Saturday, July 05, 2014

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2014 Part 1

The big day had finally arrived. It was Wednesday 25th of June, the sun was shining and I was heading back to Worthy Farm 35 years after my first Glastonbury Festival. Jacquie picked me up and drove me to the station.I caught the 8.56 train from Westbury to Castle Cary. The train was absolutely packed with excited music fans who were nearly all about 40 years younger than me but I didn't care. It is the likes of me who kept the festival going when it was an unfashionable hippy fest before the word spread about how magical Glastonbury is. I had to stand in the aisle all the way but it only took about 20 minutes to get to the normally sleepy little station of Castle Cary but today it was busier than Paddington Station in London.About 1,000 people piled off the train and traipsed to the front of the station to the fleet of buses that took us to the festival site. I was sitting next to a man from Italy who had never been before and I pointed out Glastonbury Tor to him and he was in awe when the huge festival site came into view. We disembarked at the bus station by Red Gate A and I collected my wrist band and crew pass. I didn't have to queue up to get in which saved time and I was soon back in my spiritual home in the Vale Of Avalon.
             I hauled on my rucksack, picked up my tent and began the long walk across the site to Tom's Field right up by the farm house which is where the recycling crew are camped.I think it must have taken over an hour to get there with rests along the way. I got registered and found a nice spot to put up my tent and I was all sorted in my little home for the next 5 days by 12.00.                                                                                    Then I took a long lazy walk down what is traditionally known as Muddy Lane and met my sister Margaret and her partner Wayne at the Bread And Roses Bar in the Market area.The sun was beating down so Margaret bought me a rasta hat to keep the sun off my head. We had a couple of drinks, took photos and watched the world go by.

 They were working that evening as stewards on pedestrian gate B so eventually we took a slow walk back. That evening I went for dinner in the workers marquee where free food is provided for the workers. It was all vegetarian but I must say the food this year was delicious.Well done to the caterers. After dinner I went for a long aimless wander around the vast site.I walked up past the Leftfield and Arcadia to the Park and up the hill past the Ribbon Tower right to the top of the site where the Glastonbury sign is. You could see most of the site below. The view was incredible and I shot a couple of minutes of footage. I had a T Shirt on which said 'F*ck Google, Ask Me' and lots of people stopped me to ask questions which was really amusing. Eventually I wandered back and stopped at a few bars along the way. I was quite sensible this year and stuck to the same drink every day which was Thatchers Gold Cider. That was another good thing about being a worker. In the bar in Tom's Field it was only £2.50 a pint. I don't know what time I crawled into my tent but it had been a long and enjoyable day. 
I didn't have to go to work till Friday but my mate Dave had lent me a really good alarm clock which was set for 5.00 because I wanted to get in the habit of getting up early.After breakfast I walked along the old railway track and visited Perma culture and Green Futures and Field Of Avalon.I love this area because I think it is the soul of Glastonbury and reminds me of the old hippy days here. Wandering back who should I spot in Williams Green but Michael Eavis the farmer who has made Glastonbury the best festival in the world.He was chatting to some people and I felt like going over and asking him to book Van Morrison for next year but I didn't like to hassle him so I just took a discreet photo. Then I met Margaret and Wayne and at 4.00 it started raining just as the weatherman had predicted but a drop of rain doesn't bother us old Glastofarians.

