The first review: Glastonbury Festival 2010

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Daniel Fahey | 27 June 2010

Overall – 10/10
Glastonbury Festival’s 40th anniversary doesn’t just pass with a cheap card, some garage shop flowers and a slice of Victoria sponge – far from it. The 2010 event is every inch of the mind-boggling Mecca and sleep-deprived utopia that thousands have come to love down the years. It is up to Muse to light the cake’s candles, Gorillaz to crash the party with more famous mates than they know what to do with and Stevie Wonder to add that little bit of class to a what is a remarkable milestone and an unforgettable party.

The icing on the cake is the secret guests – Thom Yorke’s solo show is immeasurably joyous up at the Park Stage, while Biffy Clyro pack the same arena with so many sweating bodies, people entering the area might think they’re about to enter the sauna field.

But glorious sunshine, cameos here, there and everywhere (Kylie, Florence, Arthur Brown, The Edge – the list goes on) and a carnival atmosphere all combine to make one of the greatest Glastonbury Festivals ever and that’s even before we touch on the warped magic of the late night arena organisers outdoing themselves. Again.

They say that life starts at 40 and at the rate Glastonbury Festival is evolving, improving and re-inventing itself it will have at least another 40 ahead of it – many happy returns!

Getting there and back – 8/10

With Tuesday car parking now on offer and a crucial England football game being played a day later; some 100,000 people arrive onsite by Wednesday this year with relative ease.

Traffic jams are nearly non-existent, buses and taxis ferry ticket-holders to and from Castle Cray and coaches drop off at the site as usual. A few of the gates have to hold back people on the Wednesday due to the volume of fans at the wristband desks but all is forgotten once inside the infamous superfence.

The site – 10/10

With the Pyramid and Other stages sticking where they always have and the Jazz World merely changing its name to West Holts, the festival still offers a mind-boggling collection of music, theatre, comedy and apocalyptic arenas that sit unrivalled in festival terms. The Leftfield returns to its rightful home near Oxlyers Bridge, while The Queen’s Head stays on near the Kid’s Field.

The late night arenas are a remarkable feat of engineering and the warped artistic genius with Block 9, Arcadia, The Common, the Unfair Ground and Shangri-La all given a little extra space. Broken downtown New York hangouts, yards of covered streets, odd shops, saunas, underground piano bars and a full scale block of disused flats are just some of the treats to be found in Glastonbury’s late night backstreets.

The festival continued to push the boundaries of moving with the times, by adding a dubstep stage and installing a full size, light-up Stonehenge called Cubehenge in the Dance Village.

Organisers even manage to fit in 20% more camping without increasing the capacity, which seems to make a notable difference too.

Atmosphere – 10/10

Did someone say party? As the day merges into evening and into night, the atmosphere just improves and spirals into a collective ecstasy that vibrates around the site. The searing sun does make things a little lethargic in the afternoon and several thousands people are treated for heat-related illnesses, but hey, mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and this year Glastonbury is full of both.

Music – 9/10

Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder are possibly two of the greatest debutants to hit the Pyramid Stage, while Muse show how effortlessly brilliant they can be at this level. The Pet Shop Boys and Orbital are as equally compelling on the Other Stage but the talk of the festival is Thom Yorke’s solo show with a little help from Jonny Greenwood up at the Park Stage.

Kylie helps out the Scissor Sisters on the Pyramid Stage, Craig Charles pulls together a fantasy funk band for a late night boogie in WOW! Tent and Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra are incredible, finishing off marching through the West Holts field.

Slash and Coheed And Cambria make things a little heavier and while at first glance the programme may have few must sees, the whole thing becomes a must-not-miss festival with a lot of performers out doing themselves for the 40th anniversary.

Check back for more comment, analysis, the best bands, photos, blogs and everything you could ever want to know about Glastonbury Festival 2010.

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