Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Well, I can still feel the sunburn on the back of my legs, and I could swear that my festival wristband was still in place, but the Glastonbury experience is over!

What a brilliant 4 days, everything went remarkably well. Hey, the lovely John Stapleton even put our tent up for us, the day before we arrived, in order to make sure that we could camp with friends from Bristol!

Arriving on a sleepy site at around 9am was a strange experience. The 70,000 people who were already on site had obviously enjoyed a lively Thursday evening, as people were about as common as a guitar solo in the dance tent. Thanks to John we were able to obtain passes to get into the backstage camping area for the One World Stage, where we had access to reasonable toilets and even shower and sauna facilities!

Whilst we were in the Left Field tent waiting to see Jeremy Hardy (one of the few no shows over the weekend), the sound of rain falling on canvas could be heard, for the next hour it rained pretty hard, before eventually turning into the dull drizzle which greeted us, as walked over to see Chuck Prophet entertaining the small and soggy crowd in front of the One World Stage. Luckily that was about as damp as things got, by the time we had grabbed some food, and wandered over to watch Yo La Tengo giving a sometimes inspired, sometimes indulgent performance the sun was breaking through and all was well. I spent a while relaxing in the backstage area where the luxury of having proper chairs, a bar with no queue and odour free toilets we proving to be very popular. We managed to catch up with Orynthia’s sister and her kids for an hour or so, enabling us to hand over the additional drink and food which we had bought into the site for them. Later we caught a short burst of the Skatelites as we munched our way through a Gambian meal. Then it was over to the main stage to see about 25 minutes of REM. Although to be honest we were so far away from the stage, we had to watch the performance on the giant monitor screens, before we snuck off to The Other Stage to catch a remarkably lively Primal Scream in action. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Bobby G. as animated as he was in this show. Although John and his other “Blowpop” pals were putting on some entertainment in a marquee in our camping area, we retired to bed at about 1am, with earplugs firmly in place, as the party was due to go on all through the night.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright and we all emerged from our tents to wish Jane a happy birthday. Musically the first thing on the agenda was an old favourite of Orynthia’s schooldays, Linda Lewis. A brilliant voice and a lovely personality masked the fact that her choice of songs left a bit to be desired, it was however a nice way to ease ourselves into the day. And what a day it was, the sun shone brightly as we enjoyed great sets by The Thrills and The Stands before heading back to main stage to see the effervescent Polyphonic Spree burst on the stage as the vast crowd melted in the baking sunshine. By way of contrast, I then made my way over to The Other Stage in order to see Interpol. They were great, it can’t be easy to playing brooding music on a hot sunny afternoon, but they managed to pull it off. Amazingly Carlos managed to keep his jumper on for the whole set! Next up were The Libertines, who despite all the problems facing the band at the moment, managed to put in a blistering performance and they deservedly went down a storm with the crowd. We then went back to the main stage to see Suprgrass, must admit that I’ve never really “got” Supergrass, so after 3 or 4 songs we went back to the camp to meet up with our friends before The Flaming lips set. They were the one band that virtually everyone in our group wanted to see and they didn’t disappoint. A madcap wonderfully engaging show, which importantly also features some killer tunes left everyone beaming from ear to ear when they finished their set with a cover of Breathe by Pink Floyd. We decided to ignore the bleating of Radiohead and instead went off to one of the strangest parts of the vast festival site, Lost Vagueness. An amazing area which features a Ballroom complete with Cancan dancers and cocktails, a silver service restaurant with a strict dress code and our destination for the evening The casino. Now to gain entrance to the Casino you have to be dressed up, as most people who go to Glastonbury turn up with 1 T shirt, and a pair of shorts, they will very kindly hire you the most amazing clothes – Ball gowns, Tuxedos, feather boa’s and the like. Luckily for me I managed to get the last man’s jacket, other wise I would have had to wear a dress (as many men did). The entertainment inside The Casino was sublime; a bizarre decadent 1940’s style cabaret review has us alternating between uncontrollable laughter and open-mouthed astonishment. The (cheap) champagne flowed and the whole thing turned into the greatest fancy dress party in the world. We stopped for an hour or so in the Blowpop tent, telling everyone what a fantastic time we had. Finally we staggered off to bed, very drunk long before the 5am finish. Brilliant!

On Sunday we were eased into the day by the occasionally brilliant My Morning Jacket, before heading up to the sun drenched grass outside the Acoustic Stage to see Roddy Frame, after a few years in the wilderness Roddy appears to be right back on form and the large crowd cheered him on wildly. I then took the long walk back to The Other Stage to see The Raveonettes only to be greeted by a deserted field, as they were apparently another no show. Orynthia than watched Macy Gray on the Main Stage whilst I enjoyed The Rapture with guest dancer Bez joining them for their final song. Orynthia walked over to join me and we watched the charming Grandaddy together. As with all the American bands, they were very keen to tell us exactly where in the U.S. of A. they came from and seemed to be genuinely delighted to be playing the festival. By now we were getting seriously tired, so we decided to grab some food then head back to the comfy seats of the backstage area of The One World stage, where we listened to Calexico playing a great set. We managed to drag our legs round to the front of stage area for their last song and that turned out to be the last band we saw. A fitting way to end it for us, as they were superb. Rather than watch Moby or Tricky we went to the Green field area to see the Glastonbury stone circle and see at close hand the breathtaking firework display at midnight from the hill, which gave us an amazing view over the vast and wonderful site. We made our way slowly back to our campsite, taking in the beautiful and relaxed atmosphere of the green field tents and Tipi’s along the way.

Monday morning, we all slept in late, before dismantling the tents and saying goodbye to friends old and new. It was clear that the traffic was going to take a very long time to disperse, so after dropping our gear in the car, we walked back into the site for a final meal, whilst we watched the site slowly being dismantled. We finally left at around 4pm after 4 unforgettable days. So many things to see and do, so much terrific food, from every part of the world. So many lovely people.


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