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Glastonbury Review 2013

Jo Waddington lets us in on her experience at this year's Glastonbury Festival.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 11th Jul 2013

Wednesday the 26th June saw Worthy Farm open its gates to the public for the 42nd Glastonbury Festival. Thousands upon thousands arrive in droves to brave whatever nature’s elements may throw at them just to be part of the greatest musical celebration of the year.

The journey to the Glastonbury festival site is a regular labour of love for many, especially as the main event doesn’t kick off until the Friday. The option to have those few days to settle into camp and familiarise with surroundings seemed to appeal to more people than ever this time round and the festival felt like it was already in full swing by Wednesday afternoon.

Glastonbury has something for everyone, and we are not just talking about the musical atmosphere here. Aside for providing Tipi’s, Yurts, Pods and Campervans for the camper looking for a more luxurious experience, there are so many areas for so many different plethora’s of people. There is the opportunity to experience the weird, wonderful, wacky and wild dimensions that only Glastonbury could ever offer.

Areas including the likes of the Green Fields where you can immerse yourself in poetry and performance; have a massage in the Healing Field or escape from the festivities and enjoy the quiet of the King’s Meadow. Shangri-La bring a bizarre yet brilliant film-set world to life. Arcadia has the intense laser light shows which house world class DJ’s in a mechanical 30ft spider. Radical set design duo Block9 once again bring amazing set design paired with an electro-music arena and there is even the Kidz Field where the extraordinary world of wonder and magic awaits even the smallest of festival goer – and this is only a taster of what you will find within the acres of idyllic picturesque countryside that Worthy Farm boasts.

The festival is famous for its special guests and collaborations and this year was no exception. Despite main acts not scheduled until the Friday, warm up events over the course of the first two days included high energy sets from Alt-J and Django Django at the launch of the new Williams Green area and surprise guest in the form of a Mr Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) at Avalon in the very early hours of Friday morning.

Friday

After a warm Wednesday and soggy Thursday, Friday is finally upon us. As tents are pitched and the cider is in full flow, the air fills with that familiar festival smell – green grass, moist earth, burnt out campfires and the fusion of the various food stalls on offer. Atmosphere is rife as noise engulfs the festival site; from the clatter of pots and pans, zips closing and opening tents, feedback from the main stages and the repetitive slamming of the metal toilet doors. Day 1 has begun and it is time for people to head to their chosen stage to see the opening act.

Speculation had been rife about who was opening the Other Stage as there seemed to be no indication in the festival programme. Word quickly spread via announcements on Twitter that it was Liam Gallagher’s band Beady Eye. Maintaining his egotistical front-man persona, Liam occasionally heckled and indulged in banter with the crowd in-between tracks from the bands first album 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' and new offering 'BE', but it was when he treated fans to a couple of Oasis moments that he really secured his rapturous applause. 'What’s the Story Morning Glory?' being the highlight of the set.

Over at the Pyramid Stage, masses had congregated to witness Haim making their debut at Glastonbury. Although they looked a little nervous to begin with, particularly singer Danielle, these LA sisters tore up the main stage with a riff-heavy set of pop-rock hits-to-be, and filled the space with an excellent display of stadium-like showmanship. "This is the best moment of my life," beamed bassist Este.

Hit record 'Falling' didn't disappoint when played live and the girls were highly rewarded by crowd gratification when leaving the stage. This was the bands first appearance of many over the weekend as they fulfilled sets over various stages at the festival site including The Park. There were also many special appearances by the girls as they joined a number of artists onstage, including backing vocals for Primal Scream at the Pyramid on Saturday night.

Jake Bugg proved himself worthy of his position on the main stage by delivering his set to an incredibly high standard. It would be easy for such a new, young solo artist to be swallowed up by the enormity of the task ahead, however Bugg commanded the crowd and owned the stage. Remnant of an early Dylan, Buggs gritty-bluesy rock n roll tones captured the masses as he performed hits such as 'Seen It All', 'Lightning Bolt' and a cover of Niel Diamonds 'Hey Hey My My'.

