Even the best dreams have to end sometime and Glastonbury is no exception. Five days in a field with fine weather, finer music and copious amounts of liberating side-tracks. From the two Canadian guys balancing on each other’s necks, through the secret wedding chapel, past a night spent out of our heads under the stars at the stone circle and on to a Sigur Ros performance that made grown boys cry; categorising Glasto is like re-writing the bible in a text message.
This year’s themes included hot hot heat, rain with no mud (except for, strangely enough, on the road into the backstage compound), things on sticks, peace flags, a Scouse invasion near to 2000 proportions (though this time they were all in bands), one-trick-pony bands (Thrills, Polyphonics, Electric 6) and of course monumental headline performances by R and R.
Naturally, the first thing any sensible Glastonian does is find the nice toilets. As everyone knows, the New Bands tent is the only area to be on the main sewage system and hence the backstage toilets there are nice flushables where you can put your meat on the seat without contracting some nasty STD. The NME put a ‘For The Exclusive Use Of Everyone Except The Manic Street Preachers’ sign on one of the backstage portaloos, although freeloading liggers were confined to using the same piss-on-shit plastic pots as everyone without a gold wristband. Bobby Gillespie’s knob is the same size as Kate Moss’s tits. Allegedly.
As the rain lashed down on Friday morning after The Darkness had reconvened novelty Queen-rock on the Pyrmaid Stage to no one, The Boxer Rebellion made an astonishing debut inside a packed out New Bands tent; full of in-the-know and rain-sheltering fans alike.
The London-based fourpiece ripped through their joyous melange of dreamy melodies, floated by frontman Nathan Nicholson’s Sigur Ros falsetto; forging violent bursts of Muse/BRMC rock with a wondrous psychedelic intensity. It’s the sound of 2004 for sure and everyone’s starting to cotton on.
(They won a competition at the last minute – hear their stuff here.)
Amidst the dissipating cloudcover, Nada Surf emerged triumphant on the Other Stage – their sunshine Weezer-pop proving infinitely more interesting than next-up, Pete Yorn (spelt ‘Y A W N’). De La Soul are a lot fatter than anyone remembers, but as the weekend’s token ‘classic hip hop act for white people’, they did us proud. Once Norwegian post-poppers Mew had finished brightening up the New Bands tent, it was over to the hospitality bar’s resident shadow makers, The Cooper Temple Clause back on the Other Stage.
Their tantrum tinged prog-pop caused quite a stir last year, and whilst ’Who Needs Enemies?’ and ’Film Maker’ still send shudders through our legs, their new material still lacks the required conviction. Unconvinced, we soaked up some Mogwai, who drew a quite remarkable crowd on the Pyramid Stage. Ploughing through tracks from new LP ’Happy Songs For Happy People’, they couldn’t have found a better setting.
With ‘Gay Bar!’ being the chant of the weekend – (still, makes a change from ‘FIRE’ at Leeds, eh>), it was only polite to check out Electric Six and once fulfilled we eagerly trotted back to catch Suede’s first Glasto performance in a decade. It was shit. New songs like ’Attitude’ sucked more cock than a King Adora fan, and with the set hinging far too much round tracks from their last two albums, those expecting a bout of tracks from Coming Up and the Butler-era had to make do with the odd single.
Thanks to Zwan having cancelled, Leeds’ ugliests, The Music took their Zep/Roses/Ashcroft warblings to the main stage. What a shame the party had to spoiled by David Gray who inevitably grabbed the biggest crowd of the day next to a bunch of geriatrics from Athens. Junior Senior had a mighty packed out New Bands tent to see them play their ‘hit’. They cleverly played it last to save embarassment.
Not the kind of problem REM suffer much from anymore, though. Satiating the masses with ‘Man On The Moon’ and ‘Losing My Religion’ and caressing the harder-core with the mesmerising ‘Fall On Me’ and the blissful ‘Electrolite’, Michael Stipe – looking like Michael Eavis’ younger brother is truly unstoppable.
Their politicaly-charged new material ranges from the blinding ‘Bad Day’ – a get up and go protest song that would fit well onto ‘Automatic For The People’, to ‘Final Straw’, a piss-poor folky-meander which is thankfully followed by ‘The End Of The World…’ It’s not a total greatest hits set, but what it is is totally magnificent.
Like Primal Scream over on the Other Stage, they have a retrospective album out soon, and don’t make Suede’s mistake of promoting dead wood. The normally paralytic Primals are for once in fine voice. We’d like to know who in their right mind would have bothered to go and do Death In Vegas though. Surely there was some mud to watch dry?