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:

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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:

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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:

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(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 – we 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.

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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.

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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)

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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

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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:

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(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 :

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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

Zoom!

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.

Glastonbury, So Much To Answer For…. (Part 3)

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Mention Glastonbury to anyone who’s never been, and they will say one or both of the following two things:

1) they will make some reference to you, and everyone else who has ever been to Glastonbury, being a drug taking hippy,

2) they will say something about how crappy the weather always is.

Neither of these things are, of course, entirely true.

You may have noticed that in my last two posts, whilst I haven’t exactly banished the spectre of Glastonbury as a haven for spliff-puffing, pill popping longhairs (it isn’t, though there is a fair bit of hippyness going on) I have tried to shy away from mentioning the weather, partly because it’s so damned predictably English to talk about the weather, but mostly because on the whole it wasn’t too bad in 2003 and 2004.

In fact, I came away from Glastonbury 2004 with quite the tan, mostly because I’d lost my cap on pretty much the first day, and hadn’t bothered applying any sun cream for the rest of the weekend. On my first day back in work afterwards, I was met with a couple of “Fucking hell, where did you go on holiday?”s, although this was probably because my bald bonce had burned so badly I was quite literally able to peel a whole layer of skin off in one go, leaving me with what appeared to be a swimming cap made of my own skin, like some macabre tribute to Duncan Goodhew made by Hannibal Lecter.

So that was the look I was rocking post Glasto 2004: draw a line through the middle of my forehead and I was bright sore pink above it and tanned brown below. I must have looked like I was going to a fancy dress party, had taken it waaaaay too seriously, and was going as a Big Dog’s Cock.

But I digress. There’s really no getting away from it, the weather at Glastonbury 2005 was terrible. We (a considerably smaller posse this time, but I really have lost track of who was there this year) arrived on the Wednesday of our hat-trick year, pitched up and wandered round, and the weather was gorgeous, no sign at all of the quite literal storms to come. This continued through Thursday, and by Thursday evening we were all beginning to believe that we were about to experience that most rare of things: a sunny Glastonbury festival.

No such luck. On Thursday night/Friday morning, the rain came down. And down. And down. Camp sites were flooded, tents and their belongings swept away. Proceedings at the Pyramid were delayed starting due to flooding, with the first two acts, Adjágas, and The Subways having to bow to the storm and the threat of electrocution.

When I was researching (alright, trying to jog my memory) about the 2005 festival, I came across this on YouTube, footage taken by a festival goer showing before, during and after the storm. It kinda has the feeling of one of those camcorder horror films like Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield that were all the rage a few years ago; for the 1:40 seconds at the start you just know something terrible is going to happen and then…boom!

Still, at least there wasn’t a repeat of the Infamous 1998 Flooded Dance Tent Incident….You couldn’t make that…er…shit up.

But something happens when the Glastonbury Festival is hit by extreme weather. All the festival goers seem to come together in defiance, determined to have a good time no matter what the skies may throw at them, and assuming that your tents survived the deluge that’s about all you can do: chuck a waterproof on, decide “Aww, fuck it”, neck some scrumpy, and soldier on. That’s British Bulldog Blitz Bravado, right there.

Anyway, tracking down footage of some of the acts playing in 2005 proved rather difficult, presumably because most of the TV companies covering the event decided to follow the example of the Pyramid on Friday morning and elected not to risk electrocution by filming much bar the headliners.

As a result, I have nothing to offer you in respect of Editors on The Other Stage on the Friday morning, after which we trudged over to the newly named John Peel Stage to catch Maximo Park. We didn’t manage to see them, but we did manage to stand outside the rammed tent and hear them, a bit. You can get a better idea of how they were here.

Next it was over to The Pyramid to see the legend that is Elvis Costello. Sometime in the late 1980s I’d picked up a copy of his “The Man (The Best Of Elvis Costello)” album. This was back in the days when people released a “Best Of..” album when they had established themselves, and had a wide body of work to choose from and show off about, rather than after two or three albums with a couple of new tracks thrown in to sucker you into buying it. I’m with Dave Gorman on this one. (Hopefully, that link should take you to a rather brilliant analysis of the content of Scouting For Girls’ Greatest Hits album. Scroll up to the start of the chapter if it works. If it doesn’t, then buy the book from which it’s lifted “Too Much Information: Or: Can Everyone Just Shut Up for a Moment, Some of Us Are Trying to Think” here)

It would seem that the British Bulldog Blitz Bravado spirit hadn’t quite kicked in yet; much as I loved his set, Elvis went on record saying it was “fucking dreadful” and pledged never to play in the UK again (a threat he has, thankfully, reneged on since, returning to the festival in 2013, sporting, it has to be said, a rather natty hat)

Here’s him doing sticky Valentine unrequited love classic Alison, and segueing into something by some other chap also called Elvis. Not sure what happened to him.

Next up, Doves. Not much to say here, other than I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Their slightly brooding but captivating sound certainly seemed to sum up how everyone was feeling as the weather resolutely refused to improve.

Next, The Killers. Promoting their first album, the aptly titled Hot Fuss, they were much anticipated by all that had not yet seen them. I, and most of our gang, being super-cool indie kids, had already seen them, headlining the NME Awards Tour earlier that year, with support from (and get this): Bloc Party, The Futureheads, and Kaiser Chiefs. Now THAT’S a line-up.

We’d decided they were okay enough to warrant us sticking around and to watch them again, though this decision had more to do with the mud underfoot and the fact that The White Stripes were on next as headliners than any particular desire to watch The Killers again. That said, they put on a pretty good show, opening with my personal favourite by them, Somebody Told Me, followed by Jenny Was A Friend of Mine (a song which, to this day, my friends and I are unable to say the title of without doing it in that ridiculous yelp Brandon Flowers does when introducing it here), before rounding off things with the song that has perhaps the most cringe-worthy rhyming couplet ever in it All These Things That I Have Done The reaction of people to this song baffles me to this day, all eyes closed, hands and lighters in the air like it actually means something. I’m with Bill Bailey on this one.

