It was Friday morning at Glastonbury, the sun was shining and finally on my sixth day at Worthy Farm the music was about to begin. You can get these little guides in a plastic cover that you can hang around your neck, they call them lanyards. At breakfast I studied my lanyard and put circles around the acts I was hoping to see. It often doesn’t work out that way though at Glasto because there are so many stages you can set off to see one band and on the way there something happens and you end up watching something else. The music was due to start at 11.00 so at about 10.00 I set off on a marathon walk that was to last all day.
When I reached the Pyramid Stage The Hacienda Classical Orchestra were rehearsing and doing a soundcheck for their performance. They sounded good but I didn’t hang around because I was heading for the second biggest stage which is known as ‘The Other Stage’ to see The Pretenders. What a great band to start a festival with. I got there early so I managed to get a good spot right near the front and waited patiently. Precisely at 11.00 they came on stage and I must say Chrissie Hynde looked great in her Motorhead T Shirt and tight blue jeans. She is one month older than me but is still a sexy rock chick. I like her attitude as well. She is as outspoken as ever and had a few choice words about Rupert Murdoch which I bet the BBC didn’t broadcast. She still has her original Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, I don’t know how long the new guys have been in the band but they rocked. Chrissie dedicated a song to Michael & Emily Eavis and also sang a song for Glastonbury legend Joe Strummer and everyone who goes to Strummerville which must have pleased my mate Dave who is a huge Clash fan. You can’t beat a good bit of guitar based rock to kick-start a festival. Chrissie’s voice is as good as ever and although I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs, they played lots of classic Pretenders songs such as Stop Your Sobbing, I’ll Stand By You and of course Brass In Pocket.
After that brilliant performance I went to the Pyramid Stage where Paul Carrack had already started his act. I had seen Paul in a previous year but that was an acoustic show. Today he had a full band and sounded magnificent. Although I have known about him for years, today it finally hit me how good he is, especially his voice. When I arrived he was performing a song called Watching Over Me. Wandering through the crowd who should I spot sitting on the grass and listening intently but Odele. She said that Paul reminded her a bit of Van Morrison and I can see what she means with the soulful emotion of the songs and also the band, especially the brilliant saxophone player. I think Van would have no problems playing with this band. I didn’t write down a setlist but songs I remember included The Living Years and Over My Shoulder which were big hits for Mike And The Mechanics, How Long by Ace, Love Will Keep Us Alive, by The Eagles and Tempted by Squeeze. It was great that Paul Carrack was finally given a slot on the Pyramid Stage to show how great he is. When the likes of Elton John & Phil Collins have sold millions of albums it seems an injustice that Paul Carrack who has a better voice and written songs that are just as good as them is only now getting the wide attention he deserves.
Odele told me that she had just had an amazing experience in the Greenpeace place nearby and I should go and try it, so I did. They sit you down on a revolving stool and put this 3D visor over your eyes and headphones over your ears. Then suddenly you are actually up the trees in the Brazilian rain forest or in the middle of the ocean and if you turn your head or move the stool around you get the whole experience in all directions. I found it quite scary because if you look down there is nothing under your feet and you think you are about 300ft up in the air. It is an incredible experience though. When I took the visor off I felt quite unsteady on my feet for a couple of minutes.
After that, Odele was going up to the Healing Fields so I said cheerio and headed for the Acoustic Stage where I had arranged to meet my friend Dave. When I got there I had a look to see who was on and it was a singer called Naya. She is only 17 and inspired by Bowie & PJ Harvey. I wasn’t very impressed though and went to the bar where I found Dave and was also pleased to see Brent & Steve who also come from Westbury. I had my first pint of the day and then me and Dave headed back to the Pyramid because we are both fans of First Aid Kit. We had a few minutes to kill so I got Dave to have a go on the Greenpeace 3D thing and he was mightily impressed with it as well.
First Aid Kit are two sisters from Sweden called Klara & Johanna Soderberg. They also have an excellent backing band. I first became aware of them through Glastonbury a few years ago and bought their album The Lions Roar. At Glastonbury this year they sounded a lot rockier than I remember and some of the lyrics to the new songs sounded quite dark. They were still great though even though they have evolved a bit from the Country/Folk group that I thought they were. One of the most memorable songs for me this year was their version of Kenny Roger’s The Gambler. They saved my favourite song of theirs till right near the end which is Emmylou, a tribute to Emmylou Harris. I couldn’t believe how quickly their set went by.
