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My Glasto '09
Glastonbury Music Festival
Member Name: tomflint
Glastonbury Music Festival
Advantages: Unique Atmosphere
Disadvantages: Nagging feeling that each year is slightly less good than the previous one.....
Ok, so I've not done this sort of review before so I hope this is alright. I'm gonna take you through my experience of Glastonbury this year, which is my third in a row. I enjoyed it very much.
I travelled to Glastonbury this year with my good friend Andy, after last year's excursion on my own. We decided that it would be a good idea to get to the site nice and early as we like to camp by the Pyramid Stage....which is also close to Lulu's Cafe which has in the past always served up a mean Bacon butty in the morning.
We left the Isle Of Wight on Wednesday morning, catching the 5.45am ferry to Portsmouth. Once in Portsmouth we had opted to travel up on a National Express coach which did reduce the cost of travel considerably from the train. The coach took us to Heathrow, Andy had assured me that a cooked breakfast would be forthcoming there. On arrival we discovered that the National Express station area is nowhere near any eateries apart from a Cafe Nero. This made me slightly irritable, but I made do with some junk from the vending machine [great breakfast; a Cadbury's Caramel and a packet of McCoys crisps!].
We got the second leg of the coach journey from Heathrow to Glastonbury. The coach driver was rather 'official' for my liking and kept telling us the National Express coach policy over a microphone....like 'If I hear any musical devices, I will come and switch them off'. Some guy was gently tapping a Bongo drum....he was warned that this was unacceptable under 'National Express' guidelines.....shut yer face!.
The journey by road is massively long winded.....we didn't finally arrive until around 4pm. Its at these points when you think 'was this all really worth it?', but in the long run the answer is 'yes'.
Once on site we got to our favourite spot no problem, though by Wednesday 4pm the site was already pretty full baring in mind that the festival doesn't start until Friday. We got our tents up and I went and bought some essentials such as a torch and a pillow. These kind of things can be bought easily from one of the hundreds of tent shops. If it's your first time at Glastonbury the sheer size of the place is a bit overwhelming at first, but having been twice before I'd got over that a bit. I had a blind panic as I couldn't find my wallet.....it had fallen out of my pocket in the tent. If someone had nicked that I would have been sunk, luckily it was laying on the sleeping bag....
We made our way round to the Jazz World Stage [a great arena] to get some Brothers Pear Cider, by far the best pint to be had on site. Sadly the bar by the Jazz World Stage is now the only place on site where you can get this tipple after they got rid of the original Brothers Cider bus. The various pints of beer on sale Carling/Carlsberg etc taste grim. Watered down piss to be honest, when its £3.50 a pint that's no joke. We saw that the 'Cinema Field', an excellent place in the past, had now been replaced with the 'Pilton Palais' a Cinema tent in the field containing the Acoustic Stage. This did not sound good, and our fears were confirmed when we went to see the movie 'The Story of Anvil' only to discover that everyone else at Glastonbury had thought the same thing and the Cinema was packed out. The cinema field we were told was now used as a camping area for VIP and staff at the festival. That is not an improvement.....maybe for VIP/staff, not festival goers. The Field was much better. Can't remember whether it was Weds or Thurs night that Michael Jackson died, that was on every one's lips. We finished Wednesday with a well deserved rest, I went to sleep pretty easily.
Thursday I awoke to find that I had been sleeping in an awkward position and was aching.....inflatable bed next year. I had also felt a bit cold so made it a mission to get myself a blanket for the next night. Andy and I frequented Lulu's expecting a tasty Bacon butty.......we were annoyed to be served up cold left overs and chose the 'Savoy Grill' down the hill for further meals. Lulu's WAS reliable for a decent cup of Tea though so we did keep popping over for a cup. Many of the bars were closed until Friday so a small trek was required to get that refreshing Pear Cider. The weather was a bit poor on the Thursday morning so during the shower I stayed in the tent, lots of resting and chatting and walking round the site was the order of the day on Thursday....and drinking Cider.
