious coupling. We find James just as Patti Smith is welcoming The Dalai Lama on stage. In a year where the headliner on Saturday has been interrupted by some comedian running on¬†(Jarvis at the Brits it definitely wasn’t), I was slightly disappointed that the Dalai’s stage invasion didn’t involve¬†him busting a few moves and¬†breaking into an accapella¬†rendition of “Blurred Lines”, but there you go. Can’t have everything.

Speaking of everything,¬†Patti Smith is everything you could hope a punk poet priestess¬†would be, and I find myself slightly ashamed that¬†I haven’t caught her complete set, but I am there in time to see her do People Have The Power¬†as well as Gloria and even My Generation, which is jolly nice of her as it means those of us who don’t want to watch The Who later have an excuse not to bother,

And then, there is Lionel.

I’d had my reservations about going to see Lionel before I got to Glastonbury. I’d never really been that much of a fan, other than of Machine Gun from his Commodores days. But Sunday afternoon at the Pyramid is one of those “must-see” events, and I know I’ve had a blast at every one I’ve been to previously (Brian Wilson, Shirley Bassey, er….that’s it) so I figured, nothing ventured…

By the time Lionel comes on, the Pyramid is strictly Standing Room Only. We appear to be positioned at a point where people cut through the crowd, so I spend much of my time before he comes on organising random strangers around me into a barricade so folks cannot disturb my watching pleasure by tramping through on their way in/out.

Lionel spends the next hour churning out his schmaltzy-hits, starting with Running With The Night, through Easy (regardless of what it says in the Guardian, he did do it), Penny Lover, Three Times a Lady, Say You Say Me before we get to the holy trinity: Dancing on the Ceiling, Hello and finally All Night Long (All Night).

Anyway, here’s his whole set if you want to watch or just listen.

Although it’s not really captured in the footage, James and I notice Lionel has a tendency to wipe his fevered brow with a towel before throwing it done on his piano. It seems to be his signature move. That and looking shocked and asking “What the Hell is going on???”.¬†He gladly indulges us when we all chant for him to glug his cranberry juice down in one, and we all¬†love him for trying, even if it had been much better had he been swigging from a plastic flagon of scrumpy. In short, he seems to have as much of a blast as we all do.

Dancing on The Ceiling also has the added extra of what I believe is called a “flash-mob” throwing some shapes to it. It’s the security at the front of stage¬†but what I wish I could find some footage of, but can’t, is the dance that is happening close to us. A bloke dressed in, as far as I can see, a pair of wellies and a some gold hot pants, stands on his head throughout Dancing on the Ceiling, his little legs gyrating for all their worth, in what we used to call “The Dying Fly” when I was a kid, whilst all his mates held on to him, keeping him upright but¬†more importantly, clutching¬†his shorts, ensuring¬†there¬†is no cock and balls wardrobe malfunction type incident. He gets a massive cheer as he finally flops to the floor; Lionel looks on shocked and asks “What the Hell is going on???”. Too complicated to explain, Lionel. Throw a towel down, why don’t you?

When it gets to “Hello”, and the wonderful sing-a-long reaction it invokes, I can’t help wondering if Lionel is in on the joke: we all know it’s an awful song with an awful video, but we love it in a kinda post-ironic, self mocking kind of way. I think he thinks we all think it’s a great record. He is wrong. Or I am. Probably me.

By rights, “All Night Long (All Night)” should be the end of his set, but Lionel isn’t finished yet. He decides to remind us (in exactly the same way as I did about Live Aid in Part 4a) that it’s 30 years since “We Are The World” came out, the yankee version of our Band Aid, which effortlessly outclassed us by having everyone from Lionel, through Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross, through Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and er….Huey Lewis involved. They saw our Jody Watley and raised us one Dionne Warwick. Cash your chips in, they win.

But¬†Lionel doing We Are The World on¬†his own doesn’t have quite the same “Name That Singer” novelty value as the original does and I get the impression that the crowd would have been quite happy if Lionel had quit whilst he was ahead i.e. after “All Night Long (All Night)” – (mustn’t forget the bracketed bit)

I’ve probably mentioned this before on these pages, so forgive my self-indulgence, but Bob Dylan really does sound like Cartman on his lines in that, doesn’t he?

My plan for the rest of the day is to flit between the Pyramid, the John Peel and the Other Stage, but as anyone who has ever been to Glastonbury will tell you, flitting between stages isn’t really something you can do successfully, not if by successfully you mean watching all of the band you want to catch at the next venue anyway.

And so Llyr and I head off to the John Peel, to catch Charli XCX. Although he doesn’t say anything. I can tell Llyr is delighted I’ve suggested going to see an out-and-out pop act. It was when I lived with him that Llyr reminded me that it’s absolutely fine to like pop songs and that you don’t have to try to be achingly-cool all of the time (which I definitely wasn’t anyway), advice which I gladly took on board, proceeding to buy¬†some truly awful pop records almost immediately. But more of this when I return to more¬†normal business ’round these parts: suffice to say I wanted to catch Charli XCX, but just getting out of the Pyramid Stage proved to be almost mission impossible.

