Saturday, December 10, 2016

Glastonbury 1994. My Twelfth Glastonbury

I’m proud to say that 1994 was the only time I ever climbed over the fence to get into the festival. Every other year I bought a ticket or worked there. We had failed to get tickets so Kim agreed that I could go with Dave and Paul. It was already evening time when they arrived at ours. Before we set off we watched Ireland play Mexico in the World Cup. Mexico won 2-1 but John Aldridge scored a vital goal which got Ireland through to the next round. Anyway, that is by the by. It was already dark by the time we got to Pilton. Dave just drove straight past the car-park attendants so that was the first problem solved. Then we sneaked along the perimeter, undercover of the night until we found a nice quiet spot to begin the assault of the fence. We gave each other a leg up to the top of the fence and then sat on the top and grabbed the last person who took a run at the fence. Then a quick dash across no man’s land to the new inner fence. This was a bit lower but quite awkward as it was wire and harder to clamber up. In my panic to get over it before being spotted by the security I managed to stab myself in the palm of the hand on a loose bit of wire. We dashed for the safety of the crowds inside, tripping over tent pegs and guy ropes as we ran. Once we knew that we were safely inside we stopped and I looked at my hand. It was bleeding profusely with a triangle of loose skin flapping about on my hand. I knew I had to get it bandaged so I went to one of the Medical Centres.
“You climbed over the fence, didn’t you”, said the nurse.
“How do you know that?”, I replied.
“Because that is the eighth injured hand I have seen today”, she answered, with a knowing smile.

Before I get to the good stuff, apart from stabbing myself, there was one other bad incident that I remember that year and that was the shooting incident in the market area. Apparently, it was caused by an argument between two drug dealers. One of them pulled out a gun and started spraying bullets around and several innocent bystanders got hit in the crossfire. I think about five people ended up in hospital but luckily nobody got killed or seriously injured. I want to make it quite clear that this was an isolated incident that had never happened before or in the years since. Glastonbury Festival is one of the most peaceful places in Britain. There has always been a great feeling of tolerance and good behaviour at Glasto. There is quite a lot of drunkenness to be seen but it is all good natured and I have never personally witnessed any violence. Anyway, me and my niece Lee went to have a look at the scene of the shooting and the police had roped off the area where the gun play had occurred and inside the ropes there were two blokes pretending to have a boxing match which was quite funny.

There was no Pyramid Stage in 94 because it had mysteriously burnt down just a couple of weeks before the festival. Luckily, they managed to find another stage in time for the festival but it didn’t seem the same without the pyramid which didn’t reappear for another six years. In 94 as well they tried to go all eco-friendly and had a huge wind-turbine by the stage to generate the power. I don’t think it was a big success though because I don't think it was seen again in subsequent years.
Musically my outstanding memory of 94 was the performance by the man in black, namely Johnny Cash. He appeared on the Sunday afternoon and was accompanied to the site by the Bishop Of Bath & Wells, the reverend Jim Thompson who had shown Johnny all the sacred places such as Wells Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey. I spotted Jim standing at the side of the stage with DJ Andy Kershaw. Johnny Cash was absolutely blown away by the warm reception he got from the huge crowd. It must have been the largest audience that he had ever played to in his long career. This was the first year that Glastonbury was televised and so I have enjoyed watching Johnny Cash’s performance many times since. I think my favourite song was Sunday Morning Coming Down. Also, The Beast In Me which was written by another Glastonbury legend called Nick Lowe. Actually, I enjoyed every song of his brilliant set. The audience loved it as well, especially when he shouted out, “My name is Sue”, and 100,000 people replied, “How do you do”. Also during a song called Let The Train Blow The Whistle the crowd joined in by spontaneously making train noises at the end of every verse. He was also joined by his wife June Carter for a couple of songs. It was sad when they both died less than ten years later. For me personally that performance is in my top five Glastonbury appearances of all time.

Other acts who I remember from that year included Peter Gabriel who brought the festival to a close on the Sunday and Irish singer Mary Black and her band. She couldn’t believe the reception she got either. I think it must have been the greatest gig of her career. I also really like Bjork who was on the NME stage on the Saturday. Oasis were on as well but I don't think I saw them. Another person I would really have liked to have seen was Iris Dement who was on the Acoustic Stage. I had never heard of her in those days though but have become a big fan since.

When we got back to Westbury we went straight in the pub and after one pint discovered we were broke after blowing all our money at Glasto. Dave just had 20 pence on him. “Give me that 20p Dave and I’ll get us £10”. I walked over the Quiz machine and put in the 20 pence and a minute later we had £10 for more pints. Dave couldn’t believe it. Anyway, that was the end of Glastonbury 1994. The following year was to be even more eventful !

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