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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Glastonbury Review Part 2

It was over a week ago now but I have my little programme next to me, and I'm sure perfect recollection will occur. So, for those who still care...

Saturday

A day involving much chopping and changing between areas started bright and early (11AM) on the Other Stage for the second Two Door Cinema Club set of the festival. As they were playing on a decent sized stage I was actually able to witness and enjoy this performance. Samey towards they end they may have been, but with their post-punk and electronic influenced indie-pop they proved to be a delightful find (several months behind the rest of the country, I grant you).

Another delightful set came next, and surprisingly from The Lightning Seeds. On the behest of some of my companions we went to the Pyramid awaiting Ian Broudie and whichever session musicians he tours with these days. Amongst the new songs and the less well known hits they treated us to 'Pure' 'Life of Riley' and 'Sugar Coated Iceberg'. The last delighted most due to the realisation that no matter how often the über-hit had been hammered by the local radio station of my youth, given a few years off and a fresh setting the track came across as full and epic as ever.

Lucky us, as we plodded to the Avalon Stage next apparently ahead of a good proportion of the festival. The tent was far over capacity and more potential punters were gathered outside hoping to catch some glimpse of the set. “Was this another set by Thome Yorke?” you ask. No. I was there only for The Wurzels. Kicking all of the naysayers right in the scrumpy the Somerset legends played a set that was unmissable on a sunny Glastonbury lunchtime. Playing all of the hits that you'd expect and a rather brilliant version of Kaiser Chiefs 'Ruby' they hilariously, but un-ironically were a true highlight.

Back on the Other Stage (easily the best stage of the weekend) it was time for Kate Nash whose mix of songs from her two albums justifies why it is I'm in love with her as an artist. Full of energy but looking as though she was baking in the heat her set closed with what appeared to be an attempt to break her keyboard by jumping repeatedly on it. She was followed by The National, who I confess were one of the main bands that I had in mind to see. They in no way disappointed playing a perfect set far more aggressively than any of their wonderful record would suggest.


Some shaky footage of 'Foundations' should break up the text a bit.

It turned out that rather than being Friday's surprise guests Biffy Clyro were playing the secret slot on the Park Stage on the Saturday. Unfortunately post-National the field was rammed and there was measures preventing anyone else entering for Biffy. Unfortunate as it was, the girlfriend and I headed to Foals – a band that I've despised in the past. Live, any negative feeling I've ever felt towards them was completely unjustified. Even the previously irritating 'Cassius' was a juddering monster with a low end enough to rattle the Strongbow abuse out of me. The only regret with Foals was that I was unable to realistically watch the whole set. I had to get a good spot for Scissor Sisters.

After all, how could I not watch Scissor Sisters. There was the promise of a guest slot from Kylie, the flawless debut album and the premièring of new material. All was delivered with the unfathomably camp, over the top splendour that was expected and appreciated. To be honest they only really got going four songs in with 'Take Your Mama', but with the delivery of new single 'Fire With Fire' and number one hit 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' they were impossible to dislike. Kylie did turn up, but you've heard about that by now.

Truthfully, I was wanting to go and see the Pet Shop Boys next. Doggedly, however I stuck with Muse hoping for all of the tricks to be pulled out of the bag. Also, I was feeling a bit poorly and my ankle was aching (this always happens when I go to see Muse for some reason). Unfortunately although they played a phenomenally tight and strong set there was the feeling that something was a little bog-standard about it. 'Guiding Light', 'Hysteria', 'Time Is Running Out', 'Starlight', 'Map of the Problematique' all predictable and none of it really clicking. Fantastic light show, but nothing that we've not seen before. The Edge is bought out for the encore, and whilst I admit booing him the rendition of 'Where The Streets Have No Name' that followed proved the jolt that Muse needed. 'Plug In Baby' and 'Knights of Cydonia' kicked a lot more to close but I was left with the impression that had The Edge stuck around for these last two songs the whole set would have felt a lot more special. Not disappointing as such, just expectations that were far too high.


The spectacular 'Where The Streets Have No Name' cover. This doesn't do it justice.

Sunday

Today could pretty much be renamed The Day That I Used The Other Stage As a Base, such was the unmissable line-up. The Joy Formidable first, and the best pre-album band in the country by a mile. Phenomenal drummer too. Frightened Rabbit's set comprised of material from their two most recent albums with stand-outs being 'Swim Until You Can't See Land' and 'Old Old Fashioned'. 'Keep Yourself Warm' concluded with their singer belting out a few lyrics from 'South Town Girls' by The Hold Steady, who were due up next. And whilst wonderful wasn't something I could dwell on, as I had a dash to and from the West Holts Stage to complete.

