To Die By Your Side

Thoughts on Glastonbury Festival 2011

July 1st, 2011

So for those of you who didn’t manage to decipher the last posts not so cryptic clue about what music is coming up today, I’ll make it clear now. It’s all about Glastonbury. Although, lets get the disclaimer out of the way, any opinions expressed here are based entirely on what I saw courtesy of the BBC’s coverage because sadly I didn’t go this year. Well I say ‘sadly’ but I’ll be honest, sitting on my comfy sofa in my warm dry house watching the rain soaked, mud splattered revellers braving the elements, I wasn’t exactly desperate to swap places with them. Having said that, there were a few pangs of jealousy come Saturday when the sun decided to show it’s face and Coldplay delivered a masterclass in how to headline a major festival. The only consolation was in reminding myself that no matter how pleasant it looked on the flatscreen, in reality the conditions probably remained far from ideal. Still I think half the experience of going to a festival like Glastonbury is forsaking the luxuries of everyday and just throwing yourself into it. Once you’ve accepted that the rain isn’t gonna stop, you can start to enjoy yourself. Whereas if you’re watching at home, you have to accept that the coverage isn’t gonna be great and that the presenters won’t offer any real critical appraisal beyond how ‘amazing’ or ‘game changing’ everything is. So, this here is my armchair viewers guide to a few of the things I saw on TV at Glastonbury Festival 2011.

I guess before we go any further, I should probably say that I don’t have much opinion on U2. I’m neither a fan nor a hater. Yes Bono annoys me occasionally but not to the extent that I’m blind to the fact that they have some decent tunes. All of which is my way of saying that my thoughts on their performance aren’t biased by an existing hatred. The truth is I thought they were simply okay. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t know if it was the weather or simply the way the performance translated to TV but the whole thing felt a little bit flat. As though they failed to really connect with the audience or deliver on the potential of what should and could have been a memorable performance. It just seemed a little bit underwhelming and anti-climactic for a band who are known for putting on a show. Playing it straight with a hits laden set and little theatrics was a brave decision but not necessarily a successful one. It would be interesting to know if anyone who was actually there agrees or disagrees.

Morrissey on the other is someone I am unashamedly biased about so feel free to take this with a pinch of salt but I for one was really impressed with his set. From the choice of songs to his delivery of them, it felt for the most part like he was on form. There were a few dodgy moments such as his propensity to growl certain lyrics, a slightly plodding ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ and the usual butchering of ‘This Charming Man’ but for the most part he came across better than any other festival I’ve seen him at. While the band could still do with reigning in the heavy handed assault they insist on handing out to some songs, even they sounded better than in recent years.

Coldplay meanwhile sounded as good as they always do at festivals. I know it’s easy to knock them and hate on them but I’m unashamedly a fan and thought they pitched their performance just right. With a great mix of old songs, a smattering of new and the undeniable connection Chris Martin has with the crowd, the band captured the atmosphere and produced a performance that completely showed U2 how it should be done.

I also get the feeling that they might have given Beyonce one or too tips. While I’d love to believe that she really was in awe of the Glastonbury experience and that her sincerity was well, sincere, the cynic in me can’t help but feel she’d had a little guidance in how to win over the crowd. Part of me wonders if the tremendous reaction she got was more down to the fact that people were seeing Beyonce than anything to do with her actual performance. More about the event than the actual show. Once again, I should probably have preceded these words with an acknowledgement that while I like one or two songs, I’m not a massive fan of Beyonce. I’d happily chose her over many of her contemporaries but frankly she just doesn’t make music that I particularly want to listen to. That said, as slick and Vegas-ey as her performance looked close up on TV, I can’t help but wonder how it translated to a vast field in Pilton where most people could only see from a distance. Personally I’d have liked a little less dancing and a little more actual singing. A few less lumpy ballads probably would have helped as well but like I say, I’m not exactly the target audience for her music.

Other bands I caught bits of included The Horrors who despite sounded really good, didn’t seem to put much effort into the actual performance. Still the new songs they played suggested that the new album might just carry on where ‘Primary Colours’ left off.

TV On The Radio seemed to me to be one of the best things on the TV coverage, capturing the party atmosphere with a set of grooving funky tunes topped off with a rather surprising cover version.

The Kills also appeared to deliver a great crowd pleasing set. Their dirty blues seeming to fit the rather filthy environment perfectly. Despite only being a duo they weren’t intimidated or swallowed by the large stage and surroundings. Rather, they seemed to fill it in terms of both volume and stature of performance.

So there you go, a few words and thoughts on some of the things I saw at Glastonbury 2011. I know the TV can never really capture the true atmosphere and experience of actually being there, so it would be really interesting to hear if anyone agrees or disagrees, especially if you saw any of those acts live. In the meantime, here are a few choice picks from the bits I saw.

Coldplay – wonderful world / fix you (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

TV On The Radio – ghostbusters (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Morrissey – satellite of love (Lou Reed cover live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Pulp – common people  (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

The Kills – fried my little brains (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

The Horrors – who can say (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Queens Of The Stone Age – wanna make it wit chu (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Laura Marling – I speak because I can (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Fleet Foxes – sim sala bim (live at Glastonbury Festival 2011)

Filed Under Live Review, Music

Rach posted the following on July 4, 2011 at 2:04 am.

Is it because we are older that we have no desire to brave the festival scene?

I think I might be biased as well but Coldplay live is amazing! They put on an amazing show. In all honesty sometimes I am a bit scared to admit my love for Coldplay but I am glad another blogger can admit a love for them too.

I found it odd that Beyonce even did this type of festival, kind of An odd ball pick indeed.

I really enjoyed this post, really great to hear what you thought of this fest from a music blogger/TV viewers seat. 🙂

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