During Lionel, we had been positioned bottom left as you look at the stage. The easiest way to get to the John Peel was along the path that led from top right. With everybody else trying to move on (I’m sure the next act, Alt-J, were very popular in their own sweet way, but it seemed there were far more people trying to leave than arrive) it took us an age to plough through; by the time we got to the top right of the field, Alt-J were just coming on, so it must have taken us¬†a good 45 minutes or so.

Luckily, once out of the Pyramid (which I realise as I type it makes it sound like a task on The Crystal Maze) progress was swift; we miss the start of Charli XCX’s set but get there just as she’s doing the one everyone with a right mind and a pulse adores, I Love It, and she ends up by doing Boom Clap¬†and all is right with the world with pop this perfect nuzzling into my lug-holes.

Next, we’re off to the Other Stage to catch Belle & Sebastian. A band I love, but a band who hasn’t really done much I love for a few years now. They are a little disappointing, their set a little too more-recent-stuff heavy than I’d like. Here’s them doing If You Find Yourself Caught in Love. Meh. Llyr gets bored before the end and heads off to do whatever he plans to do next. He misses the highlight of the set,¬†The Boy With The Arab Strap, where they emulate Pharrell the night before by encouraging¬†folks up from the stage to dance around and generally look awkward. Mostly these are young ladies in indie-nerd indenti-fit acrylic dresses, but a bunch of kids are also ushered on. Bearing¬†this in mind, it is probably wise of B&S to avoid awkward questions being asked by snipping the usual¬†closing line of the song (“You’re constantly updating your hit parade of your ten biggest wanks,¬†She’s a waitress and she’s got style,¬†Sunday bathtime could take a while”) and replace it with…well, an ironically apologetic improvised speech about Scottish independence.

I vacate the Other Stage before catching any of next-up¬†Jamie T, of whom I have no interest, but when I get home and watch the Glastonbury footage I’ve recorded, I kind of regret this. They show him doing Zombie, a song I’d not heard before, and which I have subsequently utterly fallen for. At the very least, it reclaims that song title from that¬†offence to my ears that¬†The Cranberries released back in the early 1990s (apologies if you also¬†had to sit through an advert for Now 91 to watch that – it really wasn’t worth it, was it?).

My aim now is to get back to the Pyramid in time to catch as much of Paul Weller’s set as possible. I have this pipe dream that he might decide to treat us to a raft of his¬†prestigious body of work, although I have been warned against getting my hopes up by a chap I work with who has seen him numerous times, loved it every time, but never heard him really dip his toe too far into the bath of his back catalogue.

Ah. Back catalogue. Back log. Back. Log.

There’s something else about Glastonbury I haven’t mentioned. Something the uninitiated always mention, along with the weather and the mud.

The toilets.

I don’t wish to get all¬†lavatorial on your ass, but we all know the stories about how horrendous the aptly named long-drops at Glastonbury are. By and large they’re not entirely true; okay they’re not pleasant, but, so long as you’re lucky enough to get one where the last occupier had a decent aim (not always a given), and as long as you don’t do anything as foolish as¬†look down, then they’re not that bad.

But knowing this, and even having no sense of smell (as I don’t), I still fear that first, and hopefully only, visit. In previous years, I have crammed my system with Immodium to delay that fateful moment when I have to slope off, toilet roll and newspaper under arm, but not this year. I have decided to embrace the long-drops. Not literally, you understand.

And yet, as I hurry back to the Pyramid, I realise that I have been…erm…clenching…since I arrived. On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. And it is now Sunday. For five days. And I’ve consumed a lot of sausage in that time.¬†If I don’t so something soon, an accident is almost inevitable.

Luckily – and fear not, I’ll spare you the gory details – I happen upon quite the most delightfully clean and hardly used toilets I’ve ever encountered in all my days of attending Pilton Farm. I’ll probably regret divulging¬†this, for it’ll be full next time I go, but a tip: mid-way between the John Peel and the Pyramid is the Hospitality Area. The toilets by them are kept prestigiously clean, and there is nothing stopping the likes of you or I parking our arses in there. If you take nothing else away from my lengthy meanderings here, then take this: I have found the Holy Grail at Glastonbury and it is a relatively pleasant place to have a shit.

As I sit there, I the sound of¬†Weller wafts towards me.¬†He is doing “You Do Something To Me“. I can’t help but wonder if this is an ironic comment on my present position.

I head off, and as I approach the Pyramid, he does “Start”. Oh fuck, I think, cursing my colon, he really is doing a Greatest Hits set. A quick search of the interweb when I get home tells me he hadn’t, he just did the understandable thing of packing all the crowd pleasers towards the end of his set.

