Monthly Archives: June 2011

Glastonbury 2011: Day 4

Strummerville

Saturday. A day of glorious sunshine, sitting in chairs, drinking cider and watching Elbow giving this year’s definitive ‘Glastonbury moment’. There was not an awful lot I wanted to see on Saturday music wise so I went with the flow and ended up with an eclectic mix, which is the best way to experience the festival. Given my desire to just sit in the sunshine and chill I did not take that many photographs and I experienced Elbow’s triumphant set from some way back on the hill overlooking the Pyramid stage. And if Guy Garvey ever read this this: Yes we did have the time of our lives.

So when Illustrating this blog with pictures it struck me that most of the images I took on Saturday were taken in the very early hours of Saturday morning, i.e. when it was still raining. This not a problem but I don’t want to give the impression that it was raining on Saturday. It wasn’t. I woke up to sunshine. But, Friday’s rain continued until about 3 in the morning on Saturday and this is when I took these pictures.

So, post U2 I had two options – go to bed and listen to the rain hammering on canvas, which is the route my friends took, or go walkabout. I did the latter, heading off to the theatre tent because I reasoned that it would be a) dry and b) entering the edgier late-night period. The pictures below blog capture just part of what I walked in on. I mentioned earlier in the week the experimental Russian dance theatre and this is what it looks like. I have no idea what the dancers were called but what I can say is that it was creepy, scary and mesmerising; like walking into a David Lynch film.

ballsfeathers

One thing that Glastonbury’s detractors just don’t seem to get is that the festival is not just about music. Music is just a small part of what is on offer. Indeed the full and proper title is the ‘Glastonbury Festival of the Performing Arts’. There is so much to see and do that you could quite easily not see any music all weekend and many people don’t. There is theatre, comedy, cabaret, circus, dance, politics, science, environmentalism, poetry, book readings, lectures, etc, etc. It therefore did not come as a surprise to find myself watching terrifying dance through a cider-fuelled haze whilst a biblical storm raged outside. This may well be the most indelible memory of my festival.

Once the rain had abated I headed off into the areas of the site that are not for the faint of heart – Arcadia, The Common and Shangri La – where you can encounter fire-breathing dragons, desolated cityscapes, transvestites (and lots of them), mermaids, Mexican wrestlers, karaoke, virus outbreaks and decontamination; not to mention Bez’s (of the Happy Mondays) Acid House. Usually you have to queue to get into these areas but the rain had driven many away and I walked straight in; hopefully these pictures will give just a little taste of what I encountered.

Arcadiazombassline

girls

fingerJoker

Finally, I should mention, that after many years of looking (and quite by accident) I happened across ‘Strummerville’ (main picture) a tiny area near the memorial stone for The Clash’s Joe Strummer (a Glastonbury regular) which has a huge campfire, with singalongs, and a tiny stage for a select group of performers. This too was a godsend. To warm by the fire and listen to live music in such intimate and friendly surroundings was another highlight.

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Glastonbury 2011: Day 3

Moz

Friday. the day of the rain. And lots of it. Also the day the festival officially started with U2 headlining. After yesterday’s hanging question yes I did go and see U2. I am not a big fan, although I will admit to having all the albums up to and including The Unforgettable Fire on vinyl somewhere in the loft. All I can say is that you don’t get to be the biggest band in the world without putting on a good show and, begrudgingly, I was impressed. Not least with Bono’s voice but also with the way they managed to hold an audience in the pouring rain. Before U2, somewhat unsuccessfully, one of my musical heroes Morrissey had attempted the same (pictured). Here was Morrissey at his most truculent; he obviously didn’t want to be there and he thought that we didn’t want to be there either. He promised to be brief and said that he knew we were all waiting for Bono and chums, when actually a huge amount of people, including Professor Brian Cox, were waiting for him.

