Glastonbury has come and gone, but as an inauguration into the daddy- or is it the mother?-of all festivals, it has to qualify as an outstanding success, in that I am now a complete convert, having previously eyed its muddy charms from afar with something approaching a mix of disdain and fear.
The Spirit of 71 entourage I was involved in played a large part/were instrumental in/ place-own-music-realted-metaphor-here in the experience being so amenable. Even the attempts by some of the security staff to prevent the band’s access to the site couldn’t dampen the mood. Promoting a certain kind of person to the rank of gate-keeper will always end in tears, as the temptation to deploy their only weapon- “You cant’ come in”- will always be too irresistible for them, and neither logical reasoning nor humane request will deter them in their duty to deny access. More enlightened forces ultimately prevailed, much to the disgust of the brightly-vested Anubis on the gate, and the band was let through.
It seems redundant to talk about mud at Glastonbury, but it is the first time I’ve had to hose my keyboard stand and gig-bag down after a gig, not to mention scraping the stuff of my music- WTF, Glastonbury? The site itself, with the rain coming down relentlessly and the population marching determinedly through it, was like the Somme might have been if everyone had been too pissed and high to fight, and decided to wander aimlessly at each other instead. Having said that, some of the gigs we played went down better on the rain-soaked Friday than they did on the sunny Saturday afternoon, as if some ley-line-related perversity required everyone to disguise their enjoyment in the face of clear skies and warm breezes. Or maybe we were just shit on Saturday.
Against all expectations, rocking out with Melanie on Friday was one of the highlights of the two days; good crowd, band all going for it, past midnight etc.- whatever it was, highly enjoyable, despite having to hang round for ages beforehand backstage whilst she went through some pretty interminable solo stuff, even her manager rolling his eyes at it all. Another undoubted highlight was initially trying to collect my gear on Saturday from the backstage lock-up- which ultimately required a 4×4 to pick it up in the swamp-like conditions- only to be told that 20 Wombles had just arrived on site, and getting them safely delivered to their stage was the top priority. I’d happily let the Wombles’ ability to function as a live band supersede anything I might want to attempt at any given time of any given day, and was only sorry to have missed them play. We did wonder afterwards if they had to restrain their natural inclinations to tidy up the entire site before they could play, and imagined a scenario where having removed every last bit of litter from the surface of Worthy Farm, and poised to rip into “Wombling in the Rain (Makes You Feel So Good)”, someone in the audience might thoughtlessly discard a crisp packet, obliging the band to down instruments and trudge off stage to deal with the offending item.
Arthur Brown did a cracking live show, and said afterwards backstage that he deliberately employed a young band- who were absolutely shit-hot -because they had no pre-conceptions about how things should be done, were consequently very open to everything, and had tremendous energy levels. Amen to that, and long live Mr Brown, who at 69- sixty-fucking-nine!- can still hit a top D on “Fire” and still knows more about how to put on a live show than most of us will ever hope to know.