                                                                               Thursday evening was the traditional recyclers party and lots of people came in fancy dress. There was live music and Michael Eavis was there and I managed to get a nice photo of himself and Fiona who organises the recycling and I had a little chat with Fiona who said she remembered me but she might have just been polite but what a nice lady she is. I also had a nice chat with Odele who I met here last year and at the Larmer Tree Festival. It was great to see her again. I stayed up at Tom's Field that night because it was raining but also because I had to be up early for work and Friday the music would begin.
The alarm went at 5.00 but I was already awake since dawn. The birds were singing in the trees and I had a busy day ahead. After breakfast I pulled on my wellingtons and marched down Muddy Lane which now was really muddy. I went to INFO in the market where I thought I had to meet my team but at 6.00 there was nobody else there. I was at the wrong INFO. I ran to INFO near the Pyramid Stage and found my team. We were the team responsible for tidying up the markets area. There were supposed to be 20 of us but only 18 turned up. Our leader was called Sophia and she worked on an alpaca farm near Glastonbury. She had the wheelbarrow which was laden with our bags for putting the garbage in. White bags for organic matter like food, paper plates, paper cups, wooden forks etc, blue for plastic and cans and black for stuff that can't be recycled. I was easily the oldest by decades but after 4 days I had made friends with all of them. My favourite was called Dani who had just left university and came from Liverpool. We each took a bag of each colour and tore into the work starting at the Cider Bus which is one of the filthiest areas but we soon had it looking pristine. When we filled a bag up it was left by the side of the road to be picked up and taken to the recycling centre. The time went really quickly and by 12.00 we had all the markets looking really tidy. We were really lucky with the weather as well. I think in the whole 4 days we only got caught in one big downpour. I volunteered to push the wheelbarrow back to base, Sophia gave us our meal tickets and our first shift was done. I had a quick shower, another benefit of working is that there are great showers and no queueing for them unlike for the normal festival goers. Then lunch which was a delicious Greek salad that day and then it was finally time to hear some music.

                  I walked down to the Pyramid Stage and there was a band on called The War Against Drugs. I had never heard of them before but I think they are American. The singer sounded a bit like Bob Dylan to me and they had a great guitar sound. That is one of the great things about Glastonbury, discovering new music. After that I wandered off to get a drink and then came back for the next act. It was Rodrigo Y Gabriela who are a male/female guitar duo from Mexico and they are quite amazing. Some of the most incredible guitar playing I have ever heard. I think De La Soul  were next and I know they are a really influential band but I got bored after a while and made my way to the Acoustic Stage which has always been my favourite stage at Glasto. Someone  called Hozier was on when I got there but I wasn't that impressed.
 Later I saw Holly Williams who is the granddaughter of the legendary Hank Williams. From a distance with her long straight blonde hair she reminded me of Johnny Winter but she was great. My favourite song was Angel From Montgomery written by John Prine. I should have written down the setlist but I didn't bother. Another great singer I saw that afternoon was Tony Joe White who sounded like he had crawled out of a Mississippi swamp. He was great and I didn't even know he was still alive. Eventually I made my way back to base and caught a bit of Rudimental's set as I walked past the Pyramid Stage.
 At dinner I met up with Margaret and Wayne again who told me that they had met people who knew me and lo and behold it was Viv and Julie who were the best friends of me and Kim on our recycling team back in 2005. I hadn't seen them since. I think that is because they got promoted to working in the crew office. It was brilliant to meet them again and we took a couple of photos.While we were talking a thunderstorm began which strangely was the worst storm I can remember here since 2005 when Kim, me, Viv and Julie were caught in it. This year lightning hit the Acoustic Stage and the ground near the Pyramid Stage which caused a delay in the music but it stopped after a while and Viv, Julie and I headed back to the Acoustic because Doctor Feelgood and The Blues Band were due on but when we got there because of the delay it was some shanty singers from Cornwall called Fisherman's Friends which wasn't my cup of tea at all so I said cheerio to the girls and wandered on and went for a walk through the Theatre and Cabaret area and had a drink in the Theatre Bar.
 I strolled back to the Pyramid via West Holts field and Lily Allen was on. Lily has been coming here since she was two and used to camp here with her dad and Joe Strummer so she loves Glastonbury and the crowd love her. I was really enjoying her performance until she started making a speech saying " This is Glastonbury Festival of music and performing arts, not Glasto. It doesn't need abbreviating so stop calling it Glasto". Well I have been calling it Glasto for years so I don't need any lectures from young Miss Allen thank you very much. Later I saw a great performance by Manchester band Elbow. They obviously love Glastonbury as well. It was really emotional and the perfect band to see as the sun was setting over Avalon. Then I returned to the Acoustic Stage to meet Margaret and Wayne again who had just finished work and had got drenched in the storm. We watched a great band called Tinariwen who are Tuareg's from Mali or Niger or somewhere like that. They had all the Tuareg costumes on and they were brilliant. Eventually I made my way home and listened to a bit of Arcade Fire as I walked slowly back up the lane. What a great day it had been.

