Glastonbury 2010 - party starters and party poopers!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Daniel Fahey, Dan Davies | 29 June 2010

Party Starters

Rolf Harris

Literally starting the party first thing on Friday, it could have been a pooper. Particularly when we heard that the octogenarian Aussie had a bad throat. But then the animal lover wangs away his didgeridoo and launches into ‘Tie Me Kangeroo Down’ with full force. A pleasant arm waving 40 minutes flies by as Rolf treats us to his expansive back catalogue with the only wobble coming from his customary board. Bonza highlights include ‘Irish Rover’ with ‘Animal Hospital’ interlude and his comedy version of ‘Stairway To Heaven.’ Finishing with a very British ‘Tie Me Kangeroo Down’ to the tune of ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ it makes you glad that festival flags weren’t banned. DD

Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra

Dammers could have made it so much easier for himself. All he had to do was rejoin The Specials, plink a few keys and cash a cheque so large that he could have all his teeth replaced, not just the front row he seems to be missing. But instead he’s created avant-garde reggae and dipped into Sunn Ra territory with a full modern orchestra. Switching his time between playing the keyboard and leading the troupe as a conductor, the set was wonderful with Tommy McCook’s ‘Samson’ a joy, a hypnotic version of ‘Ghost Town’ marked delightfully by improvised poetry from Anthony Joseph before Arthur Brown headed up an unrehearsed reggae rendition of ‘Fire’. The orchestra all end up marching through the West Holts field, not something you’d get at the Proms. DF

Pet Shop Boys

Working with top-flight stage directors and choreographers, the Pets have always put on a good show. And on Saturday, whilst Muse were wringing drama from every guitar solo on the Pyramid, Pet Shop Boys put on a considered, honed and refined performance on the Other. Chris Lowe played with gleaming electronics on the right, as Neil Tennant shared the stage with a cast of blockhead dancers who escaped their particularly cubey world through the power of disco (hurrah!). It was stormers such as ‘Go West,’ ‘It’s A Sin’ and ‘Domino Dancing’ (mashed with Coldplay’s ‘If I Ruled The World’) that got the biggest cheers. And typically PSB, they also manage to reduce us to tears with 'Jealousy' with a passionate performance from two core dancers who physically drag us through their love/hate relationship. Genuine dramatic impact. DD
Craig Charles

Having brought together his Fantasy Funk Band in the opposing tent the night before, the former-Red Dwarf man took centre stage on Sunday in Cubehenge – an illuminating, Tetris-style Stonehenge throbbing in the Dance Village. Bobbing side to side like a boxer, Charles had to use a towel to wipe his sweat-filled brow as he MCed, played air bass guitar and horns through a set of modern funk and soul classics. His dancing was as infectious as his tunes with Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and The Apples among the tracks that set the scene for Stevie Wonder an hour or so later. DF

Stevie Wonder

For its 40-year anniversary the Sunday night closer had to be special. And what better way to spend it than with the debut of a true legend? Stevie Wonder stuck almost entirely to his classic period - two and a half hours are crammed with pitch perfect hits including ‘Uptight’, ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and ‘Superstition.’ Star status eccentricities are forgiven – such as the weird section where he drank a magic potion and became Little Stevie Wonder for ‘Fingertips (Part 2)’, only for it to fall over when he said the word “magic” by accident. Wonder even dipped into his questionable 1980s back catalogue with ‘I Just Called’ and the show’s closer ‘Happy Birthday'. Appropriately Michael Eavis came on stage for this to add his atonal, Somerset burred voice to proceedings, leading Stevie to proclaim: “Man, he flat.” Flat Eavis may be but with 40 years under his belt he shows no signs of fading. DD

Mariachi el Bronx

Mariachi music evolved from the heat of Mexico, maybe that was why Mariachi El Bronx’s early afternoon set at a sweltering West Holts stage on Friday just sounded so refreshing. In full traditional garb, the punk band treated sun-seekers and overwhelmed loungers to a bopping ‘Slave Labor’ but it was ‘Cell Mates’ that impressed most in an enjoyable 30 minutes. DF
Party Poopers

Hot Chip

It’s not that we’ve gone off Hot Chip but that we had to leave Thom Yorke’s surprise set to watch them. Maybe feeling like they were in competition with Yorke made the Chips stick to their bounciest songs but this meant that their show lacks balance. Inversely, their traditional festival fancy dress was more subtle and stripped down than previous outings - Alexis wearing a Pearly King style baseball cap, which made him look like he’s on day release from a cockney asylum. However, in the post-Yorke mood we’re in, if Alexis came on with full on prosthetics and started zapping the crowd by puking lasers a la ‘I Feel Better’ it would still probably fail to impress. DD

Joy Orbison

Thursday night, following two packed sets from Boy George and Beardyman, rising dubstep star Joy Orbison took to the decks at witching hour. But as a pre-cursor for all the stages opening on the Friday morning, the show simply didn’t deliver any punch. His own remix of Four Tet’s ‘Love Cry’ was one of few highlights in a set that swung between stagnant garage and fumbling dubstep and when INXS’ ‘Need You Tonight’ falls out the speakers it suddenly became time to leave. DF

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