Tuesday 16 July 2013

Glastonbury etc.

It's been a good while now since we hosed off the mud (figuratively anyway) and our sore and burnt skin has healed over. All we have left to remember Glastonbury '13 is some loo roll, a battered list of bands, two disposable cameras worth of images (still being processed) and a very pretty dress which is Jasmine's not mine. Although I'd look fabulous if it fit me.


I owe everything to the Lloyds who kindly tented for us in the frenzied ruckus that has become Wednesday morning. Previous years the keenest would get in midday and set up their tent to avoid palaver, but since '11 when they let people sleep in the car parks it's become a bit of a piranah feeding frenzy. The Lloyds and co were up at three or thereabouts - just to get a tolerable spot in the Big Ground. Absolute madness really and I see why a lot of folk just plump for working there, getting a secure spot without the fuss seems like a fine exchange for shifts and free entry. Either way we were fortunate enough to have folk looking out for us and managed to get in fairly scot free. Needless to say the majority of our burden comprised of liquid rewards for our saviours - I mean, not a wheelbarrow full, but a large quantity.

Wednesday day normally gets swept aside by shell-shock and Burrow Hill - although we'd bought plenty with us it wasn't long until I saw those famed yellow cups saunter into view. Off we went to one of my favourite bits on site - The Avalon Inn which is a old-style two-story carven wooden pub wot do local ales and cider. It was heaving. Everywhere was heaving. On leaving in the morning we heard the radio say that the site was at sixty percent capacity "and growing". A side effect of the new Wednesdayscrum and I predict that it won't be too long before Glastonbury applies for the relevant permits and becomes a full five-dayer. As it was, Wednesday the site was heaving, all the bars and food places were open but the only stages fully playing music were in Green Futures.

The best of these was Small World - where in the afternoon of Wednesday we caught De Fuego a neat flamenco duo. This was actually the set we saw but we didn't record it - I'll try and find relevant videos for everyone. In terms of solid reviews Jazz has done a load of them here - I'll just gab around that. Green futures also holds the tin village which is a sustainable eco-community thing that is just a quiet and lovely place to sit in. We spend the majority of the first evening in there - suppin' cider and waiting for Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin who do slide guitar/fiddle blues folk stuff. They didn't end up showing up for whatever reason be we did catch the end of a furious Balkan gyspy group that had a bonafide mosh pit going on. For all Glastonbury's eclecticism there were a shit ton of "Balkan gypsy punk" bands on - it's the popular festival thing I suppose. That, native American headresses and endless moustaches. Moustache umbrellas, moustache suits, fake moustaches, real moustaches. Maybe I wouldn't mind the meme so much if I could grow one...


Sleep in the Pyramid field is rarely uninterrupted - and there was such a saga of woe that went on early Thursday morning that I can't avoid relating it. I was awoken around four or so by the righteous shriek "MY WALLET'S GONE" from a woman in the tent behind. Tent robbery is a bit of a thing at any festival and never pleasant. I felt sorry for her and expressed this by returning to sleep. Not for long, as the police were fetched and she related the tale to them "IT'S GONE" she yowled, over and over. They reassured her that more than likely the thief would dump it and just take the cash but she wasn't to be silenced. She was righteously angry now, it didn't matter that it was half five everyone had to know she'd had something terrible happen to her. "WHO THE FUCK WOULD DO THIS" She bellowed "WHO THE FUCK WOULD TAKE SOMEONE'S WALLET AT A FESTIVAL?!" Then logic kicked in and she began to think about her missing bank cards. Nearing six "IS THIS BARCLAY'S? YES I'VE HAD MY FUCKING WALLET STOLEN. NO I DON'T KNOW MY SORT CODE. YES I DO MY ACCOUNT NUMBER IT'S 71561-" At this point her friend interrupted saying that the whole campsite could hear her number. It wasn't the number I was annoyed about overhearing, but this whole sorry saga. Now well over an hour in it was losing it's drama. Finally things subsided and sleep was painstakingly re-achieved. Then less than twenty minutes later sleep was shooed off for good with an ear-shattering yelp of "...OH WAIT HERE'S MY WALLET - !"

We had a great many veggie breakfasts at Glasto, Jazz and I. She runs a blog of meatfree majesty called 500 Things to Do With Facon where she talks extensively about what we had for breakfast at the festival so I won't go into it here. Our mission on Thursday post breakfast involved heading up to The Park - the festival was truly heaving as we wound our way up there - we witnessed a procession of Alice in Wonderlandesque characters which seemed alarmingly impromptu and found ourselves a wooden iron throne which Jazz managed to get on with surprisingly little bloodshed.

Our first band of the day was Plucky Purcell, a SHOCK HORROR actual bonafide rock band who were very funky and seemed to have their own version of Bez who shook a maraca for the whole set. They gave out moustaches (there's that word again) and were quite energetic. Lawdy mama they were repetitive - though good fun and there are few venues as intoxicatingly batty as the Rabbit Hole. 