To be continued.............................................

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2014, Part 2

It was Saturday morning at Glastonbury and another day was about to begin. As I pulled on my wellies I couldn't believe that I had been here 3 days already, the time had gone in a flash. I didn't bother with breakfast today because the queue was too long so a quick wash and a cup of coffee  and I was good to go for another long day. Our team met up by the cider bus to begin work. It was a bit tougher today because of the mud but at least it wasn't raining which is the main thing. Two of the lads in our team turned up late because they had been out all night long raving and they were all loved up. I don't know what they were on but they wanted a group hug before starting work but fair play to them because they got stuck into the work and managed to complete the shift. One incentive on the litter picking is that you find things. Other years I have found a few quid on the ground especially where people have been sat down and along the fronts of the markets but this year I only found 6 pence in total. I did find a  bag one day in the Acoustic area which I handed in because it might have had something really valuable in it. I found some drugs as well but I put them in the rubbish bin because I'm too old for all that carry on. Cider is my drug of choice nowadays. Anyway, our little band of brothers and sisters soon had the markets looking really nice again and the time flew by. We got caught in quite a heavy shower of rain but luckily it was right at the end of the shift so we didn't care and we were provided with waterproof ponchos anyway.

                                                                                                       After lunch which was a tasty bean chili I bought a couple of cans of cider and headed off for a day of music. I caught the end of  a set by Aoife O'Donavan. With a name like that I thought she must be Irish but she is an American singer-songwriter from Brooklyn I believe. I thought she was pleasant without being brilliant but I had never heard her before. I'm not familiar with the songs of a lot of these people. On the main stage I found a female singer-rapper called Angel Haze. Usually this isn't my type of music at all but I thought she was great and had a really good band and the nearer you get to the front the better the music sounds as it pulsates through you.
 I met up with Margaret and Wayne again at Bread And Roses who were chatting with some people from Norway. They were really nice and wanted to know what the American Indian head dresses that were all the rage this year were called. I didn't know but I think it might be war-bonnet.Anyway, that's by the by. After a while we said cheerio to them and took a slow walk to the Field Of Avalon stopping off at the Tiny Tea Tent for a bit of a sit down. We had a couple of drinks in the Avalon Arms and listened outside to Larkin Poe who I'd never heard of. Then I went inside the Avalon Stage tent to hear some of Irish folk legends Dervish who were really good. I arranged to meet up later and took a slow walk back home. On the way I watched Lana Del Rey who I was looking forward too because I have her album. I was disappointed I'm afraid. She is a beautiful girl but seems lacking in personality. At Glastonbury you have to engage with the audience like Elbow had done so brilliantly the night before. Her songs began to sound really samey to me. I think she might have been a bit overwhelmed by the huge crowd and she ought to cheer up a bit. I missed Thea Gilmore as well who I really like to see Lana so I was a bit miffed about that.

                                                                                                                    I tried to tidy myself up a bit back at base because I was beginning to look like a bag of shit. I had a shave but there were no mirrors and I cut myself on my nose. Never mind. After dinner and a bit of a rest I wandered down and caught the last 15 minutes of Robert Plant who has a great new band and sounded really good. I'm going to see him in August so look out for my exclusive review of that.

Then we met up again to see Nick Lowe at the Acoustic. I'm a huge fan of his and have a few albums. I wandered up to the front and met my friend Dave who is even a bigger fan and I think Dave lent me one of Nick's albums many years ago which turned me on to him. Dave thought Nick was great and he was good but although I didn't tell Dave I was slightly disappointed that it was just Nick and his guitar. It would have been great to have a band to fill the sound out a bit. After that we wandered through the Theatre Field and saw some crazy sights in there. I had forgotten my camera so it's hard to describe without visual evidence but you don't need drugs at Glasto because reality is weird enough. We met Dave's wife Sarah by Bella's Bridge. She had been to see the Bad Shepard's and said they were really good. We wandered on and met a man in Dickensian garb on a bicycle playing a piano as an example of the craziness. Dave and Sarah were off to get some food so I said cheerio and wandered on.

