Glastonbury 2010 – Part One
My fifth Glastonbury and an absolute blinder. I’d had my money’s worth by Friday night and the next three days were a free bonus. It was also bigger and fuller than I remember from even a couple of years ago, there are just so many stages. Here is what I saw:
Bang Face – We got there for early evening on Thursday and the place was already rammed; Wednesday is apparently the new Thursday. Having humped all our gear across the site and then set up, it seemed like a good idea to get on Glastonbury time quickly since I was still calibrated to London. And what better way than to plunge into a rave? It was everything you would expect from a Bang Face night – sweaty, wrong and full of inflatables – although people were clearly holding a bit in reserve.
Rolf Harris – After a night of raving, this is the perfect way to ease into Glastonbury. Obviously it was pretty cheesy but he is such a showman that it is impossible not to smile. Despite looking slightly frail and not being in full voice, he had the huge crowd eating out of his hand. It was also the first time I’d ever heard ‘Two Little Boys’ which seems to be some sort of crime according to my peers.
The Stranglers – I didn’t actually see them because the time on my printout differed from the actual timetable. However, everyone says they were shit. So there is that.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – A pretty self-explanatory name. They actually went off after their first song due to some sort of equipment snafu. At which point Shlomo came on to keep the crowd warmed up. It worked. He’s a beat boxer but he also uses a sampler to catch the sounds he is producing live with his mouth and throat and then layer them to create a whole song. I probably prefer his pure beatboxing but this is definitely growing on me too (it was slicker and more lively than when I saw him last year). It was certainly far better than the funky noodling that was herald by the return of the band to the stage.
Snoop Dogg – Like a chump, I’d been thinking of skipping this on the grounds that he would only disappoint. I know, I’m an idiot. If Rolf is a showman, Snoop is a superstar. He is a man so charismatic that he turned Julie Bindel into a gangsta rap fan which tells you all you need to know. Towards the end he was joined by Tiny Tempah who you would have thought would be cacking himself at meeting a hero in front of 80,000 people but actually acted like he owned the place. Which he did for the duration of ‘Pass Out’ thanks to the largesse of the Doggfather.
Vampire Weekend – They are a band who attract a lot of antipathy for tediously familiar reasons relating to the Art School vs Working Class Hero divide. I love ’em, in short order they have produced two albums will no filler at all (well, except maybe ‘Blake’s Got A New Face’). We get a fair chunk of these songs here and it is great stuff. If Vampire Weekend don’t have a particularly developed live presence, it is still sexy and euphoric and, by the time they have finished their set, they have given their all.
Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood – I was just having dinner opposite at the Thali Cafe when they came on. We’d been tipped off that they were the mystery special guests but that didn’t alter our plans to go and see Hot Chip instead. Still it was nice to hear a couple of songs off The Eraser before we left, it is just a brilliant album. Oh, and the thali was great too, even if they had just run out of poppadoms.
Hot Chip – They are a band you tend to think of as producers rather than performers but this was a storming set that showcased a group who are clearly very used to play together and also fucking love it. It was, in a word, tight. However, in another word, it was also loose, a rolling, seamless mixtape played live. They then took it to the next level by bringing on a steel band. This performance finally gave me the key to unlock their last album, One Life Stand, transforming something which can seem bizarrely happy-clappy into something which is genuinely emotionally effecting.
Broken Bells – This was my dad pick of the day and certainly looked good on paper. Unfortunately, the couple of songs we heard on the way to see The Flaming Lips sounded like Richard Ashcroft at his worst.
The Flaming Lips – I had heard their live gigs were good but I still wasn’t prepared for this. It is not the theatrics (although they are welcome) but the connection with the crowd. I don’t think it is overstating the case to say that Wayne Coyne is a messianic figure on the stage and their set was simultaneously immensely playful and gravely serious. Like Hot Chip, this was passion allied to a weight of age and experience which is often lacking in younger bands. There are more things than being cool. I cried as they when they closed the set with an extended version of ‘Do you Realise?’ (my wife did too but then she cried during ‘Two Little Boys’ so she doesn’t count).
The xx – Walking up the hill, dazed from what I’d just experienced, I did catch the tail end of this set. It sounded quite good. Did I manage to see The xx properly when they played a different stage later on in the festival? Tune in tomorrow to find out.