United Kingdom | |
16 June 2003
The urban setting was a few hundred miles from the fields of Avalon, but the spirit of Glastonbury was shining bright as euphoric
party-goers and artists rocked into the early hours, to make our first ever festival warm-up bash a blazing triumph.
The 1930's dance hall that is The Dome - a relic from a by-gone era - is about as far removed from the rolling
fields of Worthy Farm as you could get, but as the lights dimmed, it was impossible to shake that sense of
magical anticipation. You know, the feeling that grips your stomach on the trek from the road to the festival gates...
the atmospheric imagery of previous Glastonbury Festivals projected in sequence, and a few hundred kindred
spirits arriving in pre-festival jubilation, it would have taken an apocalypse to dampen the vibes!
First band up were the
rock n' roll ball of flame called MARS, who blitzed through a
sizzling set of classics-to-be, whilst Alabama 3 frontman
Larry Love watched with visible appreciation, stage-side. It seemed only natural that Mr. Love join the young
band for a dirty rockin' rendition of Alabama 3 classic
'Too Sick To Pray' at the end... so he did.
followed by their friends on the London scene, Shimmer, who put on a confident and soul-stirring performance.
Ray (who had played the Acoustic Tent at last year's Glastonbury Festival) mellowed us all out with their
sublime melodies, before trashing their own guitars in uncharacteristic rock n' roll fervour, not to be seen again! Bizarre,
DrugDealerCheerleader (who secured their gig via the Official
Festival Message Board!) quite possibly have the best name in rock history. And last night, they lived up to it with a
leather-clad poodle rockin' rawk monster of a set that would teach The Darkness a thing or two!
Then Jerico, the first classic legends of the night, followed this
with a truly stunning show. Singer Mark Shaw (the most amiable man in music) was on top form, despite a serious
leg injury, and pulled out all the stops (even ripping off his vest and throwing it to a delighted female fan!) to impress.
By the time the Larry
Love Show Band (aka Alabama 3 unplugged) arrived
on-stage, the atmosphere had reached fever pitch. What followed for the next 40 minutes was beyond the edge, and cannot possibly
be justified in words. Next time you get a chance, see them. Behold the power. The dancefloor melted into a mass of writhing
bodies spanning several generations. As Larry sang "Woke Up This Morning", we all danced to the realisation that we were part
of something very special indeed tonight.
It was then left to Irish folk singer extraordinaire Johanne Lee to cool us down with her gentle
ditties, before another all-time legend in the form of Levellers deputy sheriff (and guitarist) Simon
Friend bounded on-stage to raptuous applause. Kicking off with Levs classic 'The Boatman', Simon couldn't go wrong,
and proved that he could just as easily cut it as a frontman, drawing mostly from The Levellers back catalogue (because he could!)
It doesn't always go according to plan, even
for the pros, as Simon was forced to apologise that he "Needed to go for a wee" mid-way through the set. Luckily, he had brought
a companion in the form of a pink fairy girl, who was a more than adequate substitute in his absence, as she sang, strummed
and entertained for a couple of minutes. When Simon returned, he graciously performed the Levellers 'rarity'
"Plastic Jesus", by very popular request!
After a sterling performance that had the whole house on its feet, it was
left to the filthy punk collective known politely as "The Constables" to do what they do best. Emerging on-stage
in white boiler suits and bowler hats (a la Clockwork Orange), the Alabama
3 side project was nothing short of brilliant, with songs like "I F*cking Hate You" and "Dog Handler" - cue crowd
interaction with howls of "Woof Woof" in the chorus.
The cherry on the cake was the final song of the night, a punktastic rendition of the Grease favourite "Summer
Loving", which promted an immediate stage invasion by other artists, such as Then Jerico singer Mark Shaw and MARS
guitarists Rob and Steve. This subsequently prompted a stage invasion by members of the audience, and the stage was
literally crammed with euphoric superstars and party-goers, locked arm-in-arm, singing in unison. Beautiful. Unforgettable.
Probably the best night of this writer's life. The end.
PS. The event was in aid of MOJO (The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation)
PPS. We are now heading down to the real Glastonbury
Festival, so stay posted for the best coverage of the best festival in the world, whilst it happens!
See you there (or here)...