Much like Adam Buxton in Commentary Corner, I can’t resist looking at the comments left under a clip on YouTube, and some of the screaming outrage on show under the clip of Mr Bailey, left by Killers fans, is the internet version of those earnestly singing along to utter claptrap. Like Daniel Pacheco, for example, who says “The phrase in context of the song makes perfect sense. Hell even taken out of context it makes perfect sense. Bill Bailey is obviously retarded”. Well, no, Daniel, it does not, and I note that you haven’t actually gone as far as to explain why you think it makes sense. I would challenge him to expand on his theory via the YouTube comments, but I won’t, partly because I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing, but mostly because I’m not a masturbating fourteen year old. Sighs…I wish….

Anyway, The White Stripes are next, and they do their thing, which is Jack tossing off some awesome riffs whilst Meg just twats the fuck out of her drums, the two seemingly bearing no relation to each other, yet somehow working brilliantly at the same time. We get every White Stripes song you could wish for: Blue Orchid, Hotel Yorba, Jolene, My Doorbell, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and, of course, Seven Nation Army to name but a few that anyone has actually heard of.

So ended Friday, and off to our tents we all trudged (eventually), hoping Saturday would be a little drier.

It was, but not much. No more floods, thankfully, but still not exactly flip-flop weather.

My day was spent flitting between The Other Stage and The Pyramid. Apparently Goldie Lookin’ Chain played The Pyramid on Saturday morning, and a tiny part of me wonders if this is where my confusion with them playing in 2004 comes from, but a larger part of me remains fairly sure the line up was as I remember. Anyway, I couldn’t find any footage of them in 2005, so I guess I’ll never know.

Next up: Kaiser Chiefs. As already mentioned, we’d caught them on the NME Tour earlier that year, and until that night I’d been totally non-plussed by everything I’d heard from them. But that night they completely blew me away: they were first on the bill, started their set off with a blistering rendition of  “Na Na Na Na Na”, took no prisoners after that, and to my mind utterly upstaged all the acts that came after them.

Their set at Glastonbury followed pretty much the same pattern, and whilst The Pyramid Stage is a rather different proposition to Cardiff University’s Great Hall, they still were pretty darn good. Here’s two out of the three of their early singles that have the trademark “Whooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh” in them: Oh My God and, of course, I Predict a Riot.

Next on The Pyramid, Ash. It’s incredible to think that they were still in their late-twenties by 2005; they seemed to have been around for ever, churning out indie classic after indie classic for ten years or so. They don’t need any more introduction, so here’s A Life Less Ordinary and Burn Baby Burn.

Back over to The Other Stage now for the obligatory Echo & The Bunnymen set, The Killing Moon being an obvious high-light, closely followed by Interpol.

Interpol are one of those bands that seemed to have made one awesome album (Antics, for the record) and several kind of okay ones. Luckily, they were promoting said album in 2005, so we got Slow Hands and Evil (I’ve never seen them since, but I imagine they’re staples of every set).

Who’s on next? Wait…is that….Fuck, run!! Head for the hills!! It’s Kasabian!!!

Luckily, over at The Pyramid there was New Order, back in the days when they were still speaking to each other, kind of, occasionally, if they had to. This was a proper tear through their back catalogue, plus a couple from their slightly iffy new album, so we got some Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart, of course), some classic New Order (Temptation) and Keith Bloody Allen, coming onstage riding a pantomime horse, comic genius that he is, so he could “join in” on World In Motion.

Choice of Saturday night headliners had been a bit of a quandary for me this year. 90% of our group elected to watch Razorlight on The Other Stage; promoting their one half decent album (Up All Night) they were probably the wise choice. However, one of the group really wanted to go to The Pyramid and watch…Coldplay. Somewhat bashful after how rude I was to the girl the previous year who wanted to watch Muse rather than Orbital, I think I decided I needed to do something to sort my karma out (now there’s some hippy bullshit, right there).

So, I volunteered – yes, volunteered!! – to go watch Coldplay with my buddy. Now that’s friendship.

They couldn’t be that bad, now could they? I reasoned.

Oh, but yes they could.

I can honestly say that I have never been so deathly bored at a gig in all my life. The one highlight, if you can call it that, was their cover of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head“, played as attribute to Kylie, who had to pull out of doing the headline slot on Sunday due to fairly well-publicised health problems.

Needless to say, they turn one of the finest pop records of the 21st century into a dull dirge. Oh and Chris, don’t give up the day job for comedy.

People, if you buy Coldplay records, CDs or MP3s, or go to their gigs, or buy their T-shirts, then please stop. You’re just encouraging the morose posho dullards.

Sunday arrived, and the weather didn’t seem to be showing any sign of improvement. And then Brian Wilson played The Pyramid, and suddenly everything was alright with the world, for, just like during Belle & Sebastian’s set the year before, the sun suddenly came out to play, only this time we had Surfin’ USA, California Girls and a whole host of other Beach Boy-tastic tunes rather than wry Scottish indie pop songs about someone called Judy dreaming about horses to celebrate to. I have deliberately not posted a link to film footage of the set, partly because I again struggled to find much of decent quality, but mostly because if I had, you would have to watch Brian looking…well, let’s just say he didn’t really seem to be fully aware of where he was, what was going on, and what he was doing, for the majority of the set. But no matter, Glastonbury loved him for bringing the California sun with him.

Next up: Garbage. I don’t mind a bit of Garbage, and actually met lead singer Shirley Manson many years ago when she was backing singer in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (CLANG! – the sound of a name drop there). Actually, she won’t remember it (nor should she) and I certainly don’t. I’ll explain this some other time. Needless to say, there is no gossip for you to get your teeth into.

Garbage were here in support of their fourth album, “Bleed Like Me”; an album that I would struggle and fail to name a single song from, much the same as with their third album, whatever that was called. Thankfully, they knew what to do in a festival atmosphere, so we got the decent singles from their first two (good) albums: Stupid Girl, Push It, and the apt-if-only-you’d-been-on-stage-a-couple-of-hours-earlier Only Happen When It Rains

Next: Primal Scream. I love a bit of Gillespie, Innes and Co., and now the sun was out, and about to go down again, I, along with probably about 85% of the rest of the crowd wanted a set of sunny-Screamedlica songs to compliment our new found joy and dryness. The signs were good when the into music was the chorus of the single version of “Come Together”, but The Scream don’t really “do” what you expect, so instead of summery dance records, we got their Kraut-rock set, which was fine, they were still fantastic, just not what most of wanted, I think. They started by launching into a blistering version of Accelerator before ending up with Movin’ On Up via Swastika Eyes .