I arrive at the Pyramid just as he does “Peacock Suit”. The Pyramid is absolutely rammed. I don’t really want to go to far in, as I’m going to be heading off again as soon as he finishes, but still…a good view would be nice. I end up sitting in the top right corner behind the track that runs along the top of the Pyramid. I am joined by a couple who sit their chairs next to me and we have a bit of a chat as he does a song we don’t know (“Whirlpool’s End”, apparently. A new definition of the term “crowd pleaser” may be required).

Then, although this MP3 doesn’t really reflect it, ¬†the place goes mental as the bass line¬†of “Town Called Malice” kicks in; there is dancing, there is singing,¬†and a hundred lonely housewives clutch milk bottles to their hearts as at least 25,000 people emulate them, myself included.

Weller exits, as do I, and the couple I’ve been chatting to look quizzically at me as I get up and pack up after catching precisely 2.5 of Weller’s songs. I explain The Who are not for me tonight and they look a bit confused but wish me a happy night, and I reciprocate, because¬†I’m¬†not a wanker.

But it¬†is the witching hour, the time¬†every one must¬†execute their plans to get to wherever they want to be, ready¬†for the Glastonbury 2015 finale. The main stage is to be occupied by The Who; I saw them when they played in 2007, and I was really disappointed. I’ll cover this when I talk about that year another time, but basically, they had a new album to promote that year, so they don’t even do “Substitute“. This, to my mind, is sacrilege. (They don’t do it¬†it in 2015 either, for which there is, frankly, no excuse).

The next choice is The Chemical Brothers on the Other Stage. Now, as any right-minded festival goer does, I bloody love the Chems. But I’ve seen them before…loved them too…but there’s only one place I want to end my 2015 Glastonbury.

A few months ago, I had been at home waiting for some delivery or another, had 6music on, and heard Radcliffe and Maconie play a song by FFS, the band that is the amalgam of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. It is called “Piss Off” and it is, excuse my language, fucking brilliant. (If you download that, then please also go and buy the album, here. I promise, you won’t be disappointed)

I arrived at the John Peel in time to catch the end of Death Cab for Cutie’s set. They are a band I’m kind of aware of, but don’t really know anything by. You know, one of those “know-the-name-but…”¬† bands. They’re okay. They do this¬†which is perfectly fine, but nothing special in my book.

The John Peel¬†tent is rammed for them, so¬†I decide I’ll do as I did the night before for Suede; park myself outside with a good view of the stage and a screen, and I’ll be happy enough.

However, Death Cab finish and the place just…empties.¬† A¬†few moments pass. I decide to venture inside. There can’t be more¬†than about 100 people in there, all dotted about.

A little while later, and still the tent is cavernously empty. I move a little closer to the stage. Not too close. They’ll all be here soon, surely, and I’m far too old to be getting sucked into a mosh-pit. I end up next to a couple who clearly have the same idea as me: it can’t stay this empty, can it?

It doesn’t. With moments to spare, the tent is chock-a-block, as FFS take to the stage and perform one of the most wonderful sets I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. It’s mostly FFS, but peppered with Franz songs (“Do You Want To”, “Michael”, “Take Me Out”, of course) and with an even smattering of Sparks records (“When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way'”, “Number 1 Song in Heaven”, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both of Us”), the latter of which leaves me¬† with the biggest smile I’ve had on my face for a long time, and I turn to the couple next to me, who are also laughing, smiling and singing, and advise them I’ve never been happier. They are in a similar mood. At least, that’s what they tell me. “We’re in a similar mood!” they say, and I can’t help but wonder if¬†they are sex people.

Ahem. Anyway, here’s FFS doing “Police Encounters“, and here’s their full set to either watch or listen to.

Regular readers may remember my mentioning previously the terror that was watching Ron Mael (of Sparks) on Top of the Pops in the 1970s and I’m surprisingly happy to report his schtick has not changed in all those years; he still stands, statue-still, just his hands bopping up and down on his keyboard, his Hitler moustache and impassive glare still in place, every now and then bearing his teeth. Until…suddenly there is a spotlight centre-stage, and there is Ron, all on his own, doing a running man-type dancing routine. The audience (of equally scarred children of the 70s) howls at how brilliant this is (though I appreciate it doesn’t seem it from that description).

FFS were my favourite act I saw all¬†weekend (I almost said my favourite thing, and then I remembered my new friends and Andy’s Vodka Alchemy…it’s too close to call, frankly. No it isn’t: it’s you guys!!) and so it would be remiss of me not to nudge you (again) in the direction of the¬†other deciding factor in my decision to go see¬†them: a review a fellow blogger wrote on here a little while back. This clinched it for me, so please keep an eye on her blog for other gigs you’d do well to go to. She’s a proper barometer of cool.

