Glastonbury 2005: reports and reflections
'Socks on fire and a swallowed coathanger'
Report and photos by Tort, June 2005
Well this year’s Glasto was a bit different from the norm for me for 2 reasons. Firstly we had a proper muddy one, which I’ve never really experienced before.
And secondly it was the first time I’ve been to the festival as part of a largish group, having been joined by 7 local mates as a stag weekend for one of them.
Snowy, the Groom, is one of the lads I first went to the Festival with in ‘99 and two of the others are veterans from the ‘80’s but the other 4 were complete Glastovirgins.
3 of us arrived bright and early enough on the Wednesday morning to be in Dragon Field a tad after 11 O’Clock, only to find that a new fire lane had been placed in the upper portion of the field and that there was already insufficient room at Camp Urban for our 3 large tents.
So we dropped a little way down the hill and a full 3 & a half sweat filled & sunburnt hours later we had our 8, 6 and 5 man tents erected.
Twice in the case of the 2 larger tents in order to avoid a large area where, despite our best efforts, getting a tent peg more than an inch into the ground proved a physical, peg-bending impossibility.
I was delighted to find that our near neighbours included my good mates Flip & Lisa & also Pip & Ste 123, from the TOS Boards whose gigantic gazebo offered some much welcomed shade. Plus of course the Urban Crew and several other friends were just a stones throw further up the field.
We did a second trip back to the car via the Tipi Field, The Brothers Bar & The Cider Bus and stopped off to say “hi” to Infoman & also at Mr Mohican’s stall to admire his excellent artwork.
In the evening we spent several very pleasant hours back at the Bus, meeting up with friends old & new & waiting for 4 more of our crew to arrive, which they duly did at about 11pm. More Pear Cider was followed by a trip to the Stone Circle for bongo bashing around the fire pit and a weary stumble to bed just as the first glimmers of Thursday lit the sky.
Another blisteringly hot day during which I severely over-indulged if the truth be told and have relatively little recollection of what actually happened. Certainly a considerable amount of cider was involved and a missing phone resulted in some friends from Barnsley coming back to camp for more drinks.
I was best part of an hour late for the TOS meet in Jazzworld, which was pretty poor form as I was supposed to be organising it.
I have very little memory of who I spoke to either there or at the simultaneous Mindless Banter meeting at the mixing tower. If it weren’t for photographic evidence I would hardly have believed I was there at all and so can only apologise to those I must have slurred at and expressed undying love for!
I do remember having the presence of mind to stumble up to Lost Vagueness at 10:30 to see The Bays, only to discover they had already done their set earlier than advertised and the Ballroom was now well & truly closed for the evening.
So back to Jazzworld where I eventually bade farewell to those who were trekking off to Mr M’s stall for a party before shuffling back to camp for a beer & a chat with Woodland Maiden. I somehow ended up dancing my nuts off in the Lost Vagueness Diner until about 4am. Don’t ask me how or why!
And so the rain came, and it came, and it came. I was unfortunate enough to be camping in Devon last year during the Boscastle storm and that was more intense but I’ve never known a thunderstorm to go on for 5 hours!
Boy Scout training ensured that we were camped on a slope with the door facing downhill but we still had a fair amount of water flowing under the tent and into the porch. Otherwise we got away with only a couple of minor leaks and managed to keep most of our bedding & clothing dry as a result.
During the storm the final member of our 8-man team arrived, without any waterproofs & drenched to the skin. So we waited for a break in the rain before making our way via a very soggy Theatre Field to Babylon.
The amount of water that was now sloshing around the site meant that the power was off in a lot of places and so we had to get all the way down to Leftfield before we could find a bar that was open.
Pints all round as the heavens opened again outside so we stayed put and enjoyed musical entertainment from Soul Park, followed by an unscheduled performance from Seize The Day, who I make a point of catching at least once every year at the festival.
Finally the rain relented so we trudged on through the rivers & thickening gloop toward the Pyramid. More beer was required so we trekked on to the Mandela Bar from where we could hear The Thrills performing on the main stage.
Next up were The Zutons so we decided to brave the mud for a look at the band and promptly managed to lose 5 of the crew before we had barely moved 20 yards.