I say “ending up”, but anyone who was there, or watched it on television, will know that their set didn’t end after Movin’ On Up. Well not straight afterwards. Bobby was clearly not impressed that Basement Jaxx were now headlining the Sunday night in place of Kylie, and decided that he wanted to a) berate the crowd, and b) play another song. Some of his taunts are just priceless (“Do you wanna dance? Yeh?? Well you should’ve been here fifteen fucking years ago”). This, I have decided, was definitely aimed at me and the rest of the Screamadelica crowd. He had a point.

So, on to Basement Jaxx. You’ll recall that many of my fellow festivalees had chosen them over Paul McCartney the previous year, and whilst I have no regrets about seeing the former mop-top, I have to admit the Jaxx were incredible, giving Glastonbury the dance Bobby refused to and Kylie would have done.

Again, for some reason, footage seems to be in short supply; here’s U Don’t Know Me from Glastonbury, and Oh My Gosh, which isn’t, despite it being the first time I ever heard it, and it became possibly my favourite song by Basement Jaxx.

Oh My Gosh was a new track on Basement Jaxx’s “The Singles” album. Which I bought. What does that say about me, Mr Gorman?

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For… (Part 2)

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And Lo! So it came to pass that the majority of the same motley crew from Glastonbury 2003 all managed to get tickets for Glastonbury 2004, with a few additions. I’m not going to list them all for a couple of reasons: firstly, they may not appreciate being linked to some of the activities described below; and secondly, I’m not entirely sure who all of the additions were (by which I mean, I’m not sure I can remember who was there, rather than not being sure who they were). Anyway, by my reckoning there were 16 of us this time, a record figure never to be repeated, not by us anyway.

I’d learned three lessons from the previous year:

1) Arrtive early (we did)

2) The stuff on the Pyramid Stage is not necessarily the most interesting stuff that’s going on (I vowed not to spend the whole weekend there again)

3) Stay off the brownies (I’m pleased to report that not one passed my lips)

You may call into question how honest I’m being on that last point when I tell you that when writing and researching this post, I find not only are there dirty great holes in my memory, but also that some of the acts listed in the 2004 booklet, and on the Wikipedia page, are not listed where and when I remember them being. But trust me, it was a brownie-free weekend.

We’ll stick with what I can remember, and what I think I remember.

Friday began with me utterly failing to honour my promise to not just sit at the Pyramid Stage all day. Although there were 16 of us in total, two (who shall be named: Gary and Meg) didn’t arrive until the Friday afternoon and for some reason we’d arranged to meet them at our usual spot at the back of the Pyramid Stage.

Much drinking ensued, and since the majority of our party were Welsh (I think just three, maybe four, of us were English) we spent much of the day making up humorous puns based on Welsh place names/acts playing the festival, in much the same way that now “I Love The Diff” do mugs with the names of works of popular fiction altered to include a Welsh place name or phrase. I haven’t explained that at all well, have I? Well, have a look here and you’ll see what I’m banging on about.

We came up with dozens of these, the pick being “Kings of Caerleon”, which years later Newport’s finest, Goldie Lookin’ Chain named one of their albums. I knew we should have got a copy right on that.

We even adopted the words to “Molly’s Chambers”, which in our world now went:

“You want it, she’s got it, Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind,  Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind. She’s got your, your rissoles! Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind,  Bonnie Tyler’s gonna change your mind.”

Well, we found it funny, anyway. That’s the scrumpy for you.

Truth be told, this is where the first of the black holes in my memory appears.

My source materials tell me the first act on the Pyramid was Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (Nope, me neither). It’s entirely possible that I started elsewhere, but a quick flick through the listings fails to jog my memory as to quite what I was doing. I know I definitely wasn’t over at The Other Stage, that’s for sure, for that would have meant I was watching Kasabian, and I’d already developed a healthy, well-founded aversion to Leicester’s finest exponents of deathly unoriginal cock-rock. To this day I would rather eat my own testicles than sit through a Kasabian gig.

Let’s assume I was sleeping off a heavy Thursday night. This is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

I do know that I was at The Pyramid in time to catch Bright Eyes, but remember nothing other than being totally underwhelmed by him/them. Next up: Wilco, a band who, given their association with Billy Bragg, you’d think I’d have some vague recollection of seeing, but no. Nothing. Zip.

Nelly Furtado. Yup, I remember her alright. Not quite sure why she was there, but there she was. You want proof? Ok.

Nelly Furtado – Turn Out The Lights (Glastonbury 2004)

Want more proof? What am I, your mother? Go YouTube it.

Next up, Elbow, a band enjoying a ground-swell in popularity at the time, which has seen them edge further and further up the bill as the years have gone on. This was, of course, in pre-Seldom Seen Kid days, and before that bloody song about opening your curtains became the obligatory soundtrack to every momentous event on television. Their set was notable for their performance of Grace Under Pressure; the version which appeared on their “Cast of Thousands” album featured a recording of the Glastonbury crowd from 2002 singing along (see what they did there? Quite literally, a Cast of Thousands), and which we were encouraged to reproduce, which most of us gladly did, even though we’d never heard the song before. I wondered loudly if I would get a share of their fee for assisting their performance. Suffice to say, I had not exactly entered into the spirit of things at this point.

Next: Groove Armada. I have a bit of a soft spot for this lot, mostly because a year or so later I saw them at Lovebox and during their set witnessed a bloke successfully – yes, successfully! – using the greatest, most bizarre chat-up line I have ever heard (for the record, it was: “Do you like Ian Dowie? I like Ian Dowie!!) And whilst, again, my recollection of their set is the very definition of “sketchy”, they definitely did Superstylin’, to my mind one of the happiest summer-ish records ever. So there.

PJ Harvey was next up, a typically wonderful set. I think. Can’t really remember it (it’s going well this, isn’t it?). Sadly, I’ve not been able to source much from her set, bar her rendition of The Letter which, marvellous though it is, isn’t the Alex Chilton/Box Tops classic of the same name. I think she’d do a tidy version of that. Probably wouldn’t even change the “she” to “he”, the saucy androgynous sexpot.

Next up were the Kings of (Caer)Leon, and if you thought my recollection has been a tad on the sketchy side so far, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, for events were about to overtake us. In between Peej and the Followill brothers, O’Keefe and I were sitting on the grass, more than a tad pissed, happily watching the world go by, when I suddenly heard O’Keefe say “Ey up, eyes right!”. I assumed he had spotted an attractive lady, looked round, and spying nobody I thought likely to have raised his dander, said “Nice was she?”.

