Glastonbury 2011

Firstly, apologies for the blog silence over the past few weeks.  I have been working like a bastard and then for the past few days I’ve been enjoying myself at Glastonbury.  Here’s my review:

Wednesday – arrive in slight drizzle, but with so many people trooping through that’s all that’s needed to turn the site to a mudbath.  We don our wellies immediately on getting off the coach.  Inexplicably, some people seem to have not come equipped with wellies.  White plimsolls and a maxi dress?  That’s just ill-advised.  Set up our tent as close to our usual spot by the John Peel tent as we can manage, then have a nap in it.  There’s no bands on the Wednesday, so we explore the site, which we’ve never seen in this muddy condition as we’ve been spoilt with very good weather two years on the trot.  We locate the Honeybuns tea and cake tent, which is my happy place, read the line-up and get excited.

Thursday – some bands today, but only very few and nothing we fancied, so just more wandering – there’s lots to see even when there aren’t any bands on.  Like Eskimos have dozens of words for snow, we develop an extensive and descriptive vocabulary to describe the different kinds of mud – milkshake (easy to walk in, but beware splashes), gelato (looks bad but ok to walk in), clay (sticks to your boots and weighs them down) and the most dangerous plaster which is the one that gets you stuck and tries to separate you from your boots (especially if yours are two sizes too big, like mine).

As mentioned, I have been working very long hours recently, so I spend large parts of Wednesday and Thursday snoozing.  We traditionally go to the cinema tent for a film on the Thursday night, so we go to see Source Code, which was silly and entertaining.

Friday – 

The Master Musicians of Joujouka – traditional Moroccan music, half-way through – their version of Bez came out and started dancing and that man had stamina!

The Naked and Famous – New Zealand indie band on the Other Stage.  It was still wet and either we weren’t in the mood or their set was a bit underwhelming.

Since it was wet, we hid for cover in the circus and cabaret tents.  Mr Beet watched a sword swallower (I have my eyes closed throughout) whose big finale is to juggle a chainsaw, blindfolded, on a 10-foot unicycle.  It reminds me that I have not yet mastered more than 5 feet on a regular unicycle, and give him the biggest round of applause I can muster.  We trek through the quagmire along by the Dance Village to get to…

The Coral – and re-live a bit of our youth.

We don’t go to see U2, but we fortuitously happen to be crossing the field at the bit where Bono was duetting with an astronaut from the International Space Station.  This briefly makes us consider watching the rest of the set, but we figure that’s probably the highlight and we slope off, so we’ll never know if he did three-part harmonies with the Pope and Obama for a finale.

Saturday – 

It starts off overcast, but the weather forecast says it will be glorious sunshine by late afternoon, and it’s been spot on so far, so we keep the faith.  We go to the cabaret tent for some comedy first thing, then off to see…

Lau – chosen because their name’s like my name.  (We are simple people, we just booked our first hostel in Tokyo for our round the world trip and went for Kimi Ryokan because it sounded like a formula one driver).  In case you’re wondering what my band sounds like, very folky acoustic tracks light on lyrics.

The Undercover Hippy – are not a billed act, but one of the little acts all over the festival which you can stumble upon and we really enjoyed their set and nearly dance all the mud off our boots.  After them, we are about to leave the Park stage area when we notice that people are getting stopped from coming in.  We therefore deduce, correctly, that someone really good must be playing a secret gig on the Park stage shortly.  Well, Mr Beet does the deducing, I have already fallen over one and a half times by this stage so most of my brain power is being used attempting to keep myself vertical.  The “special guests” turn out to be…

Pulp – I know these things are usually the worst kept secrets, but we never know about special guests so we are thrilled that we managed to be there for their set and if I stood on my tiptoes I could even see some of Jarvis Cocker’s more expansive flourishes.

Did we want to see Coldplay….hmmmm…not really so we went to the Cabaret tent for some comedy from Angelos Epithemou, Phil Kay, someone too stoned to be allowed on stage (and I was fine with Phil Kay, so you can imagine) and two actors dressed up like Alice in Wonderland being proper freaky.

Sunday –

It’s a scorcher, but drizzly Friday is still fresh in our minds so we daren’t complain but it really is too hot.

Fisherman’s Friends – sea shanties from burly Cornishmen in the Pyramid stage novelty slot.

Noisettes – great, high-energy performance with much climbing and dangling off stuff from the frontwoman.

Bellowhead – Mr Beet particularly wanted to see them and they gave good raucous folk.

The Vaccines – we couldn’t get in the tent to see them, so Mr Beet listened from outside and I had a little lie-down in the shade.  Five days of mud and baking heat looks like this…

Hurts – really good, intense songs and I recognised their backing singer – I used to work with him – he was belting it out opera-style underneath their 80s-esque tracks.  They covered Kylie’s Confide in Me, which is a sure-fire way to my heart.

Beyonce – the only headliner we wanted to see and you just know that she’s going to give it some welly and she didn’t disappoint.  She kept saying she couldn’t believe she was playing to 170,000 people.  I don’t think she realised that was the total number of people in the whole festival and that there was a bunch of other stuff going on.  Still, don’t tell her will you?  I wouldn’t like to steal her thunder after she did so well.


