I’ve been home a few days now and given the abundance of gunk and soreness in and around my lungs and throat I have enough time to bosh out one of these article thingy’s. I know, I know, it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy. Earning my stripes… playing… Overwatch. So, without further ado, here is my Glastonbury 2017 review.
After staying at a friend’s house on Tuesday night (thank you Chambo!) we set off for the field of dreams. We had been warned that Wednesday would be long in all aspects. Long queues, long safety checks, long hours of sunshine and long journeys. After all the anticipation of ghastly waiting times the only problem with Wednesday was that it was just too damn hot. The journey from Bristol was a breeze, the queuing was fine – about thirty minutes from start to finish and the safety check was just as every other year. After an hour or two in full sunshine without shade a person can only take so much before curling in to a ball in the only shade available, beside our tent in this case, and waiting it out. As Vera and I waited for our friends we took it in shifts, rotating our time in the tent shade whilst the other one sweated out precious water in the sauna we’d erected minutes before. It wasn’t the best system, but by God we were in the campsite with bags of space, about a three minute walk away from Silver Hayes.
It’s always a nice steady start to the festival on the Wednesday. People arrive, set up camp and go exploring and although we didn’t have to wait too long before our friends arrived in the late afternoon, the heat – hitting temperatures up to 33 degrees – really took it out of us. In search of shade we headed towards the Glade and stationed ourselves in a small wooded area where we could get some rest bite and play some cards. Despite the conning hippies who sold us some dodgy food for extortionate prices, we had arrived and it was glorious!
Day one down, lost in a blur of cocktails and cold ciders, intermingled with regular water breaks due to the intense heat we part took in walk to the Stone Circle and went to the silent disco to while away the time before getting home at a rather respectable hour at about 3 am.
Thursday, thank the weather Lords was mild enough to wear a t-shirt and jeans without being either too cold or too warm. There were some periods of warm summer sun but on the whole the temperature was perfect. Vera and I had had a well organised plan of bands we wanted to see this day and after some wandering around and a bit of lunch we headed over to Williams Green for some Ultimate Power Ballads at 2 pm. It wasn’t the music we were waiting for but it was good fun nonetheless. My dad and step-mum also met us there and together with my friends we hung around in the Williams Green/Bandstand area for a good few hour; the highlight without a doubt being Rationale. I’m amazed that he’s not bigger by now as he has such a strong voice, tight band and enough electro-synth pop songs to shame many an 80s idol. He could easily wow the crowds on bigger stage I imagine. Second highlight of the day was probably the chorizo and pork Scotch egg I had for dinner with sweet potato fries which was so good that my friend instantly bought one after he tried mine.
At this age, it’s all about moderation and Thursday had been earmarked as a chilled night out in readiness for the three days of full music in front of us and because of this it was with great happiness (from my legs and toes) that we made it to sleep much earlier at 1 am. It turned out to be the best decision though as on Friday morning, after my first full night’s sleep in four days, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day.
The Pretenders kicked off the day with some classic dad music, displaying a much rockier edge than their sound produced, followed by one of the highlights of the day. All the way from New Orleans – the Hot 8 Brass Band covering favourites and giving them a funk twist. The crowd at 12pm on a Friday on the West Holts was huge to say the least and we were happy enough to get as close as we did. After the finished the field predictably emptied and normal service was resumed and it didn’t start to fill up again until Ata Kak showcased his particular brand of Ghanaian rap. After a quick boogie we sped over to Glass Animals and enjoyed a very enjoyable show from the pineapple lovers before making our way to the Pyramid for the trio of Royal Blood, the XX and the start of Radiohead.
Royal Blood, I’m sure were fine, but at the moment I do not remember a single thing about their set. Could it have been that bland? Quite possibly. It’s the only real thing I don’t remember of the whole day. The XX on the other hand belied their relaxed sound and a happy, dancey version of themselves turned up and turned the Pyramid field in to one big raving party. All around us people danced and jumped and wailed and hooted. Which is a shame because at the time of being on such a high, the last thing I needed to do was come down with some melancholic self-indulgence. After 30 minutes of Radiohead opening and proving they weren’t going to do a hits playlist my friend and I decided perhaps a more up tempo Friday night was to be found elsewhere and we found it at the West Holts. Dizzee Rascal and his friend (I still don’t know his name) kept the party tunes flowing for an hour solid and we danced, danced, danced until Bonkers erupted and for a second I thought the field had spontaneously combust in to fireworks. It turned out, there were actual fireworks going off but with so much verve and movement, we knew we’d made the right decision.
