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Glasto – Sunday

We decided on a later start on Sunday, largely because we were knackered and not that fussed about seeing any of the bands on earlier. In hindsight this was a good move as it means we weren’t out in the blazing hot sun all day, but even then we had to seek out the shade whenever we could. This meant we heard a little of Laura Marling from the beer tent, but I don’t think we missed all that much.

We ventured out to try and find a spot of shade and catch Paul Simon, and whilst we couldn’t see much of what was going on, he delivered what sounded like a competent set. Definitely one of those artists that you forget has so many well known songs. Needless to say those from Graceland made the biggest impression, getting people up on their feet and dancing!

After that we headed to the Other Stage where we would spend the rest of the day. We stopped on the way for some food and caught the end of the TV on the Radio set (sounded good!), before setting up camp for Eels. Now THAT is one helluva hirsute band! Beards aside, they delivered a slick set with some good banter to keep things moving along. Didn’t know much of their stuff but will be seeking it out now.

And then the Kaiser Chiefs arrived. I hate the Kaiser Chiefs. Well, that’s not true, I don’t hate them, I just hate the fact that most of their songs are so bloody catchy they get stuck in my head (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! … see!!). I had heard they were good live and have to admit I was well impressed. Full of energy, upbeat and a great setup for the headliners. It was quite a sight to see the flags and raised hands silhouetted against the setting sun, and the Kaiser Chiefs were one of the surprises for me.

As darkness descended, on strode Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age. They were there to deliver, mostly, a set of songs chosen by their fans and from the outset they were loud, raucous and absolutely nailed it. Having seen them live a few weeks ago in Glasgow I had a sense of what they were about but, and I hate myself for admitting this, Josh Homme is just one stone cold, cool motherfucker. Swigging from a bottle of vodka? tequila?, cigarette dangling from his lips as he strummed the intro chords, they delivered a killer set and I swear the volume level went up for the last few tracks. Certainly the loudest thing I heard all weekend and a cracking way to finish Glastonbury for us.

Well, almost.

Wearily starting the walk back to the campsite, we could hear music off in the distance. As we got closer we realised it was Kool & the Gang and they’d just started playing Celebration. Cue many staggering, tired or just drunk people starting to sing along, quietly to themselves.

Standing at the tent, looking down the hill at the spotlights scanning the sky, the thumping bass from the dance tents still throbbing, and the general clatter for several thousand people milling around, talking and laughing, all of a sudden it was over. Just like that.

Would I go back? Yes.

Would I do it differently? Yes. There is so much to explore and we didn’t see even a quarter of what we could.

The good thing is I’ve got a couple of years to plan it…

Thank you Glastonbury, it was emotional!

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Glasto – Saturday

Saturday and we awoke, grabbed a roll and sausage and some much needed caffeine and looked at the sky. Grey clouds everywhere. We decided to hang around the tent until later and, thankfully, the cloud started to break up and patches of blue started to appear. Off we scuttled again.

Now, I know a lot is said about the Glastonbury mud so please forgive me whilst I discuss it a bit further. From the previous day, the mud had been slick, sloppy and whilst messy and a little slippery, largely easy to walk through. However, by the team we got to the main site on Saturday, the sun had started to dry this up, leaving large patches of, essentially, quick dry cement.

Walking through mud, in wellies which are slightly too big for you, is hard enough when it’s soaking wet but in the drying mud it became impossible. We got to within about 100 feet of the John Peel stage before abandoning our plans (we had hoped to catch Anna Calvi) and retreating to the firmer ground at the Pyramid Stage.

We arrived just in time to hear Rumer start her set. Not planned, but as the sun came out, her Carpenter-esque melodies were a wonderul accompaniment to an afternoon snooze in the sun! Once her set finished, and the time arrived from the next act to appear, we were suddenly very aware that it was getting busy. Very busy indeed. Whilst the stage was getting setup for the next act, as the sun beamed down, I reckon about 80,000 people enjoyed an impromptu singalong to the song that came wafting over the intercom, Hey Jude. That, right there, was one of the ‘moments’ for me. Around me people of all ages and backgrounds tilted their heads to the sun… Naaaa na na NA NA NA NAAAAA, NA NA NA NAAAAAAA HEY JUDE!!

