Michael Eavis, after this year’s Glastonbury said that the festival “may only have three years left”, both due to people being put off by cost and the fact that they’ve seen it all before. I agree with him, but where this might see an end to other festivals or at least their decline – most likely the festival republic group. Clearly shown by the Reading Festival line-up, firstly because it lacks two good headliners, everyone who wants to see Muse has seen them enough times now to get very bored, if not they aren’t people who are really going to enjoy a music festival because they are twelve years old and still at the stage of just listening to one album before they start to develop any taste at all. I do understand however that My Chemical Romance have to be put up with, even if they are even worse than Muse, simply because “Reading Rock” needs one day of rock emo-pop? Wait a second does it? I think not. The point that I’m trying to make is that none of it is new. The most exciting band playing this year at Glastonbury, and also at Reading formed in 1978 for Christ’s sake. Secondly, due to the price of seeing twenty bands whom you saw two months ago, in my case at Glastonbury and one band whom you’ve never seen, being nigh on £200. All we need is some new music.
We can’t expect any new music to be at festivals, especially in the next few years, if a replacement genre doesn’t grow quickly out of the death of indie, which too me is a necessity and the sooner the better, for the sake of new music and all festivals. Glastonbury however, is not going to die out even if it is the last festival standing – which no doubt it would be. Glastonbury’s immense variety and diversity of events many of which having nothing to do with music, make it better than any other festival – the healing, craft and green fields all making the festival a cut above the rest. The environmental concerns of the festival are also a great aspect, although a CND speak to an indifferent Pyramid crowd by Caroline Lucas, Green MP just showed me that the general populous is uncaring for wider society and the survive and improvement of human civilisation. They were waiting to watch U2 so it probably was a crowd disproportionate of British people, or so I hope. I could say a lot on the green aspect of Glastonbury, environmentalism is personally of great importance the problem is the wider world doesn’t seem to find a fault.
Such experiences beyond music make Glastonbury the greatest festival in the world, the atmosphere for me in my third year was unbeatable – even the mud improved things, except from lengthening journey times and that can be a bit problematic on such a huge site. Mud and sun; a strange combination for the time of your life, until you remember the music but that’s what makes Glastonbury as well as the compulsory pie from Pie Minister next to the Brother Bar at West Holts, the nicest pies ever. Also Shangri-La after hours is a must, even if it is utterly pointless and you don’t like drum and bass dance music, it’s an unmissable spectacle of lights and dystopian devastation. If you fail to watch the fireworks and countless Chinese lanterns on a Thursday night you simply don’t deserve to be there. To name but a few of the sides to Glastonbury that give it such an atmosphere of liberation, yes including the pies.
Nothing that I have yet mentioned created such a euphoric atmosphere as the secret gig on Saturday on the Park Stage at sunset, on walks Jarvis Cocker to the largest ever crowd at the stage with people being turned away, people like Kate Moss! Do You Remember The First Time first up just hits the spot, and Jarvis’ banter “You didn’t think we were going to forget about you Glastonbury!” or words to that effect, to me Pulp are Glastonbury, they hit the big time after filling in as headliners in 1995 – making Common People a Glastonbury and a British Anthem. This time it was a brilliant nostalgic sing-a-long, at least for those how are old enough to have remember the mid-nineties. For me it was unmatched control of the audience thanks to the brilliance of Jarvis, Babies, Sorted Out For E’s And Wizz, Disco 2000 and Sunrise. I can’t think of a better performance, without presuming too much I think it could have equalled their 1995 headline slot, said to be the greatest ever Glastonbury moment. This years is at least mine, the greatest gig that I have ever been to by a country mile.
There were other bands playing, but it only really needed one Pulp gig and I was satisfied, the rest of the weekend was a winding down process after the awe inspiring Pulp. So on to the rest, sadly for those who wanted to hear what I thought of Coldplay and Beyonce, shall not be in luck – I’m religiously stationed around the John Peel Tent and The Other Stage highlights included Everything Everything who played a brilliant set from their first album Man Alive, Tame Impala who are the new 60s Psychedelic revivalists, The Vaccines with some good snappy summer guitar tunes, and Bombay Bicycle Club who’s old material from I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose was as brilliant as always, Cancel On Me is an incredible song ruined by the new material that they have clearly based on Always Like This, the most commercially successful song off the first album and the worst on their – I am not expecting anything from what is undoubtedly going to be a mediocre second album. The Horrors came out with some very mature new material, with resemblances to Simple Minds and Orchestral Maneuverers in terms of the Syth, on first listen they showed that they were building on the brilliance of the second album Primary Colours, particularly with the previously released single Still Life, a strong contender for my personal Festive Fifty number one spot. It sounded superb live, they really have got the hang of the depth created using synthesizers and Faris Badwan has learnt to sing. Skying is going to be some third album.
Three bands all with female front women, really showed some class, The Joy Formidable have improved no end in the 10 months or so since I last saw them live, and they were brilliant then – I suspect this to be down to the chemistry created by the three-piece playing in a line with Matt on drums on centre left rather than behind, plus the addition of a centre stage seven-foot gong pleases me. Warpaint whose ghostly EP Exquisite Corpse far outshone the later debut album The Fool, but luckily they played these earlier songs, and to great effect including the raising of the hairs on the back of my neck, a must listen for a fan of the Cocteau Twins and Siouxsie And The Banshees. The same as Esben and the Witch, to whom I would possibly add Florence And The Machine to the influences of band that sound like a gothic fairy tale, just like their name sake. There album Violet Cries was recently released and is well worth a listen, even if it isn’t the most accessible of albums.
Nothing came close to Jarvis and Pulp, such an strong atmosphere and set list, the headliners of my Glastonbury Festival 2011, and I’m sure quite a few of that crowd’s as well. Eavis is wrong, money and recycling bands aren’t ever going to put people off Glastonbury, such things have no importance, the festival is an escape and a way of life that is as far away from dying off as it is possible to be. Love the farm, don’t leave a trace. I love the farm but always leave a trace of myself, part of my soul there, in those fields of Avalon.
Oscar B. Wilson