Today was Glastonbury ticket day which is basically the day where my blood pressure goes beyond what my doctor would recommend. So from 9am today I logged onto the ticket website and was face with this which is a step up from the last few years I lived in Bristol and only got white screens:
Luckily over the years we’ve come up with a cunning planning that’s akin to as close to utilising infinite monkeys as one can get, except it’s people and not infinite. Thankfully the system gave me a ticket so I’m off again to the festival I first went to in 1992 but most folk ended up with this screen after 40 minutes.
There’s talk of making the system better, but few realistic options which would solve the issue of people missing out. The reality is there’s around a million people trying for 150k tickets all at the same time so demand has vastly outstripped supply, and with the 50th anniversary next year demand will mean even more stress as I’ve done the 25th and 40th anniversary festivals so it’d be rude to miss the 50th.
For those who missed out on tickets now, there’s a resale in April, plus dozens of options of working there. All I can say is good luck, but for me, I can chill out and prepare for the new Doctor Who…
In three decades plus of festival going there’s only one festival that really beat me and that is Glastonbury 1998. I’ve written in detail about it previously, but upon looking at the BBC’s coverage from 1998 which is on YouTube, the main thing that strikes me is how fucking wet and miserable everything looks because, well, it was.
Like 1997 it rained turning Worthy Farm into a mudbath. Unlike 97 it didn’t stop on the Friday but carried on and on and on with even hippies who’d been to every Glastonbury and free festival you can and can’t think of, admitting this was the worst year for the weather they’d had. Excuse the pun but it was a perfect storm of the largest attendance ever, with a great lineup (including Pulp, Blur, Tony Bennett, Catatonia, Portishead, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Robbie Williams and err, Rolf Harris who makes an appearance in the first of the videos below) but at that point Michael Eavis hadn’t installed the drainage systems the farm has today. It was in fact this year that prompted the installation of the drainage.
But it was the rain that killed it for me. It started raining on the Friday morning and didn’t stop til the early hours of Saturday morning. It was already muddy when we arrived on the Thursday but this rain didn’t stop dropping then historic volumes of water on the farm and with nowhere to go, vast swathes of the farm was just muddy puddles.
So these recordings of the BBC coverage captures some of the misery of that year as 100k tried hard to have fun in knee-high wet mud as centimetres of rain drop from the sky. The second part onwards captures it the best as all the presenters, barring a stoic John Peel, grow increasingly fed up, then angry, then depressed about the weather ruining what should have been a classic year. Sadly I don’t think too many people count 98 as one of their best years, especially those who used the dance tent after it was cleaned of shit after a farmyard worker mistook blow for suck while trying to drain the water out the tent.
There were wet years after 98 but thanks to the lessons learned then they’ve not been as intolerable so here’s the complete BBC weekend coverage of 1998’s Glastonbury Festival. This time I can enjoy Catatonia without having every part of me battered by the wind and the rain…
I’ve previously spoken about Channel 4’s first attempt to broadcast the Glastonbury Festival in 1994, but in the whole history of the festival its 1995’s coverage that’s really important. That year sold it to the sort of person who’d never have thought of going to a festival, and arguably that year’s coverage some the entire concept of going to any festival.
1995 was a long, hot, sticky, fun summer. There was a lot of hope in the air as the Tories were a dead government walking, and John Major actually resigned to fight a leadership election against John Redwood who led the group wanting to pull the UK out the EU. There was a real chance of an election where the Tories would lose so when the news hit the festival people were buzzing. Added to this was the fact Britpop was firmly established so every British band who’d heard a Kinks track once was getting signed up by record companies in the hope of finding the next Blur or Oasis. Sadly we ended up with crap like Dodgy. Ah well.
That summer was a perfect storm. A government in its death throes, the promise of better things, a perfect summer and if you were aged between 16-30 the future looked fucking amazing. So there was a siren call to that year’s festival as young people from all over descended on the Friday to jump the fence, and as for me, I’ve told my story about this year before.
But the one thing I never saw was Channel 4’s coverage. A mate who was going to video it for me fucked up programming his VCR so I got snippets at best. Well, the best things about living 23 years after this festival is that all the footage is online and it is a taster of a brilliant time when anything was actually possible and the future was so, so bright. And now in 2018 we’re dealing with Brexit, the rise of fascism and everything we’ve fought for since the end of WW2 being torn down. It is a tad depressing, but these videos will take you back to a better time, or show you a snippet of what thing were like at an important point in history.