“No”, he replied, “on the ground. There.” I looked down to my right, and was greeted by the totally unexpected site of a rather large bag of white powder, nestling in the grass next to me. “Someone just dropped it when they walked by”. Quick as a flash, it was scooped up and safely stashed in my rucksack.

Now. I am not about to condone any kind of drug use. And I am certainly not about to suggest to anyone that they, in the event they are presented  with a similar scenario, should do anything other than hand the contraband it in to the relevant authorities.

That said, at this time in my life, well….let’s just say that I had a bit of a reputation to uphold, and there was therefore only one place the contents of that bag were going. One quick dab confirmed it was speed. Not my favourite, but what the heck. A few more dabs, and Kings of Leon were on stage (the two facts are not linked, though I probably thought they were at the time. I very much doubt that Will Followill peeked out from behind the stage curtain, spotted me, and said “Hold on guys, he’s only had a few dabs…let’s give him a few minutes, eh?”). What seemed to be just a few more dabs later and their set was over. They did “Molly’s Chambers”, apparently. We sang the new improved chorus.

A few (okay, a lot) dabs more, the bag was empty (I’m not going to pretend I consumed the whole bag, but I am going to confirm I consumed most of the bag, and that none of the other people from our gang mentioned in this post had any), and suddenly, Oasis were coming on (similarly, there was no curtain twitching by Bonehead).

Never mind all of these Frank adverts which are supposed to scare folks off drugs; the most effective way to achieve total global abstinence from all things narcotic would have been to have a video camera permanently trained on me throughout Oasis’ set, for if ever there was an example of someone being off their tits and thinking they were the funniest bloke on the planet, but actually being an annoying, tedious prick, it was me, then. I spent the entire set with my hands clasped behind my back, leaning forward into an imaginary microphone, doing dreadful, oh so dreadful, Liam impressions (“Is it my imaginaayyyy-shun….”…”sunnnshiiiine” etc etc you get the giste), and also, bizarrely, encouraging everyone round me to “gather round…sing along…you all know the words”, phrases I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say.

It was later reported to me that my flatmate Llyr, when realising what was going on (and more pertinently, what I was on), was heard to mutter “Okay, own up: who’s given him a whole bag of speed?” and, later “If he wasn’t my mate I’d have fucking chinned him by now” He would have been well within his rights to have done so.

Here’s the performance of Cigarettes and Alcohol. Thankfully, they were loud enough to drown me out (just).

Saturday arrived. More (understandably, given the above) vague memories of making my way through the crowd on The Other Stage during Keane’s set at precisely the moment they performed Somewhere Only We Know the only song by them that I’ve ever liked. The intended destination was The Pyramid for Scissor Sisters, who seemed to be just about everywhere at the time, their debut album churning out an endless supply of glam-camp sing ‘n’ frug along pop nuggets, pick of the batch being Take Your Mama Out

Lostprophets were next on the main stage; bearing in mind the name of this blog, and the despicable, depraved behaviour which led to their lead singer’s recent incarceration, I’m glad I didn’t hang around for them. Nope: back over to The Other Stage for My Morning Jacket and British Sea Power (I got nothing) followed by a quick pit stop before returning to The Pyramid for……. the Black Eyed Peas! I’m joking, but sadly not about them playing there, for there they played. No, I did not return to The Pyramid to see them (though I did have the misfortune of catching their last song or two) – the possibility of seeing Fergie soil her trackie bottoms on stage was not sufficient a draw for me (or drawers, haha see what I did there?). No, I was off to see the headliner, Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney (readers of Smash Hits in the 1980s will appreciate how much I loved just typing that).

McCartney divided opinion in our gang even before he came on stage. We were split pretty much 50/50, with half of the group (some might say, the cooler, or perhaps just the younger ones) opting to go and see Basement Jaxx play The Other Stage, the rest of us electing to watch McCartney. My position on this is that it’s not often you get chance to see one of the Beatles play live these days (and Lord knows we’re not exactly blessed with choices about which of them to see now anyway), and there was no way I would ever pay to go see McCartney anywhere else, so since he’d been nice enough to turn up…well, it’d be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

His set was one of the most enjoyable couple of hours I’ve ever spent at Glastonbury, one massive sing-a-long as he bashed out hit after hit after hit; kicking off with Jet (a song which always reminds me of Alan Partridge), Live and Let Die, and also treating us to a remarkable version of Helter Skelter. I have a vague recollection of being told this was the first time he had played it live since the whole Manson Family she-bang back in the late 1960s. Even more remarkably, his set didn’t end with an overly long rendition of either Let it Be or Hey Jude.

Sunday began, as every Sunday should, with a performance of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie on The Pyramid, followed by, apparently, Joss Stone. This is another one of those occasions where my memory plays tricks on me, for in my head Goldie Lookin’ Chain were on next, but since I can find nothing to corroborate this, I’ll just have to accept that they weren’t. Or were they….? The Glasto 2004 booklet has a slot between the Opera and Stone listed as “tbc”, so maybe I have remembered that right. I know I didn’t sit through Joss Stone and her pseudo-American accent (although that was a few years away yet), but I do know that I sat through lashings of rain and Christy Moore who was on after her…so…oh, I just don’t know.

The early part of my afternoon was spent over at The Other Stage, watching Belle & Sebastian, a band I was only really just getting into, despite having bought The Boy With the Arab Strap a few years earlier after I was impressed by their whole internet voting to win a Brit award-thing. The weather until then had been pretty crappy, but mid-set the clouds parted and the sun made an appearance, along with a spectacular rainbow. It was one of those moments that ordinarily you’d find quite lovely, but at Glastonbury you find yourself grinning from ear to ear about, attributing the change in climate and improved spectacle purely to whoever was on the stage at the time. I’m reliably informed the mood was much the same over at The Pyramid, where Supergrass were playing instead of The Libertines. Any rumours that Pete Doherty had refused to play until someone located his missing bag of speed are completely unfounded.