Only managing to catch the middle portion of The Bees set: 'A Minha Menina', 'The Russian' and 'Who Cares What The Question Is?' aren't to be sniffed at. Perplexingly they sounded more akin to The Coral's than they do The Bees' records, something which I decided in my walk back to my friends at The Other Stage, was definitely not a bad thing. The Bees ticked off my list, after listening to their records for over half a decade, was a load off my mind and I caught the entirety of The Hold Steady.

Speeding through a load of songs in very little time, those that proved most enjoyable were 'The Weekenders', 'Sequestered In Memphis', 'Chips Ahoy!', 'South Town Girls' and 'Hurricane J'. Overall a brilliant set, in amongst many. Same can't exactly be said for The Temper Trap, who were solid although let down by the weight of expectation set by one song, and a sub-par vocal performance. Decent enough though, and they drew a more than respectable crowd. There's certainly going to be a huge fanbase by the time they reach album number two.

Expectedly, Ray Davies 'legends slot' set bought with it a load of Kinks hits and the best non-Gorilaz performance of the festival. Dedicating many of the songs to recently deceased Kinks bassman Peter Quaife and introduction of a choir for slower tracks such as 'See my Friends' there was a poignancy and heart-wrenching beauty that bought tears to the eyes. Despite his age Mr Davies can hardly be considered past it. Rocking out with a full band 'You Really Got Me', 'Lola', 'Johnny Thunder' and 'Waterloo Sunset' all enthralled a slightly unappreciative Pyramid Stage Crowd before the finale of 'Days' and 'All Day And All Of The Night' made me feel high and giddy. Happier I could not have been. Even if I had missed the entirety of Grizzly Bear and the first few songs of We Are Scientists.


It's 'Waterloo Sunset' ferchristsakes

Still, having seen WAS several times before and getting there in plenty of time to see them rattle through 'Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt', 'Impatience', 'Rule's Don't Stop', 'Jack And Ginger', 'After Hours', 'Chick Lit', 'It's A Hit' and 'The Great Escape' it was impossible to feel short changed. Andy Burrows on drums seems to make the band even more likeable, if that were possible. Chris still manages to talk nonsense between songs, making us laugh even if we're not sure why.

Unlike MGMT next, who were – in a word – woeful. That the breeze took some of the sound quality is understood, but the duo's inability to sing or play in time was atrocious and lead me and the missus to head back to the Leftfield tent (we'd popped by earlier to see a little bit of Billy Bragg, who I was literally rubbing shoulders with) for The King Blues. In honesty their socially conscious street-punk isn't my sort of thing, but their energy and passion came across brilliantly and although not catching 'Save The World, Get The Girl' I couldn't help but be hugely impressed.

After my departure I'm informed that MGMT played 'Kids' from a CD and buggered off stage. I'm even more glad that I hadn't stuck around for what by all accounts was the worst set of the festival. I'm back on the Other for LCD Soundsystem however, who I wouldn't have missed for the world. The immaculate nature of their studio recordings was replicated very well. Tight and funky James Murphy and co got away with missing off some of the hits in favour of closing with a ten-plus minute rendition of 'Yeah' (Crass Version). Phenomenal and memorable.

Regrouping with the girlfriend that I'd left at The King Blues it was time to decide on which headliners to watch. Stevie Wonder was packed. Absurdly so. Watching from outside of the field 'Master Blaster (Jammin')' sounded ace, but knowing few of his other songs we opted for Ash, followed by a smidgen of Gomez. It was the right decision. Ash mixed in the rockier moments from The A-Z Series of singles ('Dionysian Urge', 'Joy Kicks Darkness') with the classics from their debut ('Girl From Mars', 'Goldfinger', 'Kung Fu') and the radio straddling mega-hits ('Shining Light' and 'Burn Baby Burn') for the perfect closing set of the festival, where I knew every word and could bounce around like a lunatic. High from this we darted to Gomez catching the last couple of songs (which in honesty I cannot name) for the perfect mellow end to a sunny Glastonbury.

There I'll leave it. I received some bad news at the end of Gomez's set which unfortunately gave the festival a downer ending. Said bereavement is why I may be blogging even less for the next week or so. Here's my Glastonbury playlist again, however, for your enjoyment. Remember to add in 'The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade' by The Joy Formidable between Muse and Frightened Rabbit for the complete experience however.

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