Glastonbury 2004: Main Stages, Sunday
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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