THEN THE RAINS CAME. Now to be fair to the rains, they didn't come back after they'd gone and they didn't bugger up the site but for twelve hours solid it rained. I was unprepared. I had to buy one of those crappy cellophane poncho things that cost four quid and you never use again. We retreated back to the tin village and under dripping corrugated iron watched the afternoon roll away with cider in hand. Not unpleasant but we couldn't stay as we went to seek Seven Little Sisters, a hyperactive folk rock band who were due to be on in the Rocket Lounge. It wasn't open, and drenched we decided to flee. 

'twas a soggy evening and not the best time to explore the new layout of the south east corner but we did it anyway - drifting through the new Glasto Latino bit with its churros stands, seeing that cave thing with the waterfall in The Common, and through "heaven and hell" which is what Shangri La has become. Quite extraordinarily detailed as ever - on one side the gleaming padded nightclub of heaven - and the other a twisted blackened forest of spikes that is hell. We perched next to the Hell Stage and waited for Asakusa Jinta a Japanese gypsy punk band who were energetic and fun but as you can see from their on-stage photos they were playing to a sopping audience and I was getting the blues. We opted out of seeing Kangaroo Moon - a space rock band who were a decidedly cosmic-seeming distance away back in Green Futures and rolled back around to The Common to see Bristolian slide guitarist John Fairhurst who I adore. Unfortunately the sound in The Rum Shack was fucking appalling. We were hanging around with a lovely sound engineer named Darrell and I turned and saw the rain on his face. Not rain. Tears. THE RUM SHACK'S SOUND WAS SO BAD IT MADE DARRELL WEEP. Unless that was rain.
It had killed the day for us really - all the rain and the sound and the trudging and my crappy poncho and instead of hanging around to see 3 Daft Monkeys, Duncan Disorderly and the Scallywags and The John Langan Band we retreated to the tents. We felt genuinely folking cut up about missing them all (see what I did there) then on returning to reality we discovered that two of them were playing quite soon in Bristol. Hurrah.


No wallets were lost or not lost or anti-lost or underlost that night and it was all spectacularly peaceful. First order of Friday was Amanda Palmer who Jazz is a huge fan of. I'm new to Palmerworld and although she has a habit of wanting artists to work for nowt she is spectacularly and profoundly open as her post-Glastonbury Maildebate has showed. We had seen Mr Gaiman do a talk in Bath only weeks before and as a couple they must be two of the most blisteringly earnest people on the planet. Which is either grating or heavily endearing depending on how you view it.

Then Goat on West Holts whose heavy psychedelic stuff was probably the most appealing noise of the festival. We were far off consuming things at the Brothers bar - so unfortunately didn't take it in as much as maybe we could have done but the above hour-long vid shows what we were missing. We also caught them purely by chance on the Hell Stage later in the day - which their demented stage show suited beautifully. It must be the vague world music schtick that allows this Swedish psych rock group a place above its contemporaries at Glasto. Grateful for it - but more acts with this kind of riffage would be grand on the Glasto bill. NO. MORE DUBSTEP AND INDIE ELECTRONIC. SHUT UP.

We then went and saw a bit of Craig Charles DJ'ing funk and soul which he's assuredly good at although he'd been playing for a few hours at that point and seem a little woofed. A nice atmosphere and a dryer Hell stage meant for a larkful boogie. The next afternoon we saw him in the Avalon Inn and I said I liked his set and he said "ROBOTS ACTIVATE" and bit my spine.

Next was Tame Impala which again was uncharacteristically riffy for Glasto and the tiny amount we scooped in was great. Also look at the size of that guy's guitar. It's bigger than Saturn. We then trekked up to Acoustic and caught a fair chunk of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings which was pleasantly old fashioned rock 'n' roll and played host to the largest audience of olds I'd ever seen at Glastonbury. Not complaining it was rather reassuring that folk of that boogying vintage come to Glasto and dance themselves into a frenzy. I can see it now - 2053's Glasto's Golden Oldies stage serving up Indie Electronic, Brostep and Twee Folk Pop to a room of swaying greying hips...

Next we whipped back to West Holts and saw the evergreen Seasick Steve now slightly star-tinged (and dare I say it a little convoluted) by the inclusion of the living legend that is John Paul Jones. His voice still rings true and his songs still have heart and weight. Lovely to see him at Glasto again - seems moons since I first saw him hop off the Pyramid stage to shake people's hands in the rain...

After this we wandered up and had a gander at a friend's reggae rock band Hot Sister who had an extraordinary amount of energy although they accidentally walked into a trope pointed out in the little Glasto guide around everyone's neck by ending on a Jefferson Airplane cover...

We managed to see maybe the first half an our of Portishead on the Other Stage and it was revelatory - extremely atmospheric and quite captivating... but we had a queue to join for the South-East corner. Cattled up a corridor and up to the Rocket Lounge were former Crystal Maze and Tenpole Tudor man Ed Tudor-Pole was playing a furious acoustic set. As detailed on Jazz's review blog Bez was there and Jazz danced with him. Which most people pay good money for - ! On an unrelated note good sir Bez later broke his teeth on a doughnut. I'm not saying blame Jazz...


