Thursday, 1 July 2010

Glastonbury 2010 - Part Three

This article originally appeared on the peerless (yet now sadly defunct) It's owners are now Suburban Tarts, who should be visited post-haste...

This is the fin
al part of the trilogy that was my weekend. If anyone has read all three parts, you are a saint and a martyr and you should probably give yourself a round of applause. Here's the first part, and the second part...


I was right, of course, to dread waking this morning. If Saturday’s hangover was a battle, this one might as well be represented visually by a rising mushroom cloud. It takes a full litre of water to assuage the feeling that I am dying of thirst. Why, I ask myself as the haze begins to lift, did I do that? What have I gained? What bonus have I brought to humanity, or what crime have I committed to deserve this? If nothing else it has made it much more difficult to drag my carcass clear across the site to The Park Stage for The Travelling Band. The Travelling Band are the best alternative country rock band ever to come out of Manchester. Their new single Sundial is out now and I strongly urge all of you to go and find it so you can say you were ahead of the game when they’re half-way up the bill on The Other Stage next year. As their set closes, they produce giant balloons from the wings and the general party atmosphere blows away the hangover.

Fuck it, I think, I’m going to have a smoothie.

I have a smoothie. It is terrible. It does contain fruit, and this can only really be a good thing, given the level of abuse I have inflicted upon the temple that is not my body. I watch The Villagers, followed by Avi Buffalo. Neither have survived long enough in my mind to get reviewed.

Slash!! The multiple exclamation marks are deliberate. You can’t see me now (I hope) but I’m making devil horns. My Companion wonders off to watch England’s glorious victory over the Germans. I bounce between the silly hat stalls (I do not buy one this year as my drug intake has been considerably lower than in previous) towards the main stage, where a curious new form of democracy is taking place right before my eyes. It goes like this: whenever Slash and his band play a song of their own making, the audience talks to their neighbours, lathers on another layer of suncream and generally looks a bit vacant. When a Guns ‘n’ Roses classic is dusted off, however, the audience sings along in unison and wild abandon. It is a curious thing to watch an act where the namesake stands at the back, silent throughout. But who cares, when the set closes with Sweet Child o’ Mine followed by Paradise City? Slash is awesome, and watching him play those solos live is another personal dream crossed off.

Next up is Ray Davis, who seems to have developed a split personality. When addressing the audience, he is charming and affable: the very picture of a musical elder statesmen. As he turns from the microphone however, the guitar technician or the soundman is invariably subjected to a torrent of invective. Stuart Maconie sites Ray Davis as the most unpleasant man he’s ever interviewed. I think he may have a point. The music though, is flawless, even if Davis’s voice has gone a bit flat as the years roll by. Kinks classics are rolled out to the joy of the assembled masses and sing-alongs have rarely been so sung-along. He pays touching tribute to recently departed Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, and dedicates a mesmeric See My Friends to his former bandmate. The Crouch End Festival Choir do an excellent job of backing him up, and add a new twist to some of the best known songs in the British musical canon. I have almost forgotten about the football by the time it’s over. My Companion has not. We agree not to discuss the beautiful game for the remainder of the weekend. On the way back we catch a few songs from Loudon Wainwright III, who is charming and brilliant and will be worth seeing in more detail at some point. My evening, however, is rushing towards a crescendo.

Back at the tent, I sip idly at a pint of cider and prepare myself for the final push. This moment, I have decided, will be my headline set, as Stevie Wonder holds no interest for me. This, however is a moment that I have been waiting for these ten years past. I have always wanted to see Faithless and I have always wanted to see them at Glastonbury. I gulp the cider as my heart rate quickens. We walk down. I am not afraid to admit that I may have skipped.

The set does not disappoint. As the sun sinks low over Glastonbury, I find myself raving like a possessed man. The girl standing next to me washes a pill down with cider, then hands me the rest of the pint. This evening, I decide, could not get any better. As Maxi moves through God is a DJ, straight into Mass Destruction, my legs start melting and my head goes funny. As the set finishes with Insomnia, I become convinced that I am leaving Earth, bound for Planet Dance. And I am never coming back. Ten years was worth the wait. As the sound fades away I collapse onto the surprised girl who gave me the cider. She clearly wonders about the wisdom of giving me the beverage in the first place.

On a high, I again do a sharp gear change and head over to the Acoustic Tent to catch the tail end of Richard Thompson’s set. This man is one of the world’s finest guitarists and, although my head is still pounding with beats and loops, it is fantastic to hear him and to see him, alone on stage with his acoustic guitar. He is briefly joined by his son Teddy, and the sound is beautiful and simple throughout. It is the perfect contrast to what has gone before.

Then there is wondering towards Arcadia, stopping briefly to enjoy a secret gig from comedian Ed Byrne. When we arrive, we find Gomez in full swing. It staggers me that in the ten years since last I saw them, they appear to have changed not even their shirts. They still, not to put too fine a point on it, look like students. But they still sound awesome. The crowd is small yet unbelievably dedicated, and the atmosphere is amazing to behold.

We rattle off into the night and explore Shangri-La for the remainder of the night / morning. It’s all a little hazy now. I remember there was a brilliant cider called Soap Dodger, and there were people dressed up funny. The rest is a blur of raving and guzzling. Just as the last night at Glastonbury should be. If your journey home is not accompanied by dry heaving and cautiously eyeing the toilets, you have not been trying hard enough.

Now it’s all over, it seems like a million years ago. I’ve never known a Glastonbury without rain, and although the line-up did not instantly grab me by the short and curlies, it has been one of my best ever. You have all been reading long enough now and I suspect you’re nearly as tired as I was on Monday, so I shall sign off with a cliché that I have long avoided: roll on next year.

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