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Michael hopes Emily will take over
Glastonbury is "the best festival in the world"
by Rebecca Cafe
Glastonbury Festival 2008 will be remembered for bringing an American rap star to the masses, flame-spewing robots and finally some sunshine. So what's in store for 2009?
Despite all the controversy surrounding the 2008 Glastonbury Festival, organiser Michael Eavis has not lost any love for the festival.
"I've never enjoyed it so much although I've had a lot of worries this year with the tickets not selling - I lost half a stone in weight at one point, I was so scared but it came through. So when you get so scared like that and then when it comes right in the end, it's fantastic," he said.
Indeed this year's musical juggernaut will be remembered as being one of the most controversial Glastonbury's ever.
Around 175,000 people attend Glastonbury
Tickets did not sell-out in record time as they usually do and the decision to give American rapper Jay-Z a headlining slot raised more than a few eyebrows.
"The festival was absolutely fantastic. I say that every year don't I but it was far and away the best one we've ever done with all of the problems with the young people and the Jay-Z thing so there's all sorts of issues which kind of rocked the boat a little bit.
"We sold out in the end, but it wasn't until the Thursday before the Friday start and you can't believe how close to the wire we actually were."†
In fact the controversy caused Michael many sleepless nights.
"I feel completely different to how we were talking six months ago when we were saying "oh no is this the end, it's on its way out because we didn't sell out straight away". So we had all those stories about the demise of the festival and they were completely wrong. We completely changed it around."
With the critics won over, Michael has hailed it as the "best Glastonbury ever".
"Jay-Z was great - it was the best thing he did in the whole country by far because it was the biggest thing he did. So his people wrote back saying how much they loved it and they wished it was at the end of the tour and not the beginning.
"It really was a good decision; he filled the bill really well. He was actually spot on and there was so much press from it. Some of it was after us at the time but at the end of the day everyone came onboard."
And it seems it's not just Michael who had a great time this year.
"The feedback we've had from the bands has been incredible," he said. "The weather was pretty good and the bands were absolutely terrific; the Kings of Leon, Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond, The Ting Tings - whatever sort of music it was they all did it so well and people enjoyed it so much."†
Michael said he was also pleased that this year's event seemed to attract more teenagers - a wish which again caused a lot of outcry after last year's festival.
The introduction of the Mutoid Waste Company's Trash City was another highlight for Michael.
"Trash City was exceptional. They did such an incredible job, they really excelled themselves."
He loved it so much he might even give the area more space to fill with their flame-spewing robots and abandoned planes.
Another area which, according to Michael, everyone wanted to go to was his daughter Emily's section - The Park.†
So what about next year? Despite the success of Jay-Z, Michael said they would probably revert to the usual headliners.
"We'll probably being going for the more traditional headliner next year because there are more of them around and after this year everyone wants to come onboard because it was such a good do."
He said he would even ask Oasis to perform, despite Noel Gallagher's widely-reported attack on the festival this year for booking Jay-Z.
The site is now back to normal
Michael has a wish list of acts but the cost of attracting these artists plays an important part. He has, in the past, turned down acts such as U2 and The Rolling Stones as they wanted more than the festival could afford.
"This festival is completely different to all the other ones - totally a different experience to anything else. Even the performers know that so anyone who comes here and experiences the festival knows that it's a different event to the commercial ones."
Michael then went on to answer his critics who said Glastonbury was losing its crown of being the best music festival to some of the other leading commercial ones.
"We're a lot bigger, we're a lot better. We've got so much more on offer. You've only got to walk around the site to see that."
He then said although Glastonbury costs around £20 more, you get more for your money and that "we're worth four times as much easily".††
"The Theatre, and the Circus and Trash City - there's so much other stuff going on and now people are noticing it and the other ones don't have that."
'Just a dairy farm'
In fact Michael said what made Glastonbury stand out from all the other music festivals was the infamous "Glastonbury spirit".
"The spirit is great! The press I get - people talk about it all the time. They say there's nowhere like it and some of these people have never been before.
"So that spirit thing is incredibly powerful and that's what people like about the festival - it's not commercial. We're an ordinary dairy farm - it's not like we're promoting all the year round because we're not. It's just got that flavour of a real farm with real people getting involved with it. I don't call myself a promoter. The farm always comes first."
And what about the future?
Michael has said he'll probably retire from the festival when he reaches his 80th birthday - and expects Emily to take over "if she enjoys it as much as I do, which she obviously does".
"She's already hands on - she rings me everyday and we compare notes on headliners and everything so she's involved with all sorts of things. She's come up trumps, she really has."
last updated: 24/07/2008 at 14:57
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