SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!
Glastonbury is the U.K.’s #1 music festival. End of story? It should be. All 135,000 tickets are sold every October, early on a Sunday morning. For this year’s event, tickets were snapped up in a record 25 minutes. For some there is the unbridled joy of receiving the email confirmation an hour or so later – to be honest, you’re never sure you’ve been successful until you’ve seen the confirmation. For many others though, the rest of Sunday is spent either trying to remember when in April the resale is, complaining about Emily Eavis and how unfair the booking system is (it’s not, it really isn’t), or saying how bad the headliners will be, how expensive it is (it isn’t) and that they really didn’t want to go anyway. Whatever the response, Glastonbury Festival is the U.K.’s best festival, bar none! It came to Glastonbury, Wednesday-to-Sunday, June 24th-28th.
The festival’s actual title is the “Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts”. And this is where it trumps every other festival on these shores. It’s more than music, much, much more, with dozens and dozens of stages, spread over 900 acres of the Vale of Avalon, featuring some of the world’s best music, dance, theatre, circus, spoken word. Gates open on Wednesday morning, and a tented city springs up, and it’s a 24-hour existence until late the following Monday morning. There is always something happening…
For many, many thousands there, that Kanye West is headlining The Pyramid Stage on Saturday night is of no consequence whatsoever. The doomsayers suggesting that it’s “not Glastonbury” if the world’s leading hip-hop artist is performing, have, most probably, never been to Glastonbury and never will go. Myself? I didn’t see Kanye. I also haven’t watched his show using the BBC’s most excellent iPlayer service, which captured whole sets across a number of stages. Instead, while West was doing his ‘thing’, I watched, and photographed, Spiritualized play an incredible gig in front of thousands on The Park Stage. Then, I jogged over to an overflowing Glade Stage to see Public Service Broadcasting deliver one of their best ever sets. And while I was doing this, I, sadly, missed George Clinton’s ‘Mothership’ on the excellently run, and ever-so-friendly West Holts Stage (which, by all accounts, was packed out too). Indeed, at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, there is something for everyone – come sunshine, come rain.
*The Dalai Lama on The Pyramid Stage. Wise words. And it’s not often you see professional photographers drop their cameras and listen, in total silence.
*Arcadia Spectacular. Toasty. You can feel the heat of the shooting flames hundreds of metres away – and DJs drop some ace tunes there too.
*Watching a gig on The Park Stage from the Ribbon Tower (best at night). In my case, Spiritualized were another level.
*Anything that happens on Shangri-La’s Hell Stage. Particularly, in my case, Beans on Toast, The Church, The Fat White Family, Babyhead, and the Sholitics’ ‘Stage Invasion’ in the early hours of Monday morning. Mayhem. Many thanks to Chris Tofu and Continental Drifts, and Kaye Dunnings, Shangri-La’s Artistic Director. It was incredible, again. I’ll be there next year…
*The John Peel Stage bar. The people there know how to run a bar and create a cracking atmosphere. And playing table tennis there with Dom Gourlay, Drowned in Sound writer, and Vicky Warwick, Charli XCX’s bassist was just surreal. Thanks to Jim Fox, the John Peel Stage organiser, one of the most relaxed ‘busy’ people I’ve ever met, and the super-organised bar team.
*Michael Clark Company, presenting Come, Been and Gone, with music by David Bowie and Iggy Pop. In the Astrolabe Theatre – a bespoke theatre in the Theatre and Circus Fields. I saw Michael Clark’s dance troupe a number of times in the mid/late 1980s, performing with Mark E. Smith and The Fall, and the late Leigh Bowery. Still breath-taking. Best ‘gig’ of the weekend.
*Caribou on the West Holts Stage. Sublime sounds. And to see a couple of the best emerging Nottingham bands, Field Studies and Keto, right at the front was pretty special too.
*Sleaford Mods on the John Peel Stage. The arena was full, and then some more. Each song was treated as if it was the last – ovation, after ovation. Props to a couple of deece Nottingham-based guys. You killed it.
*Public Service Broadcasting on the Glade Stage. As a photographer, you are always on the lookout for a band that energises a huge crowd, has its own lighting engineer and delivers a great performance. All boxes ticked here. Superb, fun set. Thanks to J. Willgoose, Esq., Wrigglesworth, Giles Floodgate, Steve Dix, David Manders, and special thanks to Adam Gainsborough of the This Is Now Agency.
*Lionel Richie. I’d like to share my apologies to all the other Pyramid Stage pit photographers wondering what I was doing singing “Easy (Like Sunday Morning)”. I heard the first note, and let it go. I can’t sing, but it’s a great song, with great memories.
*Burt Bacharach. Genius. The Pyramid Stage. I sang, and destroyed, “What The World Needs Now”. Emotional.
*The Maccabees on The Other Stage. Possibly the happiest looking band at Glastonbury. And a great set too.
*Glastonbury security teams. Last but not least. One of the most difficult festival jobs has to be that of the security teams. Faced with achieving a fine balance between public safety and the laissez-faire spirit of Glastonbury, these guys nailed it. Always great to see smiling faces and people happy to help. And a bit of dancing here and there too.
1 tip for people for Glastonbury 2016
*Get up early one Sunday morning in October. Get on the internet. Get a ticket. And go. You’ll probably make new friends and you’ll definitely have fun. That’s a promise. Glastonbury Festival has something for everyone!