Glastonbury 2004: Main Stages, Sunday

Scenes at Glastonbury Festival 2004 by Sara Bowrey
Scenes at Glastonbury Festival 2004 by Sara Bowrey

Sunday is traditionally the day at Glastonbury where one can have a bit of a lie-in after two days of drunken abandon; to lie comatose in your tent, and be gently awoken by the sounds of acoustic guitar drifting from the main stage.

[r-zone1]However, this particular year, those still suffering from the after-effects of last night’s excesses are in for a massive shock. A troupe of well built operatic divas burst onto the main stage, dressed halfway between cyber clubber and Gestapo officers (how very pc!), each ‘riding’ men dressed in military underwear and soldiers’ helmets, reined in with rags in their mouths. Eric Clapton unplugged this ain’t. A triumphant performance of the first act of Wagner’s Ring Cycle and three or four encores later, and the English National Opera (12.10pm, Pyramid Stage) have claimed Glastonbury for their own. Maybe Oasis should take a hint and employ a 90-piece orchestra next time.

[l-zone2]Who killed The Zutons (1.00pm, Other Stage)? Not us. But despite their irritatingly infectious b-movie indie, we still feel like it. Maybe they’d bleed fake blood? We’d rather have them than Joss Stone (2.50pm, Pyramid Stage) though. She can take her White Stripes cover and punch herself in the eye with it. Festivals aren’t meant for this kinda crap.

[r-zone3]They’re meant for bands like Divine Comedy (2.00pm, Other Stage), who may seem oddly placed in a muddy field, but singer Neil Hannon seems particularly pleased about it. By the time he takes a final smug bow, so are we. Radiating an air of supreme confidence, a stirring version of Queen Of The Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’ teases the crowd. But the highlight comes in ‘Generation Sex’ when Hannon reclines in a seat to smoke and proudly watch his colleagues finishing off his song, boasting “This is my band. Let’s listen to them, shall we?” They have a sumptuous history behind them, and though overshadowed by the success of label-mates, Blur, Radiohead and Coldplay, the sneery charm of Hannon is alive and well.

[l-zone4]So too it seems, is James Brown (5.30pm, Pyramid Stage). Finally arriving fifteen minutes after the build-up begins, one would expect the appearance of God rather than some wife-beater who claimed jazz and gospel for his own. However, those expecting the second coming may have been disappointed. The Godfather of Soul may have once been a sex machine, but nowadays he’s more of a Sinclair ZX81. He dances like your nan, but is surrounded by scarily lithe go-go dancers. Watching James Brown is almost as painful as watching Ozzy Osbourne – but unlike Ozzy, James Bown quite clearly knows when to say “stop”. It’s Brown who decides who does what, when, commanding his stage with the skill of an army general planning an assault into battle. He may have been relegated to the bargain bin by bling and big butts, but on his own turf, there’s no one better than the Saddam of Soul.

[r-zone5]Now The Ordinary Boys (3.00pm, Other Stage) may have you convinced they’re the new Smiths. Of course they’re not, and the jagged, Billy Bragg-ish indie mess is about as exciting as any other overhyped load of tosh thrown out by the printed press of late. People aren’t buying it either, as the desolate crowd shows. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (4.10pm, Other Stage), on the other hand have it, pure Cramps style. Not that they have anything resembling a song, but who cares when Gomez (5.30pm, Other Stage) are next?


[r-zone1]Life imitates Art at Glastonbury, as the crowd swells to greet the return of Gomez, wizened and illuminated from two years in the ancient Nepalese rock school. Disappointingly, the floor-length beards we had hoped for are absent, and they are not cavorting to ‘God Gave Rock n’ Roll to You’. ‘Get Myself Arrested’ is nearly as good, though, as we jump in that phone box and groove back to 1998 – the summer of, er, mud. Bogus, dude.

[l-zone2]In fact, they look exactly the same as they did before they left. The spoddy one with the big voice is still just as spoddy, the skinny one has neither shed nor gained any poundage and the fat one… still jumps around clapping. Still, we’re all on our feet dancing (it’s too muddy to sit down), and before we know it, they’re finishing with ‘Whippin’ Picadilly’. But what about the lost chord from Tibet? Melvined!

[r-zone3]With Belle & Sebastian (7.00pm, Other Stage) going head-to-head against Supergrass (7.15pm, Pyramid Stage) it’s a battle of the very indieist proportions. And while Stuart Murdoch continues to be as twee as can be, so Supergrass reel on out the hits. No, nothing changes in indie land. Seeing Supergrass at a festival is like drinking cider in Somerset – you really have no choice in the matter.

[l-zone4]However, the kids who grew up on the band’s stoned cheeky monkey indie tunes have now grown up, though, and watching them go through the motions on yet another set of the same old songs has lost something of its magical appeal. But as the clouds break the yellow sky and the band begin an acoustic version of ‘Late In The Day’, nostalgia kicks in. Or is that just the mud?

[r-zone5]Morrissey (8.40pm, Pyramid Stage) hasn’t been to Glasto for twenty years and despite the overflowing mud, he gets quite a similar reaction to that of The Smiths in their heyday. Big red Elvis-style lights spell out his name along the back of stage, and decked in a red shirt, he plays the crowd like only the biggest ego in town could. Despite the cultural schism of his American existence, the likes of ‘Irish Heart, English Blood’ prove he’s still as relevant, and still bashing the monarchy like it was 1984. He doesn’t change the lyrics of ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ to include ‘trudging slowly over wet mud’ but the sentiments the same but what powers home amidst the jarring, pinstripe punk-pop of ‘Last Of The Gang To Die’ is that Morrissey is revitalised and injects a dynamism into the Glasto main stage.

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