NO GLASTONBURY IN 2018 – WHAT WILL EVERYONE DO INSTEAD?? So long, fallow well Glastonbury, as the land is given a full two years to recover from the horrendous mess left behind – at a clearing up cost of £175,000, which is the equivalent of £1 for every person in attendance. You can see why the cows need a break:-
What an amazing four days we had. The height of hedonism in a field. All the better for there being no mud this year. You could actually sit down, put your bags down and not have to wade in wellies through shin-high gloop, across vast fields, falling over on the way. The weather was perfect, not the heatwave of the previous few days and just enough rain to settle the dust down again from time to time.
You could see my wellies this year:-
Same view last year:-
This photo sums it all up:-
There is no comedown like a post-Glastonbury comedown and even my children accused me of having the Glastonbury blues the next day. I arrived home at 4.30am on Monday morning to find, to my relief, a house and three children still standing (well sleeping actually) – the only broken thing I could find was me. It’s not that I feel too old to walk 500 miles a day from stage to stage, or to dance endlessly whilst carrying the provisions for the day on your back like a snail, but drinking all day and night and getting very little sleep is a lot more tiring for a 50-something body than it is for the majority of revellers. My Glastonbury bubble deflated slowly during the long journey home and during the next hard day at work, dragging my aching and tired body about. My house was a tip, there was no milk or tea bags and many, many empty bottles were overflowing in my recycling bin in the garden, suggesting a mini festival was held at my house in my absence. That said, they might be right – it is quite hard to slot back into the real world. It is now Thursday and finally I am feeling a little more normal and I’ve managed to dig all the glitter out of my wrinkles.
If you could bottle the Glastonbury experience successfully to represent the collective love-in, you might be able to sell it to those who need a memory hit next year. It would have to consist of a touch of grass (both kinds), a whiff of baby wipes, sweat, alcohol fumes, dust and laughter. Not sure that’s possible, but it’s definitely a tangible aroma when you’re there. You would have to know when to stop though because by the time 150,000 people are watching the final act, with their arms in the air, you know, from the body odour that it’s time for all the tired little teddy bears to go home and take a shower.
It’s fascinating to witness the high energy levels of day one slowly morph into something far more sloth like and relaxed by day four and what I find interesting is that there are very few casualties, all things considered. I saw no vomit and only a few comatose people lying about during the day. There are no fights, no anger, only friendliness and love, even in the 45 minute queues for the showers. Most are there to ensure they are alert enough during the days to enjoy all the music, so getting wasted on day one and sleeping in someone else’s tent for the next few days seems to be a thing of the past. It’s not easy to pace yourself when you have to keep going for four days, but most people looked like they were doing a better job than me and by the end there were lots of merely exhausted, but happy people.
A few exhausted beings:-
Glasto o’clock is certainly an interesting way to live, but not quite the same with the addition of mobile phones – you can’t really get lost to the same degree anymore. I have a friend who lost all his friends on day one, back in the day, when they agreed to meet near the large speaker to the left of the stage. He had no way of finding them or his tent for the whole time – which made for a very different sort of experience for him. Now, with a WhatsApp group to ensure you can find your tribe, the fast and furious stream consists of endless messages like this:-
“where r u all?”
“sm of us at the pyramid, nr disabled loo, below the ice cream van, under a flag that has a brown Mr whippy/turd? & near the bigbird flag, just behind the girls with the glitter tits”
“P & J at the Glade drinking beer, sitting next to man in pink wig and yellow wellies, under flag with frog in a tutu if u want to join them?”
“OK, I’ll cm and find u”
“which ice cream van do u mean? There r 3??”
repeat ad infinitum for four days….
Me and my bessie:-
“So who was your favourite band?” has been the question most asked since my return and it is completely impossible to say. Every single band is an experience in itself, especially if you haven’t heard of them before and so I loved them all. The very fact that you’re there, experiencing the extraordinary sounds and feeling the pulse of the beat even if you are miles away from the stage is hard to describe and of course, you’re all in it together. When standing amongst 175,000 people who all know the words, it is an incredible moment – it doesn’t even sound too loud – although I imagine you could hear it from the moon and of course, every single artist up on stage that I saw, was momentarily lost for words by the sheer volume of love they were receiving from the crowd. Most declared that it had been the best day of their lives (so far) – even the very old ones.
If pushed, I’d have to say that Barry Gibb (slightly embarrassingly) and Chic were right up there on the emotional levels because they brought back so many memories. Rag’n’Bone man was brilliant because I know all the words and he was great, but I also discovered so many new ones that I loved too.
The worst thing about Glastonbury (apart from the loos) is the FOMO issues you get when having made your decision to see a certain band, there are so many that you can’t see them all and you know that you’re going to be missing something big somewhere else. I had this when I decided not to see Kris Kristofferson at the last minute, but go with some friends to see Mark Lanegan instead. Shortly after he’d started his set, we got a message from our other friends with a photo of Johnny Depp who had appeared on the stage with Kris to help him play a few songs. THEN it turned out that Bradley Cooper was also on stage with him as he’s working on the new A Star Is Born film. Watched to the left of the stage by Brad Pitt and friends. I was gutted and the distances are just too far to get there before it’s all finished. So you just have to deal with it and not let it ruin your life – which is how it appears whilst in the Glastonbury bubble.