And then Tinie Tempah arrived.

The field at the Pyramid Stage had been filling rapidly and by the time TT was on stage the place was heaving. I’m not a huge fan, only really know a couple of his tracks but wow, what a show he put on! U2 should take note, this was no dialled in performance, this was a guy genuinely excited to be at Glastonbury and it showed as he bounced and grinned his way through his set.

After that we Paolo Nutini (no, I can’t really understand him either) entertained us. Again, not a fan but he was pretty accomplished and has some feelgood tunes that were perfect for a sunny afternoon.

But really, we were waiting for Elbow. Striding on stage, pint held aloft, Guy Garvey proceeded to give a master class in frontmanship with his down to earth, friendly,  warm and embracing, style. You could tell the band were excited to be there and with every song Guy cajoled us into joining in the fun. It’s hard to describe Mr. Garvey’s approach but I think this tweet says it as well as I ever could: “Bono assumes he is addressing the world; Guy speaks to everyone.”

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a HUGE fan of Elbow and they delivered a pitch perfect, late evening set. Nicely setting things up for Coldplay.

Except we didn’t hang around for that, nope, instead we headed to the Other Stage where, amongst a mass of whirling lights, to an audience of glowsticks, flares and raised, fist pumping hands, the Chemical Brothers delivered one hell of a set. Dancing like a mad thing on already aching legs and not caring one bit, all too soon it was finished.

We wandered back to the campsite again, worn out, the sounds of Jimmy Cliff wafting to us on the cool evening breeze.

All of a sudden it was almost over, with only one day to go.

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Glasto – Friday

Friday sees the start of the music festival proper. We had a rough idea of who we’d like to see but were happy to change our plans and so it was that we ended up catching part of Beardyman’s set at Dance East, before trudging halfway across the campsite to grab lunch at West Holts and listen to a couple of songs from Gonjasufi. We then trawled back towards the Pyramid Stage, passing Mark Potter from Elbow on the way (one of those double take moments).

As we got there, the mighty Wu Tang Clan were in full flow and had the crowd in the palm of their hands. We hung about for the last couple of tracks and waited for B.B. King.

To say that B.B. King has a good band is an understatement, this was a slick, well-drilled unit who delivered solid backing whilst B.B. did his thing. Not bloody bad for an 85-year old!

However, we decided to beat a retreat towards the end of his set, hitting the nearest beer tent to avoid the first real downpour of the day.

Once the worst of the rain had passed we nipped out to catch the last few tracks from Biffy Clyro tracks before dashing up to The Park area for the ‘special guest’ slot which (thanks to a colleague we bumped into) we knew would be Radiohead.

Yup, THAT Radiohead.

Suffice to say that word had gotten out and the place was absolutely jampacked with barely room to breath. People were clambering up on of anything they could to get a better view,  culminating in one guy proclaiming his love to everyone in the crowd from atop a wooden caravan and holding forth until someone launched a (thankfully empty and plastic) bottle of cider at him from about 30 feet… SPANG, straight in the face! The round of boos the assailant received was, I thought, a little unjust.. can’t have been easy to hit the guy so accurately from that far!

We lasted a few tracks before bailing out of the madness and starting the long, slow, muddy trek through the rain back to the Pyramid stage for an Irish band you may have heard of…

We grabbed a spot, setup our recently purchased camping chairs, and huddled under a poncho to try and fend off the worst of the rain. U2 were good, slick, and looked every inch of the “we’ve been doing this for years” rock starts that they are… again, the weather forced our hand though and we left them to it and headed back up the appropriately named Muddy Lane back to the campsite.

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