Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Greatest Music Festival In The World

Last weekend, the Glastonbury Festival undoubtedly held on to its crown as, in the words of Ray Davies, "the greatest music festival in the world."  There is nothing else quite like it.  Five days of sunshine and fabulous music meant that everybody left Worthy Farm with a smile on their face.  Having been back in the big city for a few days now, I thought that today was a great time to look back on the high points of the Festival and the handful of things that could change next year.

High Points

The Sheer Diversity

Which other music festival would mean that you could watch the legend Willie Nelson, followed by the brilliant Snoop Dogg, followed by Vampire Weekend, followed by Dizzee Rascal on the same stage, one after the other, on the same day?  Which other music festival could give you the option of over 20 different stages all showing top class acts?  The joy of Glastonbury is that there is something for every music lover.  It is endlessly relevant but, at the same time, not a thoughtless slave to musical fashion.  Every kind of contemporary music gets a look in.  And that is before you mention the comedy, the poetry and the politics.  And the diversity of performers is matched by the diversity of the people who show up.  I saw people aged from 16 to 70.  All loving it.  All enjoying the same festival.  This all adds up to an event with a unique and impossible to replicate vibe.

The New Discoveries

Whilst seeing the big acts on the big stages is one of the big joys of Glastonbury, so is discovering lesser known acts on the smaller stages.  This year, I discovered the first class "English folk troubadour" Frank Turner.  Loudon Wainwright III was a classy performer, way much more than my previous perception of him as merely being father of Rufus and the man who wrote Johnny Cash's 'The Man Who Couldn't Cry'.  The John Peel tent threw up some stars as ever and looks like it has propelled Mumford and Sons towards superstar status.

The Secret Show

Every year, whispers head around the site about who the 'special guests' on the Park Stage might be.  This year the special guests certainly didn't disappoint.  Could it be The Strokes (whose lead singer Julian Casablancas played an awesome show in the John Peel on Sunday), people were saying?  Or Dylan?  When Thom Yorke walked out, soon to be joined by Jonny Greenwood, there was near universal delight.  When they closed their set with Karma Police and Street Spirit there was one of those special unifying moments.  Almost everybody I spoke to after the gig felt that they had witnessed something very special.  They were right.

The less said the better about Saturday's secret show by Biffy Clyro.

The Weather

I'm pretty used to trudging around a muddy Glastonbury wearing wellies and realising that it will take about an hour to get from one stage to another.  This year couldn't have been more different.  The sun shone and kept on shining.  Not a spot of rain.  You could sit wherever you wanted.  OK - it may have been a bit knackering by the end, but it certainly beats the mud and the rain.

Could Anything Have Been Done Better?

The Deckchairs

People seemed determined to sit in deckchairs, in the middle of the crowd, on the main stages.  It's pretty selfish, gets in people's way and is totally unnecessary.

The Flares

Sure, flares (by which I mean flames rather than trousers) look great on TV but I saw too many people walk into the flares that people had put into the ground.  Pretty dangerous, surely?

Q Daily

Q Daily is Glastonbury's daily newspaper.  It seems to have become a cross between the Sun and Heat magazine.  All trivia.  Surely it would be better used saying where all the hotly tipped bands were playing etc?


A real disappointment.  They really didn't hold the crowd as people gradually walked away.  Great on record and a good visual spectacle but more of an ego trip than the kind of Glasto headliner that captures the imagination.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Click for