At last!, the festival has actually started. I don't do drugs so for me Glastonbury is ALL about the music...I mark up my pocket guide in a really geeky way when I get into the site to check out all the stuff I want to see. Some people think this isn't the way to 'enjoy Glastonbury', each to their own though, that's the whole point of the festival, do your own thing. On Friday we started the day with some 'Bjorn Again' on the Pyramid stage, ABBA at 11 in the morning, Nice!. Then we headed over to the Jazz World Stage, got a Brothers, and checked out The Perceptions [former members of the James Taylor Quartet], very funky. Next it was over to 'The Glade' a stage set under some trees to see the 'Johnny Mars Band'. He used to be a member of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, I enjoyed his set but there was a bit too much of the crowd participation for my liking.......shout something out, get the crowd to shout back.......after a while it was like 'play some BLUES!'. We then caught 'Red Snapper' on the same stage, an instrumental dance band who I had not heard of before. Andy was a fan, and after hearing them, so was I!.
We headed back to the tent to chill catching a bit of Fleet Foxes and Lily Allen on route. I went over to the Jazz World Stage to catch some Steel Pulse. I've got to see some roots Reggae at Glasto....they played some classics from 'Handsworth Revolution'. I had a pint of Brothers and danced with a couple of hippies who singled me out......I spose I looked a bit 'square'. After a few Brothers though there's no problem!..........
Making my slightly drunken way back to the Pyramid Stage I realised that the Friday line-up had been slightly poor in my opinion. I passed the Other Stage where Lady Gaga was in full flow.....she asked the crowd after 'Poker Face'.....'I have a question for you Glastonbury........do you think I'm sexy?'.. to which a drunken woman I was passing yelled at the top of her voice; 'NO!!!!, YOU'RE A SLAG!!!' which kept me laughing back to the Pyramid.
I met up with Andy and we saw Neil Young, the Friday headliner on the Pyramid stage.....totally awesome. Really enjoyed it, we stood near some guys in their 50s who were obviously re-living their youth and kept coughing and hacking on the weed which they were smoking. We had a good sing song on few of the songs.
Afterwards Andy and I made our way up to the Green Fields area, a series of fields with labyrinthine tents and various bits and bobs. We stumbled into an area called 'Trash City' which had a series of structures which were not too dissimilar to an underground market/subway....pretty amazing the effort that goes into all this. I was refused entry to one of the parts of 'Trash City' as I have no Tattoos. Andy has several Tattoos and was granted entry....I stomped off and became slightly angry as I couldn't seem to find my way out of this part of the site. I asked a security guard who informed me that it was a one way system and I would have to go all the way round. I felt like Griffin Dunne in 'After Hours'......stumbling around looking at all the weird stuff that goes on after everywhere has closed down, and being strangely trapped in it.
I finally got back to Lulu's at about 5am and got a Veggie Burger and went to bed. Not sure what Andy got up to!.
I awoke with a bit of a hangover on Saturday, and was determined to see more music. There had been all too much sitting about for my liking!. After breakfast of Bacon butty and cup of Tea we went to the Other Stage and saw the 'Broken Family Band' whose lead singer had a great laid back voice, then we went over to the Jazz World to see the legend that is.........Rolf Harris!. The stage was totally packed and Rolf rattled off his classics 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down', 'Waltzing Matilda' and his version of 'Stairway To Heaven!'. The crowd was going mental!... I found out later it was the biggest audience EVER at the Jazz World Stage. Afterwards Andy waited in line and got Rolf's autograph and a best of C.D.
I saw a bit of 'Eagles of Death Metal' on the Pyramid before the day's second highlight........Spinal Tap!. We laughed ourselves silly to 'Sex Farm' and 'Hell Hole'. 'Big Bottom' featured a nice cameo by Jarvis Cocker.....though the inclusion of Jamie Cullum on 'Short and Sweet' was a bit of a waste of time.
I went to see Pete Doherty on the Other Stage, while Andy went to see Horace Andy on the Park Stage. On reflection, I should have gone and checked out Horace.....Pete Doherty was rubbish. I quite liked The Libertines 2 albums, but most of his solo stuff has been quite poor.
