In the weeks before the 40th Glastonbury there was an anticipation that everyone down on Worthy Farm would be pulling out all the stops. And sure enough, ecstatic festival-goers arrived to a spruced up site; a beautiful patchwork sign spelling Glastonbury surveyed the beauty of the colossal site from its perch on the hill near The Park; a giant wicker man stood proudly in the middle of the stone circle; and a ravetastic new henge made from glowing cubes provided a place for guys and gals of Glastonbury to come and worship in the dance fields. I’m sure there was much much more but all this added to a general impression that Glasto 2010 was going to be bigger, brighter and better than ever before.
As with the extra effort put into everything else, the line up was incredible — too good! Everyday my heart was broken a little as I realised that two, three or four of the bands I would have liked to have seen were on at the same time. The line-up was an eclectic music fan’s (such as myself’s) dream. Neatly summed up, of course, in the festival’s headline acts; Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder — three acts big enough to hold their own on the famous Pyramid Stage but definitely diverse in their musical stylings. I’m going to end on Stevie but first to another of his namesakes.
Seasick Steve took to The Pyramid in what felt like one billion degree heat in the middle of the day on Saturday. The cider in my hand was hotter than the sun and doing nothing to quench my thirst but Seasick Steve was all the refreshment that the large crowd who had turned up to see him needed. He’s been on the summer festival circuit for a while now but his stripped-down act, wailing three string guitar, and songs about life on the streets in the USA were still as thrilling as ever. ‘Burning Up’ managed to sum up quite succinctly the general atmosphere among the sea of sweating fans but we all stayed with him despite the heat for his tremendous trademark finale of the ever-accelerating bluesy number ‘Dog House Boogie.’
Mumford & Sons caused me a fair bit of heartache, an ill-timed arrival meant that I could barely get near the tent. Recently the Mumford boys have pretty much exploded — planting their banjo-touting and harmony-singing selves firmly at the forefront of the British antifolk scene. Their gig at the John Peel Stage was a monument to how popular they have become. The audience and, really endearingly, the band were completely overwhelmed. As their set saw some of the biggest sing- a-longs of the festival it was all the boys could do to steal glances at each other with looks of utter disbelief. The intimacy of their songs and acoustic nature was not lost among the huge crowd though — proving once and for all that these are folkies who really know how to rock. In fact many were left wondering why the boys had been billed for the John Peel and not The Other or West Holts Stages, they definitely proved they can draw a big enough crowd.
Dizzee Rascal, a bit of a festival staple these days, was perhaps one of the only acts who could have drawn me away from the Mumfords. Ever the entertainer he bust out his best hits including ‘Bonkers’, ‘Holiday’, new one ‘Dirty Disco’ and a version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ — all unbeatable at geeing up a cider-fuelled rabble for a night of raging away in the dance fields, Shangri-La, their own tent, or whatever it might be. And, of course, his set wouldn’t have been complete without an appearance from Florence for ‘You Got the Dirty Love’ (her own gig on The Other Stage another massive festival highlight for many). After also appearing withThe xx, Florence actually sung ‘You Got the Love’ three times this Glastonbury. In fact if you watched Florence at her gig and all her guest appearances and then went to see Candi Staton croon her way through her original version, you could have gotten a whole four renditions — I’m not sure that’s ever happened before at Glasto and surely that’s more than enough love for anybody?