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
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:
The International Language of Screaming
Recepticle for the Respectable (And a big shout out to Bob on the trumpet)
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.