Glastonbury Warm-Up Party Review

United Kingdom United Kingdom | | 16 June 2003

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...

With 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.

MARS were 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, but true...

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)...

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