As a disclaimer I must say that all the acts I saw at Glastonbury, even the ones that I didn’t think much of, so very obviously put their hearts and souls into performing on, what for many, will be the biggest stage of their careers. Each performance, bar one, was an absolute pleasure because they all contributed, bar one, into making an incredible event out of this world.
I’m only writing a short paragraph on each because I didn’t note down set lists, I observed as a fan and so would like to give you that little bit so you can decide whether to rush out and buy their album, go see them live or forget that they ever existed.
Ledfoot, Bourbon Street stage – http://www.myspace.com/ledfootblues
He could have slipped into the Rolling Stones in appearance and a good old fashioned mastery of the blues. He talked about his ex-wives and children a lot as justification to keep on gigging but you could tell from the way he played that he loved to be on the road. On the cusp of being a real old blues man and if you see his name on a gig listing, worth a punt on a ticket.
Rhythm Waves, Blazing Saddles stage
A lovely Gaelic band who despite a minimal crowd, threw some enchanting little tracks into the sunny skies above Somerset.
Sandi Thom, Bourbon Street stage – http://www.sandithom.com/
I thought I knew what I was going to get. The woman most famous for being born too late and having flowers in her hair pulled off a majestic set in front of a crowd that gradually grew wilder for her. As she played, I watched and knew that I had made a mistake when over-looking this artist in the past. She finished with a haunting rendition of House of the Rising Sun and is most certainly worth the entrance fee (and cost of the new album) when she plays near you.
Metronomy, Pyramid stage – http://www.metronomy.co.uk/
You couldn’t find a much more suitable band to really kick off a glorious festival like Glastonbury. They are tuneful, have incredible beats and they are four very talented young musicians. In the perfect world, there would have been more sun but despite this, they most certainly are the band of the English Rivera. They even cracked out a recorder at one point. A must see for genuine music lovers and to be frank, I’m disappointed in myself that I hadn’t heard much of them before.
Two Door Cinema Club, Pyramid stage – http://twodoorcinemaclub.com/
The lead singer may look like my friend Rosie (and La Roux) but they certainly know how to play a perfectly rehearsed and positively bouncing indie-pop set. They were fun, vibrant but I would love to see them let loose and go wild. I’d certainly see them again and their album is most likely going to be a must for this summer.
The Inbredz, Bandstand – http://www.myspace.com/inbredz
An incredible comedy rap act that I stumbled across while moving between the Pyramid and Other stages. They had everybody in the audience moving despite the rain and a personal highlight was seeing two women who would make my grandmother look young, dancing to a song about masturbation in their sleep. Totally worth seeing if they play near you.
The Vaccines, Other stage – http://www.thevaccines.co.uk/
Much like Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines are a very well rehearsed, and undoubtedly very talented, indie-pop band. Their album is called, ‘What did you expect from The Vaccines?’ I expected what I got and wasn’t disappointed. Another album to carry you through a fun summer time.
Guillemots, Oxleys in the West – http://www.guillemots.com
To me, they have always been one of the best bands playing the live circuit and in a low key acoustic set in a stage in the dance field, they did not let me down. As always emotive and beautiful and despite standing on tiptoes in the rain, they were as always, worth it.
The Wombats, Other stage – http://www.thewombats.co.uk/
The Wombats bands have always been a fun and emotive group who consistently strike a chord with their audiences. They wore all white despite the downpour and they provided some light relief to many who were starting wane. They belted out their hits and played some interesting, if not wholly original new material which seemed to capture the crowd’s imagination. I’d always recommend seeing this band and buying their albums.
Bright Eyes, Other stage – http://www.conoroberst.com/
What can I say? Bright Eyes have produced some of the greatest lyrics ever written and they were sung by enigmatic, if not a tad drunk, front man Conor Oberst, who has an incredibly powerful voice. They were everything and more than I expected and in hindsight, the five years it took for me to see this band seems like nothing compared to the time I will have the memories. Buy their whole back catalogue.
Radiohead, Park stage – http://www.radiohead.com/
If I’m honest, I am not a massive fan but I enjoyed what I watched of their ‘surprise’ (yes, everybody knew and that spoilt it as it was massively overcrowded) show on the park stage. They played their new album from beginning to end by all accounts but the rain drove me off the hill I was perched on to see them, so I cannot confirm this.
Mumford and Sons, Other stage – http://www.mumfordandsons.com/
I cried as I listened because walking in the mud, holding hands with someone you love and listening to some of the greatest folk/pop songs of this generation of London artists, is magical and deserved my happy tears. Their new stuff is sublime and I can’t wait for the next album and they play their old stuff with passion. You can see how much they love what they do and the whole crowd loved them back equally.
U2, Pyramid stage – http://www.u2.com
They played all of their hits, they had a man speak to them from outer space and every move Bono made was captured on the big screen like he was the star of a feature film. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “You never know just quite how many U2 songs you actually know until you’re in a field in the pissing rain dancing and singing to them.” It’s true. They are masters of their craft and all their experience on the big stage showed.
Dr Brian Cox and Robin Ince
I went to a recording of a radio4 show in the cabaret tent that featured the incredibly intelligent and good looking Dr Brian Cox and the comedian Robin Ince, as well as special guests including Billy Bragg and Graham Coxon. They discussed mythical versus rational in regards Glastonbury and they kept a full house entertained for a good hour. It was great value for my time and proved to me that I am a fool for not listening to more radio4.