The Zutons were excellent, playing a set almost entirely from their brilliant debut album. When they finished we headed back toward Mandela & I had a short power-kip on the only dry piece of grass I could find while the other guys went to bar & toilet respectively. Only one of them managed to find me again. And then there were 2….
Having already missed 2 of my Friday “must sees” due to the weather, the only other one I had on the list were The Egg in the Roots Tent at 4pm. So having waved goodbye to my sole remaining companion, who headed back to the car for his wellies, I made my one and only venture of the weekend into the new Dance Area.
Surprise, surprise, The Egg had rescheduled their set for much later in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to pop next door for a quick chat with some friends in the rather confusing “Glastonbury Interactive” Tent.
Left to my own devices now, I gradually worked my way back towards camp via various stages. I popped into The Crown to see what the set up in there was like & to be honest it was quite impressive although there was a noticeable clash between the sound systems here & on the Other Stage.
Music was courtesy of Grand National. At least that’s what the girl who proudly introduced herself as being the singer’s wife said they were called.
On to the Glade, which I have to say this year was absolutely wonderful & definitely back to it’s best after being severely over-crowded and under-decorated in recent years. I bumped into Flip & Lisa & danced like a loony while Sphongle played a lengthy set to a very appreciative audience.
Then on again to Jazzworld where I listened to the last few numbers of Nigel Kennedy’s set. He was surprisingly good. I also popped my head into the Circus Tent on the way past & watched some bloke set his socks on fire while his female assistant swallowed a coathanger! I also caught the last couple of numbers from veteran bluesman Terry Reid in Avalon.
Back at the tent for some warmer clothes I could hear Alabama 3 launching into “Mao-Tse-Tung” so I headed back down to Jazzworld & enjoyed probably the best set I’ve ever seen them play, together with Pinchy, Nosehorn & several others from the TOS Boards.
Then I decided to brave the muddy lake that was now the Other Stage Field for some Norwegian Techno courtesy of Royksopp where I was accosted by a pair of larger than life, Stetson wearing party animal cowgirls.
None of the Friday night headliners really took my fancy so I ended up back in Lost Vagueness where ballroom dancing was already in full swing, followed by a trapeze act.
Then good old Father Flounder took to the Ballroom Stage and introduced our old friends Pronghorn for their familiar set of rampant cowpunk.
I really wanted to go up to The Dance Area for P.R.O.D. in the Pussy Parlure Spiegeltent but just couldn’t face the trek through the mud again so I stayed put for the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra who I watched until it got too hot in the Ballroom & then listened to outside with 5c0771e & Kazric & a certain webmaster with whom I maintained an uncomfortable silence.
I think more bopping about in the Diner may have occurred before finding the rest of the crew all tucked up in bed.
So having all ended up going our separate ways the previous day the Stag Party resolved to at least try staying together as a unit for much of Saturday and to a certain extent we succeeded.
Entertainment for the day commenced in Avalon with the excellent Broken Family Band, of whom I had heard much in the way of rave reviews. In true Victor Kyam fashion I was so impressed I bought the CD.
During the Levellers’ Jazzworld set I indulged in a spot of fungal enlightenment and was well on the way to giggledom by the time they finished and so left it to the others to lead the charge for a while.
Some had already headed off to the Pyramid to catch The Kaiser Chiefs set and we somehow managed to find them at the Cider Bus, via a still very flooded Bread & Roses bar, just as the band ploughed into their curtain call, “Oh My God!”.
I stuck with the brothers Snow and arranged to meet the rest of the Crew later at The Crown while we headed into the crowd to see Ash, which was preceded by Sir Bob’s impassioned plea to the G8.
Actually to be fair I spent most of Ash’s set perched on my stool & enjoying the light show on the inside of my eyelids but they sounded OK. I also found the quagmire in the urinals inexplicably hilarious.
Back on planet Earth we managed to make our rendezvous at the Crown & settled down to watch Echo & The Bunnymen on The Other Stage while the female mud wrestlers made fools of themselves. So I promptly managed to fall off my stool & ended up on all fours in 6 inches of mud. I’m such an attention seeker!
At the Glade we met up with the Barnsleyites again and the texted pleas from Aqua & Moose over how much they were missing “Uncle Tort” became too heart rending to bear so I cut loose together with Barnsley’s finest for the little patch at the side of the Avalon Tent that Urban 75 had made their own.