After a bit of Don Letts spinning the records at The Glade, Andy and I went to see Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Pyramid headliners for Saturday night. Both of us are big fans of The Boss and were eager to see how he would fare. Bruce definitely delivered, playing for 2.5 Hours!. My favourites from the set were 'Out In The Street', 'No Surrender' [duet with the lead singer from The Gaslight Anthem] and the stuff off the 'Born To Run' album. It was all great though......the only problem was the sound which was a bit quiet in places, you couldn't always hear the instruments properly, but that seems to be a common problem with Bruce live. It didn't really hamper our enjoyment though, a great Saturday headliner!. I think we were pretty wiped after that and trudged back to our tents.
Sunday was the best of the three days this year for me. The Pyramid line-up was excellent for the whole day.....perfect for lounging about and not moving much, which is what you want by Sunday. We started the day with the Easy Star All-Stars, a reggae band which performs reggae versions of famous albums. They've done Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon', Radiohead's 'Ok Computer' and now recently The Beatles 'Sgt Pepper'. They did the 'Sgt Pepper' album, a great chilled out start. Next we got in closer for Status Quo [I just reviewed their album Hello!], the band was a big success and were a perfect choice for Sunday midday.
After a short rest we heard Tony Christie from the tent and then went down to check out Amadou and Mariam, whose music gets everyone dancing. Its hard to describe their music....a sort of 'guitar pop', they're from Mali so its 'World Music', but highly accessible to a western audience. Another superb choice for the Pyramid.
Next was Tom Jones and several middle aged women pushed their way to the front!, he played songs from his new album which sounds like the best thing he's done in years. I particularly enjoyed 'She's a Lady' and 'Kiss' but he did a great version of EMF's 'Unbelievable'. Like Status Quo, Tom Jones may be considered naff by some, but I was having none of that. It's perfect for a festival crowd and Tom was superb.
We went back to the tent for a bit more of a kip [5 days under canvas with booze and burgers was beginning to take its toll], before returning for the final hurrah, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and then headliners Blur.
I love Nick Cave and the stuff off his recent 'Dig Lazarus Dig!!' album is excellent. He's clearly one of the musicians working today that you can rely on to come up with something 'interesting' even if you don't love it straight away. He's one of my heroes for sure.
Blur were my favourite band as a teenager and seeing them live at Glastonbury was my weekend highlight. I last saw them live at Bournemouth International Centre in December 1997 [JJJJ was there!]..... I was in the mosh pit then and I was at Glasto!. At nearly 30 years of age I'm getting a bit too old now to 'mosh down the front', but felt better as many people of a similar age to me were struggling with the 17 year olds as they threw us about!. Blur reformed this year and have been playing with Graham Coxon for the first time in nearly 10 years...so it was quite a momentous occasion for a Blur fan like me. They did all the classics including a frenetic version of 'Parklife' with guest Phil Daniels. Some kid in the crowd downed a huge bottle of Cider which was laced with Acid......he looked about 16.....would like to have seen the effects when that kicked in!.
Andy and I walked around the site after Blur had finished reflecting on our time at Glastonbury 2009. As we were drinking a pint of Brothers, the heavens opened and we got caught in a downpour for the first time that weekend....after sheltering we walked about and went in search of the 'Joe Strummer Stone'. As big fans of The Clash we wanted to see the memorial area set up to honour him a couple of years ago. We found the stone and 'Strummerville', an area with a couple of caravans and some Clash fans. There is also supposed to be a 'Joe Strummer fire' but we didn't find this. Instead we found a fire someone had started and sat by it, toasting Joe Strummer.
As the booze kicked in we went our separate ways again and I staggered back to the tent around dawn to get some sleep before the journey back to the Isle of Wight the following day.
My overall view of Glastonbury '09 was that it was great, though the Friday and Saturday have seen better line-ups in the past, I couldn't fault the headliners. It was a bit of an old timers line-up I suppose but that doesn't bother me. Those that have read my reviews in the past will know I'm rather partial to a bit of music from the 70s!.
My highlights in no particular order:
1. Neil Young
2. Rolf Harris
3. Spinal Tap
4. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
5. Status Quo
6. Amadou and Mariam
7. Tom Jones
8. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
In truth I didn't see anything which I really didn't like, with the possible exception of Pete Doherty. In past years there has been more clashes of what I want to see, this year it was easy for me to decide what I wanted to see and when. I think this probably represented a dip in overall quality, but its still an amazing festival which everyone should go to at least once.
Roll on next year!.
Summary: If you haven't been......GO.
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