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Glastonbury 2005: Friday Other Stage

29 June 2005

The Stone Circle is swimming, reservoirs gather at the bottom of every campsite, power is down, and rain is relentless. The Dead 60s have been cancelled, Black Bud moved to Sunday, so it’s up to Tom Vek to open the Other Stage.

Please click on a photo to enlarge it...

Apologising for the biggest Glastonbury flash flooding storm for 27 years, Tom Vek, Pavement’s natural successor of the weird and experimental fits the mood - sludgy and defiant - mixing up sleazy street funk with Beck-like bass driven grooves, the perfect soundtrack to slop around in the mud to. Final track ‘I ain’t saying my goodbyes’ gives Glasto its first proper rock out despite most feet being cemented in bog.

The sun breaks through the clouds as The Black Velvets take to the stage, but it’s not enough to illuminate them for anything more than they are – plagiarising industry instalments that verge nowhere past the cock-in-a-sock rock retro bullshit that fell off the back of The Darkness. It’s not big or clever, and just remember, Hawkins and co only really made it live because they’re actually funny. Their only redeeming factor is that The Black Velvets aren’t taking themselves too seriously. Or is that just the realisation they’re rubbish?

Editors, on the other hand, do take themselves seriously. They’re honoured to be playing their first Glasto, and perhaps nervous, judging from their opening ten minutes. But flatness soon turns into fabulous, as the band slowly meld into the pitch black backdrop of the Other Stage, just as dark and bleakly beautiful. ‘Blood’ is bulging with Hades claustrophobia cloaked in Depeche Mode desperation, ‘Munich’ rattles with frantic urgency, and the beautiful ‘Camera’ enhances Editors to epic proportions. They may never be much more than ‘the afternoon average band’ at festivals, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

It’s a tag Hot Hot Heat sadly know only too well. Breaking before their time, having now been surpassed by the likes of Franz and the Blocs in the post punk party, the Canadian pop rockers don’t seem to give a shit and look like they have nothing to prove. Providing the first proper showman performance of the day, Steve Hays’ ego is thankfully not quite as big as his hair, and he gets it just right, getting the crowd dancing with inter-tune gee ups and simple singalong songs. ‘Bandages’ is a tried and tested anthem, and ‘God Damn It’ the perfect follow up. It can get a bit monotonous, by Hays keeps us entertained enough not to care with tracks mainly from new album 'Elevator'.
      
The Others thank Michael Eavis for naming a stage after them, but there’s now so few people at the Other Stage it’s almost like one of their famous guerrilla gigs. Determined though to bring some cheer to the sparsely assembled, oddball frontman Dominic Masters ploughs on regardless and gives it absolutely everything.
Their politics may be flawed, nay downright nonsensical, but you can’t knock their effort and despite being lyrically so bad that it makes you want to mount a comeback with your left-wing, sixth-form band, they nevertheless draw people in with a spirit-lifting set.

Then, after what seems like aeons, the endlessly conjectured Babyshambles arrive, and they start well, in that Pete Doherty actually finds his way to the microphone, perhaps finally realising that turning up and being capable of a performance are a given in this business. When he’s good though, he’s very good and the blissful hour of semi-chaotic jangle manages to not only merrily divert the muddied punters from the ever-darkening skyline but also to undermine the gawpers hoping to witness the tabloid fodder of a Doherty downfall.

Taking to a big outdoor stage like a duck to several hundred acres of gloopy water, Bloc Party dry-hump a few more of the mud-caked, brave-faced, revellers into life. Growing in confidence, the retiring quartet fire off a trademark cavalcade of bounce-beat air-punchers. ‘Banquet’ has been and gone in a matter of seconds, ‘Staying Fat’ ripples puddles from stage front to stone circle while ‘Helicopter’ generates so much heat that the sodden ground is almost scorched dry. “I could stop the rain” yelps Kele Okereke to the palm-dwelling punters, “Wish you’d said that this morning” is the collective mind response, as Bloc Party’s set confirms their superiority to a high proportion of the acts taking part over the course of the weekend.

It’s a hardy bunch that hangs around for Norwegian knob-twiddlers Royksopp whose bass-bursting mish-mash of blissful grooves and speaker-cracking electronica sends the crowd into chemical abandon. As a live act the Nordic twosome prove to be substantially more upbeat than their reputation as pedestrian coffee-table noodlers would suggest. Sure, they could background a trailer for pretty much any Channel Four show, but when it’s layered with such a tent-shaking pulse, its hard not be impressed.

Then, before you know it, it’s headliner time as former cardigan wearing harmoniser Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, takes to the turntable. An intestine churning near-eternity of feedback precedes the piano loop of taste-traversing classic ‘Praise You’ as every palm shoots skywards, and from that moment on in its party time. It’s hardly rocket science of course, Cook’s recordings invariably treading the same beat-backed, obscure sample path, attainable to anyone with a drum machine and a vinyl collection the size of a small country. However, once he lets loose on the inelegantly wasted its irrelevant and there can only be one outcome; strictly slip-sliding dance fever. Friday is suitably put to bed then, although from the look of the overwhelming majority of the surrounding patrons, its unlikely that they’ll be hitting their sleeping bags anytime soon.



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Article by: Chris Hutcheon, Ross Purdie

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