And that’s all folks. I won’t bore you with the tediousness of waking super-early on the Monday morning to miss the rush to get off-site and miss the traffic. Such memories spoil the idyll. Suffice to say we’ll all be attempting to get tickets again next year, so…see you back here then, eh?

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A new feature, and one I’ll probably get bored of doing very quickly, but hopefully this will develop into one of those cut out and keep, collectable series magazines you see advertised in January, where the first edition costs the special introductory price of 99p but all the rest are a tenner a pop and you have to buy the lot to make a complete Millenium Falcon.

Anyway, as it’s me, no charge.

Here’s the first in my cut out and keep (by which I mean download) series of nice chilled tunes to listen to on a Sunday morning with a slightly fuzzy head:


4hero – Les Fleur

More soon.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For (Part 4b)

And so to Saturday.

I am knackered from Friday night. Sadly, not from any late night dad-dancing into the small hours, but because the trudge back from the Park Stage was a real ball-ache. The rain, you see, the rain. Although it had stopped a few hours earlier, the damage was done, pathways churned up by 175,000 revellers desperate to get to Avalon, to Silver Hayes (the new name for the Dance Tents, though quite what was wrong with calling them the Dance Tents is beyond me. Maybe it was a bit too Ronseal. Perhaps in years to come the Pyramid Stage will be rechristened The Pointy Place) to The Glade, to Arcadia.

Arcadia is close to where we are camped, and the central feature¬†is used as a reference point to guide us back to our tents. At night-time it’s easy to spot, a giant spidery thing which spurts fire, like this:


Fairly noticeable, right? But during the day, there it stands, sans flames, sans booming techno, sans massive throng of people. Every time I walk past it in the day time, cold and stationary, legs akimbo, it strikes me as being almost gynaecological, which reminds me I really must start my therapy again sometime. And phone my mother.

Anyway, Saturday, and I emerge from my tent to find the weather overcast and, without doing anything as sensible as either checking a) what effect the rain had actually had on the terrain, or b) the little book around my neck with the running order on it, I decide to return to my tent, in frankly a bit of a sulk.

I have it in my head that there’s nobody I want to see until Burt Bacharach on the Pyramid. I am wrong, and I am a twat. This assumption means I miss one of the acts I really wanted to see: Courtney Barnett. When I get home, I plough through all the BBC Glastonbury stuff I recorded,¬†find this¬†and I immediately regret not seeing¬†her. There’s something about this, maybe the almost spoken delivery of the verses that reminds me of Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” which is no bad thing in my book. (To add to my misery, when researching this post – and yes, I do research, though you’d be hard pushed to notice it –¬†I find this duet with one of my heroes, Evan Dando¬†and I’m even more gutted to have missed her.)

When I resurface, I find that I have managed to miss a couple of young lady guests that Andy has brought over to the camp site for a barbecue. I also find much hilarity ensuing at what Dean has brought to assist with the barbecues:


(With thanks to Chad for the photo and for reminding me about this).

I pull my wellies on and head to the Pyramid. The ground is firm. I curse my glass-half-empty thoughts about the state the terrain would be in, and pitch up to watch Burt Bacharach.

He is, and I hate to say this about a living legend, a wee bit¬†disappointing. It’s not so much the fact that he doesn’t actually sing many of the songs himself: he’s never really been renowned for his singing prowess, and when he does venture to give his tonsils an airing it’s croakier than Kermit in need of a lozenge.

But I have a couple of other issues with his set. Firstly, we rarely get to hear a song all of the way through. This is kind of understandable, when you think about the vast back catalogue of classic songs he wrote or co-wrote with Hal David. Burt wants to appease each and every one of us by performing the one we like, and the only way to do that is to only perform a bit of each. And so, Pyramid becomes Medley-Central for the next hour.

The other problem is that we associate most of his songs with absolute classic, legendary¬†singers: Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Sandie Shaw, Tom Jones …er…Cilla Black…um……Christopher Cross…¬†oh you know, classic, legendary singers.

But what we get are three singers performing snippets of these great, great songs who, whilst very good, are just a little bit cruise ship. They’re¬†never going to do these wonderful songs justice and certainly aren’t going to¬†really affect the on-looking crowd. It’s all just a bit….bland.

Anyway, here’s Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (which would have been better had he played it on Friday evening) and the utterly schmaltzy That’s What Friends Are For.

Next up is Paloma Faith. I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for this bat-shit crazy flame haired Hackney-ite, mostly from her flirtatious appearances alongside Noel Fielding on “…Buzzcocks” and I quite like a couple of songs off her first album. (On the matter of Noel Fielding, if you’ve never heard him tell the story of the time he went missing from his own tour, and was found¬†working in a¬†second hand vintage clothing shop in Brighton, then listen to this: funny as fuck.)

