GLASTO DIARY: A collective weblog
Mike Hanson, 2310, Sunday
It was looking like I was going to worsen my pathetic record of only seeing four bands in 2004 by seeing absolutely no one this year.
My duties on site don't normally allow for me to get out much (that's for other people), but normally I can at least catch the headliners and maybe a couple around dinner time. But last year was too busy, and this year, well, where do I begin?
Friday, as you'll be well aware now, was a disaster of biblical proportions. By the time we'd got on site, swum through the rivers that once were streams and managed to get the power back on, it was time to get to go on air.
Next thing I know I'm in the studio with Steve Lamacq. Off air by 1900, but needing to prep the Music Week with Mark and Julie, I didn't even get the chance to eat, let alone rock out to the White Stripes.
But the programmes were good, so I consoled myself by thinking, "Tomorrow will be better … I'll get out loads."
It was, and will be, a 'Glastonbury Moment'. People will talk about it for years.
Wrong. The weather might have improved, but the workload didn't, and I got increasingly irritated with "Wow, the Kaiser Chiefs were great - ya shoulda seen it," or "The Magic Numbers made me cry they were so good." Lines that everyone threw in my face as I sat in the mobile studio sending interviews and live music back to London and getting ready for Saturday's edition of the Music Week.
Finally, at midnight I caught Coldplay's encore. Big deal. The mobile studio was beginning to feel like a prison.
But as the weather improved on Sunday (it was hard to believe we were in the same place as Friday), so did my chances to get out. I wasted no time in seizing the opportunity. Off I went to see Sons & Daughters at the John Peel tent with Mark Sutherland - stayed for three songs (very good), then dashed over to the Other Stage to see the Dears.
They were playing Lost In The Plot as I got there, causing a minor panic as I thought I'd missed the whole thing. But no, it was only their second song in.
I stayed for most of that then thought I'd catch a bit of Brian Wilson on the Pyramid, just so I could say I'd seen him. And now I wish I hadn't.
Call me a heretic, and maybe I should whisper this, but it was a case of the emperor's clothes for me. It harsh to say, but poor old Brian is a damaged human being, reading lyrics off an autocue sat on the stool, looking at the audience with a mixture of terror and befuddlement in his eyes.
It's ironic that a musical genius known for a masterpiece called Smile seems physically unable to. It was sad, frankly.
But I have to admit, when they rolled out the Beach Boys hits like Help Me Rhonda and Surfin' USA, with the sun beaming down, and about 100,000 all dancing and singing, it would be a truly cold hearted b*stard not to be moved.
It was, and will be, a 'Glastonbury Moment'. People will talk about it for years.
So that was it, three bands in an afternoon, plus Coldplay's encore. So at least it wasn't worse than last year. Next year I'll definitely get out more...
Hang on a minute … there is no next year!
Oh well, see you in 2007.
PS. Just a quick thank you to the team - John Badger Pearson and Dina Jahina for setting up the music and interviews, Adam for the tips on picking up chicks, Mark and Julie for doing a brilliant job on the Music Week specials, Andrew for being tenacious and getting out and about, Kate for saving the day, Ric for the moral support, Marc Riley for the funny Mark E Smith stories, cousin Joti for pointing out the error of my childish, lying ways, and Steve Lamacq for keeping his promise to stay up late drinking with me. Honourable mentions to Ross Allen and Mitch Benn. Cheers, fellas.
There she blows
Mark Sutherland, 2230, Sunday
"I can't believe it!" exclaims a high-ranking member of the 6 Music team. "They’ve waited until the third day to put the proper pepper in the catering tent!"
The over-worked Glastonbury Lost Property Office are now desperately looking for A Sense Of Perspective
As well as justice and an extended seafaring metaphor, the over-worked Glastonbury Lost Property Office are now desperately looking for A Sense Of Perspective. Apparently it went missing sometime around lunch.
They’re not making much progress on the justice hunt. I arrive warm-foot from The La's set on The Other Stage. Lee Mavers may look and sound spookily like he did first time around, but the crowd is pitifully small, everyone clearly preferring the dreadful droning of Primal Scream on the Pyramid stage.
Unbothered, he proceeds to remind us just why Glasto goers should be hanging their heads in shame by delivering a set jam-packed with crystalline pop perfection, playing all the songs you wanted to hear (Feelin’, Doledrum, There Shoe Goes – tossed away disdainfully early) and, frankly, quite a few you didn't.
I'd call him our generation's Brian Wilson (maverick pop genius prone to going AWOL but able to write simple, emotional songs like no one else) but really he deserves better.
Ian Brown up next, murdering Stone Roses songs apparently on the agenda. I wonder if the Lost Property Office has had a sense of shame handed in
Julie Cullen, 1935, Sunday
There was a lot of talk yesterday of having “had enough of the mud”.
It was pretty treacherous by the Pyramid Stage and the sport of the day seemed to consist of hanging out by the mini lakes and waiting for people to fall over … but today the sun’s been beating down, and what better way to celebrate that than by watching Brian Wilson?
