United Kingdom | 28 June 2002
Today, 140,000 campers awoke to the sad news that John Entwhistle, The Who's legendary bassist, had died. Under glorious blue skies, those who mourned partied on anyway - 'it's what he would have wanted.'
With so much stacked against this festival, in terms of politics and the threat of final closure if so much as a rut of that fence comes down, it's inspiring to see that the elements are now well and truly on the right side of Glastonbury (unlike previous years). Like a giant ethereal middle finger waving in the face of the weather forecasts, happy campers today emerged from dry tents under defiant blue skies, that lasted throughout the first day of music.
After an aborted mission to find the hot showers (we did find them, but the two and a half hour queue defeated us), we arrived at the Pyramid Stage in time for our spiritual blessing, courtesy of Alabama 3. Hardly morning people, we weren't expecting miracles from the Alabamas today, but by God did we get them. The Rev. D. Wayne Love evidently believed he was in the comedy tent, and he could have been, with his inspired lovable Southern-Fried evangelist routine that would have put Steve Coogan in his paces. After each song, the banter became progressively more ridiculous until Love and his own bandmates were collapsing with laughter, at the betrayal of their natural Glaswegian and Welsh accents.
"Don't take the Timothy Leary Acid", advised partner in crime Larry Love from beneath his ubiquitous stetson, and we didn't need to. The pure freebase grooves of songs like 'Woke Up This Morning', 'Testify' and 'Sick to Pray' were enough, when cut with unexpected sunshine, to take the main stage crowd somewhere far higher than a field, to the utopia loosely called 'A Glastonbury Moment'.
Over on the Other Stage, the Cooper Temple Clause were furthering their on-going quest to eliminate the tambourine. Today's 'kill count' amounted to an impressive five, leaving the stage peppered with mangled plastic. Kicking off with usual opener 'Did You Miss Me', a sizeable crowd had assembled to greet one of Britain's most under-appreciated bands. Girls mounted shoulders as the epic chords of 'Who Needs Enemies' rang out over the Somerset countryside. The set deviated surprisingly, as 'Murder Song' followed, relegated from its standard place as set closer.
As the heat persisted, it soon became clear that this band's secret weapon is their dark side, which was all but absorbed by the lingering sun. Stripped of this edge, which levels dark indoor venues like the London Astoria, we were left with a good, solid performance. Not their best ever, and certainly not the best we will see this weekend, however. Just reliable, entertaining Cooper Temple Clause.
If the Coopers represent tambourine Hell, then Heaven must surely be The Dandy Warhols. Back on the Pyramid Stage, foxy keyboard player Zia was sensuously tapping her hand-held percussion against her exposed thigh.
"Thanks for getting up so early to see us", said comically-bearded singer Courtney Taylor (it's three pm!), "We've gotta keep rock n' roll alive, you know!". The cheese subsided to irony, as they launched into the song that killed their rock n' roll and now sells mobile phones, 'Bohemian Like You'. All was forgiven, however, as they proceeded this with their classic, humourous country ditty 'Amsterdam', with Zia giving out the finest harmonica this side of Brixton (see Alabama 3, above). It's all about love at the end of the day, and The Dandy Warhols spread it like Beckham bends balls.