...but I did see her buying a load of doughnuts. On the Saturday we'd made grand ambitious plans to see a bearded wonder called Ben Caplan. In this day and age where beards are more of a marketing tool or a hipster accessory I'm uncomfortable just defining a musical artist as bearded. However go and look at that beard. THAT IS A BEARD. 'Neath the beard there is also a hell of a voice as well - so if it were to ever burn off in a fire he'll be alright. We wandered down to cabaret thinking that we might sneak into the Infinite Monkey Cage recording with the power of blasé. Didn't work though, the thing was rammed as it had been in 2011. So off we buggered to Bob Malone at Croissant Neuf - gloriously out of place a sort of Gary-Moore lookin' blues piano feller who was like some manner of ivory wizard. Midday on a sunny Saturday he found himself irritatingly bereft of audience though. Which is an arse of a shame.
Then it was time for the thing I ALWAYS see - Stephen Frost's Improv Allstars - which is essentially Whose Line but a thousand times swearier and a billion times more festival frazzled. I've seen it every festival since time immemorial when a younger improv obsessed O stumbled into Astrolabe and was blinded by it. Phill Jupitus was part of the line-up again and did some quite impressive on-the-spot songwriting.

We didn't know but afterwards he was headed in the same direction as us because at our next thing: Billy Bragg's Radical Round-Up Mr Jupitus showed up and sang the above hilariously nasty song. We were there to peek at Amanda Palmer again and didn't expect it in the least. The radical round-up was just several singer/songwriters doing their own tunes - Bragg, Palmer and some other Bragglites.

We wanted to but just couldn't fit in Gypsy Hill (another Balkan band) and went straight to West Holts to see BadBadNotGood a sort of jazzy instrumental hip-hop band that are marvellous. Unfortunately like most bands on during a sunny day in West Holts they served largely as background music to a really fantastic couple of pints of Brothers. Brilliant background music though. After that was the relentless and hilarious Kevin Eldon in cabaret whose thunderously quick surreal material didn't translate so well to the screen this year. His stand up DVD from GoFasterStripe is worth a gander though.

Next was Alabama Shakes - good southern rock 'n' soul with incredible vocals and good wailing guitars. Perfect on a sunny afternoon and a really vibrant festival memory.

The intention was to next see the reassuringly bonkers Correspondents which looked to be brilliant fun but a hog roll and a large cider got in the way and we ended up just moving straight on to MC5 LEGEND Wayne Kramer who performed to frustratingly empty Left Field. He was sweet and very game but needed a backing band I think. Then, my friend, some jams would've been kicked out. As with all the videos I didn't film this, but you can see me and Jazz down the front at the end of it. I look like someone's draped a purple shirt over a boulder.

Then on to see the final few songs of the everglorious Steve Winwood who never seems to be anything less than the ultimate chap. After that back to the tents which proved to be the perfect vantage point for the Rolling Stones who did a nice Glastonbury song and seemed good enough but a lot of people thought it was far too quiet. It was predictably as busy as a very busy thing and some harsh methods were in place to keep folk "out of the arena" once they'd deemed it full. A long wall of security and just constant constant fights, didn't seem worth it really! S'only rock 'n' roll, like. Anyway our day finished up in the Dance Village witnessing the full force of funk fury that is The Family Stone - a fantabulous and uplifting performance recorded seemingly by no one but it'll not leave my noggin' for a while. We'd intended to see Otway: The Movie which was screening at the Pilton Palais cinema but our minds had deserted us and demanded we sleep...


...which I would of done if not for some drugruined ballbag of a man who spend the entire night yelling and whelping outside our tent. Fie and arse to him. 

Blearily then Sunday began with the truly filthy Cassetteboy at Spirit of 71 - which was brilliant really but the sound came out of synch towards the end. Which was a trifle embarrassing - so we buggered off.

Although we missed out on Otway: The Movie we did catch THE MAN HIMSELF on cabaret - who, as you can see from the video above is a force of nature. A very silly force of nature. He's probably the single most endearing cult figure in all of music - and there are a lot of them. A bloody lot.

We only caught a tiny bit of them but JJ Grey & Mofro were again, one of those rare good 'n riffy rock bands playing. Southern style with some soul and blues mixed in - very tight and very groovy. Want to see more of them for damned sure. But the Professor was calling... Professor Elemental that is. Despite seeing him a thousand times before it's always lovely and he seemed in particularly furious form in the sweaty afternoon sun. His fanbase were all there in force as well which warms my cockles. Then my heart. Then my cockles again. Then Simon Munnery - cult comedian extraordinare who I've seen supporting the mighty Stew Lee before now. His set seemed very dashed-out though which was irritating, how many comedians do I have to hear talking about what it's like to be a fucking parent? Hmm - get your free ticket in another way Mr Munnery - !

Then... that was it. We hauled up our rucksacks and made our way back out into reality - but not before seeing The Smashing Pumpkins whom Jazz is a massive fan of. I lay and watched the rucksacks and the clouds and it was all rather peaceful. A very positive year it was - lots of sunshine and good music - lots of larks and good folk. Here's to 2014 and beyond - !