                                                                                                                                                I was really tired now so I sat outside a bar on the green for about two hours. I met Neil and Tracey from Westbury who camped with us way back at Glasto 95. The bar had two DJ's on who were from Dublin and a few people were dancing so I went inside.
 " Hello, my name's Pat, my family are Irish as well,from County Mayo, can you play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison please?".
I went back to my seat and a few minutes later I heard,
"This is for Pat from Mayo", and Brown Eyed Girl was played. Instantly the place was jumping. About a hundred people started dancing. It was great. I stood on my chair and danced along. Then they played some Irish jigs and reels. I sat down because I was knackered.
"Come on Pat, we know you're out there",said the DJ. It was great fun.

                                                                                                           The sun was setting now and on the various stages I still had the choice of  Dexy's Midnight Runners,Jack White,Pixies,Jake Bugg,Goldfrapp, Bryan Ferry or Metallica. I couldn't move though, I was too tired so I had another drink and just sat there and watched the world go by. Eventually it was dark and I thought I had better be going home. I walked through the Pyramid Stage field where Metallica were just about to start. The Rolling Stones had this slot last year and the field was packed but Metallica didn't attract half that audience. I think a lot of people had been put off because they had heard that this band go bear hunting which isn't the ethos of Glastonbury. I bet the other stages were packed though because the audience were somewhere if not here. I'm sure some people enjoyed Metallica though but not me because I went back to my campsite. When I got back I should have gone straight to bed but I didn't, I sat outside the marquee drinking and talking to some really nice people,god knows who they were. What a fabulous day and the best was yet to come.

To be continued.........................................

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2014, Part 3

One of the things that bugs me about Glastonbury is that when you get home the only thing that people who weren't there seem to want to talk about is rain and mud. I blame the media for that. I bet the BBC get the news reporter to stand in the biggest puddle he can find and report from there. There was a helluva lot more sunshine than rain this year.If the weather was so bad how come my nose is peeling from sunburn?. Sure there was mud but if you have the correct footwear what's the problem? Anyway when I emerged from my tent at 5.00 Sunday morning it was a beautiful sunny day and all I had on was t-shirt jeans and wellies. The perfect day to welcome a legend from Tennessee to Glastonbury. We had lost another member of the team so now we were reduced to 17 brave little soldiers as we began work. Of all the 4 shifts I did this was the toughest because of the mud. As I was saying to Wayne you get 3 types of mud. When it has just been raining and the mud is fresh and slushy it is easy to splash through it, no problem but when it starts drying out it gets more difficult as it sticks to your wellies and is quite tiring walking through it. Then when it is nearly dry and trodden down it becomes easy again and you can just bounce across it. Today, we had the second type. It wasn't pleasant picking the rubbish out of it but we had gloves so who cares.
 I like Glastonbury mud anyway. It is special mud with healing powers.We soon had the markets looking spick and span again. Other teams thought they might be the best but we knew we were the best. One thing I was pleased about was that even at the age of 62 I proved that I have just as much stamina if not more than the youngsters.We made a mistake though of being too good and finished our area too early and were sent to help other teams who were struggling. By the end of the shift we were miles from base camp right over the other side of the Glade on the old railway track. Dani and I made the mistake of volunteering to take turns to push the wheelbarrow home and that was the most difficult work of all because the mud got caked on the wheel so it wouldn't go round and we had to keep stopping to remove the mud. It was 12.45 when we got back to base and I had arranged to meet people at 2.00.

                                                                         After lunch I got a couple of cans of cider and headed back down the lane.It has been a tradition  to meet up with family and friends on Sunday afternoon.I think it was my niece Katherine who started that a few years ago but this year only Margaret and Wayne turned up. We sat outside the Acoustic stage enjoying the sunshine and chatting. At Glastonbury you are in a bubble with no contact with the outside world, no telly or newspapers which is great but stories get around. The big news was that Bobby Womack had died which was sad because I think he had appeared at Glasto only last year. The other story was that a festival-goer had died after a bad reaction to taking ketamine. That is really tragic but in a population of 200,000 somebody is going to die over a weekend. How many people died in Bristol last weekend? I think Glasto must have the lowest death rate in the country. I think ketamine was originally used as a horse tranquilliser so the message is, 'say neigh to ketamine'.

