Review: Glastonbury

THE TAB gives its lowdown on Glastonbury 2010.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Broken Bells Clint Eastwood Corinne Bailey Ray Dizzee Rascal Florence and the Machines Gorillaz Hot Chip Kate Nash Lou Reed Mumford and Sons Muse New Born Radiohead Ray Davies Scissor Sisters snoop dogg stevie wonder Supermassive Black Hole The Edge The Flaming Lips


This year, Friday should definitely have been renamed “The Clash Day” – for two reasons.

The first was the huge number of quality performers whose sets overlapped with one another. At 8.30 in the evening it was possible to see Dizzee Rascal, Hot Chip, Mumford & Sons or a secret Radiohead acoustic set at the Park while a few hours later Broken Bells, The Flaming Lips and Gorillaz all went out at roughly the same time. At a festival as large as Glastonbury this is bound to happen but the amount of good bands I had to miss felt particularly galling.

However, what I did manage to see generally impressed. Detroit Social Club made a promising start to the day with their Black Rebel Motorcycle Club garage rock. The set was admittedly short and a few of their numbers fell a bit flat, but they managed to produce a raw, visceral sound. On a different tone, Corinne Bailey Rae’s thoughtful indie soul went down a treat with the Pyramid Hill’s sunbathers while The Courteeners’ jangling indie continued the sunny day vibe. Florence and the Machine packed out the Other Stage with an impressively lively performance while Dizzee Rascal affirmed his position as the UK’s prime pop artist, despite his Grimier roots.

But undoubtedly the pick of the non-headlining acts was Snoop Dogg. His foul-mouthed, slightly drug-addled misogyny was absolutely stunning entertainment and got the entire crowd singing along. Whatever else I may have missed that day, it was a treat to watch a man play to his persona so perfectly, so pimp hats off to you Snoop.

The second reason for “The Clash Day” was the presence on stage for the headliners Gorillaz of Paul Simonon and Mick Jones. As a group performance, Gorillaz were excellent but the set went down terribly with the crowd. By having the temerity to play their wonderful new album before rolling through their hits, they lost the majority of the Pyramid Stage crowd who sought a bloated U2esque heavyweight to drunkenly sing along to. Their mixtures of audio and visuals reached unchartered heights during  Stylo and On Melancholy Hill – it was such a shame to see them underappreciated. Similarly, the infusion of some frankly awesome special guests, from Lou Reed to Snoop Dogg rapping over Clint Eastwood, added lustre to a good gig for a band who had only played together four times before. It’s just a shame that their style of music clashed with the conservatism of the headliner crowd. Friday was a good day, but better days were to be had.


Saturday & Sunday

The excitement of Friday over, Saturday arrived with quite a slow starting line up. 

This didn’t bother many though, exhausted from exploring the fire breathing Arcadia and fun-filled Shangri-La areas.  The Dead Weather did little to lift the hangovers, appearing all in black despite the burning heat.  They even had their screens in black and white to amplify the Gothicism. So, over to Kate Nash on the Other Stage to lighten the mood – but her set was one of the more disappointing of the weekend.  Top tip – if the crowd aren’t hugely into your set, yelling “Come on, thought this was meant to be Glasto” will do little to help matters.

The evening line up had more of a party atmosphere.  Shakira on the Pyramid Stage mesmerised the crowd, proving that her hips certainly do not lie.  There was even an XX cover to entertain those not impressed with her She Wolf moves.  Meanwhile Biffy Clyro did a secret set on the Park Stage.  Well, not secret.  Having your merchandise on sale and handing out flyers giving the time and place removes that novelty somewhat.  The event was much more popular than Radiohead’s (propaganda worked a treat), and Simon Neil was so keen he jumped off an amp injuring his knee. Raw power.

Scissor Sisters carried on the party feel, producing none other than Kylie as a special guest for Any Which Way.  Predictably the crowd loved this, and even started some synchronised dancing, though many including myself were waiting patiently for Muse.  Glastonbury was probably a standard day’s work for the nu-Prog trio, though they tried to disguise the fact they regularly perform to 60,000 plus crowds.  I suppose it was a little bit special for them though, as their performance took them to The Edge (Editor’s Note: I do not endorse this pun).  The man with the silly name and sillier hat teamed up with them for Where the Streets Have No Name, giving the crowd the drunken U2 singalong they had demanded the night before.  Besides that it was a stripped down set for Muse, lacking the acrobats and spaceships that we have grown to expect from them.  Musically, however, it was outstanding – the powerful opening of Uprising, Supermassive Black Hole and New Born showed that they meant business.  While this intensity of hits was perhaps not quite sustained in the first hour, the second half really reeled in the crowd with a fantastic laser set in Starlight and the finale of Plug-In Baby and Knights of Cydonia.  While Saturday had some variable patches it built to a dramatic finish.
Sundays at Glastonbury are traditionally a day for relaxing and hearing some past legends on the Pyramid, but there was only one thought on everyone’s minds.  Germany.  Come 2.30 thousands flocked to watch the match high with expectation… and an hour later trudged back looking miserable as shit.  Still there was some amusement in heinzeit (excuse the German).  The Scousers behind us chanted, “You’ll Never Walk Al… Fuck’s sake!” as the fourth went in.  At this point I should probably apologise to The Temper Trap as I didn’t see their set owing to this and most definitely should have done.  Fortunately Ray Davies lifted the mood on the Pyramid Stage.

LCD Soundsystem went all out to excite, but didn’t appreciate the smell of the crowd – “like human faeces”.  Well at the time I suppose the majority of us did.  Their energetic performance rivalled Faithless on the Pyramid, who blasted out Insomnia and even had an epiphany in God is A DJ, declaring Glastonbury as their church (they might have a point there…).

Finally, Stevie Wonder took centre stage with the largest crowd I have ever seen in front of the Pyramid.  Young and old sung along to Higher Ground and Superstition in a faultless performance. Stevie even brought out Michael Eavis for the finale Happy Birthday. While his singing didn’t quite match his ability at festival organising, it proved a perfect way to conclude the 40th anniversary.