I am totally unprepared for just how much of a show-woman she is; she looks amazing, puts on an utterly spellbinding set, and I don’t really mind that I only know one of her songs (putting aside her frankly inexplicable decision to cover Purple Haze), or that she wants to get off her chest something about a bad thing¬†that the red-tops have written about her, of which most of us have no knowledge, but seems to be about her saying she hates Glastonbury. Paloma: we know The Sun is full of bollocks, there really is no need to clarify.

Anyway, she clearly doesn’t hate Glastonbury. She clearly loves it and has an absolute ball.

She has as much of a blast as we all do watching her. Here’s her doing “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”¬†but the crowd goes uber-wild when she wheels on two blokes behind keyboards/decks; they are apparently called Sigma, they are more than adept at pretending they are actually doing something with their keyboards/decks other than pressing Play,¬†and they rattle through “Changing“, the crowd going¬†mental joining in the “Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh” chorus¬†(they don’t write ’em¬†like that anymore)¬†and I have never felt older.

As Paloma finishes, I espy Chad, Llyr, Emily, Andrew and Cara wending their way through the crowd. I join them, and after much standing around (mostly trying to work out where Andy is Рwe know he has his magical alchemy vodka drinks and we therefore need him) we make our way down the slope to a decent clearing ready for the next act: Pharrell Williams. Located, Andy passes me a bottle full of chocolate vodka, a swig and all is right with the world.

Pharrell is essentially the warm up guy for Saturday night’s headliner, Kanye West. Emily has written “Kan” in lipstick on her right cheek, and “Yay!” on her left in anticipation of the main event, which could also be construed as¬†a show of strength and unity: his booking has been massively criticised, an on-line petition against his appearance at the festival has attracted waaaaay to many signatories from reactionaries and racists, and its refreshing to see someone wear their heart on their, errr,¬†cheeks.


To be honest, the Eavis’ need not have booked Kanye, for Pharrell utterly owns the Pyramid Stage for the next hour or so. He treats us not just to his solo stuff, but to just about every record he has ever been involved in (actually, that’s not true – we’d still be there¬†if he did that), so we get treated to a barrage of¬†Pharrell’s Greatest Hits: “Frontin“, “Marilyn Monroe“, “Hot in Herre” (yes, I have chosen the magnificently camp Tiga version over the Nelly one there); “Lap Dance“, “She Wants to Move“,¬†“Hollaback Girl“, a triumphant and glorious version of¬†“Get Lucky” and we even manage to cast our liberal outrage aside to¬†dance and sing-a-long¬†to misogynist sex-fest “Blurred Lines” on the strict proviso that he doesn’t wheel out¬†misogynist sex-pest¬†Robin Thicke¬†to co-perform it.

Pharrell’s set is embellished by¬†a group of highly gyratory dancers, and¬†also by ushering on stage a load of your common-or-garden punters, the male section of which seem to be hurried off equally quickly, leaving a group of awkward but star-struck young ladies to frug their way through a couple of songs whilst Pharrell and his enclave direct us to watch a dancer literally standing on her head and spinning. If this is what spinning classes involve, then I’m glad I’ve avoided them (and anything else which vaguely resembles a gym class).

Pharrell’s¬†set is book-ended by an intro and super-long crowd sing-a-long-a-climax of “Freedom“, complete with cute kids brought on stage to stand¬†and look cute, and then he is off, taking his Adidas-arse-logoed jeans with him and allowing the BBC producers to breathe again without fear of allegations of product placement being launched against them.

Now then. The Big One. Kanye. It can’t have escaped your attention that his set was, shall we say, more than a little contentious. I¬†have no intention¬†watching him. But let me set my position straight: I have no issue with Kanye West headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. He’s not my cup of tea, so I won’t be joining in, but I appreciate that there’s a lot of people here who do want to see him, and I think he’s earned the right to be here. I had the same feeling about¬†Jay-Z when he headlined a few years ago – I wasn’t there, probably wouldn’t have watched him if I had been, but those who did, fair play, enjoy!

The comparison between Jay-Z’s appearance and Glastonbury and Kanye’s is an interesting one. Both attracted quite the media storm when their appearances were announced (Noel: I think you’re often quite the amusing rent-a-mouth, but you just came across as a bit of a dick on the Jay-Z issue) but only one came away from their Saturday Night Glasto set with their integrity and standing intact, and it wasn’t Kanye. Why? Well, I watched the footage back when I got home, and it seemed to me the difference was that whilst Jay-Z was all charm personified, Kanye just seemed determined to prove himself to be a serious artiste.

Oh, and Jay-Z probably knows how Bohemian Rhapsody goes, and wouldn’t have attempted to ingratiate himself by singing it anyway.

And from what I gather from all those who stayed and watched him, and from the oh so many comments posted on social media, nobody else bought it either.

