Entertainment & Arts

10 things we learned at Glastonbury

Image caption Jack White got a little over-exuberant on stage

As thousands of fans traipse home bleary-eyed from this year's Glastonbury festival, the BBC's Mark Savage looks back at what he learned at this year's event.


Image caption Michael Eavis is not immune to the lure of the occasional selfie

The man who founded Glastonbury back on his farm in 1970 says he's planning to hand over full control to his daughter Emily in 2020.

"I think I can run on another six years, which would take me up to 50 years, then [I'll] see what happens after that," he said on Sunday morning.

He also confirmed the festival would be back in 2015 and 2016, before taking a fallow year in 2017.

The sometime-dairy-farmer is a popular presence around the festival site, mobbed by grateful fans as he tours around to make sure everything is running to plan. We even saw a Michael Eavis selfie scrum on Thursday night.


Image copyright PA
Image caption Metallica were the first metal band to headline Glastonbury

"Raise your hand if music moves your soul," said Metallica's James Hetfield before playing a song "called Cyanide from the album Death Magnetic". Well, quite.


Glastonbury largely outlawed the old, stinky chemical toilets this year, introducing eco-friendly "long-drop" toilets and composting loos. It smelt better, it looked better - but don't for any second think the stars were using them, too.

The lavatorial arrangements backstage have been a bone of contention since 1999, when Billy Bragg outed the Manic Street Preachers for bringing along their own loos and pinning a sign to the door that said: "These facilities are reserved exclusively for the Manic Street Preachers."

So what's the situation really like?

"The toilets are absolutely amazing. Immaculate," said Kaiser Chiefs guitarist Andrew "Whitey" White.

"The problem at the John Peel Stage is that only one of the cubicles has a Jacuzzi in the corner," pitched in his band-mate Vijay Mistry.

"Because we're a touring band, this is basically what we live our lives by - food, sleep and toilets," White added.

"That's what you look for as soon as you get off the tour bus. So we can always sniff out - for want of a better word - a good toilet."


Jack White swigged from a bottle of champagne, covered Metallica's Enter Sandman and glared menacingly into the cameras as he played on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday.

But his theatrics got the better of him at the climax of a buzzing version of Seven Nation Army. Leaning closer and closer to his drummer in a thrilling musical duel, he suddenly lost his balance, tumbling to the floor along with the drummer and his kit.


Image copyright AFP
Image caption Haim weren't impressed with the inclement weather

When Haim played Glastonbury last summer, the sun was shining, the days were long and the temperature was balmy.

So this year, Alana Haim felt cheated.

"Last year was so beautiful and I was like, 'Oh, I can handle anything,'" she said on Thursday as the heavens opened. "But seeing the amount of mud on the festival site - it's breathtaking. Be careful what you wish for."

Sophie Ellis Bextor was more philosophical. After her set on the Avalon stage wrapped up on Friday, she managed to trek through the swamp to see three headline acts - Arcade Fire, MIA and Skrillex.

"I was just roaming around, which is probably why my legs are a bit sore," she said. "You realise when you finish the night you've effectively been rambling. You're going on a five-mile hike."

So could she be leaving Glastonbury in better shape than she arrived?

"That would probably be true if I could stop drinking cider and eating custard tarts!"


London Grammar were just starting out when they played Glastonbury's Pussy Parlure Nouveau stage in 2013. This year, they headlined the John Peel stage and it's fair to say they felt the pressure.

"I'm terrified," singer Hannah Reid told the BBC, two hours before show time. "It's actually really bad. We've not been doing this very long and I don't take naturally to being on stage in front of lots of people."

"I think we're hoping in the back of our minds that there won't be lots of people there," adds guitarist Dan Rothman. "I think it's the whole Glastonbury thing."

"That's what's freaking me out, too," says Hannah. "You struggle to feel worthy for Glastonbury. I feel like 'oh no, I'm really a fraud. I can't sing at all and everyone at Glastonbury's going to know.'"


Ed Sheeran duetted with Rudimental, Richie Sambora joined forces with Dolly Parton and Eliza Doolittle guested with Disclosure. At one point, it seemed like everyone at Glastonbury was phoning up their mates and saying "let's put the show on right here."

Everyone, that is, except Arcade Fire.

"Even for a really well-versed bunch of versatile musicians, it takes more work than you'd want to have something sound really good and not be a novelty cover," said the band's Richard Reed-Parry.

"We don't usually do covers for novelty. Well, that's not entirely true but... next question!"


Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Children were transported through the mud in all manner of ways - here, in a modified bath tub

"Look, mum. A GIANT CHICKEN!"

Knight Jones, the son of R&B star Kelis, was more interested in Glastonbury as a massive adventure playground than as a place to watch live music.

After her triumphant early-afternoon set on the Pyramid Stage, the singer took her four-year-old down to the Kidz Stage to be let loose.

Billed as Europe's largest free festival for under-12s, it's the baby of Tony Cordy, who set it up 20 years ago. Casting a parental eye over every detail, Tony is keen to stress the name of his favourite Glastonbury zone must be spelt correctly: "It's kidz with a z otherwise we'd be baby goats!"

The activities on offer ranged from face painting and a ukulele workshop to a Big Top that featured acts such as a Cat in the Hat and Dynamo the magician (not together - though just imagine).


As the rain went biblical on Friday, we were speaking to Elbow's Guy Garvey.

"As you were speaking then, the power to this tent has just been cut," he said. "All the power at Glastonbury has been switched off on account of an electrical storm. I like those odds. That sounds quite dramatic to me... If we get to play."

Thankfully, the band did get to play after power was restored - but we started to wonder what people would save if they had to be evacuated from Glastonbury on a life raft?

Singer-songwriter George Ezra knew exactly what he'd do. "I saw my record on vinyl for the first time today and I gave it to Fearne Cotton," he said. "So if we had to evacuate now, I would hunt Fearne Cotton down and pinch it back out of her hands."

Pop newcomer Chloe Howl recommended "loads of baby wipes because baby wipes can get you through everything".

Jack Steadman, lead singer of Bombay Bicycle Club, turned to kidnap. "I'll bring Sharon Jones from the DapTones," he decided. "I've just always wanted to meet her and in a life raft we'd have no choice but to become friends."

But Kaiser Chiefs drummer Vijay Mistry had the simplest demand of all.

"Maybe a Twix?" he said. "You'll always be ok if you have some kind of chocolate sustenance."


"I know that was corny, but it was fun," said Dolly, after she played Benny Hill's theme song on a rhinestone-encrusted saxophone.

She pretty much summed up the feelings of everyone watching the show. The hoe-downs and hee-haws were cheesier than a Frenchman's pantry, but a feel-good, full-hearted singalong was just what Glastonbury's battered, bruised and bedraggled revellers needed.

They came dressed in Dolly Wigs and spangled costumes (how did they keep them dry all weekend?) and gave the country legend a gig to remember.

"Thanks for singing along with me, I heard you out there!" she said, sounding genuinely delighted.

"See you next time."

Next time? We can only hope.

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