Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day 104: Glastonbury Saturday

Today's highlight: The Gaslight Anthem

Oh dear. Mobile phone problems this morning. The 'doss everything in your sleeping bag' solution to tent theft is fine, until you fall asleep on top of your phone, fully draining the battery in the process. The degree of charge loss was so great it proved impossible to kick-start back into action for the rest of the festival!

Never mind. Raging thirst this morning soon put right by a pint of orange juice and a coffee, followed by some kedgeree from the Goan Fish curry stall. Stomach suitably lined, it was back to the campsite to prepare for the day's activities.

First off, it was down to the front of the Pyramid for a trio of fun bands.

Firstly, Tinariwen. This group of nomadic Touaregs play a smooth blend of desert-infused rock, played on a mix of traditional and Western instruments. Their natural home is the Jazz World stage, and they looked a bit lost on the Pyramid, although the blazing hot early afternoon sun fitted perfectly with the origins of their music. The rain of Friday morning seemed a distant memory as we frazzled in the heat. Two years ago, I'd missed Tinariwen through a combination of fatigue and bad timing, so it was good to see them this year.

So from the sublime to the (deliberately) ridiculous. The Eagles of Death Metal are a real good-time band, with a touch of the cartoon and with tongue firmly wedged in cheek. We'd seen them a couple of years ago supporting Foo Fighters in Manchester, and they didn't disappoint today, working the crowd well, striking all the right poses and playing a succession of rockin' good numbers. They're not The Eagles, and they don't play Death Metal, but my, they are good fun.

Up next - Spinal Tap. Not a real group (but you knew that, didn't you?), they still came on and rocked the house. All the 'hits', special guests (Jamie Cullum and Jarvis Cocker), audience members shaking their booty during 'Big Bottom' ("your body fits me like a flesh tuxedo, I'd like to sink you with my pink torpedo") and an inflatable triptych (and dancing dwarves!) during Stonehenge. What's not to like?

Off next to the John Peel tent, stopping off only for posh hot dogs (regular hot dog for The Boy, Polish gourmet shit for me) on the way. Off to see The Gaslight Anthem, possibly the highlight of the whole festival for me. I was aware of the group, having downloaded their album from eMusic a couple of months ago on the back of some rave reviews, and a fine band they are in the studio. Live though, they were a completely different proposition - and in a good way. Tight as a gnat's chuff, all the stage presence you could want and some rattlin' good tunes to boot. Brilliant. And to cap it all, a special guest. On one of the smaller stages at the festival, accompanying his fellow New Jerseyites, we got Bruce Springsteen playing along to The '59 Sound. Cue absolute mayhem! A great 'Glastonbury Moment' and great to see The Boss enjoying the occasion as much as the band (and the crowd). Could Bruce himself top the moment later?

Back to the campsite, listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash in the distance. Very pleasant, but I was still buzzing from The Gaslight Anthem to pay too much attention. The kids all disappeared to watch Kasabian close up, whilst I decided to recharge before going to see The Boss.

And fell asleep.

Woke up having missed the bulk of Kasabian, but in plenty of time to get down close for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Found a reasonable spot and waited for the fun to start. And it was.....good, probably better than good, but not transcendental - not a real Glastonbury moment for me. Firstly, where I was stood, the sound was awful - far too much bass, far too little guitar. Secondly, Bruce misjudged the crowd. This was a festival crowd, not a 'Bruce' crowd, and it needed more crowdpleasers, earlier in the set. Now that's not to say there weren't some wonderful moments, and Bruce worked as hard as he always does, but there's no doubt he got the pacing wrong. Still, great versions of Thunder Road, The River and No Surrender (this time with The Gaslight Anthem guesting with Bruce) meant there were still plenty of memorable moments to cherish.

But it could have been sooo much better.....

Back at the campsite, the kids were back, and just a trifle giddy. Now I could have left them to it and quietly gone to bed (as every fibre in my body was crying out for me to do) or I could stay up and join them in a drink or two.

What was it to be?

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