Throughout the course of the day, many acts delivered stellar performances around the festival. Rita Ora injected a high-energy pop burst to the Pyramid crowd, The Lumineers captured hearts round the Other Stage with their jingly-jangly folk rock, Miles Kane blew the roof off the John Peel tent and SBTRKT kept the dance heads happy over at Silver Hayes (the newly named Dance Village).

As late evening arrived, Dizzee Rascal set the standard high over at the main stage. Having fun with the audience and performing hits such as 'Holiday' and 'Dance with Me', he invited Aluna from AlunaGeorge fame, to join him onstage for his version of Disclosure's 'White Noise'. The final offering of his set was hit record 'Bonkers' where we saw Dizzie whipping the crowd into a frenzy, teasing them with lyrics, dropping the heaviest of bass-lines and throwing himself into the crowd on various occasions to really soak up the festival experience himself.

Fridays headliners included the likes of The Horrors, Portishead and Crystal Castles, but the overall headliner at the Pyramid stage came in the guise of a couple of Northerners known as the Arctic Monkeys.

As the stage lights were dimmed, the night was dark and there was a moist chill in the air. An almost eerie-excitement filled the field; anticipation in the crowd was high. Everyone eagerly awaited the Monkeys arrival on stage. Then it happens.

Piling straight into the bluesy electronic throbs of new single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ in a sharp striped suit and teddy quiff, throwing the occasional beckoning motion, frontman Alex Turner immediately encapsulates the crowd. From the off we know this is going to be something special. 

The production of the show is faultless. From the lasers, powerful lighting and the cool simplicity of the arty screen projections it's a far cry from their debut appearance at Glastonbury in 2007. Their growth as a band had never been more evident than what it is tonight, and their LA living & recent collaborations with the likes of QOTSA's Josh Homme has transformed the band into something untouchable.

After playing a number of new tracks from the forthcoming album we are treated to some Arctic Monkeys back catalogue. A hypercharged 'Teddy Picker' from their second album 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' merges seamlessly into the sultry carnival slink of 'Crying Lightning', with its dark and demonic mood swings. 'Brianstorm' and 'Dancing Shoes' sets the pace and a lean, mean Fake Tales of San Francisco' sends the crowd into paroxysms.

They think its all over when Turner announces that the band are going to "leave you with this one - like we always used to in the old days" and fires up ‘A Certain Romance’ and the crowd are left wondering whether or not the band would do an encore. After a period of time that went as slowly as you could imagine, the band returned with a few more hits including an enchanting orchestral version of 'Mardy Bum'. 

After coaxing the crowd into a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' for his mother, Penny, Turner declares that "in order to finish things off properly we need a little help from our friend...a hero's welcome for Miles Kane" and with that the band kick into the haunting '505'.

As the stage lights are dimmed once again and people disperse from the Pyramid field to continue partying into the early hours, it's safe to say the Arctic Monkeys really set the bar for the weekends proceedings and earned their well deserved Glastonbury stripes.

Saturday

As the sun rose on Saturday, so did the the bleary eyed yet happy campers. Today was pretty much the day that the majority had been waiting for. The band that festival organiser Michael Eavis had spent his entire Glastonbury lifetime so far trying to pin-down to a headline slot - The Rolling Stones. Despite their set not being until 9.30pm it was impossible not to hear one of their records being blasted out from the various stages in between artists or from the various stalls, food vendors and ice-cream vans that you walked by.

The Staves, The 1975 and Glastonbury regular Billy Bragg were among the many opening acts on Saturday. Laura Mvula made her first appearance of the weekend on the Pyramid stage. Her mesmerising tones and intricate sound complimented the pure bliss of the afternoon. As the sun was shining brightly and the heat penetrated in the clear blue sky, the atmosphere was almost heavenly, as if time had stood still and the world outside the Glastonbury gates didn't exist. Mvula's rendition of reggae legend Beres Hammonds 'One Love' was perfectly timed. 