Saturday was meant to be the big one and it really didn’t disappoint! A fine, fine run of Run the Jewels, Katy Perry, the Avalanches and the Jacksons showcased just how diverse the music can get in a field full of strangers in Somerset. Surprise, surprise then when we started our day off with Afroquoi and got to the front barrier so easily we weren’t sure why the field was empty behind us. I reckon when they started there were perhaps 200 people milling around, unsure who the heck they were, but by the end there was a 15,000 strong wall of people mesmerised by their version of African dance music. It was utterly bewitching and they had the whole field dancing like it was Saturday midnight let along one in the afternoon. Fantastic fun! What a way to start the day.
Following this we moved on to the Pyramid and although Craig David was on my Clashfinder as a maybe, by the time I got there I remembered just why he was only a maybe. I only wanted to see him as he was such a memory of school discos but by God he was awful. Singing other people’s song, it was more like a collective karaoke session than seeing an original artist, which is strange because the field was packed. Who said you needed to be a music fan to go to a music festival? Anyway, after waiting for the long lines of teenage girls and their mums leaving the field we managed to squirm our way to the very front of the Pyramid Stage – the first time I’ve been so close in the five times I’ve been. Run the Jewels were on next and although this blog has some politics in it, I didn’t want this review to descend in to it, so why they decided to sanction a party political broadcast before the show I don’t know. I get that they have a platform and want to use it, but no other party would have been offered such an opportunity and this for me is what makes Glastonbury a little bit of an echo chamber – and Jeremy Corbyn’s speech reflected this entirely.
There were plenty of empty platitudes, slogans, populism (which incidentally he never gets called. Something it seems is only reserved for centre or right politicians, despite the definition meaning politics for ordinary people and JC’s repeated mantra we need a system for the many, not the few – the very definition of populism). He managed to show his wilful ignorance of all manner of things. “We need more love – not walls!” he shouted to the half baying crowd. Except everyone knows that Glastonbury is surrounded by a big ten metre wall which was erected due to safety concerns and to keep crime down. “We need to redistribute the wealth!” he screamed. Of course many people cheered, having never lived in a world outside of the one they know with their smartphones and one thousand pound weekends of music – if they were really that moral they could always start with themselves perhaps. “We need to live in a world more like Glastonbury!” he wailed, hailing the crowd as the next group of comrades to fight the cause. Except he should take a look around the site once in a while; there is rampant commercialism and capitalism at the festival. Food and drink are well over the odds, there are horrible selfish litterbugs everywhere chucking litter on the ground when there are bins in front of them, no working sewage, no working system of education, no working system of control and policing – not only does the festival actually rely on the real police coming in and doing their job, they also hire private security firms to hold back idiots who try and get in to places they shouldn’t.
Glastonbury is fantastic for a weekend, but the real world? Some of us prefer to live in the real world Jeremy. If we lived in Glastonbury for the rest of our lives we’d all be poor and die in our 50s.
Anyway, like I said, I wish I didn’t have to write about the politics but that’s what happens when you shoehorn in JC before your favourite band. Run the Jewels on the other hand were equally comedic heroes as they were bass heroes. The tunes came thick and fast and it was probably the fast hour of jumping and dancing I’ve ever experienced at the festival. Completely with scarves and a couple of bruises it was probably my favourite gig of the entire weekend.
Katy Perry had a lot to live up to and she enjoyed some highs too, but for me there were too many lows. It was a roller coaster, but I wanted to stay on the Big Dipper instead of hanging out on the teacups every other song, which was a bit of a shame. Avalanches picked us back up and kept us warm but it was the Jacksons who really threw us around with their throwback tunes and disco moves. Saturday truly had lift off again when they swung us around and asked “Can you feel it?”. Yes, lads, yes we can. Tremendous stuff.
Sunday, oh ruddy Sunday. It was the last day and the mood felt like it. Thank God then for the uplifting tunes between King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Barry Gibb and Chic. Between the three we were a-toe-tapping, jigging, swirling each other around and generally grooving. Barry especially was visibly moved by the size of the crowd and given in the past how many people made fun of the Bee Gees and their sound, it seems to have gone full circle to real appreciation again.
Give it was the last night there was always a slight cloud on the horizon and we needed something special to keep us going, but we got that with KGLW, Barry and Chic, not to mention Justice or brushed off the dust collecting on our weary feet and knees one last time for a dance session at the West Holts before it was time for one more sleep and then home. It was tiring and we were nearly beaten but oh, boy! what a party!
Glasto Rating in general 4.5 / 5.
Major highlights: Afroquoi, the Jacksons, Dizzee Rascal, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Run the Jewels, Rationale, the XX
Honourable mentions: Barry Gibb, Chic, Glass Animals, Ata Kak, the Pretenders, Avalanches, Katy Perry
Disappointments: Royal Blood and Radiohead (as I realised they weren’t going to do a greatest hits set)
Those I wish I’d seen: Slaves and Goldfrapp