A wee note, part 4 is missing because of what looks like a dubious copyright claim. Bastards.
Back in 1994 the Glastonbury Festival was still an underground event that sort of scratched the surface of the mainstream as something NME readers, students and the unemployed lefty would go to. The festival itself in 1994 was undergoing a change as it moved out of their more anarchic early years into a major event but til 94 it’d never been something that television would pick up until Channel 4 decided upon giving it a go.
I used to have all the coverage on a load of VHS tapes but they were lost in a move years ago, which is a damn shame as some amazing performances were on them & the coverage was as chaotic as the festival itself. Plus they were a great wee reminder of what is still, one of my favourite festivals, and musically it bridged that time between the early 90’s and the more conservative Britpop years.1994 is also one of my favourites years to have been alive.
So imagine my joy to stumble across some footage of Channel 4’s coverage from 1994. It isn’t complete, but it has great stuff like the Beastie Boys Friday afternoon set, a chunk of The Pretenders set from the Friday night, Katie Putrick being glorious, John Peel and lots and lots of fucking wonderful stuff.
I love this sort of archive anything (unedited TV programmes with ads included) but this is just a joy even if it is incomplete. A reminder of the festival before it became part of the mainstream and the UK’s cultural fabric but also a reminder that the 90’s weren’t just about Oasis and Blur.
If anyone out there has a complete set of videos or footage from 94 then please upload it and give me a shout.
Glastonbury Festival in 1993 was one of the very first I went to and lives in the memory as it was in the last years before the TV cameras and celebrities poured onsite often like cold sick, and the festival lost the chaotic element where one could literally turn a corner to walk into any sort of show you could imagine. Or possibly get mugged if you took a wrong turn after dark. It was that type of place back then. This does mean that it is incredibly hard to get footage of bands let alone anything else from these years but stuff does come up and here’s a load of footage of bands including Porno for Pyros who seems to be filmed near from where I was standing.
In fact the same channel is a bit of a goldmine with footage of the Beastie Boys from Glastonbury in 1994.
And that quite glorious Pretenders set from the NME Stage in 1994 also.
I love old footage like this as although it is rough, it manages to capture something and this is needed as we all get older. However the absolute discovery is Tao Jones, at the 1997 Phoenix Festival. Never heard of them? That’s because it was David Bowie performing under another name and yeah, it’d catch people out. People like myself who didn’t realise he was playing the dance tent so like hundreds of other legged it across site in order to try to get in what was by now, a pretty crammed tent.
So enjoy, and do so before these videos get possibly taken down.
Like a aching phantom limb I woke up this morning wondering why I wasn’t standing in a long queue waiting to get into a festival in a certain field in Somerset.
Yes, this would have been the weekend of Glastonbury Festival were it not taking a year off to let the land recover after a half dozen mainly dry years, so while Michael Eavis and the cows are chilling out for a year, the amount of events trying to capture something of the festival bubble like botulism as festivals as varied as TRNSMT and Jezfest try to part fools with their money with varying degrees of success.
But no fields full of people. No weirdness. No nothing in Somerset.
This gap has created a curious space. I’m now only really going to go to Glastonbury for my festival fun, and although last year was immense it was also my first year disabled so I felt restricted.
So as much as I’m resigned to being somewhat restricted to prior years (which is good as it means not waking up in the Green Fields coming down with someone else’s knickers on my head) I’m going to feel a bit lost over the next week.
But it is only a year off and it is a chance to allow me to regroup. I have every intention of being in a field in the West Country this time next year but for now it does feel as if something has been lost, even temporarily but at the same time, the land (if it were a feeling, coherent organism) wonders where all those people are who normally turn up this week each year?
See you all in a field next year…
Over the last four or five years I’ve written a lot about Glastonbury Festival from the fun, freeloading days of 1992 when I first rocked up in the back of a van from Nottingham, to this year when I made it there from my native Glasgow in my still newish disabled state.
This year for me was an extraordinarily tough year having to prove to myself I could still do it while hiding pain and infuriation with my failing body as much as one can. In fact I only decided 100% that I’d be going less than a month before the festival and I have to the say, the guys at the office were fantastic.
This blog though reveals the lengths Glastonbury will go to in order to ensure people go and feel as ‘normal’ as possible but be warned, you will be a wee bit weepy reading it and if you aren’t then you have no heart.
This is what the festival is good at. Enjoy…