i've never seen such cute uniform
It's almost a month now since Glastonbury 2008. Oh yes, I finally have gone to Glastonbury!
According to the official source, Glastonbury Festival is the world's largest outdoor music festival. Since 1970, numerous performing units with different genres and styles, no matter internationally acclaimed or unknown and unsigned, there would always be a cutting-edge vibe for the units selected. However, this year was quite different. Although it claimed to promote the ethos of socio-environmental awareness, the line-up was absolutely commercial awareness. Jay-Z, James Blunt, Mark Ronson and Duffy, you would mistake the line-up as this week's Top 10 best selling albums of HMV. Having said that, it was such line-up (and the lukewarm ticket selling) that I could get hold of a ticket this year.
It took me about 4 hours to reach Glastonbury from London Victoria by National Express (and it hit Wiltshire in-between, oh my!) In London, there was still a happy sunny sky but once the coach arrived Glastonbury, the sky was grey and drizzled. Oh, was it a curse that each year glasto has to be end in muddy and dirty?
Tried not to be depressed by the weather and kept my spirit up, once my tent was set up, I rushed (of course i couldn't rush actually because of the slippery mud) to the first act that I would want to see, Lightspeed Champion at John Peel Stage. Refreshing and cute, you couldn't believe he's the alter ego of the dance group Test-Icicles. Drizzles sometimes turned to downpours, I ate my late lunch in wet and pissed while watching the hype Hoosiers, so was it this, Glastonbury? My whine was immediately pacified by The Gossip. Beth Ditto proved to be a charismatic diva, energetic no matter what her size was. Their set was ended by "Standing In The Way Of Control", totally uplifting. When evening came, I had to make my way to the Park Stage. As Pyramid Stage and Park Stage was situated diagonally (and with the help of the long and winding muddy road), it took me at least 45 minutes to go there. When I arrived, that was already the last part of John Cale. Hurried myself to the front row to pretend to be a fan of whoever that followed, it was announced that there would be a very special guest, and it turned out to be Franz Ferdinand. Cheered with the crowd, it was not a bad treat. Time ran fast in jolly pop and then it came to Dizzy Rascal. I don't know why but it's just too coincident that in order to see the act that followed, I had to tolerate Dizzy and pretended to be his fan, danced to the beat which i found loath, just like what I did last year. 45 minutes passed slowly and finally I could meet Mr Peter Doherty. Highlight of the day and highlight of the festival? For me it surely was. Taking off his cloak, picking up his guitar and lighting up a cigarette, his move was classy, if not aristocratic. No more shambolic, the solo set was delivered in a professional but still sincere manner, though most of the songs performed were taken from that shambolic period of the Libertines. Those insatiable and evil fans like me sometimes miss the whimpering urchin who was fragile and uncontrollable ... humm, but on a second thought, i want Peter to be happy and healthy so his present state is perfect. This was like the choice between Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, ha, I digress miles away. Back to the Park Stage, Peter dedicated "Albion" to Adam Ficek and Carlos Barat; it caused a wave of cheers. Lastly, "punky" Drew McConnell (oh that's his hairdo) on stage as second guitar and the night was ended in the massive choir of "Beg Steal and Borrow". My first day in Glastonbury, began in soggy and sludgy, wrapped up in blessed and elated.
Rain stopped on Saturday, seemed to be a good sign for the day. I tried to find the official merchandise but instead I found the daily Glasto News. Searched back to the Day 1 issue, there was a photo of Carlos in the site, so he must have been arrived on the first day and camped somewhere, tried hard to find that petit handsome but sometimes absurd guy. After having the rip-off lunch, rushed to John Peel Stage to see the first act of my day - The Teenagers, even though they were not groundbreaking, they were at least very entertaining. Having a bit more body exercise in Dance Tent by seeing XXTeens. The crowd (not a crowd actually, just about 30 people there) was quite lukewarm to their music and I felt bad for them as they were quite alright in my two pennies' worth. The sun was not hiding anymore so I could enjoy a sunny and exciting set of Neon Neon at the Other Stage. When evening came, I intended to go to Pyramid Stage to see Amy Winehouse, but literally, I couldn't find any space to go near the Pyramid Stage, not even a small gap to watch the big screen. Poor me could only stand nearby to hear the music, as I was quite fond of Winehouse's music. Her set was ended abruptly because she attacked an audience (again) and was forced to end her set ... humm. Hurried to get away from Jay-Z, I went to the Other Stage to see Massive Attack. They were still very good and atmospheric, though 3D clearly had Tourette's syndrome. Aroma of marijuana was everywhere, I really liked to stay but I had to go to the Park Stage for CSS, so goodbye to the trance, say hello to the cute. The stage was set in white balloons and feather, me together with groups of middle-aged men (??!) danced in the bliss of cuteness. So, sweet dream, Saturday night in Glastonbury.
Sunday indeed was full of sunshine. All muddy roads disappeared, they even began to crack by the dryness. As there was no particular act which I wanted to see, I spent half of the Sunday in wandering. There was a big market near the Bandstand and some interesting area in the Green Field. So glad was the discovery of such hippy vibe, so sad was that I didn't know Helsinki was actually in the Guardian Lounge at 4:30pm, while I was so idle and even stopped for a while to see John Mayer (unforgivable). My idleness ended when there was Goldfrapp on the Pyramid Stage. Although their music was that angelic hymn which I usually enjoyed, their set was a bit too long. Finally then there was someone who I really longed for - Leonard Cohen. The sun turned tender when "Dance Me To The End Of Love" was played, the old poet stole my soul. But I could not drown to this magical moment for long. I had another mission. Parted with the charming gentleman, I rushed to the Leftfield to meet another charming creature. The schedule said it would be Dirty Pretty Things but actually it was Carlos Barat's solo. He was nervous and insecure, as usual. He who tried to maintain the balance of life, was actually born with a storming heart. He who lived in the storming life, was actually so carefree and confident. Maybe that's why they were so attracted to each other. Carl's set was quite short but he did not use it to promote the new album of his current band, rather, most of the songs performed were also from The Libertines period. The set was begun by "Come Closer" (which urged that one and only to come closer as his resistance is low), he then dedicated "Music When The Lights Go Out" to Peter, was the declaration of xxxx too obvious? Reluctantly I had to say goodbye to Carlos and then it came to the "supposed to be" highlight of the whole event – the reunion of The Verve. It opened by "This Is Music" which sounded promising! Followed by series of hits in The Urban Hymns (and the massive karaoke). For sure that was a powerful performance and we all enjoyed it, but I felt something missing, I don't know what it was, maybe that was The Verve so I had a higher expectation, or maybe they did not perform "Blue" and "On Your Own" which I found it was a loss.
So that's it! I survived the mud, the dirt, the not-exaggerating-glasto-toilet experience and Glastonbury 2008! For its originality and relatively backwardness, for its hippy vibe and laid-back air, Glastonbury was unique as compared to other festivals in UK and Japan, go there, at least once.