Champers and Royals at Glastonbury: bursting the bubble?
By kai.jones on 22 June 2008
This year's Glastonbury festival is sucking up more column inches than Prince Harry's choice of fancy dress. And for once, at least it's not about the sodding weather. The Jay-Z debacle has been going on for months, with guitar-purists (née musical fascists) all over the land berating Sir Michael of Eavis for his blazen disregard for the soul of Glastonbury by booking a rap artist of all things. "Quick Jeeves, baton down the hatches and load the Blunderbuss; these savages will destroy our Kinks records and have us listening to singular-named R&B artists before we can say 'God save Paul Weller.'"
Noel Gallagher, that great defender of British decency, set his stall out early, firmly stating "I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong." Good on you Noel! Would you like a blue rosette with your Conservative Party membership?
Yet while Noel has been having sleepless night over the diluting of the guitar gene pool it seems we have missed the real danger to our most dearest of mud-fests. It transpires that Chelsy Davy, girlfriend of the third in line to the throne, Prince Harry himself, is planning on attending this year's Glastonbury festival. And who can we thank for this wonderful announcement? The global credit crunch, apparently.
You see, in a rapid series of events are beyond our mortal comprehension, Ms Davy was reportedly devastated after her debut DJ performance at Leeds' Wax:On festival, due to take last Saturday, (31/05/08), was axed. Organisers were forced to cancel the event due to poor ticket sales, putting the blame firmly at the feet of the credit crunch - the biggest, baddest bogey-man on the financial block, and the latest moral panic to keep us glued to 24 news. (Surely it can't be long before they announce al-Qaeda are behind the global melt-down?)
According to reports, in order to get over the trauma Ms Davy is planning the ultimate cathartic experience - a long weekend in the Mendip countryside. And what can we expect Ms Davy to get up to while she is there? Will she be getting naked and back-to-nature in the Green Fields? Will she be loading up on extra strong pear cider and losing-it in front of noise-sensationalists Holy Fuck?
For an answer to this pressing of questions, let us hop over to the bastion of all true knowledge, the truth portal that is Wikipedia. Oh fountain of knowledge that is online user-led content, please tell us more about our Glastonbury-bound Royal so we can place her correctly in her field of dreams and heal her aching heart with gabba-techno and legal highs. As usual, Wikipedia delivers, but the news isn't good: "Davy, who wanted to be a model growing up, is known for frequent reports of her driving around in her silver Mercedes-Benz, partying at clubs, and shopping." Hmm, Holy Fuck may be off the itinerary.
To twist further irony into the story, the Mirror's 3am Girls inform us that Jay-Z will arrive at the festival for his headline slot in a "top of the range chopper" complete with £300 bottles of Armand de Brignac champagne. Now, come on Mr Z, that's just rubbing-it in. And it seems that's exactly what he's doing. According to the Mirror's 'source', Jay-Z exaggerated his plans in response to Noel Gallagher's comments.
Not that I wish to support Noel's misguided views on the inclusion of one particular genre over another, but it does seems strange that a festival which started off charging a solitary one pound note and giving away free milk now has megastars drinking mega-champagne while flying-in to the site in mega-choppers. I wonder what Stackridge, the folk band who played the first few notes at that fateful inaugural Glastonbury Fayre, and have just regrouped for the festival, will think of the changes.
But royals and £300 bottles of champagne? Rather than the take-over of a supposed-guitar festival by hip-hop, isn't the argument more about the plague of celebrity over the idealism of Glastonbury? The hollow existence of celebrity culture has nothing in common with the treats you can find on the right side of the VIP fence and you can only hope a visit to Worthy Farm will have a positive influence on our South African princess in waiting. Yet sadly, we must face-up to the reality that the chances of Ms Davy having a Joe Strummer epiphany are unfortunately slim.
It seems that whatever they do, Michael and Emily Eavis can't win. In response to criticism of last year's event being too "old", this year's line-up is more diverse than it has probably ever been - the eclectic bill features everything from smile-like-you-mean-it Leonard Cohen to gypsy punks Balkan Beat Box. Attracting an artist like Jay-Z is a bold and courageous move. The champagne and bling might be ridiculous. But if the extravagance is truly meant as an irreverent gesture (who says the Americans don't do irony?), then Jay-Z has started the party early.