Next: Morrissey at the Pyramid. Now I love The Smiths, and, despite buying pretty much everything he’s ever released since the split, I have to say I’ve always found his solo stuff somewhat lacking. Sure, there are highlights, but they are few and far between, generally restricted to a few great singles and the occasional album track rather than the utterly flawless output created by him and Johnny Marr (I am legally obliged to add “and by Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce too”; anyone who has ever read Morrissey’s biography cannot have failed to notice that the legal case which led to Joyce getting a large slice of royalties still sticks in Morrissey’s craw, so much space does it take up in the book). Live, Morrissey and his pub-rock backing band will often try and recapture some of those past glories; but just listen to their version of “The Headmaster Ritual” at the start of this five song snippet (also featuring “The First of the Gang to Die”, “The World is Full of Crushing Bores”, “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “Irish Blood, English Heart”): plod…..plod……plod…….. Be grateful I haven’t posted a link to them doing “This Charming Man”, one of the most splendid records ever committed to vinyl, but which they somehow manage to make sound like “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet. The problem is that the band is lacking a certain spark, and the certain spark is someone who can play guitar like Johnny Marr, or preferably, the actual Johnny Marr.

Bringing things to a conclusion on The Pyramid were Muse, a band renowned for their astonishing stage shows. We, on the other hand, decided we would rather end the weekend over at The Other Stage where Orbital were performing what at the time was supposed to be their final ever appearance anywhere ever. The Hartnoll brothers have since got back together and even played Glastonbury again in 2010; however, believing this would be our last chance to ever see them, and being well aware of their entry into the annals of Glasto history following previous performances at the festival, the majority of us decided that’s where we wanted to be.

I say “the majority”, for there was one of our gang who most decidedly did not want to see Orbital, she wanted to see Muse, and took every possible opportunity to remind us that she wanted to see Muse, and that Muse were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them and they were supposed to be amazing and they were her favourite band and she really wanted to see them.

Now, I’m usually quite a laid back kind of chap. It takes a lot to get me riled. And even more to make me snap at someone, preferring to restrict airing my discontent to catty comments whispered to whoever happened to be standing nearest to me, like the true gentleman I am.

But by the time Orbital started, I snapped. I could make a case for mitigation in my defence: I was tired. It was raining. I was soaked. But the fact is, I’d just had enough of her whining, and, on hearing her announcing for the umpteenth time that she loved Muse, I found myself whirling round to vent: “Right. I’ve had enough of you now! We are not going to watch Muse. We are going to watch Orbital. If you don’t want to watch Orbital then Muse are playing over there, so either fuck off to watch them, or shut up and stay here!.”

I’m a real charmer when I lose my rag, that’s for sure.

Despite the whine and the rain, Orbital were amazing, treating us to Belfast (played surprisingly early in their set, possibly in an effort to get me to chill the fuck out), Satan (nuff said), Halcyon (one of my all time faves) and, inevitably, Chime

And so ended Glastonbury 2004. Well, not quite. The next day proved to be one of the most hellish in respect of actually trying to get out of the site, with traffic gridlocked for hour after hour after hour. Those of us heading back to Wales were luckiest, our minibus finally hitting the main roads some 4 hours after we had set off. Our London buddies were less fortunate, some of them still sitting in their car in the car park as night fell on the Monday.

But this delayed ending did provide one final moment of unutterable pleasure. We in the minibus had the radio tuned to Worthy FM, the radio station which broadcasts from somewhere deep within the bowels of the Eavis farm buildings throughout the festival. Our collective ears perked up as we heard a dedication coming out the speakers:

“And here’s a request from Gary and Meg, asking us to play “Molly’s Chambers” by…oh, it says the Kings of Caerleon here, that can’t be right…never mind…anyway, thanks from Gary and Meg to all of the Welsh gang for a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget: Bonnie Tyler has got your rissole. Er…ok. I’m not sure I understand that. Anyway, here’s the Kings of Leon and Molly’s Chambers

Glastonbury, So Much to Answer For… (Part 1)

glastonbury

The plan for this week’s post was to travel back to 1983 and talk about some of the records I bought back then. But I was, and still am, truth be told, struggling to think of anything much of interest to say about any of them. So as I was lazing around my blog-cave today, seeking inspiration by watching “Pride” (which is rapidly becoming my favourite film ever; if you’ve not seen it yet, I urge you to do so: it’s the one of the best films ever about the relationship between gays, lesbians and striking miners. Well, I say one of the best: it’s definitely in the Top 10 of that saturated genre, anyway), when I received an email from See Tickets, telling me that my tickets for this year’s Glastonbury had been posted out to me today.

Yes, indeed. Glastonbury here I come. This will be my 6th Glastonbury, the first being back in 2003. I guess you could say I was a bit of a latecomer to the whole festival scene, and some will probably take this as evidence of Glastonbury being tailored towards the more middle-aged, middle class clientele these days than it used to be.That might well be the case; since I didn’t go to my first Glastonbury until 2003, I have no frame of reference as to what it was like in the good old days, bar the usual old stories about how much better it was before the fences went up, and of course Julian Temple’s rather wonderful 2006 rockumentary, pithily entitled “Glastonbury”. (I don’t know how he does it, I really don’t)

Glasto 2003 wasn’t the first festival I’d been to. No siree bob. The first festival I went to was Reading in 1989, at the end of my first year at college. (I appreciate calling it a college makes me sound like a plaid-shirted, gum-chewing, Chevy-driving, yee-hawing Yankee, but having dossed around far too much at school, I didn’t get good enough grades to go to a University, and I ended up going to a Polytechnic. A Polytechnic was a place where people not bright enough to go to University, but who weren’t ready to go get a proper job yet, ended up, like an Immigrant Holding Cell for the moderately clever but lazy. It became a University literally moments after I graduated. I’d no sooner handed back my mortar board and gown after my graduation ceremony than they started painting over the sign and giving the whole campus a makeover. I swear they were waiting for me to leave.)

Reading 1989 was an experience I was not keen to replicate, hence the 14 year gap before I attended another festival. This was the first year after it stopped being “Reading Rocks” (I believe a bottle of piss throwing incident involving the crowd, Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler was the final nail in the coffin of that particular incarnation of Reading. Tyler has subsequently apologised). My reluctance to go to another festival had nothing to do with the line up at this one: the headiners were Friday: New Order (tick!); Saturday: The Pogues (tick!); Sunday: The Mission (ah well, can’t have everything, I suppose).