Azealia Banks threw all caution to the wind and went wild on the Other Stage through a series of booming, bass-heavy, rave-infected tracks remnant of the current New York dance scene and showing the crowd just how fierce she is. Psychedelic Rock formation Toy proved they were not a band to be played with as they wowed crowds at John Peel with hypnotising guitar riffs combined with the languid vocals of Tom Dougall to create a re-imagining of post-rock for 2013.

Also, Ben Howard lived up to the hype and critical acclaim in his live set. His bristling version of 'Only Love' had people hugging and swaying while his powerful rendition of 'Keep Your Head Up' seemed to immerse the audience who seemed taken aback by what a talented performer he was. At one point he braved the less than hygienic crowd by heading right into the middle of the Pyramid field with his guitar. By the look on his face it was no secret that this was indeed a highlight of his career and a moment that would stay with him for many years to come.

Elsewhere around the site, Savages revved up a scratchy, jittery UK post-punk storm, AlunaGeorge continued their current wave of success with a faultless beat dropping dance offering, Rudimental sent the crowds crazy with their perfectly apt summer dance vibe and brother/sister talents Rufus & Martha Wainwright kept to their haunting, spine-tingling best and performed together at Williams Green.

Over at West Holts, Maverick Sabre had the rough end of the deal when members of the band had to play an entire set without the backing of the full band, however they managed to keep it together and engage the crowd with a series of acoustic version of their hits with some brilliant covers thrown in for good measure including Oasis and the Isley Brothers classic 'Summer Breeze'.

Over at the Pyramid Stage, it was time to rev things up a bit in time for the main headliners. Who better to get a crowd of rock hungry revelers riled up than the one and only Primal Scream. Wearing a tailored neon pink toned suit, front man Bobby Gillespie was ready to give Jagger himself a run for his money. Beginning the set with hoedown Country Girl and giving way to Movin' On Up, Scream have all the hits up their sleeve. LA female trio Haim also join the band onstage to do backing vocals for 'Rocks'.

It's almost Stones time. 

As masses of people gather at the Pyramid stage, it's questionable why any other artist is even scheduled elsewhere during this spot as it seems every person imaginable is gathered for this momentous occasion. As space in the field grows tight, people are forced to watch from the surrounding campsites, huddle on the paths and climb on top of anything around them just to get a view of this momentous occasion. Finally, the Stones appear with opening number 'Jumpin Jack Flash'. "After all these years, they finally got around to asking us. Thank you, Michael," the sparkly Mick Jagger jokes, before pretty much using the next two hours and a quarter as a lesson in how to be a frontman. No special guest required, either - this is the Stones well and truly.

Crowd Reaction to Rolling Stones:

Jagger works the stage with as much vigor as he did in his hey day, the audience is eating out of his hands and he looks like he's reliving his finest moments. He then picks up an acoustic for 'Glastonbury Girl' (usually 'Factory Girl') and launches a mechanical phoenix atop the stage which bursts out fire in a rocking show for 'Sympathy For The Devil'. 

'Start Me Up' throws the crowd into an oblivion then 'Brown Sugar' is seemingly the final song of the set, however we have been coming to these festivals enough to know that Mick is only toying with us, and after a short break (if only for us all to regain some form of composure) the lights flash onstage as an angelic choir chorus the opening of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'. Final offering of the night could be no other than '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". An epic finale for a world class set. The Stones were simply exquisite tonight and this feels like a real moment in history, let alone music.

Sunday

It's Sunday, the final day of the festival. Campsites are already looking sparse as many decide on the sensible option of clearing away, packing up the cars and preparing to leave this evening. It feels much more calmer and tranquil compared to the previous days at Glastonbury. Excitement doesn't seem to be the key indicator driving people through the day, but mainly an air of sadness and disappointment that this time tomorrow it will be back to reality. As people cling on to that final day, the line-up reflects the mellowed down theme of the day. 

