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Festival Review: Glastonbury!

As our coverage of Glasto draws to a close, we take one last look at the many highlights of this sun kissed and magical weekend. Many thanks go to our contribuor Emma and our team of fabulous illustrators.

Written by Emma Barlow

Illustration by Natasha Thompson

There is no denying Glastonbury 2010 was a really special one. So if, stuff illness like me, website like this you are still feeling a touch of the post-festival blues read on and let us reminisce about some of the musical moments that made this years festival truly great.
In the weeks before the 40th Glastonbury there was an anticipation that everyone down on Worthy Farm would be pulling out all the stops. And sure enough, medicine ecstatic festival-goers arrived to a spruced up site; a beautiful patchwork sign spelling Glastonbury surveyed the beauty of the colossal site from its perch on the hill near The Park; a giant wicker man stood proudly in the middle of the stone circle; and a ravetastic new henge made from glowing cubes provided a place for guys and gals of Glastonbury to come and worship in the dance fields. I’m sure there was much much more but all this added to a general impression that Glasto 2010 was going to be bigger, brighter and better than ever before.

Then, of course, something really magical happened, something that no one could have predicted. The sun shined for the entire festival – and boy did it shine! Umbrellas found a novel new purpose in life protecting their owners not from rain but the unrelenting heat of the sun, and wellies remained slumped in dark corners of tents or abandoned by the very optimistic in cars.
As with the extra effort put into everything else, the line up was incredible — too good! Everyday my heart was broken a little as I realised that two, three or four of the bands I would have liked to have seen were on at the same time. The line-up was an eclectic music fan’s (such as myself’s) dream. Neatly summed up, of course, in the festival’s headline acts; Gorillaz, Muse and Stevie Wonder — three acts big enough to hold their own on the famous Pyramid Stage but definitely diverse in their musical stylings. I’m going to end on Stevie but first to another of his namesakes.

Illustration by Gareth Hopkins

Seasick Steve took to The Pyramid in what felt like one billion degree heat in the middle of the day on Saturday. The cider in my hand was hotter than the sun and doing nothing to quench my thirst but Seasick Steve was all the refreshment that the large crowd who had turned up to see him needed. He’s been on the summer festival circuit for a while now but his stripped-down act, wailing three string guitar, and songs about life on the streets in the USA were still as thrilling as ever. ‘Burning Up’ managed to sum up quite succinctly the general atmosphere among the sea of sweating fans but we all stayed with him despite the heat for his tremendous trademark finale of the ever-accelerating bluesy number ‘Dog House Boogie.’

 Then, later that day, Laura Marling’s gig provided one of the most memorable moments of festival. After a blissful and beautiful Saturday afternoon Marling emerged just as the bright ball-like orange sun dipped behind the trees. She said very little but the hush over The Park as everyone stopped to listen to her was such that my friend aimed a “Shhh” at a low flying helicopter above us. Her set was a combination of the now veritable folk standards from the old album such as ‘Ghosts’, ‘My Manic and I’ and the countrified ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ and pretty ditties from new album I Speak Because I Can. She began ‘Blackberry Stone’ to whoops of delight from the crowd and by the end of the delicate guitar-based ballad from her latest work Laura had herself a few new fans and a boy at the front had himself a new fiancé. “I don’t know if you saw, but someone just proposed and got a good answer,” Marling told the mesmerised crowd.

Illustration by Donna McKenzie

 Mumford & Sons caused me a fair bit of heartache, an ill-timed arrival meant that I could barely get near the tent. Recently the Mumford boys have pretty much exploded — planting their banjo-touting and harmony-singing selves firmly at the forefront of the British antifolk scene. Their gig at the John Peel Stage was a monument to how popular they have become. The audience and, really endearingly, the band were completely overwhelmed. As their set saw some of the biggest sing- a-longs of the festival it was all the boys could do to steal glances at each other with looks of utter disbelief. The intimacy of their songs and acoustic nature was not lost among the huge crowd though — proving once and for all that these are folkies who really know how to rock. In fact many were left wondering why the boys had been billed for the John Peel and not The Other or West Holts Stages, they definitely proved they can draw a big enough crowd.

Illustration by Luke Waller

 Dizzee Rascal, a bit of a festival staple these days, was perhaps one of the only acts who could have drawn me away from the Mumfords. Ever the entertainer he bust out his best hits including ‘Bonkers’, ‘Holiday’, new one ‘Dirty Disco’ and a version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ — all unbeatable at geeing up a cider-fuelled rabble for a night of raging away in the dance fields, Shangri-La, their own tent, or whatever it might be. And, of course, his set wouldn’t have been complete without an appearance from Florence for ‘You Got the Dirty Love’ (her own gig on The Other Stage another massive festival highlight for many). After also appearing with The xx, Florence actually sung ‘You Got the Love’ three times this Glastonbury. In fact if you watched Florence at her gig and all her guest appearances and then went to see Candi Staton croon her way through her original version, you could have gotten a whole four renditions — I’m not sure that’s ever happened before at Glasto and surely that’s more than enough love for anybody?

Illustration by Abi Daker

 But it was Stevie Wonder who stole the show for many, proving that 50 odd years in the business only makes you more of a superstar not a washed-up one. Ripping a keytar to shreds, Wonder promised a night of celebrating Michael Jackson’s life as well as 40 years of Glastonbury. Now, I would never have bought a ticket to see Stevie Wonder play but clearly this was going to be a once in a lifetime experience and anyway, his music holds some pretty serious sway in our house (my Mum requested songs by Stevie to be played out on hospital radio after the births of me and my sister!) But even my friend, who couldn’t claim to be a Stevie Wonder fan — “I don’t know any of the songs, sing one to me!” — soon realised that basically everybody knows Stevie Wonder’s music. His songs are all around us and like some kind of musical oxygen have been seeping into our brains via osmosis since the dawn of time! Stevie unashamedly rattled through the biggest hits of his half century-long career, saving ‘Superstition’ until near the end of his set, unleashing a rapturous response among arguably the biggest crowd of the festival.
Then the ultimate finale to what has since been reported as the best Glastonbury ever, Stevie’s legendary soul interpretation of Happy Birthday. Glasto founder Michael Eavis was dragged out on stage and serenaded by the superstar — providing the ultimate warm fuzzy feeling in the stomachs of everyone who witnessed it. Even if Eavis’ singing was less than easy on the ears.


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