Utter virgins at this kind of thing, me and my mate Ian had turned up with a borrowed tent on the Friday morning, pitched and rocked up to the Main Stage (I say Main Stage, my recollection is that it was the only stage, although I’m open to correction there), just in time to a) miss Gaye Bikers on Acid (result!) and b) catch Spacemen 3. I was already a massive fan of their “Revolution”, which regular readers may remember I posted a while ago in those wildly optimistic pre-election days. Next up were My Bloody Valentine: this would have been around the time they were starting to record the masterpiece that is their “Loveless” album, and so the set comprised, as far as I recall, mostly of early versions of what would go on to become that fine album. I was totally blown away by them. And of course they played this, which I still think is one of the greatest, noisiest records ever made that I somehow managed not to buy.

(Actually, I know how I managed not to buy it: I had just started DJ’ing the Indie Night at the Student’s Union, so I could listen to it as much as I liked there, often getting paid to play it. At least one person I know would say that no amount of money would be enough to make her listen to it.)

But anyway, I digress. This isn’t about Reading or me DJ’ing – I can talk about both another time. And I will. You’ve been warned.

No, this is about me popping my Glasto cherry,

Now, I don’t intend to review each act I saw that year, or on any of the years I’ve gone to since; gig reviews are not really what I do here, and besides, there are people who do gig reviews a whole lot better than I could (which reminds me, if you get chance, check out Lorraine’s blog over at “Still Got Manners“. She’s very good, and has a taste for going to the right gigs; her recent review of the Super Furries recent gig in Glasgow is so on the money you’ll see why I didn’t even attempt to write a review after I saw at them at Brixton Academy a few weeks back. No point – she’s already done it far better than I could have managed)

So, Glasto 2003. 10 of us had managed to get tickets – these were the days before it sold out in 26 minutes, and we’d all spent hours redialling and clicking refresh. Seven of us hired a minibus and drove up from Cardiff on the Thursday, the other three came from further west in Wales (Neath) and we not only all managed to meet up, but also pitched our tents together. This would not happen these days; if you’re not there first thing Wednesday morning when the gates open, you’re going to struggle to find space to pitch one tent, let alone a group of tents. Somewhat optimistically, we pitched them in the round, and woke up on the Friday morning to find someone had pitched theirs right in the middle of our group. Morning!

You’ve probably noticed a reluctance in the past for me to name people I’m writing about (I haven’t even told you my brother’s name, and he’s been mentioned loads), and that’s because I wanted to afford them some level of anonymity, just in case I ever write about anything on here they would rather I didn’t announce to the world. But usually I’m just talking about one person, and they know I’m writing about them; now, with 10 of us, I think it’s time to call a register.

There was me (Hello! Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by), my flat mate Llyr, his sister Hel, two of our mates O’Keefe and Ballard (mates from work, both blokes, hence referred to by their surnames, as is the tradition), Mike and Vicky (married, from Neath), Johnno (not a bloke, hence everyone else apart from me calling her Claire), Mark and Val (couple, also from Cardiff).  I wish I saw all of these people more often than I do these days. What a merry band we must have looked as we all wandered around the site on the Thursday afternoon, drinking in the atmosphere, before visiting the late night fun on offer that night, and then we finally traipsed off to the Pyramid Stage ready for the first act, on stage around mid-day on the Friday.

We decided we’d head towards the back of the field (stopping off at the bar on the way up, of course) and positioned ourselves right at the top of the slope. There’s a first aid tent there we decided was a convenient reference point in case any of us got lost. I’ve used this as a rendezvous every year that I’ve been since.

First act on were The Darkness. This was before they went massive – or as massive as they got – and imploded (before reforming). We’d never heard of them, but were all pretty impressed with them.

About mid-way through their set, it started raining. Of course it did. Disorganised Glasto virgins as we were, none of us had considered bringing waterproof clothing out with us, so we all purchased what was essentially a transparent bin bag with a hood and two arm holes cut into it from an enterprising local who wandered past. Hilariously, Mark’s only had one arm cut in it, and I will never forget the utterly pissed off look on his face as he attempted to smoke a cigarette using the tethered arm, as rain dripped off his brow.

Next up was the newly reformed Inspiral Carpets, who we all loved, being from “our era” as they were, followed by Echo & the Bunnymen, who the continued rain seemed to suit (and who I also loved). It was a running joke for years later that wherever we went, Mr McCulloch and co would be playing somewhere; it was some years later before a year happened where we didn’t see Echo & the Bunnymen play.

Still the rain continued. It was that fine rain, the sort that soaks you right through. Some of the gang wandered off to go and watch other things – namely Junior Senior, and Har Mar Superstar, the latter of which has resolutely failed to tickle my fancy. But I remained, along with a few of the others to watch the Inspirals and the Bunnymen. Later acts were De La Soul and Jimmy Cliff, and it was during one of these acts that the sun finally decided to reappear. It’s such a simple pleasure, but there’s very little better in this life than the sun coming out at Glastonbury; you can feel the mood of the whole place lift.

You can tell this was my first Glastonbury, because I pretty much spent the rest of the weekend in the same spot, watching all the acts come and go on the Pyramid Stage. This was fine by me, for although The Other Stage culminated on the Friday with Super Furry Animals, with Primal Scream headlining, R.E.M. were playing the Pyramid, and there was no way I was going to miss them. This would be the third time I’d seen them, and I still say that the greatest gig I ever went to was not this one, but R.E.M. at the Newport Centre in 1989 promoting the Green album. More of that another time.

(NB – when you arrive at Glastonbury, you’re given a little booklet showing the band times for the whole weekend; having just checked mine from 2003 (of course, I’ve kept it) I find that my recollection is a little skew-whiff: apparently Super Furries headlined the Other Stage on the Saturday night, and Jimmy Cliff played the Pyramid on the Saturday too. This is not my recollection, although I’m certainly not going to argue. But this is about what I remember, so take it that the running orders from hereon in may not be accurate. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organisers of Glastonbury, you could say. The reason my memory might be a little off beam will become clear…),

R.E.M. would at this time, 2003, have been promoting, or at the very least working on, their “Around The Sun”, generally accepted as being the worst album they ever made. This is not a consensus I would disagree with; bar one, maybe two songs, it’s an absolute stinker. Thankfully, most of the songs on there were still in their early stages, so we were subjected to very few of them. Instead, we basically got a Greatest Hits set, which is, I think, what you want of an established band at a festival. Their gig was also memorable for Johnno complaining afterwards that it would’ve been nice to hear Stipe sing, rather than having my dulcet tones bellowing along to every song in her close vicinity. Here’s them doing Electrolite; ask me nicely and I’ll sing it in your ear throughout.

