I wanted to write this review before I looked at a clip of it on TV, before I read one word about it in the press. I didn't even read the Glastonbury paper at Glastonbury so I this is completely cold, completely from my perspective. And whilst I'm queueing for the bath, with mud still under my fingernails, now seems as good a time as any.
I was fretting about the mud for a long time. I don't really go in for all this happy-clappy mud-is-fun bullshit, because it isn't. It's disgusting. I have had two or three really bad experiences in the mud before- once as a student at Homelands, off my face, when I lost my friends and ended up covered in tinfoil at the train station with blue feet. The other most prominent time was at Glastonbury, the year Paul McCartney played. Despite Morrissey playing the Sunday, my boyfriend of the time and me packed up our stuff and fucked off. We'd had enough.
This time, my boyfriend and I got the coach, so an early exit was not an option. And I can't lie to you and say I didn't pray for one at times. The coach thing in itself was a nightmare, we were penned in, our coach left an hour late, had a kamikaze driver, then stopped for 45 minutes about an hour after we got started, meaning we got to Glastonbury in the dark, Thursday evening. Luckily, it wasn't raining (then). But there wasn't much space left at all. We had to pitch our tent by a path (never wise!) near the cinema field. We just had a chance for a brief stroll around the site before we zonked.
Friday morning, it pissed it down. Luckily, due to an email I got from the Bright Eyes site, I had a heads-up that they were doing a 'secret' acoustic set in the Guardian Lounge. Actually, it must have been quite a well-kept secret because when we got there, we managed to get right to the front. How weird was this- sitting down on a carpet, in a small cafe/tent to see our favourite artist. I was absolutely convinced he wasn't going to turn up. It just seemed too exciting to actually happen. But he did. He was there right in front of us, and we were still sitting, we were virtually looking up his nose. I was the closest person in there to him. We got some great pictures (which I will post if I ever get my laptop back) and the setlist was short but fantastic. They opened with Cleanse Song, and did Southern State and A Song To pass the Time, amongst other acoustic numbers that i cannot remember at the mo. It was really beautiful, incredibly exciting and one of the best moments of my life, because I know I'll never get that close to Conor again. I am really grateful that I got that email because I would have been heartbroken to miss it and it was wonderful for me and my boyfriend to see. Have I mentioned we're avid Bright Eyes fans? At the end some people said to the violinist 'who are you guys?' How funny!
And then we came out from that protective bubble, into the rain zone. My boyfriend wanted to go see Modest Mouse so I went with him, as I like the odd song and of course, they have Mr Marr on their team now. However, just as we were getting near the front two mud people decided to try hugging us and I got annoyed. The rain was also getting seriously heavy, so I stomped off. I could see from the position of my umbrella (being carried by my boyfriend, not by me) that he wasn't moving, so I thought, fuck this, I'll go see Emmy The Great.
In between walking up to the acoustic tent, I got wetter than you could ever know. I had no umbrella, and the crappy poncho I'd bought did NOTHING! I was not happy. Managed to get to the front of Emmy, although they had a few technical difficulties I really enjoyed the set. Her voice is fantastic. She looked so little and young and her band looked really young too. Oh, I'm getting old. They sang Edward is Deadward which is one of my favourites, so I was happy, especially as the rain outside was just ridiculous. The weather forecasters should be shot, by the way. This was not a couple of showers, it actually felt like the clouds were shitting on us, it was so hard. I have never known rain like it. Shepton Mallet seems to have an entirely different weather system to the rest of the planet. It's horrible. I don't care about getting wet, it's just the mud. There's the mud that makes you slip. There's the mud that tries to eat your wellies, it is so thick and sticky. There's the mud that is like soup, and goes almost up to your knees. Having mud all over everything for three days is just disgusting. I will have nightmares about it.
But at least on Friday it did stop eventually. In fact, just in time for Bright Eyes on the main stage, which by the miracle of my acuvue contact lenses I spotted my boyfriend at the side near the front. How spoilt could I be for Conor-ness? He still hadn't washed his hair but he and and the band were decked out in mud-inappropriate white suits. I was a bit disappointed with their performance at Koko earlier this year but they really put on a great show here. The setlist was better (The Calendar Hung Itself, No One Would Riot For Less) and the orchestra was really cool. Weirdly, Conor seems less self-conscious on a grand scale than an intimate one. There was a big crowd there too, they seem to have really grown in popularity since I saw them at Glastonbury three years ago. Happy bunnies all round, although ending with Lime Tree isn't exactly a rip-roarer.
After this we saw Bloc Party, who I think were excellent, although I missed most of them because I was having a mild panic attack about the mud. On the slope going up to the Pyramid Stage it was a complete danger, so we battled backwards a bit. Kele looked very happy and like he was loving it. The sun was out then, too.
After this we gave into the mud a little and bought some fold up chairs to sit on whilst we watched Rufus Wainwright on the imaginitively-named Other Stage (although we were waiting for Arcade Fire). He reminds me of John Barrowman, I think it's the clothing. I find the music a bit bland, though. Arcade Fire were alright, but I don't like their second album and they were pushing it hard. The woman is shit too, and the lead singer looked like Christopher Walken. The crowd visibly picked up when they played Power Out. That's the only one I like anyway! One hit wonders. Then they played the other good one. Unfortunately it was too late: we were on our way to see the Arctic Monkeys.
