Below I’ll describe each day and the bands we saw further but for a summary of the weekend read on. With the weather set fair getting around the site is easy although you do need a good level of fitness as one of our troop clocked over 20km on one day alone.
My plan this year is to experience new areas not previously visited along with still seeing plenty of bands and especially those I have never seen before. A lot of time this year was spent at the top of the site including the Park and beyond. New performance area for me was the Crow’s Nest right on top of the hill near the Glastonbury sign. It’s a small round tent decked out in a maritime them. A perfect way to laze around and pick up a couple of bands.
We also took in Strummerville too where we saw some of our group performing on Sunday. A real big deal for the two Goodale brothers and I was glad to share this with their proud parents.
It’s from this vantage point that the real scale of Glasto hits you. As far as the eye can see its tents, people and car parks. There is constant movement below me as the steady stream of people are moving around the site.
We took in the Silver Hayes area which is another new area for me. It’s predominantly a dance area but it also houses the BBC Introducing tent where we took in Wildwood Kin and a secret George Ezra set. Unfortunately its placing directly opposite the Blues area, which is mocked up as a Jamaican shanty town blaring out drum and bass, is not ideal as there is quite a bit of bleed from that area.
Finally, defying our years we rocked down to the South East corner of the site which is the late night rave area. We took in Shangri LA, The Common and Block 9. Music aside it’s an amazingly designed area with great sets, buildings made out recycled bottles, 360 degree video screens, a crashed tube train emerging out of a building, a meat factory, waterfalls and the Earache express which is a converted London tube train with the band at one end and the audience either at the other or watching through the open doors.
So 26 bands, 19 for the first time, over four glorious days we leave exhausted but exhilarated vowing to return once more in two years’ time. Glastonbury is a truly unique experience. It’s a bubble from the outside, you just get immersed in the atmosphere forget about the troubles in the world and relax and take it all in.
Best Glasto yet…I think so
This year we are driving and had an excellent trip down going from home to tent in a little over two and half hours.
We’re back at our usual camp site where our luxurious accommodation … cough tent awaits. It’s an upgrade this year as the sleeping areas have blackout curtains which is a really useful addition.
After a quick decamp we head straight onto site to catch up with the rest of our group for a couple of beers in the sunshine. With little music on Thursday whatever is on is packed, as we found when we headed over to Williams Green to see the Smyth’s. The place is rammed and you can’t get within twenty feet of the tent entrance let alone inside. Retreating to the bar our next stop is to our favourite late night haunt The Avalon Café.
Loyd Grossman and the New Forbidden
Yes that Loyd Grossman. He’s an accomplished guitarist and his band perform a fun 60 minute set of good time pop music. The crowd love it and we see the welcome return of the best chant of the weekend. ‘We love your pasta sauce’. A good first day and it’s a fairly early one to rest up for the main event of the next three days.
Opening the whole festival are Pretenders for the 11.00am slot on the Other Stage. I was curious to see how Chrissie Hynde’s voice has held up over the past forty years. Well I needn’t have worried. It was as strong as ever. It was a great way to open the festival. She is backed by a great band featuring the super talented James Walbourne on guitar. They were in my top three acts over the whole weekend.
Also in my top three of the weekend is the irrepressible Margo Price playing on the Park. It’s my favourite stage, medium sized in a natural bowl with a good view from everywhere. Live, she really brings the songs to life and the band rock it up throughout.
First Aid Kit
More female led music which becomes a theme over the weekend with First Aid Kit on the Pyramid. It’s a big crowd and they are well received producing a fine set of oldies and newbies with a nice cover of ‘The Gambler’ to boot.
It’s a quick yomp back up the Park for the king of the gravelly voice Mark Lanegan. Looking literally like death, his ghostly pallor evidencing a lack of Vitamins C and D he nonetheless delivers a faultless set.
Staying at the Park, I was looking forward to Angel Olsen. I really like her two albums especially last year’s ‘My woman’. However, whilst the set had its moments its felt a little disjointed and stop start which meant that any musical momentum got a bit lost.
Rushing hot foot to the Glade for a trip down memory lane with Rankin Roger’s The Beat. It’s a hit laden set transporting me back to my youth. Excellent stuff. You all know the words you know the dances. All that was missing was my Fred Perry polo shirt.
It’s a quick pit stop to refuel before the main event tonight, Radiohead. We were expecting big things and their recent tour has seen them stay away from their more obscure tracks and keep in the main to more well-known songs. It’s also the anniversary of Ok Computer so there was an expectation of a lot from there and indeed they did play seven songs from the record.
However, from a show point of view like Angel Olsen it didn’t flow, the screens were filled with psychedelic images and not much of the band, they went black after every song so you had no idea what was happening on stage. There was little if any between song banter aside from Thom Yorke making weird noises. It was probably only in the last forty minutes that it gained momentum for the hits filled encores which probably saved the day for me. Moving in places but a disjointed set left you ultimately disappointed
It’s another early start at the Other stage and afterwards we were left wishing we had stayed in bed (sleeping bag) for another thirty minutes. Issues with a backing track meant that Aplin came on late. Quite why a backing track was needed is beyond me given she had a drummer, bass player and keyboardist all on stage. Just play your instruments with what you’ve got. Instead you had an orchestra and loud backing vocals from an invisible choir. I am also pretty sure the bass player only played ten notes throughout the whole set. Aplin seemed intimidated by the stage and this was reflected in the performance. Very disappointing for clearly a talented artiste.
No such problems for Whitney next up on the Other stage. They were engaging and professional playing tracks from their excellent album from last year ‘Light upon the Lake’. They were the perfect antidote to the previous act.
British Sea Power
Staying at the Other Stage for three in a row were British Sea Power. Taking in tracks from across their back catalogue it was a perfect hour of quality music with giant dancing bears added to boot.
