Glastonbury 2004: Main Stages, Friday

There's mud in that there sky, 'shrooms in that there ground and pills in them there hills.

[r-zone1]Thankfully, Leicester four-piece, Kasabian (Other Stage, 11.20am), ate the whole lot dancing round the stone circle to Primal Scream. So instant is their bone-breaking yob-rock that they get the biggest opening band crowd to ever grace the Other Stage. Singer, Tom Meighan rubs us up with his wry, rasping Ian Brown-isms, swaggering amid broken synths and baggy, early-nineties inspired industrial ballet. He ‘s more Liam than Liam will be later, especially in the pounding crater shifting new single, ‘LSF’, dedicated to the “mushroom heads”. Debut single, ‘Processed Beats’ goes down a storm while the riotous ‘ID’ is without doubt the only soundtrack there is to bottling a few Portuguese policemen. Bootiful.

[l-zone2]Back to reality and need of drinkage after all that dancing Hal (Other Stage, 12.00pm) open with  ‘Worry About The Wind’ and readily make the sun appear. Sadly, it’s the highlight of an otherwise drab affair by the Irish five-piece who are about as exciting as their clothes (an array of collared shirts and tank tops). Their harmless country pop fits nicely between Ben Folds Five and The Thrills complete with Delays-rivalling harmonies and a guest cellist, but where their Dublin counterparts have a majestical collection of top tunes, this lot fall sadly short of the mark.

[r-zone3]Meanwhile, at the Pyramid Stage something mesmerising is going down, and as singer, Conor Oberst, would have it, he couldn’t do it without his motley crew, including trumpet, harp and oboe. Bright Eyes (Pyramid Stage 11.45am) were doing a Polyphonic Spree long before Tim Delaughter first hit upon linen cult robes as the height of fashion. However, no matter whatever mellow soundscapes they craft, the focus is still undeniably on their magnetic frontman. The thinking indie boy/girl’s pin-up Oberst has a remarkable gift in taking the most laid-back, ear-kissing song, and ripping it into a spitting, tension-ridden explosion. See ‘We Are Nowhere And This Is Now’, the kind of tune, which personified, would shiver even in today’s heat. But despite this, there’s still a kind of worn glory to Bright Eyes, even in their darkest moments. Maybe it’s okay even for tortured emo kids to enjoy the sunshine, it certainly dries up the tears for a while.

[l-zone4]I Am Kloot (Other Stage, 2.00pm) replicate Bright Eyes’ magnificence, casting spellbinding resonance over the crowd.  The rare brilliance of the trio’s acoustic melodies scud seamlessly between light Radio 2 ballads and darker, more haunting rhythmically-driven numbers, nodding eerily towards Echo and The Bunnymen. They tear the sky down into an acoustic tent, and if ever there was an intimate gig on the Other Stage, then this it. It’s just it shame it ends with singer-guitarist John Bramwell throwing his instrument at the crew as the plug’s prematurely pulled.

[r-zone5]No such luck for those watching Nelly Furtado (Pyramid Stage 2.35pm). She reels off the hits with all the passion of a dead-leg and apart from one ill-advised reference to the “England Soccer Team” which goes down like James Brown‘s wife, it’s about as musically challenging as a visit to Woolworths. You know what they say: fly like a bird, sink like a turd.


[r-zone1]The Rapture (Other Stage, 3.00pm) remind us of indie discos. Except your feet don’t stick to the floor and the place doesn’t smell like a toilet – hang on. The New Yoiksters’ modish, post-punk disco goes down a storm – all synths and handclaps. ‘Sister Saviour’ is a rush of blood to the knees and clearly the only people sitting down by the end are the disabled or Kasabian, who by this point in the day, are savaged.

