Saturday, 11 July 2009

Glastonbury Festival 2009 (Part 2)

Michael Eavis has been quoted as saying that he thought this year’s Glastonbury Festival was the best yet, but he would say that, wouldn’t he? Nevertheless, looking at the headline line-up of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and a reformed Blur, you feel he may have a point. Certainly, there was a good feeling about this year’s event and I for one enjoyed it immensely. It has made my task of picking my favourite three acts humongously difficult and I have thought long and hard about it, as well as going to the BBC website to see highlights of bands for the second time just to make sure. In the end, I have just had to go with what I enjoyed on a personal level rather than what was clearly good stuff but didn’t touch me in the same way. So here goes in time honoured reverse order:

In third place is Florence And The Machine who played to a huge crowd on the John Peel Stage. This is a controversial choice for me because a) they didn’t quite meet the hype put around by the media, and b) Florence’s singing was a little wayward at times. But what sealed their place on the podium was the performance. Florence prowled the stage like a wild animal and every feral snarl and leap was a captivating watch. This is what separates live music from MTV video. There was nothing choreographed, nothing thought about for more than a nanosecond just pure instinct – it’s called star quality and Ms Welch has it. Pity the music wasn’t a bit better but the performance was captivating and for that reason alone they get my vote.

In second is Bruce Springsteen. I am not a Boss fan and have never seen him play live but I sat through nearly an hour and a half of his set without knowing most of the songs and still loved it. I dare say that the size of the Glastonbury set up was not too daunting for Bruce – he’s probably played to bigger audiences before but somehow the occasion seemed to get to him and he looked like he was savouring every minute of it. He sang, he danced, he played guitar and risked life and limb in the audience and it was clearly as much fun as his old mate Joe Strummer had told him it would be. A true icon.

And so to the top spot and after much heart searching I’ve given it to Bat For Lashes who played the Other Stage on Sunday night. Never have I enjoyed seeing someone whom I wasn’t quite sure about blossom so assuredly on stage. Natasha Khan and her fabulous backing band (including Charlotte Hatherley on guitars, basses and keys) have elevated the nursery school music lesson to epic heights. All manner of strange percussion instruments were rattled and shook, ancient keyboards were prodded and a staggering variety of drums thumped, yet despite the musical complexity somehow you felt you could join in if only you had a detergent bottle filled with rice.

The playing was highly inventive, especially the drumming and Nat’s vocals were cool and beautiful. Top stuff.

There are so many other bands that have had to be relegated to the ‘Highly Commended’ category that I would have to continue this post into part 3 but mention in dispatches should go to Neil Young, Blur, Ting Tings, Crosby Stills and Nash, Franz Ferdinand, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lady GaGa, all of whom I enjoyed unreservedly.

Follow that Mr Eavis.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

YES! Bruce made it on your list of the top three! I am so happy about that :)

musicobsessive said...

Barb - now how did I know you were going to say that...?:)