Glastonbury 2008

Words: Mithrandir

Thursday 26 June

Well, it was due to extreme excitement that I was able to rouse myself from a lovely sleep at 4am to get the red-eye plane to Bristol this morning. A quick cab ride from the airport to Mr Campervan, a briefing of the do’s (empty the chemical loo) and the don’ts (break the loo door – D’Oh!)  of campervan rental. Paulo took the helm with his captain’s hat and we made a bee line for Asda. What a sight Asda was. We loaded up the van with all the essentials: beer, beer, some beer, some crisps and a wee tent for £7. This tent was to be the west wing of Campervan Mullen for the weekend, handy for wellies, jackets and general mud items.

Following an epic journey of about eight hours, which should normally have taken about an hour and a half, we arrived at Campervan central. There had been much confusion about tickets, van passes and also a junk yard fire that closed roads, causing mayhem amongst the festival staff. Of course, as soon as we arrived, the heavens opened up and the skies didn’t really clear until about 2 am.

Bravely, we donned our rain gear and wellies and trudged to the arena. The initial impression was like a scene from Platoon. It did get better as we strolled into the Solidarity bar and began our sampling of the wonderfully named Otter Bitter and Wherry Ale. There wasn’t a whole lot of music at this point so we decided to return to Casa Fiat Benimar for a good night’s kip.

Friday 27 June

Friday dawned dull and damp but most of the jackets had dried out, so out we went. We had a good stroll around, checking out the stalls and eateries, the favourite of which had to be the Pie Minister! Unlike the usual festivals in Ireland, the punters can bring as much drink in with them to the actual arena as they want. We of course, took full advantage, using backpacks laden with Boddingtons, Kronenborg and Carlsberg. I mean we were on holiday after all! We caught a little bit of Kate Nash and then the Dublin Band the Flaws. During this time we got a feel for the place and discovered which tents and stages were likely to be the best to hit. The Other Stage and the John Peel stage were the two that I found most bands I wanted to see would be playing on. I would have liked to venture up to the Park Stage but it just never happened.

Kate Nash – Nice cockney story telling tunes.
The Flaws – Good Dublin guitar band, who did a cheeky Editors cover.
Foals – Math Rock from England.
We Are Scientists – Brilliant tunes and interesting mid-song banter.
Young Knives – Excellent band, atrocious sound.
Ben Folds – The disappointment of the weekend. Some yoke from the Dresden Dolls came out and spoiled everything. We walked away in disgust. Truly awful. He should be ashamed of himself. (He does, of course, have a chance to redeem himself)!
Vampire Weekend – The heavens opened up and it didn’t matter once Mansard Roof came on.
Kings Of Leon – A truly great band. They barrelled through the tunes and showcased some newbies too.
Editors – One of the highlights. An amazing set. Nothing but the fast ones. The guitar riff from ‘Escape The Nest’ will live with me forever!

Saturday 28 June / Sunday 29 June

Saturday and Sunday’s weather was glorious in comparison to the previous two days. We had to wear hats and shades but there was no need for wellies. Moshing in wellies is tough on the calves and to be rid of them allowed lots more movement both upwards and sideways!

Gigs (Saturday):
The Black Kids – I didn’t know much about them but shall be getting the album, quite good.
Wombats – Brilliant scouse band. We caught about 20 minutes. Excellent stage.
Neon Neon – Mr Gruf and his Techno bleep friends. Spent most of the performance on a deck chair. Har Mar Superstar stole the show with his head stand singing.
Raconteurs – A masterclass in guitarmanship.
Band of Horses – Another highlight. They packed John Peel tent and I sang my heart out.
Futureheads – The Northern Englanders played a blinder. Paulo gave it socks as usual and received compliments on his exuberance from some of the crowd!
Massive Attack – A surprise, to be honest, considering the last time I saw them they were a bit dour and dreary. But one hell of a show with Zoo TV-esque propaganda screens. Plus, they had lasers.

Gigs (Sunday):
Black Mountain – Rumbling mammoth guitar rawk, with female vocals and an ‘Echoes’ era Floyd vibe.
Jape – The wee man from Crumlin did a cheeky 30 minute set, which left everyone wanting more.
Elbow – Ah, Elbow. The band of the moment. They did an intimate gig in the Q tent. Mirrorball-tastic.
Goldfrapp – Not usually my cuppa but a good set with pole dancing wolves!?
Stars – Canadian collective with ties to Broken Social Scene.  I really liked this.
Bluetones – Ah, they never let you down.
The National – Closed the festival and they just keep getting better and better.  Mad violinist.

Passing glimpses – Gilbert O’Sullivan (quite good). Fratellis (muck). Newton Faulkoner (surprisingly good). Jack Penate (my head was possibly a bit mush for this one)!

There were only had two celebrity moments. The first was when we were walking along and one of the Futureheads walked by us but we couldn’t think of his name or which instrument he played, so we couldn’t ask him to come back. We also saw Edith Bowman pass by in a car.

Over the weekend I got to see many, many bands. Of the ones I missed I think I’d like to have seen Leonard Cohen and The Last of the Shadow Puppets but I’m more than happy with my tally. Especially as we were talking to an Irish guy who apparently had only seen four bands – yep four!!!

Campervanning is definitely the way to go when the weather is as changeable. It’s a bit on the pricey side but well worth it. I would go for a slightly bigger van next time and one with heavy duty bathroom door hinges! But other than that it was fine.

While some people said the line up wasn’t the best, I didn’t agree. It had all the elements that I like and there were very few clashes. Glastonbury is really about the vibe and to be honest it didn’t disappoint. It’s like no gig or festival I’ve ever been to. There is no tension, aggro, hassle or trouble. There are genuinely friendly people there for the music, sights, sounds and tastes.

I am 100% definitely going back. Maybe 2010…

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