Sunday, June 24, 2007

Glastonbury: Saturday


With the continued blight of the weather prompting something of an exodus on Sunday afternoon, Tunetourist included, some of us will have to make do with our hazy recollections of Saturday night, until next year. And despite a shaky line-up, Glastonbury still rose to the occasion and delivered the fireworks - quite literally in the case of The Killers' headline set, announced by a spectacular display. It all ended, just as it should, with us wondering what we were doing dancing around behind the Park Stage at 5am.

Earlier in the day, after putting on a performance for the tabloid snappers and riding through the mud on a custom ‘Chopper’ bike, Pete Doherty actually managed to lead Babyshambles through a fairly convincing set. Much better than his appearance here in 2005, he papered over the cracks in their repertoire by milking stronger moments like “Killamangiro” and “Albion”. Lethal Bizzle joined him onstage and the inevitable Kate Moss appeared to cheers from one of the Other Stage’s biggest crowds of the weekend.

Over in the Green Fields tabloid frenzy was replaced by blissed out organic dall and coconut curry, storytelling and CND. At its furthest corner, the Avalon Stage hosted Super Furry Animal, Gruff Rhys’ second of three weekend shows, this time playing solo material with singer, Lisa Jen. Unhindered by the ‘greatest hits’ element of the Furries show on Friday, which kept things earthbound, here he allowed the songs to stretch and swell, tacking lengthy psychedelic outros to “Cycle Of Violence” and “Skylon”. Remarkably, the crowd stayed rapt as "GWN Mi WN" was gradually constructed from sampled beatboxing, vocals, harmonies, percussion and a dazzling array of toy instruments to become a true pocket symphony.

Most of the weekend, the Glade stage has seemed off-bounds, unless you’re a big fan of Dreadzone, Ozric Tentacles and Eat Static (isn’t it time for Glasto to let this stuff go?) But !!!’s Saturday night set was a revelation. On record the New York punk-funkers can be excessively proggy and unfocussed but they’re in their element here, working up increasingly tight grooves and then rolling them out across The Glade. Singer Nic Offer looked like he’d attained some otherworldly state as he strutted around in pervert’s 70s sport shorts, grabbing at himself and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Forget The Killers, the only other man at the festival capable of inciting this kind of anarchic hedonism takes to the Other Stage at 11 o’clock augmented by the Ashton brothers and new bassist, Mike Watt. Iggy Pop’s reformed Stooges are a scary proposition; there’s something unsettling about watching men of this age – remarkably, Iggy is 60 - playing such primal rock’n’roll. But there’s no question they mean it. “1969”, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Fun House” are all dispatched with that economical, dark boogie that is their gift to popular music. Part way into “No Fun” Iggy shouts “I can’t stand this shit anymore! Let them up here.” And the crowd, who’ve been fighting with bouncers to invade the stage throughout the gig, piles on through. In a matter of moments there’s somewhere near 100 people on the stage as they carry on pounding out the track. Iggy thows himself into the crowd below the stage and charges through the field shaking hands and embracing them. When he finally clears his stage to get back up, nothing that follows can quite live up to this glorious moment of rock’n’roll anarchy.

We’re left to wander off into the Pilton night, taking in a set that switches from Country to Gabba to Favela Funk in the silent disco, a great set from Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve at the Stonebridge Bar, poetry readings in a fishing trawler beached in the mud and, finally, that party behind the Park Stage.

At four o’clock on Sunday the final score looks something like this: just two complaints from local residents (down from 13 last year), “close to 10 out of 10” from Mendip Council, 166,000 through the gates, 237 crimes and 1,820 people receiving medical treatment – mostly for slips and trips.

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