My first Glastonbury festival since 2011 and my eighth visit to Worthy farm for this global event.
Arriving on the Thursday to avoid the predicted queues and understandable searches (which never seem to have materialised?) we were on the site after a short queue and body scan (that’s us, not our baggage??).
Camp set up and it’s time to explore the site which seemed to be the usual wonderland of sights, sounds and smells already. Perfect weather all weekend, meant it was neither too muddy or, too hot to walk around all the stages, stamina and human traffic permitting.
It quickly became evident that there was a political heat at the festival quite unlike I had experience before, indeed, it did not seem to abate even slightly until Sunday. It did at times over the weekend seem like we were living inside a Labour Party Political broadcast!
The vibe otherwise was generally ‘peace’ orientated although I did feel that when crowded the pushing and shoving came without any politeness in many cases unlike past years which, was sad.
Anyhow, happy to be back and here’s the music I got to see;
The Earache Records Metal Stage in Arcadia saw Napalm Death from Birmingham kick our festival off to a rocking start on Thursday evening.
Fast forward to 11am Friday and it’s a resurgent Pretenders on The Other Stage, Chrissie Hynde is in fine form and the new material fits in well with the classics.
A 15 minute stroll to the Park stage where I set up camp for the afternoon starts off with a sonic storm that is Bo Ningen. Next up is Margo Price (which just shows the diversity of this festival) Psych rock to country in a blink of an eye.
A lovely set which was great to start with and which seem to go up another notch when Margo left the stage to take off her (presumably painful) boots!
Walkman, Hamilton Leithauser and band looked like they had just arrived and gone straight on stage (immigration hold-ups Hamilton explained) but with his voice the songs are as powerful as ever. Mark Lanegan is more suited to darkness than bright afternoon sunlight but the man with the baritone still comes across in menacing style.
Next one of my festival highlights was Angel Olsen and band. Great songs, temperament and her general mischievous nature made for a fabulous set. Then we were into surprise set territory. Rumours during the day included Elbow, Arcade Fire and the Maccabees.
Elbow took the stage and played a triumphant set with Guy Garvey in pristine form. A brilliant sing-a-long even with those on the hill behind.
Straight over to the Pyramid stage for the night’s headliners, Radiohead. Having followed this band all the way through their career this was an incredible show for someone like me, for newcomers an introduction but, the the set needed a true attention span to be present and this was never going to happen hence, the range of comments after the set. For someone who love this band, it was magnificent.
All the oldies (there are still plenty of us at Glasto) gathered back at the Pyramid early Saturday morning with the kids, for The Bootleg Beatles and their run through Sgt Pepper with an orchestra.
Good fun to start the day.
Joseph are next on the Acoustic stage. Three sisters with wonderful harmonies provide a lovely set. Then it’s off to The Other Stage and great to see British Sea Power blast through a set of songs on the back of their new album, wild bears included!
Sigrid a future pop star from Norway played the Park Stage to a sizeable crowd although I did find myself drifting to the Bumble Inn for the fabulous trio, Thrill Collings. An acoustic guitar, stand-up double bass, bongos and three voices, what else do you need? Massive fun and engagement with the crowd, a fantastic Skiffle group!
It always pays to read the programme closely, expecting to see New Zealander Nadia Reed on the Park stage, it turn out to be Nadia Rose! .. I decide to start the trek from The Park to William’s Green which turns into a marathon through the biggest congestion of human traffic I think I have ever seen. A crammed Other Stage for Kaiser Chiefs is met by thousands of people moving away from their Corbyn Fest on the Pyramid, rather than stay for Run the Jewels. Result, gridlock.
I get to the Williams Green tent for most of a sonic Thurston Moore set, then it onto the front rail for growing Aussie legends, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (who came up with that name?). Thirty minutes of psych rock follows that would blow off anybody’s socks. Impressive!
It’s the Pyramid Stage for the rest of the evening starting with The National playing their first gig of their latest world trek. One of my favourite bands, they do however, seem a bit lost on the vast expanses of the main stage but still seem to enjoy themselves. The new songs sound excellent but the energy of the band never transmits very far up the hill.
Foo Fighters finally make it to Glastonbury and play a brilliant set that must mean a return visit one year. One of the biggest bands in the world they never seem to stray far from the common man, keeping a connection with the crowd that is mightily impressive. Rock on guys!!
Sunday starts with Slaves in the “Sunday morning legends slot” on the Other Stage, a set that certainly blows the cobwebs away. Deaf Havana next up on the same stage prove a solid rock band before we head off for an afternoon at the John Peel Stage.
Real Estate are such a great band, real class and great musicians. Another set from King Gizzard follows this time on a much bigger stage with videos. Like Mark Langegan tho ... these guys need darkness!
Next is one of the stand out sets of the entire weekend which is quite amazing since it followed the energy of the aforementioned King Gizzard and preceded the by now, common knowledge, Killers surprise set.
Enter, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. A man who most defiantly wears his heart on his sleeve and tells the crowd how it should be. Be that the set up of the mosh pit, the warm cider (?) poured over him and back over the punter by Frank when on walk-about in the crowd or, the fact that ladies should be allowed to crowd surf WITHOUT being groped! Which they did quite happily as Frank had given a stark warning of the consequences should anyone transgress. This was primal rock n’ roll and outstanding in it’s execution.
The Killers are next, the place is rammed and rammed again, everyone jumping and singing so loud it’s difficult to hear Brandon himself. This was an absolute triumph and 60 minutes never to be forgotten. Brandon said he was told “you play the John Peel Stage twice in your career, once on the way up and once on the way down” I don’t think this particular band will ever be on the way down!
A walk over to West Holts for a wonderful set in the sunshine from the Cinematic Orchestra was well with the effort. The site was always busy and if muddy theses lengthy walks between stage would have been a nightmare.
Sustained after a Goan Fish Curry, I trek back to the John Peel stage for London Grammar only to find the tent and field as busy as it was for The Killers so, it’s a trek back to The Other Stage for a sublime show from Emeli Sandé and that, concluded my musical Glastonbury 2017.
Apart from Ani di Franco and Metronomy on Acoustic and John Peel stages (just too tired for another trek) respectively, nothing else really struck a cord with me to watch as far as Sunday headliners went.
Overall then, the massive endeavour that is modern day Glastonbury passed off brilliantly well. The weather took a big hand in that but as ever with well over 200,000 people on site the organisers and staff deserve a BIG THANK YOU.
2019 it is then.