This past weekend, our very own Simon Wilson and his camera lady/side kick took a trip to Somerset for the annual (and highly anticipated) Glastonbury Festival. We landed in Somerset on Wednesday to the hottest day of the year, but with plenty of smiles and feeling very excited.
If you’ve been to Glastonbury, you’ll know that the camping situation is not quite like what you have at other festivals in the UK. For one, a man with a tractor comes round each morning selling fresh milk from the surrounding working farms; this is lovingly known by the festival goers as ‘milky milk’. The true size of this gargantuan festival doesn’t become apparent until you’ve set up camp, think you know your bearings, and it’s only 2 hours later once you’ve gone exploring and realise that you’re lost in a field with 200,000 other festival goers. The only way that I can even begin to explain the size of this place, is to compare it to Southampton. The festival goers alone not including staff etc is 200,000 people; Southampton has an estimated population of 236,000… let’s just let that fact settle in for a second. Imagine being in a field of musicians, artists and hedonists with the population of Southampton for company.
Across the weekend, there were a number of secret acts. There had been so many rumours flying around on the internet in the days leading up to the festival *cue lots of intense research and planning on behalf of my camera lady Lu*. We still managed to miss the lot! From The Killers to George Ezra, we learnt very quickly to keep our ears to the ground as these sets are a closely guarded secret, until the second the band walks on stage! We even heard rumours around the campsite of Oasis reforming for a one off gig… no such luck though!
One tip though for anyone wanting to go in the future: get yourself down to the Park Stage or onto the hill with the infamous Glastonbury sign for Wednesday night, around about 11pm. Trust me when I say it’s not a decision you’ll regret!
For us, the first act was Rationale, an artist we have loved since we heard Something for Nothing last year. We saw him perform at another festival last year, and knew as soon as we heard he was playing Glasto, it wasn’t a set to be missed… and he definitely didn’t disappoint!
Now let’s get down to business, looking at the headliners.
This was their third time headlining the festival, alongside celebrating 20 years of OK Computer, which was evident in their set list and shone through. Playing beautiful songs, from Let Down to Karma Police, alongside crowd favourite Creep, which made its way back into their set list as part of their encore. For any Radiohead fan, this set was flawless, showcasing their entire back catalogue in ways that only Radiohead can.
Only two years behind schedule, The Foo Fighters finally arrived for their highly anticipated headline Saturday night slot (with no broken limbs in sight – huzzah!). They started with a nod to Florence and The Machine who took their spot two years ago, even joking that they should have been headlining anyway. Their set was filled with classics and fan favourites, with enough Queen references to make Freddie proud. Dave took to the drums, swapping with Taylor to perform their classic hit Under Pressure. It was a hard hitting set from the first to last beat, living up to the hype, and dedicating songs on a personal level to a fan whose wife passed away before the show. Yet again proving Dave Grohls status as the kindest man in rock and roll.
From The Joiners in 2011, to closing Glastonbury on the main stage in 2017, he’s come a long way. This was one set we could not miss, and had been looking forward to all weekend having previously tried to get tickets for his stadium shows; but as with so many other people, we didn’t have much luck!
Commanding the Pyramid Stage with just a guitar and a loop pedal is something special. He had the crowd in the palm of his hands, singing every word back to him and lighting up the field with their phone lights at his request. For me, the most interesting part is watching Ed build the songs on his loop pedal, whilst at the same time trying to guess the riff and what song is about to start. He really showed his skills as a performer and why he is going down in the history books. He even bought his Granddad to his very first festival! Side of stage is never a bad place to be for your first festival experience!
Some other highlights from the weekend were Circa Waves, Nothing but Thieves and Royal Blood who all provided the crowd with some awesome noise. Local legend Craig David stormed the Pyramid stage mid afternoon on the Saturday playing all the hits old and new. Smiles all round from a huge crowd. Katy Perry also performed over the weekend, bringing her entire stage set up with her, including her dance troupe (but not the left shark!), performing her biggest hits alongside tracks from her new album.
The weird and the downright wonderful…
“Glastonbury is so much more than a music festival”. This is a phrase which gets bounded around on a regular basis, but i don’t feel that it’s a phrase which you can truly understand until you’ve been there and experienced it for yourself. Glastonbury is so much more than just a music festival, it’s a life experience. I appreciate that might sound a tad philosophical but I have never in my life been somewhere like it.
The South East Corner… if you’ve been, you’ll know; if not, you’re in for a twisted treat. This is a festival within a festival, inception at its best, and has been pulled off to the nth degree. This place is surreal and wonderful, whilst also managing to be mind boggling and confusing at the same time. I can honestly say that I never thought I would walk behind a waterfall and into a gas tower whilst passing an arena full of Drum n Bass and Jungle. This is definitely an area for the all night partiers and ravers in your life!
In a similar mind boggling sense, I can’t not mention Arcadia. I have never seen anything quite like this. A mechanical spider with performance artists, DJs and fire… just for good measure! If you head to the festival, be sure to check it out for yourself when it metamorphosis’ at midnight.
If you follow our YouTube channel, you would have seen me looking for Jack Bauer. I FINALLY found him! He was hiding in Glastonbury under the pseudonym of Kiefer Sutherland in a white cowboy hat playing country music whilst discussing whiskey and Ferraris. He was definitely one of the surprises of the weekend…who knew Jack Bauer could sing?! Let alone play guitar.
Glastonbury is like no other festival, definitely one I would recommend you do at least once in your life. However, heed my advice: take comfy shoes, there is walking… lots and lots of walking.
Written by Simon Wilson