My third, and best, Glastonbury Festival of the Performing Arts.
It’s the festival that just keeps giving, as with each trip you discover areas that you’ve not been to before. The moving of Arcadia to the hill was not a complete success as it took it away from the action and the Disclosure DJ set that we went too was just stupidly busy. It’s the first time I’ve seen strong drugs quite so openly peddled by dealers at Glastonbury, and this too was a negative.
And of course, it rained. When I say rained I mean it really, really rained.
Like, biblical man.
The thunder and lightning storm that hit us on Friday at 5.30 was truly spectacular and resulted in the site being shut down for an hour after a lightning strike on the Pyramid Stage. This meant that Rudimental had to cut their set short. Shame as it was just bubbling up (they were far better last year at T in the Park).
Anyway that’s enough of the negativity, the rest of it was awesome and these are my picks.
It was a close call for my favourite act between John Grant, who put in an epic performance that nearly went nuclear when his extended take on Pale Green Ghosts kicked in and Massive Attack who put on a show of such perfection that it just drew your breath. Both Horace Andy and Martina Topley-Bird were incredible (and, I think, Shara Nelson) in a stunning politically charged set that they refused the BBC to film. The ground actually vibrated, so powerful was the bass. One of the greatest musical experiences of my life. Both these gigs were straight 10/10’s.
Not far behind, if indeed they were, were remarkable sets by Midlake who really rocked towards the end of their set and Robert Plant whose smattering of Zep songs made a hugely eclectic set unforgettable. His treatment of Whole Lotta Love was wondrous.
Also on the same glorious level was Dolly Parton, who was billed as something of a novelty act, but she carried off her set effortlessly with brilliant stories between her numbers. Apparently it may have been Glastonbury’s biggest ever crowd with estimates of over 100,000 at her gig. To hear 100,000 people sing 9 to 5 was something close to miraculous.
On the 8/9 out of 10 level were Lily Allen (Is my Camel toe too prominent in this dress, she asked, and she called Sepp Blatter a c***) Paulo Nuttini pulled off a mega performance. Nick Mulvey fell into this category and was a new find for me. His performance of Cucurucu was superb. As was an early morning slot for Argentinian/Uruguayan Gypsy type tango/jazz from Bajofondo – sheer brilliance on The Other Stage and looking like their lives depended on it being great. Mogwai rocked the Park Stage as headliners with probably the loudest noise of the weekend.
My other finds of the weekend were back to back acts on the wonderful West Holts Stage Firstly The Internet, a soul act that sounds like Jill Scott and looks a bit like Janelle Monae and the wonderfully named The Daptone Super Soul Review from New York featuring the unique (apart from James Brown) Charles Bradley. See them if you can.
And last, but no means least was Blondie. At 68 She hadn’t lost any of her panache and it was a great set with a mix of new and old material. It’s a bit scary to think that three of the best sets we saw (Blondie, Dolly Parton and Robet Plant) were by pensioners.
I wish I’d seen all of Arcade Fire’s set – we only saw the encores (although Regine Chassagny can’t really sing; either well, or in tune). It was brilliant on the BBC iPlayer recording, but we were at Skrillex first. (Not good).
Other notable performances (all 7/10) were Interpol, The Jezebels, Kaiser Chiefs, Danny and the Champions of the World, New Build, Hozier, Nitin Sawney, Goldfrapp (although a bit one-paced), Rudimental and The Black Keys.
Very few acts were actually bad but those that didn’t float my boat very much were The 1975, Caro Emerald, Toumani and Sidiki and Michael Kiwanuka (who put on an ill-advised set).
Skrillex was just bad.
Other great things were the Classic Rock night at The Chameleon Bar and the Beat Hotel’s many cramped DJ sets including one we saw by FourTet and and Joe Goddard of Hot Chip B2B (which means back to back apparently).
Here’s to Glasto 2015!