GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL REVIEW 2011

Another Glastonbury festival comes to an end and no doubt Michael Eavis will declare another triumph.  Whether you like the bubblegum pop of Boyance, the Folk of Paul Simon or the stadium rock of Coldplay or U2, there was something for everyone at this years festival.

For me it was a very different festival to look back on as I recover from the week’s exertions. This time my luck in obtaining a ticket ran out and I ended up on the Recycling Crew (aka litter picker) in order to attend the festival.  A very different experience.

My respect goes out to litter pickers all over the world!! It was a rather back breaking experience!

The theory was fine – we were to do the early shift from 6am to 12pm Thursday to Sunday in order to make the most of the time to see bands.  In the end the theory did not quite live up to expectation.  After a 6 hour shift walking all over Glastonbury picking up litter, picking up human shit and sealing bags of puke along the way, to then try and spend another 12 hours or more trudging around the site to see bands was a little optimistic!

The week started as we all feared, pouring with rain, wading through mud in our wellies as we picked litter.  As the week continued the mud got wetter and thicker until the extremes of Glasto weather went from the sublime to the ridiculous as a weather warning was issued not for the high winds and rain of the Friday night but the heatwave of the Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

From a run on fleeces and wellies to a run on sun hats and sun cream as the sun shone and the mud got stickier. I fear I was not the only one to get a round of applause for getting stuck in the mud on the way to the bar, I am just glad it was on the way TO the bar and not from it, otherwise i’d have been dealing with the loss of 2 hard fought pints !

So to the music

Friday was  a wet cold day, it was the day billed as one of the great Glastonbury performances as U2 were to take to the stage, all be it a year later than expected!  Friday for me was a fantastic day for music, but with far too many clashes.  I had to miss Primal Scream, Miles Kane, Metronomy, Jimmy Cliff, DJ Shadow, and Badly Drawn Boy just to name a few.

But my weekend’s music began at the West Holts stage and a pint of Brothers! Ziriguidum and their Brazilian rhythms began the day followed by the superb Dengue Fever.  The day had started well, great cider, great music and no rain.

Soon however, the rain began again as we headed to the Leftfield stage to see one of Bills big round ups with some guest musicians.  This was superb as ever. Then it was on to see another legend in BB King on the Pyramid stage. The mud got thicker and we took shelter in the Beat Hotel before venturing out for the misery of Morrissey and then U2.

Morrissey was wearing his usual chip on his shoulder through his rather short set before the much hyped u2 took to the stage.

At this point the rain was pouring down, it was very cold and the crowd packed.  We were treated to a greatest hits show that very few bands in the world could compete with.  A Glasto sing along was assured as hit after hit was played going through their repertoire starting with the singles from Achtung baby.

In the end though what did for them was the weather.  The set was excellent, they are still one of the best live bands in the world, but the weather dampened what would have been a great “Glastonbury moment”.

Saturday

Being knackered after another 6 hour shift the day started slowly as we trudged to the John Peel stage.  We camped out here where we saw Warpaint who were superb; the the Horrors who were also excellent; then Noah and the Whale who came out after playing an instrumental of Bohemian Rhapsody for the crowd to sing their hearts out assuring that the atmosphere was at its peak as the band came on.  Their set was a highlight of the festival for me.

Battles came on to a rather smaller crowd than for the former bands however, their set was superb.  They are truly an interesting band and I cannot wait to get a copy of their new album.

Then it was on to the headline act of the Chemical Brothers.  I have not seen them before and I was not to be disappointed.  It was an excellent set, just what we needed at the end of a hard day.  The Other stage was rammed with people enjoying the festivities.

The night however ended with a crush at the bridge coming from the other stage through to the Leftfield stage area.  People stuck in the mud and some falling over in a claustrophobic crush where people were falling on the floor.   Not a great idea to end the sets of both the Pyramid and Other stages at the same time.

Sunday

The heatwave arrived and I duly bought my festival hat to cope!  The Pyramid stage was absolutely crammed full as everyone seemed to have the same idea to chill out in the sunshine, as Don McLean gently led us into the final day’s festivities.

Laura Marling continued the folk theme until Paul Simon cam on to excite people.  Paul Simon’s set was superb and just what the doctor ordered.  Another of my highlights of the festival.

Then following another crushing march away from the Pyramid stage amidst the search for food and drink we headed for the West Holts stage.  Herculese and the Love affair were truly awful so we headed to the acoustic stage for the finale.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A few things come to mind when walking around the Glasonbury tented city -

  1. Who are these people who pitch their tents and then put up their barriers like the equivalent of the middle class suburban dwellers who buy their brand new Bryant home and immediately put up a 6 ft fence just in case their neighbours decide to talk to them!
  2.  If you are scared of fire at Glastonbury the place to be was definitely the John Peel stage.  I have never seen so many Fire Stewards in one place at any one time! Sometimes there were more fire stewards than people watching the bands!
  3.  Why do people think that throwing down rubbish on a field is ok? The amount of rubbish thrown down is truly amazing, some even go out of their way to throw the rubbish down rather than put it in the bin.  Do these people normally live in a rubbish dump??
  4. Can someone please please cheer Morrissey up?
  5. Why do people still go to Glastonbury without wellies?? Don’t they know it rains in Britain?
So we have a fallow year next year and no Glastonbury.  For me this was not a classic Glasto, but there is still nothing like it anywhere in the world and I will be the first on the computer in 2 years time for the sale of tickets for 2013.

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