Glastonbury 2019 was one of those years where the line up was actually very good, but as is normally the way I managed to miss half of what I wanted to see and catch loads I never knew I wanted to see. As a festival I loved this year, even though I was melting and had to deal with a grim realisation by the Friday morning. More of this later, but first, the beginning. S
I’d decided to spend some time in Bristol before the festival to catch up with friends, but before leaving I had a funeral to attend and a speedy rush to the train station to enjoy a pretty painless journey across half the UK with some essential provisions.
The one thing that’s always clear when travelling the UK is how empty much of it is and how close we all are to water.
Eventually we crossed the country and sighted balloons which meant Bristol wasn’t far.
So a few days in Bristol were enjoyed before Wednesday morning came screeching up and my friend Alan picked me up early in the morning to take me through the morning fog to the festival. Weather forecasts had been sketchy in the weeks leading up to the festival with one saying the opening few days would be pestered with thunderstorms, but things changed with the forecast saying long, hot spells. Which we got. A lot.
As we joined the queue for wristbands, etc in the disabled field, our other group turned up and we all managed to get in together.
Of course we didn’t get a fancy opening ceremony like the guys at Gate A just a few hundred metres away from where we were.
This year I had an enormous tent as I can’t crawl in and out of a two or three man tent anymore. Thankfully I had nothing but the most modern transport for it.
Eventually we squeezed into the shuttle bus, pitched up in the disabled field, and set up everyone’s tents realising we could have done with another body to help. Next time we’re going to be a tad more organised.
Wednesday at Glastonbury is a bit of a free for all. Not a lot is on, mainly because most people are setting up so it is a perfect time to go wandering round the site when the site isn’t quite ready. I’ve always loved this day since I started going down for the full week in the early 2000’s.
Wednesday is also the day when a lot of people grab an early night, and with temperatures starting to rise it seemed smart to duck out and grab an early night.
Thursday saw a showing of the Jim Jarmusch zombie film, The Dead Don’t Die, but that was in the evening.
Til them myself and Alan decided to wander, which thanks to my glacial walking speed and the by now baking heat, this too ages so we ended up at the Acoustic Stage taking advantage of the bar.
And of course the cold, cold drink it sold.
After the film (which is rather good) we all wandered back, with myself staying out later drinking with a mate from Bristol but a mix of exhaustion and fatigue meant I left before things got messy.
Now when the bands start things always become vague in these blogs mainly because by this point things are vague. What was clear is that seeing Stormsy was to be essential as this would either be astonishing or a road accident. Thankfully it was astonishing as he dipped into 60 years of pop history for inspiration, including a backdrop inspired by Elvis and Jailhouse Rock.
It was a remarkable show that was one of those Glastonbury gigs where an act becomes something else entirely along the lines of Pulp in 1995 or Radiohead in 1997.
Saturday came and so did the hottest day. As we’re all outdoors shade is a premium so by late morning people were either still lazing round their tents or shade, or risking the blazing sun which by now was melting people around the site. See, there’s a bit of a myth that really hot days are great for festivals and they’re not as every inch of shade was occupied. Luckily most of what I wanted to see on the Saturday was in the John Peel Stage, which meant sitting in the shade on a pretty empty disabled viewing platform near the bar selling cold drinks. It was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon at Glastonbury, plus things became cooler and more akin to a festival rather than the heatwave baking heat.
As for the night I didn’t fancy The Killers as it isn’t 2011, and seeing as people who did see them said they were a bit pish, I made the right choice which was to soak up the night by falling alseep. I struggle with fatigue and this was a time when my body decided to rest itself ahead of what I wanted to do. Ah well.
Sunday came. It was a perfect day, so time for Kylie, who’d supposed to be headliner in 2005 but cancelled due to her fight with cancer. It was a controversy she’d even been booked at the time, but this is 2019 so instead of indie purists sulking, the Pyramid Stage saw tens of thousands of people. I’d put it at around 150k people crammed into a field. It really was extraordinary.
I mean, there was just a sea of humanity for this tiny Aussie.
And the crowd barely shrunk for Miley Cyrus who did the Ashley O thing much to the crowds joy or bemusement.
Topping off the festival were The Cure. Now I’m a passing fan but I’d seen them close the festival in 1995 though back then I’d dropped a load of mushrooms which is not something I can do these days. As the crowd on the viewing platform transformed into old Goths, the stage was set for a classic headliner performance if you were a fan. As said, I’m a casual fan and found much of the first half, well, boring. The last half however where they cranked out the singles was great fun and reminded people just how much of a great singles band The Cure were.
As The Cure ended that was it for most people, though many vanished into the South East of the site to not reappear til well into the next day which for us, involved packing up slowly, getting back in our cars and relunctantly going home.
And that was Glastonbury 2019 where I learned the lesson that trying to walk everywhere isn’t going to work anymore. Next year (tickets permitting) I’ll have to get a scooter because there’s no fun in spending hours walking around making myself fatigued ages before I need to be. Next year will be the 50th anniversary and internet rumours range from it being the last year before Michael Eavis retires (I don’t think he will now) to the festival expanding to a full seven days for the one-off anniversary (which I can’t see either) but the lone fact is that demand will be much larger than usual.
2022 will mark my 30th anniversary of attending the festival, but the 50th will be special and I hope to catch you there. I’ve learned my lessons this year so no more trying to do stuff I can’t do and take offers of aid, or use things that’ll help make things more fun!