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Review - Glastonbury 2016
Review - Glastonbury 2016
Tue, 28/06/2016 - 12:12
Published:28 June, 2016
by DAN CARRIER
IT was late on Saturday night and the lights and lasers where playing across the skies above Glastonbury, the sound systems were pumping noise into the ether, and 150,000-odd people were partying.
But in a quiet cafe set away from the chaos as the festival was reaching its climax, Madness front man Suggs was enjoying a cold pint of beer with his family – and watching the human maelstrom from a civilised distance. Pictured below, Suggs.
Madness had been a Saturday highlight, taking their 'heavy, heavy monster sound' to the Pyramid stage at 5.30 in the evening, and acting as the perfect antidote to the fatigue that always kicks in at this stage in the Glastonbury proceedings.
Speaking to the Review, the singer expressed his joy to have been able to turn 50,000 Glasto-goers into Nutty Boys, the squelchy conditions underfoot not stopping anyone from giving it some 'old moonstompin'', as he sang.
“It's been a pleasure,” he said.
“In fact, more than a pleasure - it has been a proper privilege: we understand how massively fortunate we are that after all these years we are still doing gigs like this.” He looked wistfully over the fields towards the stage where Camden Town's original Ska crew had pleased old fans and made a whole raft of new ones who were mere twinkles in eyes when Suggs and Co wrote the massive hits that entertained.
“I'd been planning to head back to the Pyramid to catch Adele,” he said to me as he drained his beer and went to order a fresh one. “But I had already walked 12 miles by lunch time today, so we decided we'd listen to her from a comfortable distance.”
And even with the VIP wristbands snaking up his arm, Suggs would have found it heavy going getting anywhere near the stage to to catch a glimpse of the Tottenham singer. And what a gig she gave her fans: as she strode out front, she was greeted by a welcome that shows just how much Adele has been taken to the nations hearts. Rattling through tunes such as Hello, One and Only and Rumour Has It and indulging in between-song banter that had the timing of a seasoned comic, this home grown talent, given the spot that has in recent years been handed over to global stars such as Kayne West and the Rolling Stones, gave the vast, vast crowd the perfect sing-a-long Saturday night experience.
Her cute demeanour and her ability to create a relationship with such vast numbers of people as if she were singing to each person individually underlined the sense that this super-smiley singer is the purveyor of a common lingua franca for a younger generation in the same way Suggs and Co have been for their parents.
The other Pyramid stage highlight came from an unlikely source, but with the dark political atmosphere seeping in from the real world, it felt like a pick-you-up. the chart topping NHS Choir from the Lewisham and Greenwich Trust has been first on at the start of Saturday and like Adele felt a beautiful and moving advert for what is genuinely great about Britain.
Squelching across a couple of fields to the John Peel stage , Underworld put together an electronic set that said 'the LP isn't dead, after all' – this was a performance riddled with nuances, paying its respects to the days when bands created a set of tunes that all were inter linked to each other. Underworld cocked their noses up at the modern culture of songs being something you can buy individually and not set them in a context of what was before and what comes after. The Peel stage also featured Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim. His Big Beat style of Dj'ing can be fairly described as dance music for people who don;t like dancing. He still has the annoying habit of not mixing his tunes properly, so when one ends he can throw his hands in the air and milk the whoops and cheers as if he has played every instrument on each tune himself. But if you are going to see Mr FB Slim, you'll be prepared for these nuances. The basic attraction of Cook is he has a catalogue of music that simply feels like a fun selection of well known and great tunes. He is the human equivalent of an I-Pod on shuffle.
Heading to the always characterful West Holts stage, Kentish Town's Michael Kiwanuka's deep soully voice stood out as particularly soothing on a Sunday afternoon- as did Ronnie Spector singing Be My Baby and Ernest Ranglin playing his jazzy ska, both at The Park stage. For those who wanted some synthy classics, t on The Other Stage reminded of their incredible back catalogue,. A special mention should also go out to the production team at the Blues Stage. Featuring the likes of Ms Dynamite, Mungo's Hi Fi, Stefflon Don and DJ Queen Bee, it provided a great mix of roots-y reggae with Grime elements thrown in, all taking place on a brilliant Wild West meets Blade Runner art installation that the bands played on. If there was a criticism, conditions under foot were utterly treacherous, making it impossible to come anywhere close to dancing.
But while with the big acts you know what to expect, Glastonbury is about exploring and finding new music to take home with you. Perhaps the best example of this was provided by Aniela Zaba, the brains behind the Starf*ckers area in the awesomely weird and super enjoyable Shangri-La field: As the head honcho at a firm called Creative Brain, she created a fabulously hedonistic atmosphere and was packed with joyous crowds throughout: it looked amazing and I now know what you get for your cash if you spend £150 on glitter. The same goes for Jagz Acid Lounge, which had perhaps the finest sound system and a crew of Djs who didn't put a foot wrong. Jagz Kooners set did not disappoint with a healthy head count of classic remixes, while guests such as Lily Allen and Eddie Temple Morris also rocked.
Elsewhere, the Babylon Uprising tent, a non descript piece of army canvas nestling on the corner of Left Field and West Holts, was its usual kicking self: the DJs play from the prow of a boat and pump out the most delicious drum and bass you'll hear all weekend. Every June it's a personal highlight and this year was no exception, with Murder He wrote and the Groove yard Djs playing brilliant, bonkers music.
Taking it down a notch was Neneh Cherry's daughter Mabel, who took over the Pussy Parlure early Saturday evening and cranked up the soul and R n B: In the Glade, I was thrilled to stumble across Dreadzone with their trip-hoppy reggae, followed by the explosive energy of the Stereo MCs. They may have aged since I saw them at Glastonbury In 1994, but their tunes haven't. Nor, to be truthful, has the 81-year-old Lee Scratch Perry. The reggae producer chattered nonsense as he skilfully worked his way through the Sly and Robbie basslines and drum beats that he has re-mixed a million different ways on the Gully stage.
Another gully highlight was the singer Natty, who made the late afternoon sun come out on Friday with his rapid-fire staccato chanting and wailing, preaching lyrics.
While the Brexit news dampened spirits – the snatched conversations wafting through the tents was one of uncomprehension as to what was really going on in the real world – the fraught conditions also played a part in shaping the general atmosphere. While the weather was fairly decent – beautiful sunsets and Macbeth-style deep dark rain clouds were the order of the day – the conditions under foot made it heavy going. However, veterans know when the mud makes trekking from one side of the farm to the other a trial of Everest like proportions, its wise to simply head for the driest place you can find and let the festival come to you.
The Green Fields – always the most civilised part – had the usual side shows such as the incredible DJ Seoris Graham playing all night in the Ancient Futures tent – an absolute barnstormer of a gig, and a must-do next year - catching Sir David Attenborough speak about climate change, watch blacksmiths, stone carvers and drum makers show off their crafts, then check out Bristols celebrated signer conger, the Undercover Hippy, rock a furiously ecstatic crowd in the Small World tent.
Glastonbury means many things to many people: the chance for youngsters to dance all night, for old rockers to catch the likes of ZZ Top, for the politically aware to recharge their revolutionary batteries and for every one in between to drink beers for breakfast.
Rain, shine – Glastonbury, as ever, has shown why it is still the best annual celebration of the popular arts and contemporary culture on offer.
Above: Ellie Goulding
Above: ZZ Top
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