As the First Aid Kit fans left it enabled me and Dave to get right to the front for the next act which was Kris Kristofferson. I was looking forward to this because he is a legend who has written some of my favourite songs such as Sunday Morning Coming Down and Me And Bobby Magee. I was to be disappointed though. It started badly when one of his assistants or roadies came on and started tuning or playing his guitar and talking to the audience and milking the attention. It got on my nerves. Finally Kris shuffled on stage, he seemed to be reading the songs of an auto-cue and it all seemed very shambolic. It seemed very sad in front of such a vast crowd. After two songs I said to Dave, “I’m off mate, I can’t stand this”. As I walked away I could hear him introducing a female singer and it sounded slightly better. I wasn’t the only person leaving either, believe me. Apparently later on Johnny Depp joined him on stage but I was long gone by then. I hope I haven’t offended any fans of Kris. When I saw Dave later he said he had enjoyed it and his opinion is as valid as mine. I just think with his laid back style he might have been more at home on a smaller more intimate stage.
Another reason I left was because I knew that Sharon Shannon was on the Acoustic Stage and I managed to catch the end of her act. I love Sharon, she is to the accordion what Jimi Hendrix was to the guitar and is the perfect festival music for audience participation. She was kicking up a storm and everyone was dancing, especially to her great song Galway Girl. After Sharon finished I used my handy wristband to gain entry to the Acoustic bar because they have a little stage in there and I hoped Sharon might come in and have a bit of a session. It was quiet though so I just had one drink and went back to the stage where Martha Wainwright was performing. I have always been curious about her because she is the daughter of Kate McGarrigle who I love and Loudan Wainwright. She seems a very nice person and spoke fondly of her memories of previous visits to Glastonbury. Her songs seemed very pleasant but sadly I’m not familiar with her music because I haven’t ever bought an album by her so after a while she started sounding a bit samey to me. That’s not her fault though, it was mine.
I moved on and was feeling a bit tired and hungry so I stopped at Pilton Pasta and had some nice carbonara. I have been here previous years because they have tasty food and are nice people. The money they make goes to supporting a children’s hospice so that is why I like eating there. When I reached the Bandstand I was knackered so I sat down and watched a girl band called Elle And The Pocket Belles. They were really entertaining and were singing Glenn Miller/ Andrews Sisters type songs from WW2 and dressed accordingly (See photo). The sun was still beating down so next I went in the Bread And Roses Saloon and had a sit down for a while and a pint of cider.
Once I revived a bit I carried on walking. By the time I got to the Other Stage it was now eight hours since I saw The Pretenders at the start of the day. George Ezra was on next. I really like George and if I was asked to name a great young British singer/songwriter I would choose George over Ed Sheeran any day. I first discovered his music when I saw him supporting Robert Plant three years ago. He writes great songs and I can understand what he is singing about. He sang a mixture of old and new songs and the ones I particularly remember were Cassie O, Barcelona, Pretty Shining People and Budapest. It was great to see George back because he has been a bit quiet lately.
I carried on my epic walk through Silver Hayes in the general direction of the Beat Hotel because I wanted to try their cocktails, they had names like Rhubarb Kerouac and Beatnik. On the way there I stumbled across the Hare Krishna’s tent so I wandered in. They have been at Glastonbury throughout all the years I have been going. I did something I have never done in all those 38 years and I had some free food. It was quite bland spaghetti type stuff but I ate it and it wasn’t really free because I chucked some change in the bucket as a donation. I told one of them how a friend of mine joined the Krishna’s about 45 years ago but he didn’t seem very interested. On a sofa in there were two old hippies fast asleep which reminded me of the olden days at Glastonbury. I moved on and I couldn’t get near the bar in the Beat Hotel. It was jammed with youngsters who thought they were hip. I found that annoying because I’m the original Beatnik !
I got a large G &T at another bar and chatted to some girl but it’s all a bit of a blur now. Finally, the sun was setting over Avalon so I thought I better get back nearer to base because I must confess I was quite drunk by now. I headed back towards the Pyramid where XX had just finished and was surprised to find thousands of people leaving. This surprised me because I thought thousands of people would be arriving to see Radiohead. “ Why is everyone going?”, I asked a passer by. “They are all youngsters”, he answered, “They’ve never heard of Radiohead”. I was amazed because I’m so old that I think of Radiohead as a modern band. Then I remembered that it is 20 years ago in the rainy year of 1997 that their performance at Glasto made them world famous. Some of these kids weren’t even born then. Anyway, I watched their show from the top of the field but it left me cold. I have one album OK Computer but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan. Before the end I got lonely and decided to go back to base. There was quite a few people sat around the fire. I nipped to my tent and fetched a bottle of brandy that I had been saving and got a coffee and had a nice brandy coffee. I ended up chatting to this nice lady from Russia called Vera who lives in Portugal now. Also a guy from Oxfordshire called Michael and a Scottish lady called Katie. Some of the best fun at Glastonbury is around the fire.
Finally, about 2.00 in the morning I thought I better get to bed because I was completely bollixed after a long brilliant day. I fell asleep into blissful slumbers completely unaware of the historic drama that would happen the following day.
TO BE CONTINUED ………………………….