In short: Kanye bombed.

I later learn that Emily has changed the “Yay!” on her right cheek to “Nay!”, thereby earning herself some additional cool points which she really didn’t need, and effortlessly summing up the Saturday night headliner at the Pyramid.


As I said, I have decided not to watch Kanye. I am going to watch Suede. Suede are a band I was moderately obsessed with in the early 90s; I bought all of their early singles on the day they were released, along with the accompanying t-shirt of each, but somehow I have managed to never see them live. Well, not a full gig anyway. I have wandered past the Pyramid before and caught a snippet of them, but a full gig? Nosireebob.

As soon as Pharrell finishes, I announce I am off and I make my way to the John Peel stage. I am early and am delighted to catch the end of La Roux’s set. Her performance of “Bulletproof” is awesome and almost – but not¬† quite – gets these old bones a-dancing (they’re knackered from dancing to Pharell).

Getting inside the tent for Suede is a non-starter, so I position myself outside in my little fold-up chair, in front of a flag (so nobody could sneak up behind me and steal my chair/booze/etc), ciders a-ready for quaffing.

It turns out to be quite a wise decision: I can see the stage and one of the screens, and a¬†bit more importantly I can hear perfectly, and Suede are just…awesome. Brett Anderson is on great form, a lithe prowling skinny narcissist, working the crowd like a true pro. Five songs in and I’m in heaven: we’ve had Pantomime Horse, Moving, Trash, Animal Nitrate, We Are The Pigs….Suede were well and truly¬†tearing up the John Peel Stage. Watch it here, listen to it all here, or if you just want a couple of numbers, then here’s Beautiful Ones and glorious come-back single “It Starts and Ends With You

Filled with Britpop joy, I head home, fall¬†into my tent and¬†lay there, listening to the world go by. I’m fairly¬†close¬†to a pathway, and at one point I hear two people¬†walking past, discussing Kanye.

“I quite like him, actually”

“What, even now? Before and after?”

“Before: yes. After: No, he was shit. I’d defend him, but not that far!”

I realise I made the right decision and fall into snooze-mode.

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For (Part 4a)


Okay okay, I’ve been back for almost two weeks, I know, I know!

I had intended to carry on the Glasto posts in order, culminating in a review of this years shenanigans, but since the over-riding theme of the last three posts seems to be “I got off my face,I don’t remember anything”, I figured we’d pop the outstanding two in the back pocket for next year, and I’d tell you about this year instead. And then we can get back to something approaching normality round here. Deal?

There’s a second reason for this: 2015 was my first drug-free (except alcohol and nicotine) Glastonbury. Drink those words in. I did a whole Glastonbury without dabbling in any of the off menu items. Fuck you and your preordained reactionary opinions, Daily Mail readers!

Which means – I can remember what I did!! This is breaking new ground for this blog – knowing what I’m talking about. As a result, I have quite a lot to tell you, clips and mp3s to share, so I’ll split this into three posts: (up to) Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That’s the correct order, right?

Glastonbury opens its gates at 8.30 am (I think…shit, I’m already on shaky ground…) on the Wednesday morning before the festival officially starts.

Over the years that I’ve been going, and I make no claim to be a crusty dread-locked “been jumping over the fence for eons, mate” type, every year we’ve got there a little bit earlier. The last time I went was in 2010, and this involved a drive to the site early on the Wednesday morning, all rather leisurely, a country compilation CD blaring in the car, getting me in the mood, and no problems with finding a space to pitch our tents.

This year, we arrived on site at 01:30 hours on the Wednesday morning, to be greeted by the sight of an almighty queue, the prospect of joining it, and basically sleeping rough in a field for the night.

And so it was. We met up with the rest of the gang we were going in with – folks I’d never met before, but Llyr (Alun) had spent Glasto 2014 with, so I was happy to take his recommendation of camp-mates. Say what you like about him, but he can spot a wrong-un. And this lot quite swiftly showed that they were sound. A quick roll-call: hello Chad, Andy, Sam, Louise, Andrew, Cara, Dean, Lisa, Gemma and Emily. (Emily wasn’t with us yet – more of her in a bit). I think that’s everyone….kick me in the knees and call me a tool if I missed anyone.

Some of this motley crew were getting a few minutes much needed shut-eye in the van, while Llyr, Chad, Andy, Andrew and I stood outside, chatting. Every now again one of us would say “We may as well be standing in the queue as standing here, shall we make a move?”, to which the rest of us would shrug and agree we should maybe think about moving in a minute.

Ladies: this is why men should not rule the world. Rubbish decision makers.

Two hours later, we were still there, before finally we rallied the troops, got all our gear together and headed off to join the queue. By the time we met it, it was snaking down from Gate D, across and down one car park/field, back up the next, along the top and to us. Five minutes later, the length of the field we were in had been added to the ever-growing line.