                                                                               I went inside to see who was on and it was another American singer-songwriter called Galia Arad who was ok but I don't think she will bother the album charts much.She was followed by someone called Sturgill Simpson who mean't nothing to me at all. Basically we were just waiting patiently for Dolly.Finally at about 3.50 we decided to make a move. The walkways were jammed with tens of thousands of people heading for the Pyramid Stage but we are clever see, we walked up past the Acoustic,past the top of Kidz field, across Muddy Lane and approached the Pyramid Stage from the top of the field. The crowd was vast,I said to Margaret that it looked even more crowded than for the Stones last year but she pointed out that they had extended the field last year for the Stones. Even so I think that there must have been over 100,000 people there for Dolly Parton. We even bumped into the Norwegian people who we met the day before.            
                   At 4.20 Dolly came on stage looking dazzling in a white suit covered in rhinestones. I have never bought a Dolly record in my life and probably never will but I think she is great, multi-talented with a huge personality who really knows how to get a crowd on her side (Take note Lana Del Rey).She was the perfect choice for a sunny Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury. Dolly played a brilliant set of one hour and ten minutes. I didn't think it was loud enough where we were so I moved nearer to the front and during Jolene I was dancing with four police women who were enjoying it just as much as everyone else.Dolly sang lots of my favourite songs including Coat Of Many Colours,Here You Come Again, Banks Of The Ohio, 9 to 5, and Islands In The Stream,She said that she had been brought up on a farm in Tennessee so she was well used to a bit of mud and she sang a song that she had written especially for Glastonbury called Mud. Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi joined her on stage to play guitar on Lay Your Hands On Me from her new album Blue Smoke and it was great but I hope he wasn't there to check out Glasto for Bon Jovi next year because I don't like them much. Dolly ended her set with the classic I Will Always Love You.Dolly had certainly taken Glastonbury to her bosom.

           In the evening we met up again and Clannad, Alison Moyet and Suzanne Vega were playing in the Acoustic and Yoko Ono on the Park Stage but we couldn't be bothered watching any of it. I was really weary by now so we just chilled out in the Theatre Bar for a while. There was one last band I wanted to see though. Last year when I saw my friends Stuart and Michelle at the Albert Hall Michelle told me that they had been listening to the Black Keys and they were really good so I made the supreme effort to go and see them. I was really glad I did because they were great. I can only remember one song which was called Fever but they were possibly the best band I heard all weekend.After that I made my way home and could hear Kasabian in the distance. I think my niece Lee really likes them so I would have liked to hear more but I was too tired.

                                                                           Next morning it was another hot day and our team tore through the work again cheerfully. The mud had dried so it was a lot easier and finally at 12.00 we were all finished and threw our gloves in the wheelbarrow for the last time. I took some photos and it was quite sad to say cheerio to our little gang who had bonded really well over the four days but we were glad the work was over.

Margaret and Wayne had offered me a lift home and were waiting by my tent when I got back. I got my tent down and had one last delicious vegetarian meal of pizza and salad. I haven't eaten any meat for ten days now and am determined to keep it going. That is one of the subtle little ways that Glastonbury is life changing.Anyway, we loaded up Wayne's wheelbarrow with my stuff and Wayne lead the way to the car-park. It wasn't too bad getting out this year, we had to crawl along the lanes but as soon as we hit the main road it was easy. We listened to Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne and I sat in the back drinking shiraz and blathering nonsense because I was totally exhausted mentally and physically but definitely not spiritually. Soon Westbury White Horse came into view and I was home safe and sound and I bought Wayne a well deserved drink in the Ludlow Arms. Glastonbury 2014 was finally over and peace has returned to Worthy Farm until we return next year. There is no need to say another word.

                                            THE END.