I was overwhelmed by a sea of shiny happy people singing along to Good Vibrations
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who saw the great man at any of his recent 'comeback' gigs and as I emerged into the field from backstage I was overwhelmed by a sea of shiny happy people singing along to Good Vibrations.
Girls in bikinis were hoisted aloft onto surf boards that were than passed over everyone’s heads; mums and dads were standing with tears rolling down their faces and singing every word to the songs that soundtracked their youths.
It was an uplifting moment shot through with poignancy, cos even though Brian Wilson’s voice is still a thing of beauty, he’s frail.
But he drew the biggest cheer of the weekend and possibly the biggest sing-a-long and we’re celebrating with COLD BEER.
Kate Lloyd, 1930, Sunday
Rufus Wainwright (wearing tiny white shorts and Cagney & Lacey style sunglasses; how did he carry it off?) just came in and did an acoustic session for Marc Riley.
The studio is about the size of a small hatchback vehicle.
He was amazing, especially considering the studio is about the size of a small hatchback vehicle. He sang the current single Crumb By Crumb, which was excellent.
Guy Garvey and Stephen Fretwell also played an amazing Leonard Cohen cover. So great. They were lovely, as was Murray Lightburn of The Dears; who posed outside the studio for photos, Zoolander style!
Kris, 1900, Sunday
Today was my first real chance to escape our dank dark portacabin and spend some time off the festival’s beaten track, which, ironically, was far more navigable than the heavily beaten walkways.
The first thing that struck me was the fact that the 'Fields' were actually green, instead of brown
As soon I escaped the free-for-all around the Pyramid Stage and started meandering up towards the Green Fields, the first thing that struck me was the fact that the 'Fields' were actually green, instead of brown, and people were lying back and soaking up the festival.
I did a brief trip around Lost Vagueness and then popped into the chapel to see the finale of the mass wedding ceremony. My friend informs me it wasn’t legally binding; but you try telling that to the hot nuns in hot pants who were celebrating the event by dancing to the soundtrack from Greece.
I managed to catch half of a set from 6 Music favourites Sons & Daughters, who managed to fill the John Peel tent.
After that, it was straight to the Pyramid Stage to get pictures of Brian Wilson plus band. Unfortunately, you couldn’t really hear his voice over the band; but that didn’t seem to matter – the sun was shining, Brian was singing Good Vibrations and all was well at Glastonbury.
Easy Like Sunday, Um, Evening
Mark Sutherland, 1845, Sunday
Firstly, apologies for my extended absence from this blog. Don’t worry, I didn’t suffer a dodgy curry-related relapse or even get sucked into the vortex of my extended seafaring metaphor.
I have actually been out there – shock, horror – experiencing the festival FOR REAL.
Since we last communicated via the information superhighway I have actually been out there – shock, horror – experiencing the festival FOR REAL.
If Friday was full of misery and woe then Saturday was the day Glasto showed some serious bouncebackability, with a bunch of up-for-it bands refusing to wallow either metaphorically or literally and instead getting on with the business of giving the muddy masses a ruddy marvellous time.
So boing! The Kaiser Chiefs quite literally threw themselves into the show of their lives. Boink! Rilo Kiley ripped up the John Peel Stage with an awesome set of countrified power-pop, indie vixtress du jour Jenny Lewis resplendent in hotpants jumpsuit and what looked like crimson legwarmers.
And bey-oing! New Order proved that technology has finally caught up with their ambition with a superb set. Can’t say I was too bothered about either the Joy Division stuff (pointless, essentially) or the collaborations (an out-of-tune Anna Matronic and Keith Allen, who, as rappers go, is no John Barnes let alone a Chuck D), but to hear Love Vigilante, Bizarre Love Triangle, Temptation and Crystal … well, then we were talking. Or, more accurately, dancing.
Although I do fear it’s The Music Week’s fault that they didn’t do Blue Monday – Hooky and Stephen were late and our interview was carried out against a background of frantic cut-throat gestures from their tour manager. Oh well, it’s a rubbish tune anyway. Er, isn’t it?
We were on air for most of Coldplay’s set, but I enjoyed the encore. It’s easy to be snobbish about things like plainly unrehearsed Kylie covers but it’s nice to see the biggest band in the world still willing to make an effort, while In My Place is one of those songs that doesn’t really make perfect sense until you’ve heard 100,000 people sing along to every word as bonfires and candles flicker away up the hill.
I’m sure all my friends would agree with me, if only I knew where any of them were.
Leaving the site last night, we ran into both an ecstatic Emily Eavis and a couple, erm, enjoying each other’s company on top of a hayrick. Proof that, while movement around site may be increasingly affected by the sort of pointless jobsworthiness that used to make every other festival transparently NOT Glastonbury (“You can’t come through here – it’s an exit not an entrance,” may be an interesting philosophical point, but how the hell are we supposed to tell the bloody difference?), the spirit will out.
And so will the sun. Today has been one of those glorious Glasto Sundays when it blazes down and everyone can just relax on a hayrick and enjoy their last 24 hours in the Vale Of Avalon until 2007.
So we chortle at the spectacle of the Yeovil Town Band baffling last night’s casualties with their Beatles covers and dog-bark strewn brass weirdiness. We curse the irony that has Sons & Daughters, the only band genetically engineered to sound better in a swamp than a heatwave, playing on the festival’s sunniest day.