And there we stood until around 6am, when suddenly we were on the move. They’ve realised, we thought, just how many have turned up and decided to let us in early. Otherwise, it’s a health and safety nightmare.

But no. We shuffled forwards about 100 yards before coming to rest again, and so the pattern was set for the next couple of hours.

Finally Gate D opened. By this time two things had happened: firstly, I had decided every one who wasn’t in our little party was an utterly irritating cunt, either too young and nubile (Pull your fucking jeans up so I can’t see your pants!!), or too old and fat (Just….stop being an annoying twat!!) to be safely allowed in my vicinity; and secondly, we had got to the part of the entrance which had been set up like a queue in the post office, a zig-zag affair, with a set of ropes guiding us in the correct directional flow.

Wait, ropes you say? The sort of ropes that can be ducked under? Well fuck queuing then, said the amassed throng (but quietly under their breath, more of a liberal murmer, a Guardian uprising, if you will) before launching headlong into an every man (and woman) for him (and her) self scrum for the gate.(I appear to have gone all “Life of Brian“….)

We made it in, through the throngs and to our pitch site. An hour or so later, we were all erect (insert Carry On “Oooh Matron!” Kenneth Williams type gag here).

Here’s the view from my tent…at 10.30am on the Wednesday

: 10298908_10153375572369707_2111667591620381303_n

Pretty full, isn’t it?

Tent up, I proceeded to try and grab 40 winks – a recurring theme throughout the weekend. I think drugless Glasto Me turns into Bagpuss. Anyway, I fell asleep, legs sticking out of my tent, the burns from which I’m still coping with.

When I came round, I found we had been joined by one other happy camper: Emily. Emily embodies braveness and technology to me. She had posted on Twitter that she was a single female, attending Glastonbury on her own, looking for some decent types to camp with, and Chad had replied, telling her she could join us. The poor girl must have been deluged by weird offers, but she chose Chad/us.

I can’t put into words how amazingly brave I think that is. I would never have a) thought to do it in the first place, and b) having received umpteen messages, made a sound choice about who to camp with. I probably would have given up on the whole human race and just lived in a ditch for the rest of my days.

There was no need to worry. Our new camp mates were an unbelievably sound bunch. The next few days were punctuated by a barbeque in the evening, and a cooked breakfast in the morning, all done in the clearing between our tents. I felt bad, having not brought any food to contribute to this British BBQ-Off (It’s only a matter of time before one of the main channels commissions it), but our hosts were having none of it, thrusting burger after bacon and egg sandwich after sausage in my face until I succumbed and ate something they had prepared. And damned fine it was too.

That night, after a barbecue and the first of oh-so-many samples of Andy’s home made vodka tipples (After Eight Vodka? He had it. And a salty caramel one. And a fruity one. The man is a vodka alchemist) we went for the first of many wanders, taking in the Park Field at sun-down:


(Beautiful, ain’t it?) before ending up at the Stone Circle to witness what until now I had only heard about but never seen: the burning of a straw effigy (owl? Phoenix? life-size depiction of George Osborne? Who knows!) and a neat firework display. Glastonbury 2015 was on.

Friday morning. (Thursday was a day of mooching, drinking and eating). Things were due to kick off on The Other Stage with some Special Guests, supposedly a mystery….but then this got tweeted by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans :


with a caption: “Guest Who?”. It may have escaped our attention, had it not been subsequently retweeted by the official Glastonbury Twitter feed with the added: “Tim Burgess is rubbish at keeping secrets”.

The Charlatans are one of those bands very dear to my heart, and this was to be the perfect Glasto opener – practically a Greatest Hits set from them. Sadly, much internet trawling (and…er…distraction…) has failed to find much in the way of sound or video clips of their rather wonderful set, other than this, someone’s hand-held footage of “One to Another”. Under grey skies, The Charlies got us all up and going, their set culminating in a typically wonderful “Sproston Green”. Don’t they get bored of ending with that every time, belter that it is?

Next up was me making the first of many bad decisions about who to see next. What I should have done was scuttle over to the Park Stage to see King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (saw them at the Scala on Thursday, and I’m happy to report it was fucking mental!). Go see ’em, kids.

What I actually did was stay exactly where I was to watch The Cribs, in the vain hope that, having been a member of the band between 2008 – 2011, Johnny Marr might make an appearance, despite the obvious logistical issues involved with the fact he was playing in Hyde Park later that day. He didn’t but they did play We Share The Same Skies (punter audio again, I’m afraid, hence the appearance of what seems to be a wobble board, We definitely locked him up now, didn’t we?).

Next it was an upping of sticks to the Pyramid Stage to catch Alabama Shakes. Although with all the shenanigans with Foo Fighters having to pull out, a new act being added, and the consequent jigging about of schedules, we caught rather more of James Bay‘s set than I would have liked. Dull is too kind a word. I’d rather listen to the BBC Glastonbury i-dent music on repeat than sit through that schmozz again. Although I do appear to have just made up a new word: Schmozz pronoun, def: the sound of James Bay.