Glastonbury 2011

Last year I had to get my Glasto tickets when the returns went on sale in April and had to utilise a four-pronged attack to get through.  This year I was more organised and with my alarm set at 8.45 yesterday morning I was all set to book tickets as soon as they went on sale at 9am.  Since there were so many more tickets available I had thought that only one prong (laptop) would be sufficient.  But after ten minutes of constantly pressing refresh it was apparent that this was not the case and the other prongs (other laptop, mobiles) were called into action.  It took an hour and much nagging from Mr Beet about my not pressing refresh quickly enough (I was simultaneously monitoring twitter to see if anyone was getting through), but by 10am we had our tickets, and by 1pm they were sold out completely.

Glastonbury 2010

Wednesday: arrive at about 3.30.  Put up tent near the John Peel stage, then go and watch last 20 minutes of England v Slovenia.  Many people are conspicuously not pacing themselves.  The festival doesn’t properly start for another 2 days and they are already hammered and sunburnt.  Fewer vuvuzelas than I was anticipating, so that’s a bonus.  After the footie we located our favourite tent from last year – Honeybuns tea and cake.  Comfy chairs, shade and newspapers to read.  That’s mine and Mr Beet’s idea of a good festival.

There’s no bands until Friday, so we wander round the stalls, scrutinise the schedule to plan what bands we want to see (the plan is invariably discarded once things get started, but it’s still fun) and then retire to the tent at around 8pm, ostensibly to pick up jumpers but since we got up at 5am we end up just falling asleep.  When I say I’m going to Glastonbury, people who’ve never been always give me a look as if to say “you didn’t strike me as the type to participate in that kind of hedonistic rock and roll bacchanalia.”  If only they knew the truth.

Thursday: The weather continues to be scorchio, with not a cloud in the sky, and it’s dusty.  The dust adheres to your suncream – Mr Beet keeps insisting he has a tan, but I point out that it’s not a tan if it comes off on a babywipe.  We explore the site in full, including the green fields, the healing fields and the stone circle, which we never got around to last year.  For those of you who’ve never been, Glastonbury is huge and it’s quite possible to stay in one area all weekend.  You have to allow about 30 minutes to walk between the main stages between acts, slightly less this year, because there is no mud.  I spot the elephant, thereby completing the full set.  Honeybuns.  Cinema tent for Four Lions by Chris Morris which was excellent.  Bands start tomorrow.  Excited.

Friday: We get to the Other Stage by 10.30 to watch the Magic Numbers.  It’s already scorching and no shade.  The security guards start giving out water towards the end.  Afterwards, we head over to the shade and sanctuary of the Circus and Cabaret tents to watch some circus and standup.  Feel slightly sorry for the acts who play in here mid-afternoon, when everyone in there is taking the opportunity to have a little nap.  Outside there are hula hoop workshops, which Mr Beet loved

and clay workshops.  Mr Beet makes an elephant.  I make a cat.  The elephant is better.

Honeybuns.  John Peel stage to watch Kele from Bloc Party (not a fan of Bloc Party but this was really good)  and then Ellie Goulding.  Then over to see Florence and the Machine at the Other Stage.  Back to the circus fields – always something interesting going on there – this time a fancy dress skateboarding show in which the skateboarders are all too intoxicated to do any of their tricks and the compere is too intoxicated to remember his spiel.  It was something along the lines of him needing to find a husband for his daughter and getting the crowd to decide which character was the most suitable.  The choices included Jesus

James Bond, the Phantom of the Opera, Elvis and what was usually Bob Marley (for the purposes of this performance they had clearly thought that the costume could also pass for Stevie Wonder, so had decided to redesignate this skater, except they still played Bob Marley music for him and referred to him as Bob).  What was clearly a bizarre act even when the performers knew what they were doing took on a surreal edge when they were all hammered and couldn’t actually do any of the skate boarding.  It ended prematurely, but predictably, with one of the skaters knocking himself unconscious.

Over to the Pyramid Stage for Gorillaz.  Despite my pacing myself to the point of not really even getting started, I was tired and we left after about an hour at 11.30ish.  We saw Shaun Ryder and Mark E Smith do their guest spots before we left though.  Mark E Smith appeared to know where he was and what was happening, I wasn’t confident that the same could be said for Shaun Ryder.

Saturday:  Circus and Cabaret until about 2 because it’s just too hot to stand watching acts on the outdoor stages.  More hula hooping.  More Honeybuns.  Shakira at the Pyramid Stage.  Editors at the Other Stage.  I had to explain to someone who Editors were (umm… they’re a band – I didn’t really know what else to add.  It seemed superfluous to try to describe their sound when I would have had to shout over them to do so).  He told me he didn’t know much about modern music because he’d been in a dungeon for the past 5 years.  I did not ask him to elaborate.  We try to decide between Pet Shop Boys and Muse.  Plump for Pet Shop Boys and are glad we did.

Sunday:  Last day and it still hasn’t rained.  My wellies remain in my backpack.  Usual routine of small bands and variety acts in and around the circus and cabaret tents – although this time we manage to stay awake through the cabaret acts (Early Edition and Shappi Khorsandi) and take our afternoon nap in the acoustic tent during an american folk act instead.  Yet more hula hooping (Mr Beet is now a master of two hoops and briefly hulas with three).  Yet more Honeybuns.  Stevie Wonder is the big finale act on the Pyramid Stage, and he gets Michael Eavis on stage for a rendition of Happy Birthday!  Michael Eavis sings along!  Badly!