With Beth Orton boring the living shit out of the Acoustic Stage on Friday, it was good to see Gemma Hayes drawing some sunny smiles by clinging on to the good side of bland acousto-rock; saved by her voice and that stunning new makeover she’s had. She’s infinitely fitter than Beth too.
Is it possible that when Jools Holland appeared on that whiskey ad he in fact didn’t mean for us to have consumed the whole bottle before he took the stage? Possibly; but nevertheless, Jools Holland’s R&B Orchestra is cooler than JD himself and is the perfect head-soother for the first big Pyramid Stage crowd to get into. We’ve got two words for Jimmy Cliff too: Leg. End.
The shit half of At The Drive-In - Sparta, are pretty much ignored by most people, and although The Thrills’ hype nets them a few visitors, inevitably, one trick pony syndrome bites them in the ass and it never really comes off. Shame, cos it’s a great debut LP they have there and if their sweet-as, Californ-i-ayy powder pop isn’t made for Glasto, then neither are The Polyphonic Spree. Or skidmarks.
It’s not quite the festival defining moment people billed it to be, but nevertheless ‘Hey It’s The Sun’ and ‘Soldier Girl’ are wondrously magical in the afternoon heat. Revelling in the fact that they finally have enough room for all 925 members, Tim DeLaughter – (is he related to the Chuckle Brothers?) - and his cronies trade their KKK kostumes for red pyjamas. Presumably to save on dry cleaning when one of the many Scouse bands on show today stabs them in the back with a rusty tent peg.
Yes, Saturday sees the New Bands tent nail down almost everything with the arrival of Liverpool (Stands, The Basement, The Bandits, The Hokum Clones) and Manchester (Noel). They all steal from Beefheart and Love with varying degrees of tediousness and rather than be cocooned inside a sweaty tent we catch a bit of the real thing (Arthur Lee & Love) on the Other Stage, before throwing pies at Turin Brakes - (no Mercury nomination, no album sales). We somehow ending up dancing to the White Stripes whilst Soulwax 2Many DJ in the Dance Tent, which is a lot more fun than it sounds.
For a change, they don’t have the trademark suits, although Interpol don’t let the issue of it being hotter than Russell Grant’s arse interfere with their meticulous stage attire. Like Joy Division soundtracking A Gothwork Orange it’s the kind of New York rock we like. i.e. not wanky pfunk like Radio 4 or the abysmal Star Spangles. Yich.
In typical Glasto fashion, up until we catch The Flaming Lips out tweeing The Spree on the Pyramid Stage, easily the best thing of the day is Nittin Sawnhey who we remember seeing amidst the sea of flags at the One World (Jazz) Stage; though we could have been dreaming.
The Flaming Lips, if our photos prove true, came on stage with a bunch of huge furry animals, and with the stage looking like a fucked up giant mutant Hamley’s, they went through a large proportion of the brilliant material that’s made ‘Soft Bulletins’ and ‘…Battles The Robots’ such instant classics. That’s what happens when you buy pop off strange foreigners.
The Damned declare that they’re better than Radiohead, and that in fact ’even the Glasto toilets’ are better than Radiohead. Neither is the case, although anyone trying to tell that to Avalon Stage hardcore would have had their brains made into Glasto Cheese. Forgoing the Chemical Brothers too – not an easy decision, but it’s only a DJ set after all – we venture back to catch the most talked about musical performance of the decade. Could it really be Radiohead at Glastonbury? Well. Like, yeah. Why d'you think the tickets sold out?
With the set swaying from their electronic stuff to the 'tunes' the David Gray fans like, those in the front few rows are immersed in a mass singalong with all the die-hard Radiohead geeks from countries you’ve never even heard of. Everyone else has to try and make out the scrappy sound under drunken tales from those unimpressed by the less festival friendly material like ‘The Gloaming’.
Still, ‘There There’ and ‘2+2=5’ are magnificent, and the indie-rave stuff off Kid A; ‘The National Anthem’, ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ and ‘Idioteque’ are monumental. ‘Just’ and ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ are simply mental, whilst there are no words to describe ‘Karma Police.’ Imagine 100,000 people totally silent in salutation of the band’s genius. The misery is the beauty and the melody is the key. Unlock your mind and get with the program, Radiohead just redefined what a festival performance should be about. No surprises there, then.