(On that note: can I just interject for a moment to apologise for some of the downloads featuring the BBC music sound-bite at the start? Most of them were ripped from their website, and to have edited them out…well,bear in mind it’s taken me 2 weeks to get this far, and you can imagine how long it would have been had I also attempted to lop that off the start of every clip too. Deal with it. Either edit them yourself or just cover your ears for 5 seconds)

And so to Alabama Shakes, who, greeted by the first rain of the weekend, provide us with a howling blues-centric set which, to my recollection, doesn’t feature Hold On, a tune I love to if not death, then certainly to a defibrillator and a resuscitation unit.

Next up, Mary J Blige. And more rain. Now I’m not a massive fan of either Mary J or the whole R&B sound as a whole, but blimey she was good. Here’s Doubt but I’d advise you to pop to the BBC Glastonbury website to see if they have her extraordinary performance of “No More Drama” there. I dunno if they do or not, I’m too busy typing to check.So dramatic was “No More Drama”, it seemed like an obvious show-stopper, I nipped to the Gents, and missed her doing Family Affair, the one song by her I truly adore. So, just for me, here it is. Probably with an annoying advert.

Now, Motorhead, and I am wet, and not in a sexy way. Warty leather clad octogenarians rarely have that sort of effect on me. Any more. Anyway, it’s Motorhead, what do you need to know about them? Here’s the one song we all know: Ace of Spades They do not usher on Girlschool to thrash through “Please Don’t Touch” and the world is a poorer place for it.

Next: baited breath. An unexpected extra act. Well, not extra, exactly, given the Grohl broken leg situation there was a massive hole to fill (and I don’t mean in Dave’s fibia). The Pyramid Stage DJ teases with us, playing Blur records and then Pulp’s “Common People” from 1995 (when they stood in for the damaged Stone Roses) before the additional band is revealed as….oh. It’s The Libertines. Are they still a thing?

I like four songs by The Libertines. They play three of them. Here’s one of them: Don’t Look Back Into The Sun NB I only like that as when I first heard it, the play-out sounded to me like the most obvious Wedding Present record that isn’t actually by The Wedding Present. It’s “Kennedy“, right? (Blatantly, I just want to listen to Kennedy). I hope Dave Gedge is getting royalties from it, s’all. (But not from me).

Somehow, we endured their whole set, before heading back to the tents to replenish booze supplies ready for our choice of headliner for the Friday.

What should have happened instead of The Libertines was Florence & The Machine, and then Foo Fighters. Whilst I’m obviously disappointed the Foos didn’t make an appearance, it did make my decision about who to watch as Friday night headliner slightly easier. When I saw the listing, I was gutted: Foos, Hot Chip, Super Furry Animals, and Billy Bragg all playing at the same was a real headache, a four-horse race unexpectedly narrowed down to three.

Of course, Super Furry Animals won. But as a panacea, here’s Billy Bragg & Frank Turner doing Levi Stubb’s Tears in the BBC tree-hut bit. Still gorgeous, after all these years. And Frank’s not looking too shoddy either.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen SFA over the years; having lived in Cardiff for 20 years we’re definitely into the twenties, and amongst all of those I treasure the most recent at Brixton Acadamy as the greatest (2nd place goes to seeing them playing in Brecon, having been evicted from the Jazz festival for being linked to drugs, like no jazz performers ever have been) – so tonight was always going to be a tough one to overhaul that.

They don’t manage it, in my opinion, stuck right at the back and unable to really see them as I was. But that’s not to say they weren’t utterly amazing: a below-par SFA gig is still a gig I’d crawl naked over a trail of broken glass, upturned drawing pins and something else quite ouchy, to get to. And Llyr and I have a thing we do when Slow Life kicks backs in again, a pretend drum fill, and it’s the first chance we’ve had to do it together for almost 10 years, so that was pretty special for me.

Anyway, here’s their full set, and apologies for the sound quality on Slow Life, for Do or Die ending more abruptly than it’s meant to, and for the occasional BBC I-dent soundclip:

Slow Life

Rings Around The World

Do Or Die

Hello Sunshine

Pan Ddaw’r Wawr

Run Christian Run

Hometown Unicorn


Juxtapozed With U

The International Language of Screaming

Golden Retriever

Recepticle for the Respectable (And a big shout out to Bob on the trumpet)

Mountain People

The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

And so ends Friday.

One final thing, as I bang on about live music: this weekend is the 30th anniversary of Live Aid. Fuck, that makes me feel old. Anyway, for a really nice piece on it, and some rather fine free downloads snaffled from the big day, pop over to Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday 2015 to follow.