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Preview: Glastonbury 2013

 
By on Monday, 8th April 2013 at 9:00 am
 

2012 had it all, didn’t it? London 2012, the Diamond Jubilee, James fucking Bond returning in a blaze of balls-out guts and glory and some great music to boot (we’re ignoring Muse’s Olympic song ‘Survival’, don’t worry).

Had it all though? Every classic British summer needs something, and 2012 was drastically missing it: that cornucopia of eccentricity and old-school values, Glastonbury. Where were Mssrs. Eavis squared, where was the Pyramid Stage, where was Worthy Farm? Healing, nursing its wounds. In preparation for a shindig 26-30 June 2013 that’ll remind the British populace of the importance of the institution that is the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.

To make it a year to remember, though, one thing is certain. That the bands they are going to have must have that clout that makes punters stand erect and to attention. Enter Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, a year after the Rolling Stones‘ 50th anniversary. They’ve never played the legendary Pyramid Stage and it seems that finally the Eavises have gotten their way and secured easily one of the biggest draws that the music industry has to offer.

Joining them atop the almighty Pyramid are a band who have already set tongues a wagging once with their Glastonbury exploits. We are of course talking about the Arctic Monkeys (pictured at top), who are now four albums strong and flaunting their new-found maturity. The most surprising and probably most controversial bill-topper is the biggest marmite act around at the moment: The USA-smashing Mumford and Sons, riding high on the crest of the wave of success of last year’s ‘Babel’, and wading through the swathes of critical approval.

But with Glastonbury, you know it isn’t all about the headliners, with over 1,000 artists appearing across a multitude of stages over the weekend. Arctic Monkeys not floating ya boat? Check out The Smashing Pumpkins instead. Pyramid Stage too mainstream for you? Portishead will be bringing their trip hop stylings to the farm in a set surely not to be missed at any cost.

Further down the bill you’ve got math rockers Foals, Enter Shikari, Mr. Controversial Tyler, The Creator and crooner Maverick Sabre.

That take your fancy? Well, if it does, resale is closing up, so get that hammer out and give your piggy bank a good smashing, as this festival is *not* one to be missed.

 

Video(s) of the Moment #943: Patrick Wolf

 
By on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Is it really necessary to redo the songs in your back catalogue? I would think not, but apparently the great Patrick Wolf disagrees.

There’s possibility for confusion to ensue with this version of ‘Overture’, the first song to released in video form from Patrick’s new double album out on the 15th of October. (The original is the opening track to 2007’s ‘The Magic Position’ which, incidentally, I chose as my Good Day Bad Day song when Steve Lamacq interviewed me on 6music 4 years ago.) FYI ‘Sundark and Riverlight’ are mainly reworkings of already previously released material (which strikes me as somewhat disappointing, considering how talented he is). For a comparison, I’ve embedded the live video of him and his crew performing the original version of ‘Overture’ at Glasto 2007 so you can view them side by side.

The details of his November/December acoustic tour are here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i-KqFCKa_c[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzrggvs4XNE[/youtube]

 

Glastonbury 2011: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 7th July 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

At last the sun was shining, and all I could think about is how badly I was going to burn in this unbearable heat, the summer sheer had to come out at some point though and who better to provoke such cheers then American hero Don McLean. He comes on and the first thing he says is, “I’ve got a couple of songs you may like to hear, and one really long one that you definitely will”. At least he’s honest! The set is long enough for him to get the crowd on their feet this early in the day, but it’s the anthemic ‘American Pie’ and its numerous verses which really get the crowd animated. The crowd hang on his every word throughout and the atmosphere is buoyant and one indicative of what a great day of music this will be.

Who better to follow up an elderly Yank with a guitar and a backing band then a young English woman with a guitar and a backing band? Laura Marling ambles on stage nervously but automatically already has the crowd in the palm of her hands with her unique brand of folk, rock n’roll. Opener ‘Devils Spoke’ ensures that the set starts strongly, with the pounding drum beat and haunting vocals projecting beautifully across the fields of Avalon. Noticeably though, even though Marling can’t admit it she grows in confidence as the gig goes on culminating in a foot stamping finale to get even the harshest folk purist square dancing.