So ended Friday. On Saturday, a few of us settle ourselves at roughly the same spot, and it was here that an extra member of our group was introduced to me. One of our little gang (who shall remain nameless, for fairly obvious reasons) had brought it upon themselves to bring some cakes with them. Brownies, to be precise. As you can imagine, there was chocolate in them. And one other vital ingredient, which you can work out for yourself.

The sun was absolutely blistering that day; yet we munched on the brownies like they were going out of fashion (which they had, around 30 years earlier) and then found ourselves totally incapable of speaking, let alone moving, for the rest of the day. I remember sitting next to O’Keefe and neither of us uttering a word for about 2 hours, just looking at each other every now and then and either giggling or just staring. And this was nothing to do with not being able to be heard over the sound levels.

All sorts of cretinous acts passed before us, who I would not normally have gone within a mile radius of. However it’s quite amazing how you find yourself able to endure the likes of Jools Holland and his Boogie Woogie Band (that’s probably what they were called, anyway), Turin Brakes and (I think) David Gray when you are so utterly mashed on space cakes that your legs don’t work.

O’Keefe, from somewhere, suddenly managed to muster the energy to get up and move. He later told me he thought he was going to get sunstroke and decided he had to go and try and find shade, which he did, in one of the Dance Tents, where he promptly had a kip to the sound of some banging techno.

(On returning home, I read about a woman, probably a bit older than I am now, who had been spotted at the festival, clearly off her face, naked, propped up against a bandstand in one of the peripheral fields, legs akimbo, demonstrating the old rustic art of Bean-Flicking to anyone who cared, or could hold their falafel down long enough, to watch. There but for the grace of God, and all that….)

One of the highlights (I think) O’Keefe missed was The Polyphonic Spree, a band I was aware of and had heard a couple of tracks by, and who seemed to be going for the record for Most People on a Stage Wearing White Smocks. They were great, perfect sunny afternoon whilst trashed fodder.

Saturday night was rounded off with The Flaming Lips (wonderful) followed by headliners Radiohead, who were just incredible. I, despite my brilliant plan of making sure every one was by the First Aid tent, managed to get lost on the way back from a trip to the loo, and found myself wandering almost to the front during Karma Police There’s something almost reassuringly unsettling about meandering around, lost in the dark, utterly mashed, in a crowd of some 100,000 or so people who are singing in unison that they’ve lost themselves. Yeh, you and me both.

On Sunday, I vowed that I wasn’t going to spend the whole day at the Pyramid Stage. And thus it was the case: plus everyone else swore off the remaining brownies and I was given the unenviable task of “looking after them” for the day. I decided that “Looking after them” could be interpreted as “eat as many as you like”, and I considered this a challenge I was up too. Cue me comatose outside the Acoustic Tent half listening to Roddy Frame as I drifted in and out of consciousness. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, understandably. I know that I somehow managed to hook up with most of the gang over at The Other Stage in time to see Grandaddy (never heard of them before, loved them so much I bought some of their records when I got home), Sigur Ros (ditto) and Doves (already perfectly aware of them, thank you very much).

So that was Glastonbury 2003. If you’ve ploughed through all of that, you deserve some tunes:

The Darkness – Get Your Hands Off My Woman

Inspiral Carpets – She Comes in The Fall

Echo & The Bunnymen – Nothing Lasts For Ever

De La Soul – Eye Know

Jimmy Cliff – Wonderful World, Beautiful People

R.E.M.- Little America

The Polyphonic Spree – Section 09 (Light & Day – Reach For The Sun)

The Flaming Lips – Race for the Prize (remix)

Radiohead – There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere)

Roddy Frame – This Boy Wonders (live at Ronnie Scott’s)

Grandaddy – On Standby

Doves – Pounding

As always, if you like ’em, go buy ’em. You don’t need me to tell you where from.

More soon.

Totally Themed: Friday Night Music Club #2

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I’m beginning to wonder if this blog is in fact chronicling some kind of nervous meltdown. First I set myself an impossible task to conduct in the most public arena possible (were anyone actually reading this). Then my attention flutters away, embarking an on a string of utterly pointless posts, mixing pop and politics among other briefly flirted-with topics; then I spend time dissecting the General Election with ever growing depression and resignation, before attempting to lighten the mood by writing a post which started off about about a 7″ single I bought back in 1982 and which descended into a rant against press bias and paedophilia.

Still, could be worse. Could’ve been a rant in favour of press bias and paedophilia, I suppose. Which  would have made me the sort of person to be a whole lot happier about the election result.

So, a further attempt to inject some levity into proceedings, and a return to a post theme I touched on briefly once before: the Friday Night Music Club. And my apologies that absolutely none of you will get to read this on a Friday Night, unless you abstain for a further 7 days. I decided to rewrite my last entry a little (well, quite a lot, as it turned out) before I did this, which took a fair bit longer than intended.

Anyway, you’ll recall I mentioned that when doing these mix cd’s/playlists/call them what you will, I often strung a sequence of songs together with a bit of a theme to link them. Well, I’ve gone a little further this time – an entire play list based around one theme.

Now, I love a bit of comedy. I appreciate this may not exactly have been terribly evident around these parts recently, but trust me. I like to think I’m quite a funny chap, but blimey-O-Reilly, sitting here and writing the stuff is an entirely different bag of bollocks. So I have nothing but respect for those who do comedy and do comedy well.

I was raised listening to radio repeats of Hancock’s Half Hour (if you only know The Blood Donor, I urge you to dig around a little, there’s much better, if less iconic episodes out there, specifically any of the ones featuring Kenneth Williams); of Round the Horne (specifically any of the sketches featuring Kenneth Williams (can you spot a trend emerging…?) as Rambling Syd Rumpole or with Hugh Paddick as Julian and Sandy – all characters whose whole raison d’etre were to be as innuendo-laden and utterly filthy as their polare would allow.) The influences of the latter in particular can easily be seen here: Betty Swallocks

Then there was the two original radio series’ of The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (which my brother recorded onto cassettes and for which he made his own inlay sleeves), followed by the TV series (for which he didn’t), then the five books in the trilogy, followed, eventually, several years later, by the film. And Fawlty Towers. And The Young Ones. And Blackadder. And The Fast Show. And Father Ted. And Black Books. And The League of Gentlemen. And The Office. And Nathan Barley. And Phoenix Nights. And Peep Show. And The Inbetweeners. All of these box-sets line the dank, unblemished by daylight, walls of my blog-cave. Well, they would if I didn’t keep lending them to people. (Yes, I’m looking at you!)