Yuck, John Peel stage – http://www.myspace.com/yuckband
Although undoubtedly talented, I thought they were trying a bit too hard to look like rock stars. I couldn’t tell if the bassist was awake and the impression was to me and those I spoke to was that they appeared to be acting like they were a main stage band in waiting rather than grasping the opportunity in front of them. Despite that, an excellent band and I’m sure their album will be spectacular.
Jessie J, Other stage – http://jessiejofficial.com/
This ‘artist’ was so awful and seemingly arrogant that I joined the legions who left after one song.
Tinie Tempah, Pyramid stage – http://www.tinietempah.com/
This man rocked the house down. He is one of the most exciting artists that I have seen in a long time. I confess, I did not like his album at first listen but after seeing him perform, I will be giving it another go. He had such vibrancy that he made a good 40,000 bounce at his command. A true star in the making and I hope a headliner one day.
Jimmy Eat World, Other stage – http://www.jimmyeatworld.com/
I think I have the same complaint that everybody does about this band, it can get a bit samey. They were excellent at what they did but I felt they did what they did over and over in a similar fashion. I’d buy the album before I saw them again but as a support act for someone great, they’d do well.
Friendly Fires, Other stage – http://www.wearefriendlyfires.com/
They are a vibrant and skilled indie/electro pop band who performed a set that had everybody (except me who had put my back out a bit and had to sit on a blanket throughout most of the set but not through choice) bouncing. I’d love to see them again when I could be part of the action.
Elbow, Pyramid stage – http://www.elbow.co.uk/
This was a performance that will go down in the history of Glastonbury, Elbow were just incredible. No hyperbole is enough to explain how they made the crowd feel and everybody on site was singing, ‘Pull those curtains wide, a day like this a year will see me right’ for the rest of the festival. You have to see them, you have to buy their albums.
Coldplay, Pyramid stage – http://www.coldplay.com/
They were not what I expected, perhaps because like many I expected a drab, tuneful but otherwise slow performance and I am happy to say I was foolishly wrong. They set the stage on fire and sent out hundreds of giant balloons into a crowd that they had in the palm of their Oxfam key messages scrawled hands.
Louise and the Pins, Avalon stage – http://www.myspace.com/louiseandthepins
This band produced music of such quality and beauty that it is easy to see why people like Martha Wainwright are queuing up to record with them. An unknown quantity too many but they will surely soon be a must have in any music fans record collection. Impeccably dressed and with excellent supporting musicians, this band have to have a massive future otherwise I fear for the music industry. Go see them ASAP.
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, Avalon stage – http://kittydaisyandlewis.com/
A telling point was that the compare announced them as the hottest new band of the year, but I can recall them being around for at least five years. I don’t know whether that is a sign of bad management or bad PR but the band themselves certainly played with experience, verve and in a dynamic fashion not expected of a trio (supported by their parents) in their mid to late teens. All three of the named members were skilled on the whole spectrum of instruments that were on stage and they were a pleasure to watch. A hidden gem who hopefully won’t be hidden much longer.
The Wombles, Avalon stage
Although I only stayed for one song (Remember you’re a womble) this band of children’s entertainers were certainly much more value than some of the other bands at the festival. The butt of a very poor PR gaffe by Michael Eavis, they had a point to prove and they did.
Laura Marling, Pyramid stage – http://www.lauramarling.com/
She is so obviously talented and a song writer beyond her years but I am afraid that her lack of stage presence and big stage experience massively let her down. An excited crowd drifted and sadly many lost interest. She is incredible live and in an environment more suited to her and her albums are masterpieces.
Paul Simon, Pyramid stage – http://www.paulsimon.com/
His set appeared lacklustre throughout and left many disappointed until the last few songs when he played tracks from his Graceland album. I genuinely got the impression he wasn’t that fussed about being there until he came on for an encore to play ‘Call me Al’ and the crowd went wild. He then seemed to perk up and it made you think, why not to a set of crowd pleasers and actually enjoy yourself?
Plan B, Pyramid stage – http://www.time4planb.co.uk/
This is the set that disappointed me most throughout the whole weekend. The stage was too big, his voice showed its frailties and despite insisting on playing his second album front to end, he missed out two tracks to play them as encores and this immediately put the crowds backs up. If you’re doing a narrative performance, don’t move things around. He lacks the experience to dominate a huge stage like Elbow, Coldplay and U2 showed that they could. I would love to see him somewhere more intimate though, to let him prove me wrong.
Pendulum, Pyramid stage – http://www.pendulum.com/
I listened to these guys from my tent that overlooked the pyramid arena and they were absolutely mental. They had some amazing tracks and if my legs hadn’t been keen to drop off at this point, I would have loved to have been down there.
Beyonce, Pyramid stage – http://www.beyonceonline.com/
This girl knocked it OUT OF THE PARK! She did it and she did it in her first song. I was a sceptic and then I was converted. This performance will go down in history as one of the reasons that Glastonbury is what it is. A true surprise, a truly spectacular show and I am so glad that I wasn’t stupid enough to miss it. She was the only way to end a magical festival.
Now I am sure that throughout this I have upset some of you, remember though that these are my opinions and I am sure you have yours. If you write them, I will read them. If you comment I will reply. I have said what I believe and have linked every artist I could find links for so you can discover them for yourselves.
Discovering new music is an amazing thing to do, so pick one of the above and try them.