Despite schizophrenic weather, Glastonbury once again remains unrivalled as the greatest show on earth, writes Daniel Fahey.
Overall – 9/10
Following on from arguably the best Glastonbury in a decade, this year’s edition provided to be another vintage showing from the Eavis’, with a formidable Neil Young, an invincible Bruce Springsteen and an almost infallible Blur setting the tone for a truly unforgettable festival. With special guests performing with aplomb – N*E*R*D, The Dead Weather and Klaxons – a staggering amount of musical quality found at the smaller stages (Speed Caravan, Baby Charles and Babyhead all proving wildly compelling) and an alternative entertainment programme that’s more diverse than the schizophrenic weather over the weekend, Glastonbury once again remains unrivalled as the greatest show on earth.
The late night Shangri-La arena has settled into the groove nicely, evolving and maturing from last year into a hubbub of mazed markets, post-apocalyptic burlesque and decedent hideaways, while The Park Stage has been upped in the pecking order from Emily Eavis’ live record recommendations stage into a miniature boutique festival in its own right. A giddy weekend atmosphere made the traditional showers and Thursday night thunderstorms pass almost without reflection, whilst shimmering sunshine for the whole day on Saturday must have got The Boss thinking – ‘why the hell haven’t I been here before?’ Michael Eavis summed it up himself perfectly on the Sunday: “fantastic."
The site – 8/10
The sprawling site at Glastonbury is lest an event site, more a pop up and perform city, which, when broken down, accumulates around six festivals into one. The infamous Pyramid Stage pairs with the Other Stage and John Peel tent to house the big names and charting acts, while the Jazz World Stage is the parent of WOMAD and Wychwood. The Park Stage pays homage to the recent influx of boutique festivals, while the Dance Village has more tents than Millets. The Fields Of Avalon offer ticket-holders an alternative fringe-style festival, while the Green Fields and Healing Fields pay tribute to early gatherings like the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.
The Park and Other Stages have moved slightly, which gives both extra room for more fans and the Queen’s Head, which used to reside next to the second stage has been moved to replace the much missed Leftfield Stage. The problem, however, is the volume of people trying to get in when music starts on the Thursday – there just isn’t enough room. The John Peel Tent and Dance Village also seemed to battle with congestion between one another and the late night arenas Trash City and Shangri-La both proved popular. The former remains largely unchanged from last year, but the latter morphed into a low ceiling paradise of odd shops, trippy music, Victorian backstreets and thoughtful street theatre.
Getting there and back – 5/10
With record numbers arriving on the Wednesday, ticket-holders faced hours of traffic jams in very hot weather as car parks filled and campsites took shape. Trains to Castle Cray were packed and more queues for shuttle buses to the site were inevitable. Naturally thousands left as soon as possible following Blur on the Sunday night to avoid queue, with many more getting up early Monday morning to do the same. More traffic jams out of the site were unavoidable, but it didn’t seem as bad as previous years.
Atmosphere – 8/10
Glastonbury has such a variety of different ‘worlds’ that the atmosphere changes from a slow, very relaxed tempo in the Healing Fields to a dark and exciting feeling at Shangri-La. But the overall tone always remains one akin to being at the best party ever. It’s almost impossible to find anybody without a smile around the site as mystical hotspots like the Stone Circle remain electric for the entire weekend.
With the festival stretching over five days, there is a buzz of an extended holiday as fans make the most of Wednesday and Thursday before the music officially starts on the Friday. The campsite jumps with excitement, strangers chatting and sharing ‘must-sees’ along with a few beers as the early arrivals always make use of the grass at the Jazz World in the first two days.
Check back for links to our top ten Pyramid Stage, Other Stage, Park Stage band reviews as well as the best from the rest of the festival.
The early bird catches the bus
Many who arrived by car on the Wednesday were confronted by hours of traffic jams, while the greener option of busses seemed more sensible as they’re waved past to overtake the queues.
As soon as the first drop of rain hits the floor at Glastonbury, there are always a handful of people ready to dive in headfirst. Take the gentleman for example, on a hill near the Other Stage, he cleared a pathway, wooed the crowd into clapping him like a long jumper as he prepared to slide into the mud and…bang! He stacks it into a rock.
Up in the Green Fields there were two boys aged around six exchanging jokes for 50p. A pound got you this cracker:
“No, you’re a poo!”
Strip sports disc
Hats off, literally, to the three boys and two girls playing strip Frisbee at The Park Stage on Saturday morning, but to the one butter-fngered lad already in his pants – did you really have to turn your boxers into a thong?
“It’s possibly the best six days of my life!” Emily, north London
“It’s been boomting, Karen O [lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs] put on a wonderful show.” Charlotte, Aylesbury
Click here to watch BBC Glastonbury Festival highlights on Virtual Festivals.