Glastonbury is without doubt the highlight of every year. I love it unequivocally and never want to stop going. 2013 was quite simply ‘The Year of the Stones’.. Context
- Headline acts: The Arctic Monkeys; The Rolling Stones; Mumford and Sons
- Weather: Mostly sunny-ish, but enough rain to bring out the special Glastonbury hat
- Contemperaneous events: Recession. Civil war in Egypt & Syria. Chris Froome winning the Tour de France.
- Author’s festival credentials: Workers Beer bar-staff on the Other Stage bar
See ‘Festival Anthology Explained‘ for an explanation of my scoring system
- The Rolling Stones (5*) – extraordinary anticipation amongst the crowd and, unlike U2 in 2011, even Mick Jagger judged the mood right and let the festival know he felt privileged to be there, not the other way around. Keith Richard’s cackle and “Fank you ladies and gentlemen. Bless your gold rings” introduction is what most sticks in my mind, but ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ were the highlights. A friend of mine summed it up in describing their subsequent performance at Hyde Park: “Not as good as Glastonbury. Better than most things than exist.”
- Dizzee Rascal – I didn’t realise I was a fan, but he really got the festival started [Friday, 8.15pm, Pyramid Stage].
- The Drystones – caught on the Bandstand, down from Williams Green as we weaved our way through to a shift on the bar. They were funny, had a posse of local support, and produced a lot of folky noise for a duo. That’s all I can remember, but there are lots of haphazard ticks in my Guardian guide, which add up to more than the maximum five! [Friday, afternoon, Bandstand]
- Mik Artistik – I’ve loved him since being treated to a performance after diving into the Avalon Cafe to avoid the rain a few years ago. ‘Sweet Leaf of the North’ – a song about a bit of discarded foliage stuck on a windscreen wiper – was my favourite this year. Vintage “pocket full of straws” stuff. [Sunday, noon, Rabbit Hole]
- Goat – I had completely forgotten how much I enjoyed this set until reading through my annotated Guardian guide to write this blog. Goat have been on my ‘must see’ list since an enthusiastic endorsements from one of the blokes in Picadilly Records, Manchester when I was working up there last year. Must go back for more tips [Friday, 2.30pm, West Holts].
- Jagwar Ma – electronic music is not usually my thing, but I loved this lot [Saturday, 1pm, John Peel Stage]
- The Lumineers – a great late-afternoon show. A curmudgeon would say they are an American Mumford and Sons, but I’d say they are better. A few listens to one of their albums post-Glastonbury suggests there is not much substance to their lyrics, but who cares – they knew how to get an audience going and a surprisingly large proportion of the big crowd new all the words, however vacuous they are.
- Tame Impala – sublime, dreamy stuff [Friday, 4.30pm, Other Stage].
- Portishead – saviours of Friday night. Reminded me of Spiritualized on the same stage in 1990-something. Music to lie down and enjoy the stars to [Friday, 10.30pm, Other Stage].
- Only Joe – lively London reggae band on the Gully Stage, one of the fantastic new additions to this year’s festival. [Saturday, noon, Gully]
- Blue King Brown – I have absolutely no recollection of this, which is particularly worrying as they were on in the afternoon. Must look them up. [Sunday, 3.45pm, Gully]
- Ondatropica – the last band of the festival for me and a perfect, full-energy way to close things out. [Sunday, 11.30pm, Glasto Latino]
- Billy Bragg – ubiquitous on the Leftfield Stage that he creates, although I missed his Pyramid Stage set. You can’t beat a bit of Billy. [Can’t remember, but I was passing and it was great]
- Bombay Royale – there were a hell of a lot of them making a good impression on stage, with a kind of Bollywood feel. [Saturday, 2.45pm, West Holts]
- Dub Colossus – I thought I would like them more than a 3, but maybe it was the hangover and lack of sleep. Actually, I can’t remember a thing about it. [Sunday, 2.05pm, West Holts]
- Villagers – enjoyable and undeniably talented, but in the category of bands who I like more when I read about them than when I see them. [Sunday, 3.20pm, John Peel Stage]
- Bobby Womack – I’m really glad I saw him and that he took such a long mid-show break that it didn’t matter that we were late arriving. [Sunday, 9.30pm, West Holts]
- The Arctic Monkeys – I absolutely love them. Alex Turner’s lyrics are enough on their own to make me buy every record, but this was a damp, egotistical performance of which Turner’s cod-American accent and Bono-esque rock-star supposed parody was merely the most annoying aspect. We left half way and were saved by Portishead on the Other Stage. [Friday, Headliners, Pyramid Stage]
- Beady Eye – precisely as disappointing as I was expecting. Unfortunately I couldn’t avoid them from my Other Stage bar workstation. [Friday, 11am, Other Stage]
Acts I missed but really wanted to see:
- Rodriguez – I really can’t bear to write about it, but at least I wasn’t working for the whole of the Rolling Stones’ set