Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mud and bands? Nah, not for me

It’s Glastonbury this weekend. Or Glaston-berry as the Americans call it. I’m not there. But even if I didn’t have a new small baby, I still wouldn’t be there. In past years I clamoured to go, and was bitterly disappointed when I failed to get tickets. But for the past few years I haven’t bothered.

It’s not the mud either, it’s just the sheer scale of it. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but somehow the prospect of standing in a field with 80,000 people watching a band a mile away doesn’t really appeal. Sure, I know there’s more to Glastonbury than the main stages, but I really can’t be bothered. These days I’m much happier to be found at the small festivals, where you might even bump into people more than once, and the headline bands are ones that would probably be relegated to some mid-afternoon slot at a major festival. Festivals like End of the Road, which now that it has confirmed the appearance of Danielson, is officially the best festival of the year!

Anyway, back to Somerset. I’m of the opinion now that the best place to experience Glastonbury is on TV. And with the BBC’s blanket coverage this weekend it’s not hard to catch something good. Two years ago, I enjoyed the White Stripes blistering headline set much more on TV than I did a few months later at the dreadful North London aircraft hangar that is Alexandra Palace. On TV you got the full-on glory of the performance. At Ally Pally we strained to see the tiny figures of Jack and Meg in the distance and lost any possible enjoyment. Goodness knows what it would have been like at Glastonbury where we’d probably have been straining to see the band on the big screens, let alone the stage. And with the space between the performers and the crowd bigger than most venues that I consider it acceptable to see bands, I really am much happier on my sofa with the vicarious experience.

Thanks to BBC4 and various other digital options presented by the Beeb, I managed to avoid nonsense like Kasabian and the Fratellis, and the mystifying amount of coverage given to super-average bands like Mumm-Ra and Tokyo Police Club, and settle down to enjoy extended footage of Rufus Wainwright, Arcade Fire, Bjork and possibly my favourite ever live band, Super Furry Animals. All of them were on top form. Rufus nattily making a stripey suit with a stripey shirt look good, Arcade Fire playing a similar set to the ones I’ve seen them play already this year – but including an immense version of My Body is a Cage which I haven’t seen; Bjork being as brilliantly batty as expected, with fantastic outfits, a dancing, face-painted brass section-cum-choir and spiders webs and lasers; and the Super Furries playing songs off their new album Venus, which sound like a fine return to form after the minor work that was Love Kraft. Everything was good – from the new facial hair through to Gruff’s helmet for Slow Life, via the three guitar clash at the end of Receptacle for the Respectable and the ‘Big Star version’ of Northern Lites.

You can watch SFA and Bjork on the BBC’s Glastonbury site (where these photos are from). Hopefully someone will have ripped the individual songs for YouTube-ing before too long.

Looking forward to more TV goodness later.

Download: Super Furry Animals – Northern Lites
Download: Arcade Fire – My Body is a Cage
Download: Rufus Wainwright – Between My Legs
Download: Bjork – All is Full of Love


jamila FUCKING DANCE said...

i don't get all the Glasto hype either. the mud, being so far away from seeing anything, the sheer size of the whole site.. it all puts me off so it's definitely not because you're getting old!

Anonymous said...


watching it on the telly

bloody hell!

its not about seeing the band as getting a crisp clear rega stereo performance its about shared enjoyment and experiencieng stuff with your mates and a few 10000+ extrra others..that does not mean getting off your tree either-just being there with everyone without any extra barbituates is fun enough mate

go next time! forget your hd tv and your pc and all that stuff!

The Daily Growl said...

I totally agree with you actually. The only bit I don't like is the 10,000+ others bit. The small festivals are where it's at for me now...

Anonymous said...

fair enough,big crowds can be bit of a pain ,but its that what makes the whole thing so special.i went to a smaller "worcestershire" festival couple years back and they had gone corporate already! charging you for their poncey progamme, they couldnt even give me an A4 sheet list of dj's/bands on during the day,it all felt a bit "wrong" with their huge coporate buy our cd's shop tent camped at the main stage they didnt bother to clean out the bogs either the lazy so and so's still many many small festivals do get it right and that "getting about bit" is a real bonus compared to the traffic at G