Saturday, 29 June 2013

Glastonbury Festival 1


'What a scummy man...' The Arctics show Glastonbury how it's done.
(Image: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)














Glastonbury Festival 2013, 28-30 June


An out of touch middle-aged man dips his toe in the waters of modern popular music.

I’ve been to Glastonbury. Well, to be strictly accurate I’ve watched the first day’s musical offerings on a combination of BBC2 and BBC3. As a 49 year-old man who, these days, doesn’t know his One Direction from his Palma Violets, below are my impressions of 2013’s pop landscape from the reassuring comfort of the Fairclough Towers living room.    
RITA ORA. I have no idea who she is or how many albums she’s done. Great voice, even if she has a soft metal backing band. Overall: hmm. Reminded of Pink and Avril Lavigne.
JAKE BUGG. More like it. Distinctive, soulful voice and Mr Bugg can hold the attention of a Pyramid Stage audience with only an acoustic guitar and songs to fall in and out of love to.
LUMINEERS. A bit of Mumford and Sons with a dash of Arcade Fire. Fun. Can really get a crowd going.
PROFESSOR GREEN. More soft metal, this time with samples and rapping. The moral here, Mr Green, is never employ a back up singer who’s better than you are. I have to say, the call-and-response stuff gets a bit wearing – ‘Glastonbury, make some noooooooooise!!!’ – but it’s probably more fun if you’re there and off your face.
SOLANGE. Another female singer, colourful personality and colourful clothes. The sort of thing I’d jig along to on the day but never actively listen to again. Good pop, though.
BASTILLE. Indie reggae, anyone? So far, the only act that don’t sound like something else that’s been done better. Verging on Muse, but I prefer this lot. Plus points for a song about Twin Peaks.
RIZZLE KICKS. Funny and infectious. Remind me of a 2-Tone band. The two singers are all over the stage and the other members of the band, covering the trumpet player’s head with a t-shirt. On the strength of ‘Mama Do the Hump’, the one song shown, I’d buy the album and go and see them.
DIZZEE RASCAL. Rap has never done it for me, I’m afraid, but just as I was thinking Mr Rascal would be better off in a smaller, sweaty indoor venue, he suddenly becomes a convincing stadium act on ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’. He really soars when it gets dark, helped by a good light show and a virtual duet with Robbie Williams.
DAUGHTER (acoustic). Shades of Cowboy Junkies and the Cocteau Twins. Clever and dark lyrics: ‘If you’re in love you’re the lucky one/As most of us are bitter about someone.’ As the BBC3 presenter pointed out, Daughter could be Your New Favourite Band.
MILES KANE. The new Weller. Sharp mod stylings and a Union Flag tunic. Love it. I’d buy the album (albums?). He looks like a star already.
Over to BBC2 and the presenting duo for grown ups, Mark Radcliffe and Lauren Laverne. Oh, Lauren. If only things had been different…
JOHN NEWMAN (acoustic). Vocally, a bit Roland Gift. Soulful. Next.
PALMA VIOLETS. Dirty guitar riffs, rowdy, but the feeling nags that they’ll be forgotten in a year’s time. Lauren: ‘They play it punk but the drummer’s obsessed with Abba.’
CHIC featuring NILE RODGERS. Immaculately dressed in white and so tight, they know how to put on a show, evidenced by the synchronised swaying of the brass section. Sadly, only one song, ‘Everybody Dance’, which Stuart Maconie described as ‘like pop music having a dream about itself.’ I wish I’d thought
of that.
ARCTIC MONKEYS. At last, a band I own CDs of. From the scruffy indie kids of
‘I Bet You look good on the Dance Floor’, they now behave like stars, though I’m slightly confused when it looks for a moment as if Alex Turner’s been replaced by David Tennant. The Monkeys belong to one of my favourite traditions in British popular music, the lineage of Weller, Elvis Costello, Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker, in whose hands twisted human dramas are writ large for guitar and drums. If you will, Arctic Monkeys are now the anti-U2.
Sartorially, all of them have made what my Mum calls ‘an effort’ with no leisurewear to be seen, unlike earlier in the day. It’s pure class when Alex stops to comb his hair and full marks to the rhythm guitarist for wearing a three piece. Like the unusual but confident front man Turner now is, he’s relaxed enough to tease the audience with a snatch of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ and, with the spectators in the palm of his hand, get them to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his Mum, Penny. At the end of a furious, perfectly paced set, Miles Kane was back for the last song ‘505’ and then the Arctics were gone, job done. As Mr Radcliffe astutely remarked, ‘[I’ve] rarely seen such mastery of the main stage.’ Class.
PORTISHEAD. More leisurewear, but forgivable because it’s Portishead. You couldn’t get two more contrasting headliners than the Bristolians and Arctic Monkeys, with Portishead’s spectral soundscapes calling to mind an electronic Velvet Underground and Nico. It’s late night music, which is appropriate as it’s now gone 12am.
K.T. TUNSTALL (acoustic). Pleasant enough, but I’m tired now.
THE HORRORS. Time for bed.
FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE DAY: When DJ Jo Whiley asked Alex Turner if his Mum was really there when the crowd sang ‘Happy Birthday’, he replied that if she hadn’t been ‘it would have been a weird lie.’

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