Overview and review
John Robb drinks tea with Tony Benn, gets baffled by Mumford And Sons & wonders who Widow Twankey is whilst everyone around him gets wasted…
As Glastonbury reaches a dusty climax Sunday sees a parade of casualties as the night before spent cavorting in Shangri La and surrounding dance madness stages takes a heavy toll on the synapses of the festival goer.
Every parent’s nightmare has been acted out in the last twelve hours by the new generation festival goer but the drinking, shagging and chemical haze acted out in far flung party fields and flimsy pop up tents has not harmed anyone and probably enhanced a whole slew of young lives in one glorious moment of bacchanalian freedom before the cosh of real life comes down.
The festival veterans still indulge in this madness and toothless old men with more nights out than is good for them sit in the Sunday sunshine glad to be alive and still wondering if its worth putting their tent up yet after days of madness.
Speaking of tents we are still chortling over the tale of one camper who thought they had brought a pop up tent- you know one of those cymbal case shaped affairs that ping up into a tent but they had brought a wind break by mistake- hope they are fine and not asleep in a ditch.
Musically this seems a weaker day but the warm glow of the Rolling Stones fills the site and their merch people must be totally knackered judging by the number of Rolling Stones shirts that fill the arena. It seems that right at the nick of time Mick and his gonzoid droogs have saved their skins with one of their great all time shows that will take some following up today, although Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds do a damn good job.
This is more than can be said for headliners Mumford and Sons who are baffling in their popularity but are way to light on actual songs to pull off this kind of slot. The band, who look and sound like they have come straight out of Richard Curtis Rom Com like a dull cardigan wearing coterie of bumbling Hugh Grants with their diddly dee washboard O level folk rock create a void where they should made a statement.
After Nick Cave’s thunder cloud they seem wetter than bed wetters and are the perfect soundtrack to going home early from the festival.
The afternoon had seen a surprisingly packed Other Stage for Public Image Limited. We waited for El Rotten to say something rude about the Rolling Stones but now that he is traveling in the same boat as Mick’s mob there is little left to be said and it’s action that matters now. Fortunately this is the best Pil gig I’ve seen since they came back and the Guardian reading Glastonbury fan is far more receptive to their Post punk, dub, techno dance band workouts than their recent Stone Roses support. Death Disco was stunning and Open Up has been worked into a monster. Rotten may be more Widow Twankey than the antichrist these days but he is a powerfully effective singer and still has that charisma thing down even dressed in a granny shawl.
Vampire Weekend collegiate take on those African licks works perfectly in the afternoon sun but we retire back to the Leftfield stage were Geoff Berner is playing a brilliant take on Jewish folk music armed with an accordion, a violin player and a great drummer as well as acerbic, political and hilarious lyrics. During one song called Fuck The Police he tries to get the audience to sing along, they timidly join in the chorus, wassup, he spits, you scared of the police or something…
In the morning there had been the usual Leftfield stage debate, today was about engaging young voters with politics with Billy Bragg,Kerry McCarthy MP and Tony Benn all doing a great job and making the political relevant. At the end of the debate Mr Benn gets a standing ovation and you wonder if its just worth sending the physically frail but mentally sharp 87 year old out to engage with the youth on his own…
Glastonbury is the only festival I’ve been to where a man who is in his dotage can rock a stage by talking about engaging with the youth, but enough of the Rolling Stones, Tony Benn is inspiring today and as what could well be the best Glastonbury closes in the distance we sit in a cafe in a teepee looking over the twinkling lights of the distant site and listen to the hum of life and it all does actually feel quite magical.