First Aid Kit kicked off the final day on the Pyramid Stage. The Swedish folk sisters performed new songs as well as covers of Bob Dylan's 'One More Cup Of Coffee' and 'America' by Simon & Garfunkel. At the John Peel stage, Jessie Ware played a perfect set of pure sophistication. Her fun, playful demeanor came across exceedingly well as she interacted with the crowd and even performed 'Sweet Talk' for a poor unbeknown security guard at the front of the stage.

As for the music, she and her three-piece backing band are generally without fault; the tight rhythm section and noodly guitars create the live jam-type session that onlookers thrive on at such events which is captivating. The biggest response from the crowd is for the emotionally-charged 'Wildest Moments'.

Kenny Rogers pulled in the biggest crowd of the afternoon. The twinkly-eyed gent wooed ladies of all ages with hits 'The Gambler', 'Lucille' and 'Islands in The Stream'. What could top that for an encore? Well why not just play ‘The Gambler’ and ‘Lucille’ again? A lovely masterstroke that leaves smiles on tens of thousands of happy faces.

As the sun moves from east to west, Vampire Weekend continue the feel good factor by taking to the stage and presenting us with those West African, synth pop beats that they do oh so well. Segueing into 'Oxford Comma' the group keep up the jigs and welcome the smiles, clearly enjoying their time back at Worthy Farm. A rainbow of rhythms and upbeat melodies transgress. 'Cousins' is warm, inviting and feels the benefits from that warm Sunday air. 'A-Punk' is the highlight though which re-energises the masses and gain them rapturous cheers.

A strange choice in Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to follow on from the mood Vampire Weekend have created and is a rather questionable warm up act for Sunday headliners Mumford & Sons. But all the same Cave is a Glasto regular and for each person who is rolling their eyes at his dark, moody and chilling performance, there is another person cheering, singing and getting lost in his haunting lyricism.

While the crowds are seemingly in a transition of limbo at the Pyramid, over at West Holts, sixty-nine year old soul legend Bobby Womack takes to the stage and proves he's still got it. With special guest appearances from Damon Albarn and Womack's incredibly talented daughter, Gina. The first part of his set was purely the influences of his latest album, however the latter half was quickly turned into an old skool funk party when he returned to the stage clad in red and black leather playing all the greatest hits.

Back over at the Pyramid Stage and Mumford and Sons look incredibly comfortable headlining the final night of this memorable year. Having played every Glastonbury since they formed in 2007, it's safe to say that they are proud as punch with themselves to be awarded this prestigious slot. The stage production is second to none as the lights pulsate and rhythmically tie themselves in with every Mumford ditty.

Despite this set being a milestone in their career, it's the fact that member Ted Dwayne is playing his first gig since his bout of brain surgery which transforms an outstanding performance into a celebration for the band. A watery eyed, emotional Ted thanks the crowd as they incessantly chant his name and show just how hapy they are that he pulled through and is here to share this glorious moment. 

Fans held candles aloft and set of flares as the night set in, with the band’s country-style tunes giving rise to impromptu hoe downs as they played hits like 'Little Lion Man' and I' Will Wait'. The band squeezed in all the hits into their slot, which begged the question of what they would finish with for the final night encore. How could they end their performance on even more of a high? No sooner as the question began pondering people's minds, the band returned to the stage with Marcus Mumford announcing that some friends would join them onstage.

Joined on stage by Vampire Weekend, The Vaccines and female folk singers First Aid Kit and The Staves, the final song of the evening was a magnificent rendition of The Beatles classic 'A Little Help From My Friends'. As each person stretched out their arms around the person next to them, swayed and sang the words in unison, there seemed to be no other fitting finale.

Mumford & Sons & Friends - Help From My Friends

As the song states, we all "get by with a little help" from our friends, and we all "need somebody to love" and everybody at Glastonbury 2013 found friendship and love in some shape or form.

For many people this weekend was special in so many more ways besides the music. Bonds were formed and friendships had blossomed. Although it was with a heavy heart that it would be soon time to leave, each person took something very special away with them…Memories. Memories that will last a lifetime.
We loved the farm. We left no trace...but we will see you again next year.

Festivals 2020