« Previous | Main | Next »

Field Research

Stuart Bailie | 17:17 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Pocket Billiards featuring the Wonder Villains at Glasgowbury Music Festival 2012 Pic: www.carriedavenport.com

The internet recently fetched up a scan of my Record Mirror review of Self Aid from the RDS Stadium, Dublin 1986. That was quite a day, with music from U2, Elvis Costello, the Pogues, Bob Geldof, Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, The Chieftains, and a tribute to the recently deceased Phil Lynott, led by Gary Moore. I wouldn't claim that the typewritten copy I filed was particularly insightful, but I had an exciting time of it, grabbing quotes from the artists and trying to articulate some of the contrary feelings on the day.

Interestingly, my review probably arrived on the streets 10 days after the event. The magazine was published in London, the turnaround was not fast and the public was reasonably tolerant of such deadlines. That continued during my NME days, certainly the Glastonbury coverage of the late Eighties, when you might just about sneak in a few weekend news stories, images and a sketchy review.

It all changed in the Nineties. I remember the despatch bikers revving up at Reading and Stratford and Chelmsford festival sites, taking rolls of film to Joe's Basement in Soho, ready for swift development, onwards to the NME production department in King's Reach Tower. Copy was springing out of Mac Classics onto floppy discs and the printing company was managing colour reproduction right up to the line. At Glastonbury 1993 we had a garden shed behind the Pyramid Stage and a laptop. Two years later and Steve Double arrived on site with a prototype digital SLR. It was huge and the memory was minute. But hey, we could load live images onto the fledgling nme.com site before the bands had even left the stage. We had hired our own ISDN line especially. It all seemed miraculous.

I was thinking about such things during my Saturday at Eagle's Rock, Co Derry, watching the annual Glasgowbury fun. It was a blizzard of phones, Instagrammed cheesey chips and Facebook babble. We were evidently in the open source age, with its multiplicity of opinions and squiffy witnesses, mugging for every pixelated moment. So, 26 years on from my Self Aid gig, and I decided that I wasn't going to work it this time. Glasgowbury was being covered by the good people of ATL, by blogs, sundry sites and lone word-slingers. Instead, I would go off duty and experiential with my tent, some friends and a loose agenda. I chose not to see the bands through a lens and a viewfinder. I had no pen or notebook. I was on my media hols.

Still, I was pleased to see Katie Richardson on that big stage and to be reminded of the bristling danger of Therapy. The lovely Tony from VerseChorusVerse was great singing Sonic Youth on his acoustic guitar while Soak triumphed over a wonky system, signing off with a comedic 'Numb'. I was sad for Kowalski, who deserved a better crowd but More Than Conquerors had the magnetism and the riffs.

My payoff was the socialising, the new pals, the decent weather, those wiggy DJs sets, plus the lost moments blethering on grass banks and an alternative time sequence that comes out of all that sensory swirl. Next year I'm taking a quill and some parchment and getting properly old school.


Be the first to comment

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.