The whole event runs relatively seamlessly given the enormity of the event. The amount of food, lighting, sound equipment, railings, drainage, alcohol, water, etc is mind-blowing. There are a few moments when you feel there are just too many people in one space and people were getting overly squashed during Corbyn’s speech, with one woman needing oxygen. The John Peel tent during The Killers was overly packed as well. Security was understandably greater this year – we were checked endlessly coming in and out of the site and there was an obvious police presence this year, unlike the usual undercover cops they normally have. Even the policemen wore glitter and the horses had flowers in their hair in keeping with the hippy dippy theme.
Some areas of the farm were devoted to sustainability and I heard that one of the cinema screens was pee-powered by 25 people urinating at the same time so it wasn’t all destructive!
So who did we see?
The Shakers on the Thursday evening at 10pm playing in a cute little camp at the top of the hill – it was my daughters-friends-brother playing so we made the effort to hike up the hill and they were great and so was the view:-
The Pretenders at 11am were brilliant. They played all the old classics and Chrissie Hynde is 65!! She looked amazing and is still the consummate rock chick.
I was delighted to see that a key theme was edgy girl bands playing the guitar and drums with attitude. First Aid Kit were brilliant – two Swedish sisters playing edgy folk music with gorgeous harmonies. Definitely one I’m going to listen to again and we also saw Wildwood Kin – again a feisty family girl band who were great and also Maggie Rogers, another feisty little thing who stomped around the stage singing wonderful harmonies.
Mark Lanegan (instead of Kris Kristofferson!!) who was dark and gravelly, but great. The Park Stage is a great place to see bands:-
Kris Kristofferson must get a mention EVEN THOUGH I WASN’T THERE. He’s got a bit older since I loved him in A Star Is Born and seemed a little confused at times, but then again, he is 81 but by god he has the greatest hair ever:-
Lorde was brilliant – very captivating indeed and then Radiohead headlined on the Friday night got a great review from the BBC – but I didn’t rate them much. Too self indulgent and no engagement with the audience and if you weren’t standing right in the centre, you couldn’t appreciate their light show either. Interesting that lots of the audience went wild during one section – turned out the band were just tuning their guitars. Says it all really.
Katy Perry – had to be done, although no idea what she was wearing. She was brave enough to crowd surf/swim at the end – where she got fully consumed by the crowd and had to battle her way out. Not sure if that was what upset her at the end or the fact that she wasn’t allowed back up on stage to say her goodbyes….
The National were very good and I loved the lead singer – v cool.
We then rushed to see Stormzy so that I could claim some level of coolness to my youngest son who only ever listens to grime rap – he was very cool and angry, but in a good way. This year they showcased a lot of grime – we also saw Loyle Carter – not sure if he’s included in this category but he was great. Very family orientated and even brought his gorgeous young hippy mother up on stage at the end.
Foo Fighters were the headline for the Saturday night and they were brilliant – getting the crowd into a right old stir with their fist pumping attitude and high levels of “fuck, fuck, fuck” in an attempt to beat Adele to the swearing crown. Very energetic, proper rock and roll from one of the biggest bands in the world.
Cleverly they don’t put too much on too early on the Sunday morning. Jamie Cullum was a welcome laid back set – he was brilliant, incredibly energetic and very talented, but with much humility. We sat on the grass whilst the sun came out during his song about the sun coming out whilst his gorgeous wife Sophie Dahl watched in the wings.
Rag’n’Bone man was brilliant and he seemed to love every minute – as did we – then he did a walk about afterwards:-
Jeremy Corbyn made a very strong speech to a huge crowd and was clearly basking in the glory. We couldn’t get anywhere near so stayed in the VIP section (just saying’) and watched him on a screen. Certainly he is buoyed up by the current political situation, but he was preaching to the converted and mustn’t get ahead of himself. This is about Brexit. Not him.
Then we watched Barry Gibb, playing the “legend slot” the last remaining Bee Gee strutting his stuff. We googled his age whilst standing there, sure there must have been a Google spike. Some youngters decided to ask us instead – no idea why they thought we’d know. He’s 75! Still with long flowing locks and a voice that sounds like he’s been castrated. But he was great. He ran through his extraordinary classics from Tragedy, to Staying Alive, Night Fever and Jive Talkin’ – even the security guards joined in the performance and did a synchronised dance, much to his and crowds delight. Everyone sang to “Islands In The Stream” and he was visibly touched by the response, gamely wearing a far too small gold jacket handed to him from the crowd whilst saying “you’re just taking the piss aren’t you?”
We decided to go for two slices of cheese by staying to watch Chic and Nile Rogers – we had heard that The Killers were playing the secret band just about to play at the John Peel tent, but decided to stay for Chic and we were happy with that decision. The sun came out and 100,000 people danced to some of the greatest hits on the planet. Nile Rogers has a back catalogue second to none. Le Freak was what I was there to hear, but we also got, We Are Family, Get Lucky, I’m Coming Out, Let’s Dance…most of us had no idea he was responsible for all those songs. He looked great, cancer free and just back from volunteering a Grenfell Tower:-
Ed Sheehan did an amazing job of the ultimate headline act, commandeering the stage all by himself. Some of the reviews weren’t great, because OK, he’s a little mainstream for the real muso’s out there and he ended on the wrong song, but from where I was standing, everyone was loving it:-
People of Glastonbury
The friendliest bunch you will every find. You get to talk and dance with strangers like they are long lost friends and you get to tell your long time friends that you love them every few minutes.
More flesh this year, as Crystal Tips took on a whole new level of meaning – glitter tits galore:-
The cool hippy families used transport like this one for their kids to travel around in:-
With the most chilled kids on the planet:
A tail or two:-
So now it’s time to cut off all my wristbands and get back on track. Honestly, at my age, it’s like a two week holiday – a day to get organised, four days of partying and six days to recover!