On Sunday morning I awoke expecting a much more chilled day than the two that came before. I had no plans of chasing bands between stages and had no real schedule to fulfill, as long as I managed to catch Madness and Brand New i’d be okay was the general consensus floating around my head.
What Sunday did bring me was my first proper breakfast since I got to Glastonbury (and probably even longer, considering my inability to function in the morning), having not been able to eat as much as I’d have liked at Glastonbury so far, the Vegan fry up was very welcome.
At just gone midday on Sunday I was rocked by silver haired veterans Status Quo, having never really been a fan, their urgent yet overblown rock n roll was wasted on me, but thats not to say I wasn’t impressed. They played all their hits, including ‘Rocking all over the world’ and ‘Down Down’ and were very tight from start to finish. For me, Status Quo are the exact sort of band I come to festivals to see, experienced and entertaining bands that I wouldn’t otherwise fork out the money to watch. With the sun shining down, and The Quo playing loudly in front of me, I couldn’t think of a single reason to complain.
Believing I had two and a half hours to kill, and not particularly fancying watching Tony Christie or Art Brut, I went for a little walk, a walk that ended up taking me through the Greenpeace fields, who had done an excellent job in making the space their own, offering solar showers and even the occasional wedding. Hippies, eh? I then managed to tread, and almost submerge, my shoe in what I hoped was just mud, outside a toilet area and walked towards the ‘Other Stage’, believing I was half an hour early to watch Brand New.
It turns out that stage times had been put forward half an hour on that stage, and I got their just in time to see them finish playing their hit ‘Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades’. Having been a Band I’ve listened to for quite some time, yet always been eluded by in a live setting, I had been eagerly awaiting this set since the line up had been announced a month before. However, what my wait was rewarded with was the most disappointing performance of the weekend. Drawing heavily from third album ‘The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me’, an album that was never able to impress me, and playing what seemed like a very short set, I couldn’t help but feel let down. I don’t want to suggest that they were bad, because this was far from the case, I just feel they lacked a certain amount of charisma on stage. For me, the highlight of their set was the superb ‘Okay, I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t’, and their acoustic cover of ‘Oh Comely’ by Neutral Milk Hotel. They also played promising sounding new songs that left me excited for their upcoming fourth album.
Up to this point, in search of the ‘authentic’ Glastonbury experience, I’d chosen to to bypass any special allowances for the ‘press’, choosing to camp in the main site and electing not to use the hot showers, however, by the time it reached Sunday afternoon, in the blazing heat, I decided it would be in my interests to avoid using the ‘longdrops’ as best I could, so I scurried to the hospitality camping area in search of the flushable toilets, using the shower facilities whilst I was there.
From the showers, I headed towards the press area, just to explore what exactly it was I hadn’t been taking full advantage of, whilst back there I ran into my friend Jim, we exchanged our Glastonbury experiences and agreed it was possibly the best european festival either of us had ever been to.
I left Jim behind as Madness were about to hit the stage, another band I’ve always wanted to see, but can never justify paying the amount they charge for a headlining set. Like The Specials, they were a band i’d wanted to see for a while and were everything I hoped they’d be. Opening with ‘One Step Beyond’, they played a relentlessly fun set, which had half the crowd singing along, and half the crowd dancing frantically. Few bands playing Glastonbury can boast a closing run as song as the five songs (’Baggy Trousers’, ‘Our House’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Madness’ and ‘Night Boat To Cairo’) as strong as Madness’, proving the strength of their back catalogue. One of the best bands of the weekend.
After Madness, I headed back up towards ‘The Park’ where I sat atop one of the most elevated parts of the site, and ate a wonderful Thali Curry. In the distance I could hear the faint sounds of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which part of me would have liked to have been watching, but a bigger part of me didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. It was this moment, for me, that the real beauty of Glastonbury struck. At other festivals I’ve darted about the site, running from band to band, trying to ingest as much music as I could, but that evening, basking in the preliminary sunset, knowing I was missing an artist that I really like, and may not get another chance to see, whilst simultaneously not caring, made me realise just how magical the Glastonbury experience really is. I can’t imagine anyone not having fun whilst there.
Later that evening, I had to make up my mind on the whole Blur vs The Prodigy debate. I hadn’t seen either in the past, and prefer the music of The Prodigy but, knowing i’ll probably see the prodigy another time, I chose to watch Blur, who didn’t at all dissapoint.
I had no idea how much of their back catalogue I was familiar with until they started, but they played hit after hit, and for a band i’d previously claimed to not like, I was coming dangerously close to enjoying myself, by the time they ended their set with a triumphant second encore, I was converted. It’s been many many years, but i can finally see the appeal of Britpop.
Choosing relatively early nights every night so far, Sunday night was the first chance I got to explore the Glastonbury night life, and what I learnt was that it is incredible. The Shangri-La area of the site, probably the busiest hub of after hours entertainment at Glastonbury was an intricate network of the most bizarre little clubs and bars you can imagine, which only got more insane the more sense I tried to make of it. Shangri-La really is an experience that eludes the capabilities of my linguistic prowess, it really has to be lived to be believed.
Whilst walking back to our tents, I turned to a friend of mine and rambled incoherently (i presume), words to the effect of: the best thing about Glastonbury is the fact that so many different people have been having such a diverse range of experiences all weekend, and the more I think about it, the truer that statement was. The old hippies, the ravers, the children and their parents, the teenagers who’ve never been to a festival before and even the punks (myself somewhat included), had something catered to their interests within that field almost constantly, for nearly four whole days. I doubt anyone will have come back from Glastonbury 2009 with anything less than a host of stories to tell, new friends and a weekend they wont forget in a hurry. I went to Glastonbury expecting a traditional music festival, seasoned with hippy rhetoric, what I got was one of the most wonderful weekends I’ve ever had. Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is an experience I forbid, to the best of my abilities, anybody reading this not to have.