Some mental Bluegrass/Metal crossover from Hayseed Dixie ensued, followed by a good old singalong with The Proclaimers.
Baaba Maal on Jazzworld proved to be an excellent choice over Coldplay who seem to have had mixed reviews. The evening was balmy enough for T Shirts & Shorts until the early hours and once Baaba had finished his set we sat outside The Ballroom while Hayseed Dixie played their third performance of the day.
I wished the Mooses fond farewell & headed for home but was waylaid by the repetitive beats of the unofficial rave tent at the bottom of Dragon Field.
A very pointy William appeared and we danced until the spoilsports in authority shut the system down.
A quick flick through Sunday’s line up decreed that I’d be sticking to the higher ground of Jazzworld & Avalon for most of the day & wouldn’t need to worry about how the main arenas were bearing up. The sun shone and Ska Cubano mixed with pear cider lifted the spirits no end.
After they had finished nobody could make a decision as to what to do next other than we had to make a decision!! I quickly got a little fed up with this and strolled off to join the Urbanites for my second helping of Seize The Day in Avalon.
Now free of the shackles of those who wanted to spend most of their time at the Pyramid, and with a clear blue sky overhead, I spent a couple of hours wandering the Greenfields and snapping off plenty of photos.
I caught a bit of a guy called Steve who juggled with three balls and one (prosthetic) hand and stuffed flaming torches down his trouser legs. He also got the audience to cheer wildly at an empty stage to the bemusement of passers by. You had to be there….
In the Tadpole Stage I discovered a group of people setting up an amazing array of gongs & other instruments. They turned out to be students from the Royal College Of Music who were giving a performance of Javanese Gamalan music and a very soothing half an hour was spent listening to their enchanting sounds.
I had a bit of a wander around the Permaculture Area then through the (rather soggy) Tunnel into the Greenpeace Field before returning to Jazzworld for Oojami.
These guys were definitely one of the finds of the festival. Real up & at ‘em dance music with an Arabian tinge and two drop dead gorgeous belly dancers. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them elsewhere on the festival circuit this summer.
So then it was back to Avalon for personal favourites Baka Beyond who were as uplifting and danceable as ever and were followed by The Baghdaddies for yet more general jumping-about-tomfoolery. My decrepit knees would pay for this in the morning!
I took the short walk back to Jazzworld for the last 3 acts of the festival on that stage. Zap Mama were a lot more earthy than I remember from their previous performance at WOMAD and all the better for it.
The Wailers needed no introduction and tested the greatly improved Jazzworld sound system to the full. And finally Femi Kuti had all the forty-somethings dancing round the flagpoles as the sun went down and the fireworks lit up the night sky.
We all hatched plans to buy a big house in the middle of nowhere with flags in the garden and loud African music playing all night so we never have to grow up.
Not ready to lay Glasto 2005 to rest just yet a few of us wandered around the Greenfields and stumbled across Aussie technoheads Loonaloop doing their didj enhanced stuff.
More dancing ensued after which a comatose William had to be man-handled back to camp.
A final wander down to Lost Vagueness for some Indian gentlemen who may or may not have been The 40 Thieves Orchestra and I was just about ready for bed having outlasted all of my companions for the fifth consecutive night. Bloody lightweights!
Glasto 2005 may be remembered for the rain & mud but the fact of the matter was that in 6 days we had 5 hours of rain and 4 whole days of blindingly hot weather.
I felt rough! Whether it was all that cider catching up with me or a slightly dodgy chicken curry the night before, I’m not sure but I was really struggling with waves of nausea for most of the day and was starting to get a little concerned as to whether I would be able to cope with a 200+ mile drive home.
I did a bit of shopping for a few oddities to take back to the Tort Tribe & did another tour around the Greenfields, bumping into Shannon of Seize The Day for a quick chat en-route.
One of the lads had to be home for work on the Monday evening, the fool, and so those parked in the eastern car parks braved the traffic and headed for home at around lunchtime.
The 2 of us who were left slowly struck the last 2 tents, packed our gear onto the trolley and slogged our way down the railway track to the Western Car Parks.
Traffic was at a standstill & according to the stewards hadn’t moved for 7 hours! So we prepared for a long wait but were pleasantly surprised to see within a very short space of time things starting to move and we were on the road & heading homeward for a hot bath and copious popping of blisters by 6:30.
More photos here