I don't like them myself (they are far too popular!) but my boyfriend does, and I have to say, they put on a good show. Of course everyone knows all the words whether you're a fan or not, so it was good fun to sing along, and they seem like good blokes. (All the songs do sound exactly the same though, but it's one good song, so it's OK) Diamonds are Forever was a much better cover than I expected. Blessedly, we couldn't hear Dizzy Rascal when he came on cos his mic was fucked.
On Saturday morning I woke up to the sound of rain, rain, rain. We took our chairs to the Pyramid (we're such grannies) and watched The Pipettes whilst waiting for The Guillemots (and spotted Pixie Geldof- the dizzy heights!). The sun was out for The Pipettes, The Guillemots brought a storm with them. Made Up love Song and Trains to Brazil are probably in my top twenty of perfect pop songs of all time; unfortunately, The Guillemots also have several thousand dirgy, jazzy numbers that they insist on forcing upon the soaking, unwilling audience. Boo.
After this I lost the will to live and went back to the tent whilst my boyfriend went to go watch CSS and The Klaxons. You can see why I'd rather eat a packet of crisps and read my OK magazine, right? I was of course tempted out again for the delights of Patrick Wolf on the John Peel Stage. Oh, how I love Patrick. Also bumped into an old friend there, who I tried (and failed) to convert to the Wolf charms. Not sure why Patrick Wolf was on the John Peel stage, has he not proved his worth now? Would have liked to see him on a bigger stage. Still, it was a great show, with an intriguing outfit as usual, and he played all the hits and none of his quiet ones. He seemed genuinely pleased that so many people had turned out for him.
After this we headed for the Pyramid to go see The Killers. Unfortunately we had to go up the 'bad' side of the Pyramid stage and the mud there was just disgusting, really sticky and deep and people were losing shoes and pushing and shoving. I get a bit claustrophobic in crowds so I felt a bit panicked. We got up the hill and could see the stage well, but when they came on the sound was completely fucked. We couldn't hear it at all, it was so quiet. Everyone started chanting 'louder, louder, louder' but I don't think Brandon heard us. Then everyone started booing which I also don't think he heard, but it's still a shame cos it wasn't his fault. It was absolutely shit for us though, as I love The Killers. Half the people where we were left. We were so disappointed. I only saw them this year at Wembley and it was an amazing gig so I was so looking forward to seeing them again. It really was an unforgivable fuck up on the part of the festival, thousands of people were left annoyed by it. We couldn't all cram down to the front, and the mud was making things almost impossible anyway. When we tried to get out there were more pushing and shoving. There really should have been more straw put down to try and alieviate the problem. Glastonbury is overcrowded, and gets more so year after year. It's all very well making loads of new areas and letting more punters in, but when The Killers are on, everyone wants to go see them, and people get crushed. I really believe it needs to be looked at, especially with the mud issue.
So, with heavy hearts we gave up on The Killers and went back to our tent to get our trusty chairs, then went to the Cinema field to watch Borat, which was, of course, genius.
Sunday. More rain. More rain and more mud. And the worst part, no good bands on! So we took the chance to go and explore the site. I've been to Glastonbury on non-muddy years and it IS beautiful and magical. Unfortunately, once it rains, mud covers everything. Every area it was just trudge, trudge, trudge and kind of depressing. I hardly ate and didn't look in any of the shops. I was sick of the sight of mud. People who say they like the mud can just fuck off. People who prefer caking themselves in shit (because it does have shit in it) to lying in the sun are just sick.
The rain didn't really stop at all on the Sunday. My boyfriend wanted to go watch The Horrors, so we did. The audience was full of kids watching someone with a huge conk bent over and screeching like a crow. Wonderful. We went to watch the Manic Street Preachers, who I really enjoyed. They remind me of festivals, and being a teenager. I liked Nicky's red hair and the set list was pretty good, they didn't overplay the new album and they played Faster, which was ace. My boyfriend wanted to watch The Who, so we had to stand through the Kaiser Chiefs set which was quite an interesting experience! We marvelled at how shit it was and how everyone seemed to be lapping it up. It's funny because that Kaiser Chiefs dude has the opposite problem to me, a fat face and a thin(ish) body. But God, what a fat face it is. Topped off with lobster red skin and white patches for his sunglasses where he'd obviously been off on a package holiday to Spain recently. Also wearing the number one of fashion crimes (see Seany from Big Brother): a waistcoat. Each song was like a nail being driven into my heart. Pure and utter mediocrity, how could they be so massive? Simple answer, it's moron food. Well, eat it up, morons, you deserve it.
I didn't actually make it to The Who because it started tipping it down even heavier and I was cold and annoyed (and needed the loo) so I trudged back to the tent (spotting Bill Bailey on the way). I hate The Who anyway, so fuck them. We got picked up by coach at the wonderful hour of 1.30am and it was like trench warfare trying to get on that coach. I'll be having flashbacks of the rain and the mud for years to come, I'm sure.
All in all, the Bright Eyes secret set alone was worth £150 for me. I could have touched him. The music was brilliant, and would have been more so if we could have actually heard The Killers. I've since heard (I've been writing this review a long time!) that they turned it down because the neighbours complained! Fuck the neighbours frankly, we forked out ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY QUID. They are the headline band, for fucks sake. Monumental fuck up. Bad for the band too as they had waited a while to play the Pyramid. We listened to them on the way home to make up for it.
But the mud, oh the mud. I'm just not built for it, baby. Maybe I'm just too old for festivals. Maybe I just need to move somewhere warmer. Whatever, I'm going to watch The Killers I taped.