Being, like, incredibly old, incredibly busy, and living incredibly in LA, I don’t get much of a chance to check out the festival scene in Europe these days, (unless I happen to be performing – or not – as the case may be). I decided it would be favourite to enlist a steadfast Young Lion Of Rock to go have a snout and report back. Who better than our very own JC? Armed only with a fistful of Euros and some beer, loins duly girded, he waded in. Here’s what he saw and heard.
“This year felt very much like make-or-break for Glastonbury. This was the first time in a decade that the festival hadn’t sold out within two hours. There has been much debate as to why, had people just had enough of the mud? Is there simply too much competition now? Is it really because Jay-Z was headlining? One thing was for sure, this had to be a good one.
And it was, it really was. Apart from a couple of showers on Thursday evening, it stayed dry for the entire five days, which just makes the world of difference. This was my fourth visit and most enjoyable, definitely the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at a festival.
OK so what about the music?
Kings Of Leon rocked it for me headlining the Pyramid stage on Friday. Doubts had been raised as to whether they were strong enough to headline, but it was obvious straight away that they were. They didn’t put a foot wrong, they just nailed it. Personal highlights were ‘On Call’, ‘California Waiting’ and ‘Charmer’ which all sounded anthemic, a perfect way to end the first day.
Earlier in the day, Vampire Weekend were equally impressive. Their reputation has grown and grown over the last few months and they didn’t disappoint. ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘A-Punk’ already sound like classics. They seem to have a fresh sound and are surely one of the best new bands to emerge this year.
Curiosity drew me, and doubtless countless others, to see Jay-Z’s set on the Saturday. Love him or hate him, if you were there you had to take your hat off to him, he played it so well. Before he came on they played the infamous clip of Noel Gallagher saying ”hip-hop has no place at Glastonbury. I’m sorry but Jay-Z? No way”. The Jigga man then came onstage to ‘Wonderwall’ and the crowd sang along with him. It was only going to go one way after that! I’m not really a big fan of his music, but ‘Big Pimpin’ and ’99 Problems’ sounded good at the time, and the general concensus seems to be that he nailed it. Some are even proclaiming him as the saviour of the festival, one feels that’s going a bit OTT but he sure silenced a few critics.
Other acts enjoyed by myself included Hot Chip, who were joined onstage by Wiley for a cover of ‘Wearing My Rolex’. Simian Mobile Disco killed it in the dance tent, as you would expect. Isosceles and Fight Like Apes were two outstanding acts I managed to catch on the ‘BBC: Introducing’ stage, I’ve heard plenty of positve reviews about both bands, surely destined for big things.
So that was Glastonbury 2008. It’s impossible to see everyone you planned to, my strategy now is to pick the main bands I want to see and then play the rest by ear. It is hard to review Glastonbury, you have to be there really to take in what is a truly unique vibe which just isn’t present at other festivals, and there’s so much to it, the music is really just part of the experience.
The God’s smiled on Michael Eavis this time. I would put money on it selling out within a few hours next year. It’s still the king. Roll on 2009!”