Glastonbury's musical World Cup

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Kai Jones | 18 June 2010

Still, in this multi-media age we can have our legal-high hash cake and eat it. We'll all be iPhone'd up over Glasto weekend, multi-tasking our brains between the end of the group stages and Midlake at the Park Stage. And the beautiful Glasto Fairy herself, Emily Eavis, has lovingly answered our wishes and arranged for the England/Slovenia game to be shown on the Pyramid stage on Wednesday 23 June at 3pm. Go Team Eavis!

But if you still fear the withdrawal symptoms from not watching Garth Crooke's seminal analysis of England haircuts (1982 - 1990) then don't worry, just follow Virtual Festivals' pick of the fixtures in our very own Glastonbury World Cup guide. It's the Beautiful Game - just with bands and enough Brothers Pear Cider to drown a field of Pilton sheep.

Rolf Harris (Australia) v Steel Harmony (England) - Friday
Just like South Africa, the Glastonbury World Cup kicks off with a vibrant and colourful opening ceremony of culture and roots music. Conceptual artist Jeremy Deller helped bring the Caribbean steel band Steel Harmony to the fore when they played their exotic and incendiary versions of Joy Division songs as part of his Manchester International Festival parade last year. Their Transmission cover is an absolute joy, translating the urban anxiousness of the original into a melancholy tropical waltz.

Yet Steel Harmony are up against an old pro in Rolf Harris. After that initial surprise performance in 1994 when he wooed an entire Pyramid field with a rapturous set of Rolf classics, Harris has become a firm Glastonbury favourite. His tongue-in-cheek playfulness (‘Two Little Boys’, ‘Jake the Peg’) always mixes nicely with the more traditional Australian folk like ‘Wild Colonial Boy’. Rolf’s a true entertainer – so much that it won’t take you longer than the first verse of ‘Court of King Caractacus’ to realise that the smile spreading across your chops is pure Glastonbury happiness. 2 -1 to the Cartoon Club king then.

Boys Noize (Germany) v Gorillaz (England) - Friday
It’s not a World Cup without the old grudge match with the Germans, and Berlin electro producer Alex Ridha is the perfect opponent for Gorillaz’s freestyle genre mash-up. Boys Noize could get the filthy analogue genius of ‘& Down’ into the back of the net early on, followed up by his warped mix of Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’. But Gorillaz strike back with a brace of Paul Simonon and Mick Jones, chipping ‘Clint Eastwood’ and ‘Rock the House’ past Ridha before Shaun Ryder provides a masterful Heskey-like assist and sets Damon Albarn up for ‘Dare’.

They think it’s all over when Boys Noize volleys home his sublime re-work of Feist’s ‘My Moon My Man’, but Albarn denies the Germans a crack at penalties, running the length of the Pyramid pitch and hammering ‘Dirty Harry’ home.

Femi Kuti
(Nigeria) v Hot Chip (England) – Saturday
Afrobeat prioneer Fela Kuti delivered one of Glastonbury’s legendary performances in 1984 so it’s apt that his son Femi Kuti returns to Somerset for a brace of sets on the Pyramid and West Holts stages. Hot Chip provide their own addictive fusion, setting up the Other Stage for a euphoric hour of crossover electro-pop. However Femi follows his father in supplying dynamic live performances at ease and his own blend of African roots, funk and politics is no match for the London crew.   

(Netherlands) v The Corrospondents (England) – Saturday
The Corrospondents are an amazing Brechtian delight of 1920s Weimer cabaret and 1930s swing fused with rabid hip-hop and jungle beats. They're a relentless visual treat but are up against formidable opponents in the Smokeeaters, who will knock them all over the Glastonbury pitch.  

Manipulating audio and video images via DVD turntables, the Amsterdam AV geniuses are a multi-sensory experience, combining music videos, advertising and computer games with toxic electro and pop culture samples. Their (very) late Saturday set is going to be incredible - 10-0 to the Smokeeaters then.   

Beach House
(USA) v Cate Le Bon (Wales) - Saturday
While Wales have embarrassingly failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1958, Penboyr’s Cate Le Bon cruised into the Glasto version following some sublime qualifying gigs showing off her rapturous songwriting. Beach House though have released one of 2010’s best albums in ‘Teen Dream’, an astonishing mix of swaying dream pop - like Mazzy Star foreplaying with the melodies of Abba. This will go down to the wire, both teams cancelling out each other’s fixating, chilling songs. Impossible to advise between the two – you’ll just have to become omnipresent.

Os Mutantes (Brazil) v Marina And the Diamonds (Greece) – Saturday
Marina And the Diamonds rapturous, absorbing pop is the ideal medicine following a night of Glastonbury hedonism. The soaring, affecting melodies like ‘Hollywood’ and ‘I’m Not a Robot’ and Marina’s own tremulous warble are sharp and soothing enough to nicely jerk you awake ready for the day ahead.  

Os Mutantes
on the other hand aren’t concerned with niceties – they want to headbutt you Zidane-style with their seminal genre-juggle of riotous Afro-Portugese rhythms and radical 70s experimentalism. Choose Marina if you want to dance under a glittering pop haze. Choose Os Mutantes if you want to take the hedonism up several thousand levels.

Naïve New Beaters (France) v Grizzly Bear (USA) - Sunday
Anyone familiar with Parisian filth kids the Teenagers will adore Naïve New Beaters’ own Kitsune-cool blend of electro sleaze and salacious French pop. Their Sunday afternoon slot at Dance East will be an appropriately messy affair so if you’d much prefer a more baroque experience after your Sunday nut-roast then head to the Other Stage for Grizzly Bear’s rich tapestry of dense Americana and dazzling harmonies.


Stevie Wonder
(USA) v Rodriguez Y Gabriela (Mexico) - Sunday
This clash is making me sweat with horror already. How do you choose between Rodriguez Y Gabriela’s duelling Mariachi and the utter legend that is Stevie Wonder? Rodriguez Y Gabriela are bound to take the lead with their intoxicating cover of Metallica´s ‘Orion’, while Stevie does a Robert Green fumble and lets ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ dribble into the back of the net, but this is one World Cup result that can be predicted from the off.

The Wonder has a defensive backline to rival anything Germany can muster and by the close of his set you’ll realise that the whole of the weekend was just a casual prefix for the moment that he unleashes the incendiary bassline from ‘Supersition’, firing home with a tight-ass groove and turning the legs of 100,000 people to jelly.

Come July we may be shredding nerves as Steven Gerrard leads am inspiring England team onto the Johannesburg pitch. The Glastonbury World Cup however will belong to that other Stevie, blessing a packed Pyramid Stage field with ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’ and cruising home with an incendiary ‘Higher Ground’.

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