Bruised, bloody, burned…. bed, bath, beaming… It’s a classic Glastonbury depressurising procedure here at the Butcher’s block as wounds are dressed and gigs assessed -who shone brightest, who was better this year than last year, who could have tried harder, who left out the cover of Womaniser I walked 8 miles on blister skin to hear?
Florence rocked her earth-mother witch-Madonna look across the John Peel stage, climbing up the rigging and stomping about like she owned the place. Which for 40-odd minutes, she did. A pure flaming ball of confidence, her voice belted out unconventional hits with military bombast, sending the crowd senile with excitement.
Did anybody else notice the huge black bird of prey circling above the crowd at the Other stage when Dizzy Rascal was on? No, didn’t think so – you were going bonkers for Dance Wiv Me and gyrating to Bonkers. The track Sirens sent shivers right through me – something about that filthy industrial-strength guitar screech over callous lyrics about mugging people in London makes you want to pick up a lead pipe and run.
Nobody could have missed the enormous metal sculpture belting fire in Trash City. There was a sorta Final Destination vibe in the crowd the whole time it was on… as if everyone was quietly certain we were all about to be charred to crackling, but knowing we’d be a part of something cool. The heat off this thing was scary; I kept checking to see if my hair was singed at the back, jamming my shades on as enormous mushroom clouds of raging flame billowed from countless sooty spouts.
Florence’s spirited bellowing of Dog Days Are Over was my teary-eyed weak-knees moment of 2009 (Last year on the same stage, MGMT left me blubbing like a jilted bride during Time To Pretend) – some combination of the yearning, hopeful tone of the song, the defeated screaming, the sleep deprivation, and the substances (I think someone spiked my jazz cigarette), and the triumph of seeing a band you wish well on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury all surge as one toward your heart and tear ducts, and all you can do is raise your bottle and go ‘Wooooeeeeeeeeaaaargh!’ at the end of each song, wiping mud over the bags under your eyes, sniffing back the worst. Something similar happened during Jarvis later that night at the same stage, as he tied up the loose ends of Slush, one of his trademark prise-open-your-ribs-and-wring-your-heart-like-a-dishcloth ballads which he clearly intends to release this Christmas: ‘Yesterday you fell out of the sky/ Covered all my faults up, just like snow…”
The John Peel stage had the best visual backdrop – a huge LED array which scintillated rhythmically, all top-of-the-pops-serious colours:- blue, white, some pink. I saw a lot of shit visuals (guys, the dawn of time is a period you can plunder for low-res “techno” graphics for only so long) but also some brilliant video mapping in the Shangri La field, the big central courtyard with the white battlements. Graphics buzzed and crawled along the edges and planes of the structures and on the side of the Club Dada venue, lined up precisely and designed with simple effect.
Our gig (Kim Lone) at the Snakepit was rowdy fun and packed with revellers plastered in fake tattoos (they wouldn’t let you in without one – the queue was a mile long and I was in a rush so I just told security mine was behind my balls), and then on Sunday we were on at 3 in the afternoon at Club Dada – never a good slot if you want an audience, but astoundingly we had around 50 people not only wander in but stay! Hopefully we provided one of those ‘Glastonbury moments’ that occur when a handful of people experience something special together, privately, in the midst of a 150,000 crowd.
So in conclusion; sad I missed Jamie T and Fleet Foxes, but overjoyed that I was there, survived the mud, worshiped the sun, and found it pretty much on a par with last year in almost every respect. One last word: stage banter. Bring it back, please; we want idle chatter, intros, lame segués (props to Damon for his local-newscaster-strength links btw), brief histories and final words.