They’re still ace though, the girls resplendent in fancy (if impractical) ballgowns and Adele’s marionette-gone-mental dancing whipping up a suitably dark frenzy from those festival goers seeking refuge from the sun.
But if S&D are Glasto’s dark heart then Brian Wilson is surely the eternal sunshine of its spotless mind. His set is simultaneously one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen and really rather marvellous.
On the one hand, to see him reading lyrics from an autocue and clearly unaware whether he’s in Glastonbury, Glasgow or Goose Green is like a weird vision of the future when animatronic versions of old rock stars tour the world to satisfy the cravings of people who can’t accept that they weren’t around the first time and simply must tick him off their Rock Legends I Have Seen list (precisely what I’ve just done, of course, but – hey! – nobody’s perfect).
On the other, the sun is shining, bubbles are floating through the crowd and everyone from the pensioner to the hip young thing is dancing to the likes of God Only Knows and I Get Around. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Literally: Garbage are above him on the bill. A search of the entire site has yet to reveal any trace of justice. Although Butch Vig did just hint that the ‘Bage will split after this tour so you never know.
Right, I’m back off to the ‘real’ world, ie Out There. If anyone finds an extended seafaring metaphor lying around, can you please return it to me care of the BBC.
Joti B, 1500, Sunday
Last night has to be one of the most action-packed of my gig-going career.The first instalment would have been enough to guarantee the evening a permanent place in my heart, because in the John Peel tent, the Magic Numbers were a revelation.
A devoted audience sang along to every number and overflowed in all directions from a tent that was far to small to hold the legions more that tried to get close - an achievement in itself for a band who have only just released their debut album.
I'd heard that they were great live, of course, and had a little taster when they played a blinder in the 6 Music Hub a couple of weeks back, but nothing could have prepared me for the emotional onslaught of their live show.
The combination of superbly-crafted songs, beautiful melodies, perfect harmonies and fantastic musicianship was breathtaking enough. The total sincerity and joyous abandonment of the band and the love and devotion of the fans took the performance to another level completely.
As they sang their songs of love and loss the emotional roller coaster was something like being lost inside the saddest, happiest weepiest and most uplifting movie never made.
I couldn't bear to leave and nor could the crowd - I have honestly never seen an audience so desperate for an encore.
I couldn't bear to leave and nor could the crowd - I have honestly never seen an audience so desperate for an encore. Even the stage announcer, a long-bearded veteran who's worked at the festival for at least 20 years, felt moved to tell us that he'd never seen anything that could top the Magic Numbers' magical set in all that time.
Altogether, it was an event that every one of us felt privileged to have been part of, and I have no doubt that Romeo was telling the truth when he thanked us all for making this "the best night of my life".
Normally, I'd devote plenty of space to the wonders of Baaba Maal who headlined the Jazz World stage straight after, but my head's still full of the glory of the Numbers and I think I may have used up all my adjectives.
Suffice it to say that he and his musicians and dancers were brilliant and deserved a far larger audience than they got, although they made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.
Check out the pictures for a bit of the flavour or just get hold of a record. You won't regret it.
Finally, I caught the end of Coldplay's mammoth Pyramid Stage set. Despite being disappointed with them three years ago, I have to admit that what I saw of the set was pretty damn great.
And let's face it, only Chris Martin could turn Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out Of My Head into a deeply moving ballad.
So that's it. Just one more thing: go and see the Magic Numbers. NOW.
You could almost wear shoes out there
Andrew P, 1235, Sunday
These wellies have been good friends for the last two days. They chafe a bit at the ankle, they aren't designed for comfort, especially when you're walking for miles, to and fro between stages, but I've seen the alternative and it's not pretty.
The site has dried out miraculously overnight
Those of my friends that didn't have any started out cheery enough, but a whole day of wet, freezing, muddy feet gradually wore them down. So it's with some amazement that I say this: "I'm putting my shoes back on."
The site has dried out miraculously overnight, in just a few hours of morning sunshine, and thanks to the efforts of the festival staff, who have been spreading huge bales of straw everywhere. It's not exactly a bowling green out there, but you can at least sit down. After two long days on my feet, that's a massive relief.
Confirmation that I'm a miserable get came in the form of excited, emotional reports from my colleagues who also saw New Order last night. Apparently, they were great, just not from where I was standing. Blue Monday was scheduled as an encore, but they cocked up their timings and overran.
Coldplay would make no such mistake, being masters of pacing a set and working a festival crowd. A cover of Can't Get You Out Of My Head followed by anthem-in-waiting Fix You was the perfect way to end their set (if you like that sort of thing).
After being told in advance so many, many times that Coldplay would be this year's 'Glastonbury moment' I'm actually glad that by all accounts the Magic Numbers was the place to be instead.
Only Brian Wilson can top that ...
Elsewhere on bbc.co.uk
- Radio 1 at Glasto
- 6 Music at Glasto
- BBC Somerset at Glasto
- Asian Network at Glasto
- Glasto '04 pics
- Radio 4 goes to Glastonbury
Elsewhere on the web