Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Glastonbury: It's not all sunburn and Stevie Wonder

When the traditional media (bleh) cover Glastonbury it always obsesses about the mud, like it was something new or different. The reality is that it’s neither of those things, nor is it particularly interesting in the grand scheme of things. It’s like standing in front of the Coliseum saying it could do with a lick of paint.

This year the media were deprived of the mud - cue endless discussion about sunburn. Once that had run out of steam, and they actually got round to some reviews, it was the same handful of bands: Gorillaz; Muse; Pet Shop Boys; Scissor Sisters and Stevie Wonder. In protest against the pandering to the masses, I have decided to resurrect my waning blog and give a more alternative view of the festival, celebrating what it does best – diversity of music.

The weekend was kicked off with a very likeable Rolf Harris, doing all the favourites to an excitable crowd. Harris isn’t a great artist, or musician, but he was one hell of an entertainer, and hats off to him for that.

Over on the Other stage The Courteners churned out a range indistinguishable indie tunes. It felt like 2005 all over again and I soon zoned out. Next please…

Sanctuary was found in The Park, one of the best areas of the festival. With its fairground-like viewing tower, and delicious cream teas at the Tree House CafĂ©, The Park has an other worldliness about it. To add to its deliciousness, Steve Mason was performing. However excitement turned to disappointment as a rather dull performance ensued, the blame for which I mainly put on the surly looking session musicians. So obviously we know they’re session musicians, but for 45 minutes we need to believe they are as passionate about the music as we are, not just wondering when they’ll get their pay cheque. It would also have helped if one of them could sing so they didn’t have to resort to a backing track for the vocal harmonies. All in all a bit lack lustre, and not worthy of Mason’s great talent.

Fortunately disappointment was remedied by Mumford & Sons at the John Peel stage. As the crowds spilled out of the sides of the tent the look of awe on the band’s face was priceless. It’s refreshing in this age of cool and ego to see some genuine emotion from a band, and gratitude towards the fans that put them there. And Mumford & Sons repaid their debt with an explosive performance that would lurch from the raw heart breaking emotion of Winter Winds, to a good old fashion hoe-down and sing-along of Sign No More. The pace and energy of their set left barely time to breath, and before we knew it everything was over. But we were left with grins as wide as that of the bands, and a glorious feeling that we had been part of, and helped create, one of the best moments of their life.

As night fell it was off to the Pyramid stage for the Gorillaz. However the crowds were so huge it was impossible to get in so we went back to The Other stage to see the Flaming Lips. And how glad I was that we did! To think I could have missed out on giant bubbles, massive gongs, dancing girls, organ-tans and giant bugs. The spectacle was brought to an end with a beautiful rendition of Do You Realise?. As the first day of this wonderful festival came to a close, Coyne’s lyrics took on a new meaning, and a lump formed in my throat.

It's hard to make the good things last/You realize the sun doesn't go down/It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

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