[l-zone2]While hapless mums attempt to sell their kids’ Glasto mud, Elbow (Pyramid Stage, 4.05pm) continue trying to sell the crowd. When the band played the Other Stage two years ago, singer Guy Garvey made up the line, “We still believe in love so fuck you” on the spot and got the crowd to sing it on the track ‘Grace Under Pressure’, for the recent LP, Cast Of Thousands. Today, they tape the whole song to back their next EP, and despite the melancholic wistfulness of their soulful, northern jibe, Elbow are fucking beautiful. Their mix of simple, looped melodies and quite ornate rhythms create a lush contrast to Garvey’s fractured voice 

[r-zone3]His charisma is only matched by Badly Drawn Boy (Other Stage 4.20pm) who thanks the crowd for making him ‘feel like Bono’. Playing with a full band, his set is full of the trademark stopping and starting that either fills people with warm affection or the kind of venomous rage that makes people set fire to dusty beards. This is obviously what happened to Kings Of Leon (Pyramid Stage, 9.05pm) who we find out are now totally barefaced. The cheek of it.

[l-zone4]The continuity of the line-up continues to confuse as Groove Armada (Pyramid Stage, 5.35pm) amble on sans acoustic guitars. In recent years, they’ve levitated from niche, chill-out fodder to the heights of a being a fully-fledged festival force. Warping mellow threads of chunky funk, they kick off with the sun-drenched, guitar lick of ‘Chicago’ and from then on, they can’t go wrong. The uplifting grooves of ‘Easy’ would have Sister Sledge jumping around in glee and ‘I See You Baby’ gets more arses wiggling than dildos on seats in the House of Commons. ‘By The River’ and ‘My Friend’ are lauded for their intrinsic beauty and they inevitably storm home with a broken up version of ‘Superstylin’, whipping everyone into an early evening frenzy.

[r-zone5]Snow Patrol (Other Stage, 5.50pm) have been plucking away for years, and only after a bit of major label cash have they finally made it into people’s hearts and the charts. They made it to Glasto too, and for their debut performance it’s all rather grand. The crowd sing seamlessly along to ‘Run’ which has extra poignancy, as Gary Lightbody dedicates it to Gary Orr, a young fan who tragically died of cancer.


[r-zone1]With sing-alongs now in fashion, Franz Ferdinand (Other Stage, 7.20pm) step once more into the limelight. Quite what the Archduke of Austro-Hungary imagined his legacy to the World would be, history does not recall. Perhaps on that fateful day when he met his doom at the hand of Gavril Princip, he experienced a vision of the future. A vision of tens of thousands of people hunched together in front of a big stage, while a bunch of arty student types churn out disco indie for them. He saw them scream with joy as they were told they were about to be on TV, yet half of them leave after all the singles had finished. Felled by the vision, the Archduke staggered, and clutching the table, cried out in despair; “My God! Why didn’t they go see PJ Harvey instead?”

[l-zone2]They would have probably enjoyed it considerably, because PJ Harvey (Pyramid Stage, 7.20pm) has always had a reputation for being the epitome of cool. But tonight, she’s quite simply la sexe. Dressed head to foot in slashed Spice Girls merchandise, bright pink heels and a hairstyle somewhere between Suzy Quattro and the legendary Patti Smith; Peej screams and seduces, wrapping her big girl voice voluptuously around each syllable.

[r-zone3]For some, Polly is a bit too abrasive and they readily convene to watch previous collaborator Alison Goldfrapp (Other Stage, 8.50pm) do indie-credible Dido. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t. When she stays on the right side of hill-walking, coffee-sipping splurge, (the Donna Summer rip-off of ‘Strict Machine’ is good, ‘I Feel Love’ sentiment) all is lovely. But there are times when you kinda just wish she was back doing stuff with Orbital again.

[l-zone4]De-bearded but losing none of their ground-in wisdom, Kings Of Leon (Pyramid Stage, 21.05pm) then lavish us with generous helpings of honest southern-fried rock, smearing sultry, heart-felt rythmns into the darkening sky. Something is lost from the Tennessee four-piece when trapped on record, so tonight reveals much more than their clean shaven faces.

[r-zone5]The powerful ‘California Dreaming’ instantly destroys any notions of this band being yet another over-rated American fly-by-night. Unleashed and stripped down for all to see, Caleb Followill’s voice aches with an yearning emotion, building as does the set. Through stunning new tracks like the delicate ‘Milk’ and pounding ‘Pistol Of Fire’, Kings Of Leon lay it down for all to see, pouring out their hearts and tugging on ours. A true festival highlight.

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