After a dash back to our camp for a much needed shower we make our way to the BBC Introducing Stage stopping off to see Jeremy Corbyn addressing the masses on the Pyramid. I don’t know how he’s done it but he’s become some sort of superhero for the young and he draws a bigger crowd than Radiohead from the night before. There’s a myriad of Corbyn t shirts on display and the chanting ‘Ooo Jeremy Corbyn’ rang out across the site at various stage of the weekdn.
Going on a recommendation from one of group we hit the Silver Hayes area for two in a row at the BBC stage. Despite competing against an MC across the way at The Blues these three sisters from Somerset rise above the noise to deliver a lovely thirty minute set which augers well for their debut album out soon. As Tom Robinson thanks the girls he lets slip that next up is a secret set from George Ezra. Whilst not being a particular fan we decide to grab some food, a beer or tow and stay.
We weren’t disappointed, his short five song set included all the hits and his new single and was a thoroughly enjoyable surprise in the day.
Making our way out of Silver Hayes we stumbled across a Cuban band and stayed for the end of their set. Impressive, groovy stuff that had the crowd bopping around and its shame we didn’t get there earlier.
Beans on Toast
Dropping in to the Leftfield Stage we caught the first few numbers of peoples poet Beans on Toast. It was Ok but you felt its done better by Messrs Bragg and Turner.
Its then up the West Holts stage to see Beyoncé’s sister Solange. Producing one of the best R n B albums of last year we were treated to a slick show, with the band all resplendent in red, strutting their heavily choreographed moves across the stage. Reminiscnet of early Prince and the Time, tt was quite a spectacle and the songs went bad either.
Back to the Pyramid for what promises to be one of the best sets of the weekend as the Foo Fighters have a reputation for delivering a stunning show. And that’s exactly what they did. Eschewing most bands tendency to back end the hits they opened with three of their biggest, Times like These, All my Life and Learn to Fly. It then didn’t stop for two hours and twenty minutes running way over curfew. It was simply a relentless stunning show with the whole crowd and band intent on having a good time and that’s what they did. We were even treated to Grohl going back to his roots picking up the sticks behind the drums with Taylor Hawkins picking up lead vocals on Queen’s ‘Another one bites the dust’. Fantastic stuff and the perfect way to end the live music on the day. Without doubt the highlight of the weekend. It’s spectacular in every way.
Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
Whilst the statement above is technically true we then moved up to our usual late night haunt of the Avalon Café to catch the infamous Saturday midnight Hobo Jones slot. A good time band if there ever was one. They have been doing the same set for ever with the same jokes throughout. But hey no one cares cos we are all grinning from ear to ear. Of course what everyone wants is the infamous Country Boy (google it) and they duly deliver.
As dawn approaches its time to retire for the next days festivities.
Accompanying one of the youngsters in our group we catch this new band and they weren’t bad. Good songs and the lead singer has a solid voice too. One to check out.
Staying at the Other Stage its then Boston’s finest Irish punk band. It’s fun while it lasts but after twenty minutes I bid a hasty retreat for the sanctuary and complete contrast that is
A good crowd at the Pyramid for Marling but I manage to make my way into the inner circle right near the front for an hour of beautiful English folk music. I cannot think of a better way to come down from the aural onslaught that are the Dropkicks.
Up to a new venue for me today, the Crow’s Nest which is literally at the highest point in the festival. A small nautically themed round tent, it has a tiny stage on the natural slope of the hill. After playing earlier down on the Park the band have come up the hill for a short thirty minute set of quality Americana. Such is the relaxed atmosphere they even have a couple of members of the audience up on stage to play guitar on one track. They were the perfect sunny afternoon band.
Ed and Ollie Goodale
A short trot along the top of the hill to Strummerville to see Ed and Ollie Goodale, the sons of a couple in our group. A proud moment for both parents and a memory, whatever happens in their career, they will never forget. I wish them all the best.
Its then back to the Crow’s Nest for Ryley Walker. Expecting a set of modern folk classics we were instead treated to a thirty minute instrumental jam. Not the introduction to the artist I had promised my companion but enjoyable nonetheless.
We head off to our first visit to the John Peel stage of the weekend to catch the end of Goldfrapp only to find the aftermath of the Killers secret set. Apparently the area was closed off for an hour because of the mass of people and so much so Goldfrapp went on stage thirty minutes late as they waited to disperse so many people. So we joined the masses outside the tent and listened to the whole set of new stuff and classics.
Next up at the Peel is the super talented London Grammar. Led by Hannah Reid who possesses one of the most impressive voices you will ever hear. It is pitch perfect and we are blessed for an hour of her beautiful instrument. I would say an hour is probably enough as her voice is so strong of pitch and it’s full on. Maybe a little light and shade for longer sets.
Not wanting to see Ed Sheeran who seems to have sucked in much of the Glastonbury crowd given by the dearth of people around the rest of the site we head across site to the South East corner. Given the early hour, tennish, the place was quite empty and this gave us the chance to take in the impressive set designs of the various areas.
Hackney Colliery Band
Off back to the Avalon where we catch the Hackney Colliery Band while sipping a few cold ones at the neighbouring Avalon Inn. They play a mixed bag of originals and covers with a full brass band. My only criticism is that for the festival they would have been better serviced to have tilted the set towards more covers.
So our merry group all get together at the end of the day to assess what has been a spectacularly brilliant weekend, made the better with the good weather and our usual promises to do it all over again next time
I covered a lot of ground this year, saw some new areas and yet you are still let wondering about all of the other spaces that I have still yet to see and experience. Well there’s always next time. Thanks Glasto see you again real soon.
Keep on Glastobury rockin’ y’all.