To be fair he drew the short straw. Up against a secret appearance by Radiohead that was the worst kept secret in the world and the new folk of Mumford and Sons he didn’t stand a chance. Yes the audience was small (for second on the bill on the Pyramid Stage) but it was committed and the set had its moments, despite the fact that he seemed to curtail it quarter of an hour early. As usual The Smiths songs were the most well received. This photo was actually taken with my telephoto lens from miles away so I am pretty pleased at how it turned out, despite the bobbing heads (and hand) up front. This made me appreciate the decision to buy a second-hand telephoto lens after my old one died. Black and white was the only way to go with this one as when taking photos from such a distance, in dark conditions, it disguises a multitude of sins (and grain).

Earlier in the day we saw Big Audio Dynamite, who were ace despite Mick Jones – of The Clash no less – now looking pretty old, probably because he is. Don Letts on the other hand, boasting the worlds longest dreadlocks under an enormous hat does not appear to have aged a bit…

jonesletts

Elsewhere on the site there was evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at Glastonbury…

cup cakes

And a horde of hungry seagulls stalked the site harassing revellers for food…

gulls

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Glastonbury 2011: Day 2

Thursday morning bw

My second day at this year’s Glastonbury festival started very early. I had agreed via Twitter to shoot some footage of @GlastoDancer as he began his marathon dance (website explaining all here). This was a precursor to an attempt at the non-stop dancing world record for later this year. Although I managed to film the start of his marathon task I did not manage to catch up with him again during the festival but I do know that he completed his task, despite the mud. He started dancing in the rain, which was a precursor to the deluge to come on Friday. Hopefully, the short footage I shot will be usable and may feature in a documentary that is being put together.

After leaving @GlastoDancer dancing in a café tent to keep dry I went for a little wander, during which it rained very heavily, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared. This pretty much set the template for the day. I had breakfast, wandered for miles and took some photographs including the one heading the blog, which pictures a man with a chair on his head walking through the site at about 7 am in the morning.

As the festival does not officially start until Friday this was a day for exploring and getting my bearings; although the site layout is pretty much the same each year, things do move about and you can’t rely on your memory as entire areas can change location. After the Brothers cider-fuelled Glastonbury Twitter meet-upI sat in the sun for a bit, came across a world-record attempt for the largest ever game of Twister (both pictured below) and waited for my friends to arrive from Cornwall, which they duly did late afternoon.

twisto

Twister

Thursday evening was then spent wandering the darker recesses of the site with a trip to Shangri La, which can best be described as a post-apocalyptic wasteland where ‘all the weird shit happens’. The fact that U2 were headlining on the Friday night had split most festival goers; whilst their showmanship and back catalogue were never in doubt there was the thorny issue of Bono’s tax status to contend with and the general consensus that the U2 front man is generally ‘a bit of a nob’. This is probably best illustrated by the photos below which were taken in Shangri La. At this stage I was not sure if I was going to see U2 or not. I knew I wanted to see Morrissey who was on right before them but it was all very much still in the balance…

eavisBono

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Glastonbury 2011

Glasto sign night

OK, so I am back from Somerset. De-mudded, de-stressed and wondering where the last 5 days went. I have taken LOADS of pictures, probably enough to keep this blog going for another couple of years but I am sure that fatigue will kick in for you very quickly… Therefore I will blog my favourite pictures this week in sequence and then I am all done until 2013. Where to start? First, lets just say that my weather predictions on the automated posts I set up were pretty much spot on. I arrived Wednesday to blue skies (despite heavy rainfall in the morning) with plenty of time to tour the site and take some pictures (see above). I also managed to catch up for a few beers with fellow photographer Chris Gravett whom I follow on Twitter and who has made the brave decision to pack in the day job and go pro full-time as a music photographer. Looking forward to seeing his photos as his will be far more band-oriented than mine, which are probably best described as my attempt to capture the essence of the whole festival site; besides, I did most of my music watching from the comfort of a chair with a pint of cider in hand.

