Is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel?
Or just twenty thousand people standing in a field?
Eagles of Death Metal – Pyramid Stage
After failing to get anywhere near the Jazzworld stage for Rolf Harris I settled for the familiar Pyramid Stage and some rock’n’roll. I’m only peripherally familiar with their music via Queens of the Stone Age, unfortunately they don’t have the tunes or the live show that Qotsa have. Thought In fairness, I was never going to get into it so early when I knew so little, so there was always going to be a limit to my enjoyment, but once again the size of the stage and the scale of the audience sort of hampered my enjoyment. Definitely a band that would be better in a sweaty club somewhere.
Due to growing frustrations with the festival’s biggest asset and hinderence, it’s scale, and having overdosed on too much white rock music over the past 24 hours, I escape to the Park Stage for something a little different.
Easy Star All Stars – Park Stage
Ok. A band that does Reggae covers of white rock artists wasn’t the clean break I was imagining, but I was tired and wasn’t going to walk around too much, plus, they were doing Ok Computer one of my favourite albums, so I stuck around.
And I wasn’t disappointed. I was familiar with the band, but not familiar with their covers. I love reggae, my first memories of music was Bob Marley being played non-stop in the house, a memory that I’d like to proudly attribute to my strong Jamaican cultural heritage, but it was Bob Marley and everyone listens to Bob Marley. Regardless it’s a genre I’ve always liked, the dubbier the better and as they ran through their off-beat covers of perhaps the definitive album of the 90s (If not the 20th century!!11) I began to really enjoy myself.
The Park Stage is wonderfully intimate, but not small. The stage is at the bottom-centre of a horseshoe hill so it has a nice amphitheater effect with everyone getting a nice view of the stage, no large haircuts, freakishly tall people or annoying, sometime topless (but still annoying) women on men’s shoulders blocking your view, plus as it was quite quiet – which was surprising considering the special guests that were rumored to be playing on the stage in a few hours- I chilled and had a little dance to the music genre invented for easy dancing.
Their covers are inventive and put their own unique mark upon songs that are incredibly hard to put a mark on. Ok Computer is very much an album’s album, it’s a complete song-cycle about a large number of subjects, it wears its theme’s on its sleeve and it has some awkward time-signatures, signatures that almost definitely don’t appear in Reggae music, so the prospect of any performance built around covers of Ok Computer should fill someone with dread, let alone covers in a genre committedly stuck in 4/4.
The Easy Star’s are not a typical cover band though and by adding some brass, extended bass solos and a guitarist who does a surprisingly good job of aping Jonny Greenwood they take it in their stride; the crowd, half white rock fans looking to get away from white rock music for a while, but only half-suceeding, and half white faux hippy Rastafarians that have adapted their long dreadlocks into a pseudo-religious, cultural statement (when really its just poor hygiene), are appreciative.
Saturday is off and running and I’ve finally found another stage to enjoy!
Shlomo and Guests – Park Stage
The Glastonbury line-up tells me Horace Andy was on between these two artists but I definitely didn’t see him and I don’t remember what I did between seeing this and Easy Star so the line-up might be wrong, anyway…
This was really quite good. Quite novelty, not something I would indulge in outside of a festival and definitely not something I would listen to at my desk, but a great hour or so’s entertainment.
Shlomo is basically a beatboxer/voice-manipulation artist, a less famous, popular Beardyman if you will. Though browsing through his resume on Wikipedia I was probably a lot more familiar with his work than I realised at the time.
So basically, we get a lot of covers. Him and his vocal choir of fellow beatboxers are amazingly skipped and throw together a few interpretations of songs using only their voices (obviously) it’s not amazing, but it draws a smile and makes you laugh. A perfect afternoon ‘matinee’ act. During this process we get guest appearances from Imogen Heap, DJ Yoda and Jarvis Cocker to name a few. Shlomo and the vocal orchestra collaborate with Imogen and Cocker, performing a few of their songs and have a ‘battle’ with DJ Yoda, in which he spins a few sections of records and challenges the orchestra to replicate it on the spot, they succeed of course and the crowd are won over. I decide I really want to see Jarvis Cocker instead of Bruce Springsteen. History is made!
Special Guests…The Klaxons – Park Stage
Ahhh crap, this was supposed to be Muse or something big! I hurriedly clamber through the crowd and leave the Park stage shortly after a keyboard is wheeled out and some obsessive fan behind me overexcitedly tells his mates that ‘that’s the bass that *insert relevant band member’s name* uses that is’. As I leave the opening, inane strains of Golden Skans echoes in the wind. A close shave.
After some rendezvous making hi-jinks and time spent in the horrible, sweaty, orange and nauseatingly titled Orange Chill’n’Charge tent (which, as well as being a venue to ‘chill’, charge, and presumably do anything else alliterative that comes to mind, is also a mini-venue for music too awful to be put on anywhere else) that comes about as everyone’s phones, including my own, are dying due to failing batteries, I end up back at the Park Stage albiet briefly, first for some dinner (Falafel, lovely.) and then for…
M Ward – Park Stage
Only stayed here for a few post-falafel songs. Seemed nice. Not really aware of his music outside a few namedrops in Pitchfork and the like, a nice sound-down act, but we had to get moving for…
Jarvis Cocker – John Peel Tent
After another little wander around the site which includes a perilous journey traversing through the nether regions of a packed Bruce Springsteen crowd – One thing you never see on television coverage is that behind the flags and the darkness is a sizeable seated audience on the hills at the rear of the field, some barbecues even, and they don’t take kindly to outsiders passing through their property – we arrived at a fresh venue, the John Peel Tent.
Bruce was my least anticipated of the headliners but I had intended to see him. I love Born to Run and was aware of his live reputation but seeing Jarvis pop up at Shlomo I had to give in. I like his solo stuff, love his stage manner, and I thought there might be the outside chance he’d play some Pulp stuff.
But still, great show. A marginal amount of the audience obviously had similar hopes to me as they left the tent when it became clear he wasn’t going to be offering a repeat of 1995, but oh well, more room for me.
The sound in Peel tent was pretty bad, a world away from the surprisingly crisp sound at the Pyramid and Other stages, you’d think it’d be easy to sort out the sound for a smaller audience but clearly not. The whole stage is also in complete opposition to the wonderful placement of the Park Stage in relation to its surroundings; the centre of the John Peel Tent is a slight hill, which means that you will have a harder time getting a clear line of sight unless you’re quite near the front. Sucky stage.
Anyway, back to Jarvis. He’s a hell of a performer, that right hard is completely unrestrained, hypnotic even…
The songs are ok, his solo stuff doesn’t really hold a flame to the heights of Pulp’s excellence, but his performance, the anecdotes and the general Glastonbury goodwill he has earnt over the years sees him through. He’s one of the few artists who you would happily hear simply talk for hours, it’s almost a disappointment when he reigns in one of his musings to perform another song…when he’s not playing Pulp songs, at least.
Show over, I head off into the night. Festival fatigue is starting to show and I mysteriously lose half of my belongings during the night, including, somehow, my trainers.
I arrive back at the campsite at 6AM for a quick sleep before the final day begins proper.