Seeing as Glastonbury on the Beeb is as close as I seem to be getting to any live music action this summer, here’s a few thoughts on this year’s return to action, after Michael Eavis giving the field a break in 2012.
The coverage was the usual matey affair, with the same main 3 presenters doing pieces-to-camera, introducing the acts, interviews and a selection of pre-recorded pieces about artists, the event, the site etc.
Basically I just dipped in and out of the main BBC2 coverage catching bits and pieces of the acts I wanted to see, plus the occasional longer set on BBCs 3 and 4, and caught a few extra songs on YouTube.
Obvious highlight? Well, I do quite like the Rolling Stones so like most people I was eager to see would they deliver.
And they did! I have one or two quibbles with the modern-day Stones, but I can put these quibbles all aside as far as this performance went. It was a very well judged setlist and effort by the whole band. Firstly I like the fact that this tour has slightly less backing musicians than previous tours, it has 2 actually quite decent new songs in the set, AND they didn’t bother with any bells/whistles/fireworks at the Glastonbury show – just focusing on the music, plus of course with Mick Taylor guesting on 2 or 3 songs, as he has done on the whole tour. And he really shows his chops! He’s certainly a somewhat more naturally gifted player than Ronnie Wood or Keith Richards, notwithstanding Wood/Richards on a good night do gel well together themselves. Anyway, really great to finally see him back in the band and at his best playing on 2 or 3 very strong songs (would be good to see more of him tho) in a proper televised setting (rather than the audience YouTubes from the US tour)
And ok, so the Stones are maybe not as dangerous, relevant or cutting edge as 40 years ago, but really these days, who is?
This was entertainment, but entertainment of the highest quality. Jagger in particular, owned the stage and had a superb night. Set highlight for me (out of the televised part) was ‘Midnight Rambler’ but it was all good really.
The first night’s headliners Arctic Monkeys were quite good. I’ve seen them live before myself, but that was back in the earlier days, they seem to have turned in to a different band altogether now, but still very good. Alex Turner still has the arrogance and presence to command a big crowd and they went down pretty well.
Mumford and Sons on the final night were also ok. Perhaps these days people expect a big ‘Rock’ type headliner, but Glastonbury does have folk-rock roots and these guys definitely have their particular (big) audience. I saw them at Hop Farm a few years ago, and thousands of people were singing along to every word. Personally I find their songs a bit repetitive, but each to their own, and hey, it was a passable Beatles sing-a-long at the end!
Some other artists I enjoyed – Elvis Costello is as good as ever, Chic and Nile Rogers gave us some pop/funk/r’n'b, The Strypes showed us why they’re the future (or possibly the past?!) with a classic twist on the sound and look of all those London bands from 50 years ago, and Kenny Rogers sounding (if not looking?!) just like he always has, ie very mainstream country music but with a good stage presence for the traditional Sunday oldies-slot, and who can deny he has some catchy and familiar songs for a cheery sunny Glastonbury afternoon!
Anyway, a good festival it seems again, and well done to the BBC on their competent and exhaustive coverage – but I’ll end with a short rant – how about showing more of the Download Festival next year guys?! Metal is almost as popular as any other genre, and Download draws huge crowds, but BBC4 only showed a measly 2 songs of Iron Maiden’s storming headlining slot. Ah well..