Glastonbury 2005: reports and reflections
'Champagne, Benylin and a cocaine sprinkle'
Report by Wolfie, photos by Shirl, June 2005
Shirl and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a detour to Trowbridge to pick up Dervish and extricate him from a house full of moody teenagers.
Getting on site was the easiest it's ever been. The backstage passes and a pass to allow the funkwagen on site helped, as did Shirl giving a peformance a Paxmanned politician would have been proud of – when asked “Do you have any glass bottles in the vehicle?”, “We know we are not supposed to bring glass bottles on site” came the reply.
Ignoring the fact we had a bottle of gin, one of vodka, 2 of tomato juice etc ... (we did bring all the empties home with us though)
Driving across the site and into the backstage Dance Area gave me a real child-like thrill – I couldn't stop grinning for about half an hour. Simple things ...
We pitched camp, Shirl insisting we parked next to a huge silver airstream tour bus she fell in love with, and we started on the booze and then had a wander round taking in the atmosphere.
Politicians keep banging on about “community” – they should come to Glasto.
It amazes me how this fully formed “alternative” community springs from apparently nothing each year – the shops, the bars and most of all the people, all sorts of them all getting on and having a great time.
Thursday we did some more wandering in the beautiful sunny weather, checked out the BTCV and Shelter stalls as we have personal affiliations to both and, as luck would have it, they were side by side in the Green Fields.
We met up with other Urbanites at the Cider bus and had a good natter and managed not to drink too much. That cider really is vile!
We retired to the funkwagen. I'd been half joking with people all day when they remarked on how wonderful the weather was - “oooh wait til tomorrow, thunderstorms on the way”. Little did I know.
I woke early and heard a little rain.
That's OK said Shirl “rain before seven, it'll be fine by eleven”. I dosed off and was vaguely aware that the rain seemed to be getting harder. And there was thunder and lightening.
And more thunder and lightening. About 9.00ish Dubversion knocked on the door wanting to get something from the van. I stepped out of the van into the awning and about 3 inches of water. We were lucky. A couple of meters away tents were literally being washed away.
Some bloke emerged from his caravan around midday, oblivious to the meteorological events of the morning, towel over his arm and started towards where the showers had been before they were washed down stream... he seemed a little surprised.
The rain stopped and the waters started to recede and after cleaning up as best we could and topping up the alcohol levels we set off to see Elvis Costello. He was well worth wading through the mud for.
Although he seemed to be doing some kind of extended blues work out when we arrived the rest of the set constisted of his older and best loved stuff – Olivers Army, I Can't Stand Up, and an encore that included Alison. Great stuff.
We had a marvelous time doing P.R.o.D. that night in the Speigel tent. The scheduled 2.30am finished got stretched to 4.30am and people danced so hard they broke the dance floor! Result!
A personal experiment to recreate the original coca cola recipe seemed to work well. It was really good to see some PRoD regulars there and even better to get really positive comments from “newbies”, including one bloke who reckoned it was the best club he'd been to in his life ever! Maybe his mood was chemically enhanced slightly but it did rock.
By Saturday the mud had started to firm up a bit. We started to make our way over to the Avalon tent to see the Broken Family Band, passing the two and a half hour queue at the Millets stall for wellies!
We arrived a little way in to their set but from the first notes I heard I couldn't stop grinning.
You've got to love songs with opening lines like “I want you to die with my hands round your throat” and “If you sleep in a whorehouse you're gonna get fucked”. Definitely my musical highlight of the festival, I just wish they'd had time for an encore.
We went and visited mellowmoose on the Palestinian olive oil stall – his co-workers seemed to have become accustomed to people asking which of them was called mellowmoose “we've never actually met, I know him off the internet ...”. I've still ended up without any olive oil though
A bit more shopping, a bit more eating, a bit more drinking and then back to the PROD camp for Pimms and a lot more drinking. Very civilised. While Shirl caught up on her beauty sleep I had a mooch round the dance “village”.
The Beat were ok but no where near as good as I remembered them being back in the dark days of Thatcher's Britain.
Nouvell Vague were good fun although the joke did wear a bit thin towards the end.
I really enjoyed the chillout area – nice visuals, interesting Arab influenced dance music and I managed to score some organic marzipan
The Thai reggae band whose name I forget but who I'd also seen at Bar Lorca were good – that percussionist is a star.
Another great night doing PRoD, finishing on schedule this time and finished off the night with drinks and nibbles round at Alex and Sam's caravan.
Civilised standards maintained throughout.
Partly thanks to hard work by whoever does these things spreading straw and wood chip around, the gound on Sunday had dried out really nicely. We determined to have a day of full on shopping and music!
Fortified by a Clapham Carriage! - cocktail of the gods (or possibly the devil) - champagne, Benylin and a cocaine sprinkle we set off to see the Dresden Dolls in the John Peel Tent. They were astounding - over the top drumming and mad as a box of frogs piano hammering - Coin-Operated Boy, Half Jack and a stunning version of Amsterdam were the best bits.
Van Morrison on the Pyramid stage was flat and uninspiring – a grumpy outburst of some sort would have offered some welcome entertainment value. I hate to say it but Junes Holland does a better job of that big band soul stuff.
Brian Wilson on the other hand was magical.
The sun shone, he did all the Beach Boys classics. He sounded nervous to start with but his voice soon warmed up and I got a real sense of an old man looking back on his youth, which added a sense of poignancy to the songs that wasn't there in the originals. Magical.
On to see Steve Earle in the Left Field tent. Some great songs and and some great rants – I hadn't realised what a good guitar player he was.
A quick break to buy a T Shirt with a picture of Che bearing the slogan “You can't have a revolution without songs” and then a full on blokes sing along with Billy Bragg. His love songs really are loads better than his political ones.
Buy the time we'd wandered back to base camp, topping up food and alcohol levels along the way, we were knackered. That mud really does sap the energy. So one last wander round the Dance Village and to bed.
Monday it took us 2 hours to get off site – that's half the time it took last year so maybe next time we'll do it in one.
Another 2 hours to get to the M5. And another 5 hours to get home. Ah well, the funkwagen did us proud – got us there and back without a hitch and kept us warm and dry.
Finally I should mention our main suppliers of sustenance for the weekend, the Pieminister stall. So enamoured of their product were we that we had pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention elevenses, afternoon tea and supper.
More photos here