The Leftfield stage is Billy Bragg’s pop and politics bonanza situated in its new tent on the main drag of Glastonbury’s temporary mini city.
Every year they spend the afternoon debating issues in a positive and up beat manner – ‘recharge your idealism’ is the tagline and they are, arguably, the true spirit of Glastonbury – a place to come and party but also to think and today have a laugh as Mark Steel is on stage with his machine gun patter of brilliant observations and sharp barbed humour that leaves no mercy. This is a place where Tony Been used to hold court and left wing politicians, music makers and comics hang togther and talk.
On the band front first band up are Alba Roma who are a Scottish/Spanish band who live in Edinburgh and deal out a great political take on the gypsy punk thing. It may have been attempted a few times before but this could be the best yet and the songs are thrilling combinations of punk rock energy and gypsy punk blues.
It’s not often you get given a pair of castanets by a band as they come off stage and there they are in my hand as Maria from the band attempts to teach me the subtleties of how to play them- this is a good thing.
The band have the songs and the stomping stage show that will see them as festival hits next summer- this kind of stuff always guarantees a party and they manage to make an, initially, empty tent into a sweating, thrilling party.
This year has been the best musical line up at the Leftfield- there is a thrilling diversity that is a long way from the stage’s roots. Kate Tempest is another example of this moving forward. The young South London poetess/rapper has been a bit of hit this year with her street patter and brilliant rapping. She also has bags of personality- looking like the long lost youthfull offspring of Janis Joplin she brilliantly takes the stage and just glows with enthusiasm and excitement-her raps , as you would expect, are poetically brilliant and sharp as fuck and her between song banter is so full of ‘fucks’ that we go and look for a swearbox.
Anti Flag bring their political pop punk to the stage and are the rarest of beasts – a punk rock band at Glastonbury- no wonder the tent is packed. Glastonbury is thrilling in its musical diversity but there is a bit of a blind spot when it comes to old mother punk rock.
Anti Flag have managed to combine the polished pop punk of the Green Day world- a punk rock with perfect harmonies and bands that are so tight that they sound like machines with the politics of the Clash- the idealism and critique of the modern world that almost sounds nostalgic in the nappy world of modern punk bands who seem confused to whether take Busted or the Sex Pistols as their template.
They deliver a high every show of lots of bouncing around and a visceral delivery that sees the atmosphere erupt and end their set with three Clash covers- being joined by Billy Bragg for a Strummer tribute that brings the house down and ends with their drummer breaking down his kit and putting it into the audience- a stage move I have never seen before although attempted a few times but without the full success of this- bizarrely it also sounds great with the drums removed from the PA and played in the muddy field surrounded by the crowd going crazy.
Anti Flag, like all American bands, have no shame of showbiz and throw every trick in the book into entertaining the crowd with that full on thing these bands have. It’s a triumphnat ending to agreat weekend in the Leftfield stage.