Here, we take a look at the 15 things that happened at festivals in 2009 that may never happen again.
The festival world is full of one offs: whether it’s Slipknot and Slayer drummers stepping in to replace Metallica’s ill sticksman at Download Festival 2004, Kurt Cobain arriving onstage at Reading Festival in a wheelchair or Mel C being badly advised to cover the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’ at V Festival 1999 and changing the lyrics to: “I am an anti-Christ, I am Sporty Spice.”
And this year has been no different, just take a look...
1. You wait forever for a Boss, then two come along at once
Forever an illusive target for many a festival organiser, Bruce Springsteen finally made an appearance at a UK festival this year, some 36 years after the release of his first album. And, for lovers of The Boss, he even managed to squeeze in two dates in 2009: Hard Rock Calling and Glastonbury. Springsteen proved that he was well worth the wait at Worthy Farm with 160 minutes of curfew-breaking, riot-inducing professionalism - something we’re not likely to see again for a very long time.
2. Oasis don’t ‘Live Forever’
Oasis’ Paris show may’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back (or the boot that broke Noel’s guitar to be exact), but things didn’t seem all that rosy for the Gallagher brothers at V Festival in August. After a “biblical” showing in Staffordshire, the Oasis tour bus never made it to Chelmsford, leaving some 80,000 V Festival fans disappointed. The group blamed their absence on viral laryngitis, but the likelihood was that ongoing rifts in the group were taking their toll and it seems unlikely they’ll ever return to the festival scene as Oasis again.
3. Swine Flu over the UK fest
As viruses go, Swine Flu is up there with the Millennium Bug in terms of the impact it could’ve had on the country. If the Y2K scare could’ve had aeroplanes dropping from the skies, a Swine Flu epidemic would’ve stopped festivals from happening for the foreseeable future. Luckily, there was more chance of pigs flying, but it did mean The Streets had to cancel their Summer Sundae show after their bassist contracted the virus, while The Ataris had to pull out of Sonisphere as well – the swines!
4. Waving goodbye to flags
Remember the golden days of Reading Festival when the fields turned into a mass of waving flags? More flags than revolutionary France managed to stitch and sew together in the whole of 1789? Well, that’s a feat that looks unlikely to ever happen again after organisers gave them the chop this summer.
5. Spinal Tap, dwarfs ‘n’ all
Without any tiny Stonehenge props and no exploding drummers, Spinal Tap’s appearance at Glastonbury wasn’t as magical as their 80’s heyday. But the fictional rockers did manage to invite one dwarf onstage - Jamie Cullum - as well as getting Jarvis Cocker to join them for a rendition of ‘Big Bottom’.
6. Student housing issues
Isn’t it funny? Students can’t even find a clean mug within a week but when organisers of the student-only bash, Beach Break Live, had just a matter of days to find a new festival site and move the entire event, they managed it. They took the spirit of their native Cornwall up to Kent as well, shifting several wheelbarrows of sand to the new site.
7. Hard Candy
Throwing bottles of piss may be the traditional choice for showing that you disapprove of a band – some oddball even threw scissors at Placebo’s Brian Moloko at Rock Ness to encourage him to cut his hair – but one thing we hope to never see again is gobstoppers being thrown at a band. At Bloodstock Open Air around six of the cricket ball-sized sweets were thrown at Cradle Of Filth, with one hitting and injuring guitarist Paul Allender, which forced the band to stop playing. Next year stick to urine, yeah?
8. Stuck in the middle with poo
There are plenty of places that you never wish to be stuck and a festival toilet must be up there with Milton Keynes and K-holes. So our thoughts go out to the poor lass that became wedged down a loo at Leeds Festival. 18-year old Charlotte Taylor - dubbed ‘Poo Girl’ by fellow festival-goers - found herself lodged in a longdrop after trying to retrieve her handbag from the mess below. "I was struggling and trying to get out and it just made it worse,” she said, “I knew I couldn't get out myself and was so embarrassed."
9. Thriller: everybody covers Jacko at Glastonbury
It should have been a 'where were you?' moment when Jacko died, but it was late Thursday evening and, after one too many ciders, Glastonbury's a big place. Instead the news sank in on the Friday. Cue The Streets, Noisettes, Black Eyed Peas, Dizzee Rascal and many more covering the King of Pop as revellers covered themselves in tribute t-shirts (those merch sellers really don't miss a trick). The tribute memo didn't quite reach the compere in the John Peel stage though who took it upon himself to thrill a handful of revellers between sets with punchlines that involved 50 year old sausages and seven year old buns.
10. You turn if you want to: Machine Head’s big u-turn
Isn’t it great when grown men in bands have hissy fits? Especially big scary ones in heavy metal groups. This time around it was Machine Head who acted like spoilt seven year olds after Sonisphere organisers billed Limp Bizkit above them. The band were so annoyed that they decided to pull their appearance at the festival completely. Luckily, for their fans, they didn’t stick to their principles and eventually performed as special guests with their toys safely back in the pram.
11. Amy’s special appearance
For a good six months, Amy Winehouse had been almost completely off the radar, decamping to St Lucia for a little R&R. So imagine the surprise of some 80,000 Specials fans when the beehived diva stepped out to join the band for ‘You’re Wondering Now’ and ‘Ghost Town’ at V Festival Chelmsford. The return of Winehouse was, of course, tabloid fodder, but her performance was flawless enough to only warrant positive reviews – the less said about her nibbling Peter Doherty’s ear later in the evening the better, though.
12. Legal goodbyes
For years legal high stalls have been part of the festival landscape, offering revellers a different kind of experience - one that doesn’t include buzzing in a police cell for 11 hours before being handed a criminal record alongside your comedown in the morning. However, 2009 may be the last time we see the stalls rushing up and down the country as the government are expected to have a number of the substances they sell banned before the end of the year.
13. From hospital to headliners in a matter of hours
For Graham Coxon, T In The Park might have been all a bit of a Blur. The guitarist made one hell of a recovery to play the festival after reportedly being taken to hospital after eating some dodgy oysters. What was bad for Coxon turned out to be good for the Scottish crowd though, as Blur fired through a condensed greatest hits performance, for a show that singer Damon Albarn conceded is to be their last.
14. N*E*R*D sound off at Glastonbury
It was all going so well for Pharrell Williams and Co on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. Unveiled as ‘special guests’, the band were firing on all cylinders: they already had most of the female members from the crowd dancing onstage, plus ‘Lap Dance’ and ‘Rock Star’ had Worthy Farm in a party mood. But then, running over their allotted time, the mighty N*E*R*D were cut off. Pharrell tried to continue to sing fruitlessly, before sticking his middle finger up. Will they return? It’s doubtful.
15. Radiohead ‘Creep’ onstage at Reading
Radiohead at a festival is a rare occurrence, not in a solar eclipse kind of way, but it’s not every year that they tear up and down the country in a white transit van. Perhaps even more of a rarity was the inclusion of their slacker anthem, ‘Creep’. It may be known affectionately within the band as ‘Crap’ but to the thousands gathered at Reading Festival, the band opened with their first acclaimed track before unrolling a greatest hits show. Perhaps Thom Yorke had a bout of Amnesia when he selected the set list...
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