That said, I do have some artist photos but most were taken from a long way off with a telephoto lens. With one exception. On Sunday I found myself right at the front of the performance by the immensely talented Imelda May and on this occasion managed to get some ‘proper’ music photographer shots that I’m really pleased with. But that will come later in the week when I cover Sunday…

My aim then in this week’s blog postings will be to take you through the festival sequentially with the above picture being taken on the Wednesday evening. This Hollywood style sign looks over The Park stage on the far side of the festival site. It is hard to convey the sheer scale of the Glastonbury site but its probably best likened to a small city. It can easily take 40+ minutes to walk from one side of the site to the other, even longer if there is mud. There are 30+ official stages and tents offering everything from music to comedy to vaudeville to circus to book readings to scary experimental Russian dance theatre (but more of that to come later). There are also literally hundreds of smaller stages and impromptu performances. It is very easy to get lost and very easy for the best laid of plans to go awry when you get side-tracked, which happens frequently. To recap then:

Wednesday: sunshine and showers (with more of the latter)
Thursday: sunshine and showers (with more of the former)
Friday: a return to the Somme. Torrential rain ALL day. Without end. LOTS of mud
Saturday: cloudy start giving way to lovely sunshine. Mud sticky as it dried
Sunday: glorious sunshine; almost too hot. Almost

So not to bad all things considered. I have eaten well, slept fitfully, drank copiously and enjoyed catching up with some of my oldest friends, their teenage sons and their sons’ friends. Highlights were many, low lights were few and mostly mud-related. I have laughed a lot, mostly at flags and T-shirt slogans, and also had a little cry when overcome with emotion during Don McClean’s American Pie, which I am at a loss to explain apart from the fact that I was tired and emotional. Highlight was undoubtedly Elbow’s majestic set on Saturday night and if they don’t headline in 2013 I will be very very surprised; also worshipped at the altar of Mr Stephen Patrick Morrissey, even though he was at his most arch and least accommodating.

There is a load of stuff that I wanted to see and missed because something else came up or I was too comfortably settled; but there were also little unexpected surprises that were totally unplanned such as poetry from John Cooper Clarke and an encounter with a bunch of seagulls… But I digress. All of that is to come. Tomorrow I will cover Thursday and tales of world record attempts. I know there will be a lot of Glastonbury this week and that many are sick of it already but I shall at least try to avoid the obvious. Hope you like the pictures this week…

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Sunday…

Cider

Last day, today and I’ll be back blogging as normal tomorrow. The sun will definitely be shining today. I mean it’s not going to rain on Paul Simon is it? I may be drinking cider in the sunshine…

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Saturday…

Garvey Bramwell

I am Kloot and Elbow today… so here are John Bramwell and Guy Garvey. This post is for Jenn, who I know will be listening to the Elbow performance on 6Music, even though she’s in Tampa, Florida. By now I am 100% positive that the sun will be shining (a bit).

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Friday…

IMG_0981_edited-1

If its Friday, it must be Morrissey! And weather like this will be the perfect backdrop. But again it may well be gloriously sunny by this point. You’ll have to turn on your telly boxes to see what it’s really like. This photo is from 2007. The worst year in recent memory for mud. It can’t be as bad as this…

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Thursday…

Mud

Of course if, its raining it could be like this… If the forecasts are to believed then we might well be at this stage by now. Or maybe not? Lets face it no-one knows. I think it will be somewhere between yesterdays picture and todays…

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Wednesday…

Park stage

This is where I will be RIGHT NOW. Although it almost certainly won’t be as nice as this. But I live in hope. I love the Wednesday and Thursday before the festival begins… it’s very chilled and everyone is just having a good time. Unless it’s raining, which it might be… Shit

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Positive thoughts

Buittercups

Everybody likes a flower picture right? Well I know at least one regular reader of the blog that does. So here are some more buttercups from the banks of Bala Lake. Despite the darkening sky there are traces of sunshine so I am remaining optimistic, despite the continuing rain. I am now signing off now until next week; what follows will be a selection of photos that may illustrate what i am up to but then again may not. People wonder why we English obsess so much about the weather. You are about to find out…

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