Occupying the mid-afternoon “Living Legend” spot this weekend is one half of American duo Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon. Simon admits straight off that he has a throat infection and sadly for the veteran singer songwriter it shows, as if the “2nd best to Dylan” comments weren’t enough, his big moment on the Pyramid Stage was ruined by illness, a shame if ever I’ve seen one. The hits aren’t out in abundance with Simon opting for more from his new record; however, an encore of ‘You Can Call Me Al’ you would think would be enough to save him. However even this cannot rescue the poor guy’s set and sadly the set ends not with a bang, but a whimper.

Out with the old then, and in with the new, rapper turned soul star Ben Drew (AKA Plan B) is up next and is introduced by a beat boxer. While a lot of these acts are often gimmicks to disguise weak sets etc. this one is anything but, it leaves me thinking if this is what he can do, what is ‘Plan B’s’ actual set going to be like. Nothing short of a master class, ‘Drew’ has the audience in his hands from the first note of ‘Prayin’ to the last screech of ‘Stay Too Long’. Big things lie ahead for the London born star and if he carries on at this pace there is no telling how big he could be.

For many my next decision would have been looked upon as mad, leaving the Pyramid Stage before Pendulum and Beyonce, you must be mad? Well sadly, the drum ‘n’ bass assault of the Aussies from Pendulum just wasn’t for me today and well while Beyonce is cool, who can resist the sleazy desert rock of Queens of the Stone Age?

So I headed to the John Peel Stage to catch Manchester born and bred Hurts. If you only can say one thing about these guys, it’s that they don’t do half measures. Arriving on stage with the band of two are, in order of height, a 7-foot tall opera singer, a drummer, guitarist, backing pianist, all female string section and two dancers with flags. All in black. Naturally. They burst into single ‘Wonderful Life’ and immediately the sheer power if their live show is apparent, Theo Hutchcraft stands statuesque for much of the performance but there are moments when the rock star within escapes, as he rampages around the stage thrashing the microphone stand from side to side. ‘Illuminated’ is as powerful as any U2 ballad and closer ‘Stay’ is a fitting end to one of the best sets of the weekend.

Next it’s off to the Other Stage to catch Leeds rockers Kaiser Chiefs, who are starting to look (not sound) more like a played down Who every passing day. They are here promoting their new record ‘The Future is Medieval’ and you can tell this without even looking at the backdrop, the hits are there but the frequent new tracks don’t give the set any fluency, so not even number 1 hit ‘I Predict a Riot’ and crowd live favourite ‘Oh My God’ can save there ailing set. New track ‘Little Shocks’ though is s a surprise, managing to sound slick and sexy. Yes: the Kaiser Chiefs, slick and sexy, whod’a thunk it eh?

Finally to close the weekend on the Pyramid Stage American r&b / pop behemoth Beyonce comes onstage to volley after volley of fireworks. On the Other Stage though for the rock purists the entry is incognito and Queens of the Stone Age (pictured at top), announce their arrival with ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’s’ trademark lyrics “nicotine, valium, Vicodin, marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol!” Playing a set chosen by the Radio1 public means it’s all the way and every song turns into a crowdpleaser with some sherry mind-boggling riffing from giant frontman Josh Homme. The crowd hang on Homme’s every word and when it comes to hit ‘No One Knows’, he announces he wants Beyonce to feel this one in her bones. No doubt after a performance that good, she would have, and hey Zane Lowe chose these guys over her (read more here): they must have done something right.

 

Glastonbury 2011: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 4th July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Saturday’s opener were the Gaslight Anthem who, while only having played Pilton Farm once before, made one hell of an impression when they did. None other than The Boss himself joined the New Jersey boys on stage to power through their anthem ‘The 59 Sound’ before he hit the Pyramid Stage to headline 2 years ago. The Gaslight Anthem this time around were gracing the Pyramid Stage and at first they looked like they were a little overawed by it all. Who can blame them when you have upwards of 10,000 people staring at you? However, the band got into their stride and delivered a formidable set dripping with hooks and old fashioned riffs. No Boss this time though, however there are signs of a band on the up.

