I'm an armchair festival goer these days, all that sleeping in tents, queuing for hours for the showers and standing for hours in a muddy field waiting for the roadie to stop saying "one... two" every 10 seconds. So luckily at least whilst BBC3 exists on-air I get to watch some festivals on tv. So it is Glastonbury weekend. I'm writing this on Sunday morning so premature review perhaps but with Dolly Parton and Kasabian the big acts on Sunday if I was in a tent in Somerset I'd be thinking about packing up early and beating a retreat in advance of the rest of the army anyway.
Friday was a great line up. Elbow and Paolo Nutini were the highlights both delivering terrific sets. Elbow are the best festival band around with their huge sing a long anthems and charismatic stage presence - a band that simply walk on in jeans and shirts and nail the music first and foremost. Paolo I've loved since first seeing his début on Jools Holland's Later some years back and his latest album reinforces my belief he is a great great singer. On Friday night he delivered a stunning vocal performance of great strength and emotion.
Saturday... Robert Plant played a set that really ought to define Glastonbury's position as an all inclusive festival. A band of eclectic musicians playing new and old stuff with aplomb and his soaring voice above it all. Even when he touched on the Led Zep catalogue both Rock n Roll and Black Dog underwent total overhauls with African instrumentation etc. so that they were hardly recognisable from their original form. Whole Lotta Love was the only one there the iconic guitar riff thundered out but again the middle was totally re-worked and re-orchestrated. Great set but I felt most of the audience had gone expecting a bit more Led Zep given the response to Whole Lotta Love - but that isn't what Robert is about these days - he's made that pretty clear folks... live with it.
Metallica - the controversial headliners. Petitions from regular festival goers to get them off the bill, demands for boycotts since James Hetfield is pro-hunting. Is this the Glastonbury love, tolerance and inclusive values that we expect? Hmm.... For a start hunting has a completely different social position in the USA compared with the UK where I would argue a lot of the previous arguments against it has been more an allegory for much of the class struggle that has blighted UK politics and social development at least since the beginning of the 20th century. Also Metallica are up there in terms of record sales - arguably over 100million which puts them up in the upper reaches of Rock royalty - only AC/DC as a heavy band out score them (frankly musically you can't really say AC/DC are heavy metal just heavy rock... mostly they play rock n roll just loudly and in short trousers).
So I've seen Metallica live 3 times myself and every time been impressed. They nail the performance with energy that bands half their age would give their limbs to have and without any need for looks, nods, concerns they are tight as a clamshell. I thought they were outstanding last night. The crowd looked large to me, not the mass boycott asked for and also seemed to be going nuts for much of the set. Metallica are not like some metal bands with careful managed clothing images (Judas Priest) or large sets (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest) they are four guys in black jeans and shirts who let their thunderous music make its own statement. Will Glastonbury replace Download or Sonisphere as iconic metal festivals? Clearly not but will we see other huge metal bands now playing there? Iron Maiden have publicly said they won't but their style of bombastic, tuneful, story telling and incredible stage production would fit Glastonbury well I feel. The mould is broken lets see.
Not sure this'll work in all regions but ... One....