A small return to Glastonbury 2002

2002 is a weird year. 9/11 had happened but the aftershocks hadn’t fully kicked in, while the idea of a Tory government ever happening again was laughable due to a Labour government which was doing a job (insert how well of a job here as by 2002 I was done with them) than the Tories could though history has now shown they were writing cheques to be cashed in the present of today. The 21st century hadn’t really kicked in yet while UK culture was in a flux with the 90s still casting a shadow as there wasn’t really a developed idea of where things were going.

Which brings me back to the Glastonbury Festival of 2002. This was the first year back after the massive year which was 2000, and the first of the superfence which did its job so well that the festival felt quieter than it’s ever felt to me. Still busy and frantic but there were chunks of open space and room to move. Compared with 2019’s frenetic crowds it felt so bare but this and 2003 are the transition years of the festival as a meeting of the British alternative to something of the establishment because by the time Paul McCartney rocks up to play in 2004 you can’t really hide what you’ve become and where you’re going.

So I feel a massive fondness for 2002. It’s one of the last festivals I did myself over a beautiful weekend where it seemed the sun would always shine and things could only get better.

Imagine my joy then at YouTube’s algorithm spitting the video below at me. It really is a delight to see this raw footage to remind me of how the festival was, and how I forgot writing about previously about seeing Richie Havens being fucking brilliant or just how nice everyone was even though the lineup wasn’t one of the greatest it was one of the best years for the festival. There’s never going to be a year like it ever again so sit, watch and soak up a piece of history.

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And the post Glastonbury depression kicks in

I loved this year’s Glastonbury Festival. I wrote a shitload of words saying just that. Today I went back to work properly and hated every second of it but I was just about holding it together til I saw this Tweet.

And then this happened.

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A post Glastonbury depression slapped on top of anxiety and depression (and yes, I’m being clear on this rather than hinting it) is not a good thing. I realise it is only a daft post holiday blip but the reason I’ve barely watched any of the festival on iPlayer is that I don’t want to be reminded I couldn’t see so much, but that I’m no longer there. But reality sucks and as per usual I’ll muddle by which I really shouldn’t be doing.

Anyhow, it’s less than a year til the 50th anniversay.

 

Every Time the Sun Comes Up-The story of Glastonbury 2019

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.

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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.

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Eventually we crossed the country and sighted balloons which meant Bristol wasn’t far.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And of course the cold, cold drink it sold.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I mean, there was just a sea of humanity for this tiny Aussie.

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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!

 

Return to reality

Back to Glasgow after a quite spectacularly hot Glastonbury Festival and a wee holiday in Bristol which came just at the right time. The sun has gome to be replaced by cloud and grimness but there’s still enough holiday vibes to keep me going for now.

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More later but right now I’m off back to bed to watch the festival on iPlayer.

The long trip to Briggadoon…

This is the last post I’ll be making for a bit as I hit the tracks tomorrow to head south to spend a few days in Bristol before heading to Glastonbury on Wednesday. Just look at the site as it is now on the webcam…

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And the sunset, oh lordy that sunset!

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So after a funeral tomorrow I get to park all the problems in the world up for around 10 days.  I frankly cannot wait to set seat in my train seat and finally turn off tomorrow afternoon, but most of all I can’t quite believe how much I’ve missed Bristol and the South West.

But I’ll be back tomorrow night and although I don’t expect to post again before Glastonbury you never know but for now, stay safe and see y’all the other side of Glastonbury Festival.

Glastonbury Festival ban an anti Tory Punk band

Glastonbury Festival has a long history of being against the establishment and fighting against various injustices of the world. This year a punk band Kildren were due to play Shangri La, one of the late night areas of the festival. The band have a song which goes like this…

It’s clear there’s a message even if its delivered in a way that isn’t nice and middle class.and all Guardian readery. The festival has decided to remove the band’s invitation to play after a media campaign to ban them, so a band who’d have probably played to maybe a few thousand people won’t be playing and the festival cracks a little in the face of the establishment.

Of course, they’d never have invited anyone previously to play songs which celebrate the death of any Tory…

Oh.

 

Listen, I get the current climate is not a good one and that it is, sadly, turning violent, but sometimes music needs to be angry, and sometimes it needs to fucking shock us to our senses. I adore Glastonbury and have done so in the 27 years I’ve been going but this is a nonsense as the festival bends to the establishment in an act of censorship because that’s what it is. We need music to challenge us at times otherwise all we end up with is pish like The Killers playing for the nTh time…

The horrible commodification of Glastonbury Festival

One of the things about late capitalism is how everything, and I mean everything can be commodified, gentrified and repackaged in a way where the end goal is to sell you shit or encourage you to make others money. Most of us accept this as part of living in a developed society but every now and then some example of this comes staggering into view to remind us that there’s something unnatural about what’s being done to to which is essentially pitching to you under the guise of giving advice with YouTube being rife with fresh faced teenagers and 20-somethings dishing out advice with cries of ‘hit that bell’ and demanding likes.

Of course people need to make a living and some YouTubers are entirely upfront in what is a massive industry assuming YouTube don’t strip your ability to make money from your videos, which they are doing to people, but they are leaving hordes of videos which are essentially just advertorial.

Which brings me to this video.

It’s harmless enough. The advice about umbrellas is a nonsense and the Millennial tweeness is sickly, but here’s Glastonbury Festival fully absorbed into late capitalism and that great anti-establishment event becomes the mainstream it always stood against. Now to be fair, it has been like that for a good 15 years at least and this year I’m looking forward to enjoying the festival as much as I did my first 27 years ago.

However the rush from multiple parties to commodify every aspect of the festival from the beers you drink to the best toilet paper to wipe your arse with is depressing. These videos are essentially harmless on their own but combined they create a white noise that can’t be avoided.

But with three weeks to go I’ll be looking forward to creating my own festival, hopefully free of being sold to just for five days…