Bit more of an objective viewpoint this time – my 6th Glastonbury Festival, first time back after about 6 or 7 years, and older and more likely to remember it this time! My weather record at Glasto was perfect so far, never having seen even a drop of rain, never seen mud or anything in all my previous visits, so I was really hoping to continue that great run of luck. It was boiling on the way down (this time by train, first time not driving) and we were close to exhaustion when we finally got off, after having stood in an airless, windowless carriage somewhere between Crewkerne and Castle Cary for about 30 minutes. This was the missus’s first Glasto, so I was fairly concerned that she got as much out of it as I had, over the years. The shuttle bus rumbled and lurched out of the station and wound its way through the country lanes, and I remember the look of awe on her face when the colossal site hove into view as we rounded a corner. The sight of countless thousands of tents, teepees, big tops and flags shimmering through a haze of campfire smoke in the evening sun makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s a sight to behold, it really is. The festival, not the back of my neck.
After what seemed like hours of queuing and struggling across fields with our gear, we finally arrived at our camp, kindly reserved by some friends who had arrived earlier in the day. It was way up the top, miles from any of the action, and would have been considered most uncool in years gone bye. The decision was to pay dividends just a few hours later though, as the heavens opened in truly biblical style at about 1am and
about 4 inches of rain fell before dawn. We cautiously emerged from our little ten quid tent (stayed bone dry – result!) in the morning and made our way cautiously down the hillside to see about some breakfast. Good thing we had brought gumboots. It was carnage. So much rain had fallen in such a short space of time that the Somerset Constabulary was on the verge of calling off the whole thing for safety reasons. There were rivers running through the camping fields, through people’s tents, and emptying into a newly formed lake at the bottom. A lake. A fucking lake. This wasn’t a bit of surface water, this was a 5ft deep lake. Complete with police divers searching for bodies for fuck sake. I shit you not. Safe up on high ground, mercifully distant from ditches, paths and other impromptu water races, our ten quid tent performed admirably, but there
were tents completely submerged in this lake. As you might expect, there were people swimming in the lake, sculling across it on airbeds. After all, this was Glastonbury. Oh how we laughed when we saw the capsized Portaloos floating past. E-Coli anyone? Anyway, as I said, good thing we packed the gumboots and full waterproof kit, this was going to be tough.
When it’s that muddy, you can’t just go and chill out in a field somewhere with a lentil smoothie and watch some weirdy beardy juggling, there is no option but to stand, and where better to stand than in front of a stage? And seeing as it’s so difficult to get anywhere, due to the Somme-like conditions, you end up standing in front of the same stage most of the day. Hence, I reckon I saw more bands at Glasto 2005 than in all the previous 5 years put together. The Killers – brilliant, really come on leaps and bounds since we saw them in the Mean Fiddler. Brandon Flowers has clearly got a bit of confidence about him on the stage now, and he ventures out from behind the synth fairly regularly now. Ash – even better than at V, such catchy tunes man, and the guitarist that’s also a lady, she fucking rocked, she did. Kaiser Chiefs – pretty good, they’ve got some great songs when you actually pay attention to them, and although the songs are a bit nursery-rhymey in the choruses, they are undeniably very, very catchy. Doves – good, but I was expecting more I think. The three piece sounds a bit thin live. Goldie Lookin’
Chain – unfuckingbelievably good, had the whole place in hysterics. There is something truly memorable about a whole field full of drunken muddy people jumping up and down sloshing pear cider everywhere while shouting ‘Your mother’s got a penis’. Keane – really surprisingly good, quite how or more to the point why a three piece with no guitar should sound so good is beyond me, it really is. New Order – legendary, but played the cheap card by doing World In Motion which is little more than a comedy record, but resulted in 100,000 people chanting En-ger-land, En-ger-land, and inexplicably not doing Blue Monday. What were they thinking? White Stripes – intriguing, but I still can’t understand how they make it work. Jack White is a genius, it has to be said, although his style of playing is very ragged and sometimes out of control. The boy got that charisma thing going on though. That other one is just there to look good, it would appear to me. Bizarre decision of the weekend, if not the decade, was to trudge off after New Order, to go and see Razorlight on the other stage, instead of staying put for Coldplay, who were, by all accounts, awesome.
<rant> I will not use these column inches to rant and rave about how much better Glasto used to be before MTV et al were allowed in, before they stopped the travellers getting in, and before it became so popular that you had to get tickets roughly 48hrs after arriving home from the previous one. No. That would make me sound like a miserable old get. I am a miserable old get, but I try to hide it… I will, however, just mention the phenomenon that is flags. Festival flags. It’s all very well, and totally acceptable as far as I’m concerned, to have some sort of tent-mounted flag. After all, the Glasto reveller needs some way of distinguishing theirs from the 40,000 other near-identical dome tents, especially when returning after a hard day at the coal face. There the flag should stay though. It is not necessary to take said flag to see the bands. Sometimes, you see a witty and original flag, just very occasionally. That’s sort of allowed, for a bit, as long as its bearer doesn’t bear in front of me for too long. However, a South African flag, Australian flag, New Zealand flag or any flag depicting a sports team of any description is not cool. It’s just not in the spirit of things – it’s just so the flag waver’s mates can see them on the TV. The rest of us (even six footers like myself) can’t see a fucking thing. </rant>
The mud got too much for us after three days, so we called it quits and left on Sunday lunchtime. Sunday’s intended headliner Kylie had cancelled, and the only other act we were remotely interested in was The Bravery, whom we had seen a couple of times already, so the lure of warm dry clothes and a comfortable bed proved too much. I left my wellies in 2ft of mud at the exit gate. I wonder what became of them?