I could go on. And I probably will, knowing me.

But in my opinion there hasn’t been a really great, new sitcom for a good few years now. “Pulling” was maybe the last one, I thought, which truly had legs. So of course it got pulled after just two series. So I was delighted when “Catastrophe” hit our small screens earlier this year, co-penned and co-starring the wonderful Sharon Horgan, who had co-penned and co-starred in “Pulling”. Basic premise: Irish woman meets American man in the UK; have a one-night stand (actually, spread over two or three nights), she gets pregnant, they decide to try and make things work. Apart from the whole having unprotected sex aspect, that’s quite a positive message to put out there, and joy of joy it’s done with such verve, wit, style and humanity that the six episodes were over in a blink. More please, Channel 4!

No sooner was Catastrophe off air, and I had sunk back into the fat-arse shaped furrow I have ploughed into my couch, then bugger me rigid Channel 4 only went and did it again with “Raised By Wolves”. Now if you’re reading this then then you already know about one of the writers, for it was The Queen of Twitter, and frankly as far as I’m concerned, Queen of Everything She Deigns to Touch, Caitlin Moran. If you haven’t ever read her utterly magnificent “How To Be A Woman” then I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist you go here and buy it before we can continue, even if that does mean giving those tax evading vultures at Amazon some of your hard-earneds. And buy a new copy, not a second-hand one, you cheapskate.

Bought it? Really? Show me. Hmm. Okay, good. Then we can carry on.

“Raised by Wolves” was co-written by Caitlin and her sister Caroline and tells the wonderfully odd-ball story of the Garry family, who were apparently based on their own childhood in Wolverhampton. I say apparently: it is perfectly clear which of the daughters of the family is based on Caitlin. The show’s an utter charm throughout, there’s never a dull moment, blink or laugh too long at one and you’ll miss the next in the machine gun rat-tat-tat of bullet-sharp lines. More please, Channel 4!

I imagine this might only be applicable to those of you in the UK, but you can catch both of these shows in their entirety on the All 4 website, here: Catastrophe and here: Raised by Wolves

So there we were, mid April 2015, and we were already blessed with two utterly brilliant new sitcoms. That’d be our lot for the year, surely?

Well, since I haven’t mentioned the sitcom in the picture at the top of the post, you can safely guess that there’s at least one more for me to wax lyrical about.

Peter Kay’s Car Share is a joy from start to finish. Essentially that rarest of things – a two-hander (stop it, innuendo fans…), it simply relays six days when John (Peter Kay) and Kayleigh (co-writer Sian Gibson) travel to and from work at a supermarket in Lancashire, showing how they learn about each other, learn to communicate with and understand each other, learn to like each other and attempt to provide support to each other. It’s like a Chorley-based buddy cop movie, where the two main characters are thrown together in a mess of dislike and distrust at the start, before slowly earning each others respect, trust and compassion, only without one of them getting shot twenty minutes before the end. It’s six perfect slices of normal life, and it’s to the writers’ eternal credit that (SPOILER ALERT!!) the two main characters don’t end the series coupling up.

But while it’s largely a two-hander, it’s not just the two of them throughout: there are cameo appearances from the likes of Reece Shearsmith who puts in a staggering display as Stink Ray, the fishmonger who makes up his own nonsensical words to “Here Comes The Hotstepper” (Once seen, you’ll never be able to hear that again without singing “I’m a lyrical dance-flap”), and 70s Comedian (uh-oh….) Mick Miller (phew!), flashing screensavers of his topless Thai bride (if only his actual wife would take the hint…)

And there are references to Kay’s previous masterpiece: Archie Kelly ( “Phoenix Nights” Kenny Senior) pops up in one memorably hilarious scene, Gibson herself appears in three episodes of the earlier show, and of course there is an extra, unseen character: the whole thing is sound-tracked not by Chorley “Coming In Your Ears” FM but rather by the innuendo heavy adverts (“A Bamber sausage is a sausage the whole family can enjoy. Made with all our own natural ingredients, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Give your mouth a treat – try Ken’s Meat. Ken Bamber’s Old English Sausage”), the terrible DJ links (“It Could Be You: that’s what the National Lottery told us in this year, and I’ve only got one ball”…”It was the year that Freddie Mercury tragically died of AIDS while Julia Roberts was “Sleeping with the Enemy”, so I guess Freddie must’ve been too”) and, of course, mostly and most importantly, the cheesy pop songs of Forever FM.

Kay has of course got a bit of form in picking out songs previously considered a bit naff, featuring them in either one of his shows, or as one of his Comic Relief Campaigns, or both. (Interesting disclaimer at the start of that one, eh? It shows the level of idiocy of some people that it was thought it needed to be clarified that Kay didn’t cast Jimmy Savile AFTER all of the revelations)

And that, pop pickers, is where we came in. The tunes from Car Share form tonight’s Music Club. All 64 songs are in the folders below, all in the order they appeared in the show (well, they’re numbered as such), with a couple which are featured according to Wikipedia but which I’m buggered if I could spot – and including a couple that Wikipedia missed. I say that last bit with an immense amount of nerdy pride. Oh, and one special extra one, which was sung but not played in the final episode. I’m sure you’ll already know what I’m talking about. (Clue: it’s not “Orinoco Flow”. Or “Dizzy”)

Split into two folders due to size restrictions, I give you:

Peter Kay’s Car Share (Episodes 1 – 3)

Peter Kay’s Car Share (Episodes 4 – 6)

I’ll leave you to work out how many of the songs featured here I owned prior to making this mix. I think only one has featured previously; there’s two or three which would have done eventually, and around fifty or so that definitely wouldn’t have. But don’t let that put you off. In fact, judging by some of the things I did buy, you might want to take that as a good sign.

Enjoy!

And of course, if you like any of the songs, go buy a copy.