Next on my hit list was the big story of 2010, Mr. Tinie Tempah, armed with arguably the biggest single of last year (the infectious club anthem ‘Pass Out’) and a set list of songs that most of the UK will be familiar with. Tinie is the next in line of hip hop stars gracing the Pyramid Stage after Jay-Z’s monumental set in 2008 and Dizzee Rascal’s triumphs in previous years, hip hop looks set for a bright future at Glastonbury. First sing-along ‘Wonderman’ is a tad weak though and ‘Invincible’ is not much better in all honesty. However Tinie is saved by the slick, sexy Labrinth-infused rhymes of hit ‘Frisky’ and ‘Pass Out.’

Rushing over to the Other Stage I was able to catch veteran punks Jimmy Eat World as they blasted through a back catalogue of hits. ‘Bleed American’ sounded utterly epic in the setting and set the tone for a gig which this stage was made for: fist-pumping was rife and the choruses were as infectious as they ever have been. However, it is hit single ‘The Middle’ which provokes the mass sing-along and shows Jimmy Eat World at their anthemic best. A clinically underrated band that pull out all the stops live, any day, any way.

It was to my misfortune though that Paolo Nutini was on when I arrived back at the Pyramid Stage. It isn’t enough that he is noticeably stoned and drunk on stage and staggers about with all the swagger you would expect of a taller Cher Lloyd. Hits such as ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ and ‘New Shoes’ grated on the ear as expected and his set went on for much too long. Little else I can say about this man’s set. Yes, the brass band backing is cool, I enjoyed that. Nutini himself though did exactly what expected, irritated and enraged me to the point that only a mass sing-along of truly epic proportions would take me from the edge.

Thank the lord then that Elbow were on next. Guy Garvey and co. came out to rapturous applause and flew into opener ‘The Birds’. However, it wasn’t until ‘The Bones of You’ was played that the crowd really came to their side. Garvey though was the king of the show, getting the crowd on his side at any opportunity possible, whether it was by downing a pint in true Manchester styling or whether it was with a terrific backwards Mexican wave, which from looking out from the Pyramid stage must have looked truly majestic for the Mancunian 5-piece. ‘Grounds For Divorce’ was played out with the kind of power you just don’t get from any other frontman and band, while ‘Open Arms’ was buoyed by two giant blow-up men each side of the stage. There were no guesses though as to which song they played out with; ‘One Day like This’ truly was the perfect song to go out on.

Coldplay’s headline set had to be something special then to follow the sheer brilliance of Elbow, but when you see Coldplay (pictured at top), you never expect anything less than brilliance. If U2 turned up with their A game the night before, Coldplay were A+++. Sure they opened with a new song, but what is wrong with taking a chance when you headline Glastonbury. Kings of Leon did it and Jay-Z opened with ‘Wonderwall’, so it seems truly monumental Glastonbury shows open like this. Chris Martin was from the start of the show until the end at his buoyant, if not a little self-deprecating best, whether he was hammering out ‘Clocks’ from behind the piano, or acting like the true frontman he is with a guitar at the front of the Pyramid Stage. ‘Viva La Vida’ was truly majestic but it was the encore of ‘Fix You’ where everyone on the crowd could truly realise that Coldplay are as brilliant as ever and look set to be for a long, long time.

 

Live Gig Video: Sharks Took the Rest at BBC Introducing Stage, Glastonbury 2011

 
By on Friday, 1st July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Unsigned Newcastle-based septet Sharks Took the Rest was one of contributor John’s standouts at Glasto this year, so we definitely wanted to feature them here on TGTF. Watch them below play the gorgeous song ‘We Climbed as High as We Could’ and the upbeat, almost tropical ‘Restaurant’.

 

Live Gig Video: Elbow at Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury 2011

 
By on Thursday, 30th June 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Elbow really can’t do anything wrong in my book. And this trend continues with the band’s performance at Pyramid Stage Saturday night, just before Coldplay. This is undoubtedly the Mancunian band’s biggest performance since playing their arena tour in March that hit the MEN Arena and the O2 Arena, among other massive venues. Watch them perform ‘Open Arms’ from their new album ‘build a rocket boys!’ (John’s review of the album here) below.

 
 
 

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