Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Glastonbury 2014

If 2013 was the year the Stones came to Glastonbury, then 2014 was the year that Dolly Parton charmed the world’s greatest music festival. Here follows my annual anthology:


Headline acts: The Arcade Fire, Metallica, Kasabian

Weather: mostly the sun had its hat on, but this year’s weather will be remembered for the biblical downpours although the mud never reached the impassable proportions of some previous years

Contemparaneous events: a Brazilian World Cup, Rolf Harris jailed for paedophilia, and Andy Coulson for phone hacking

Author’s festival credentials: rare outing as a punter rather than bar-staff


The Scores

See ‘Festvial Anthology Explained‘ for an explanation of my scoring system.




  • Dolly Parton (5*) the biggest crowd of the festival gathered on Sunday afternoon to see a near-septugenarian country star and went away in universal awe. Dolly was in raconteur mode and judged the mood perfectly, with plenty of humility and gratefulness for the chance to play “Glastonberry”. Having started with homilies about growing up on a farm and being used to mud, she then introduced a new song on the topic with an easy to remembr chorus (“mud,mud,mud”). My favourite, ‘Jolene’, came early but the highlights were ‘9 to 5’ (massive singalong) and, bizarrely, a cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’, accompanied by Richie Sambora himself. [Sunday, Pyramid Stage, 16.20]

  • Jungle – a packed crowd in the John Peel tent suddenly realised they were witnessing something special about four songs in and a Glastonbury moment ensued. Jungle have previously been a somewhat secretive band, who went viral on YouTube with their video of a 7 year old breakdancing sensation, without revealing their own identities. No we know and hopefully a bit more than fifteen minutes of fame will follow. Euphoric enough to even bring out the sun. [Friday, John Peel Stage, 1pm]
  • Courtney Barnett – just perfect. Witty performance, with a brilliant version of Avant Gardener, even though it was a shame not to hear ‘Depreston’. A star in the making. [Friday, Park Stage, 15.30]
  • Elbow – Guy Garvey is now in complete command of the Glastonbury crowd. The only reason it didn’t quite hit the peak of their performance of 2012 was because wel now expect them to be brilliant every time. Managed a reverse Mexican wave again and a lot of synchorinised arm waving. Fly Boy Lunette and My Sad Captains set to become live regulars [Friday, Pyramid Stage, 20.00]
  • Gruff Rhys – interviewed by Will Hodgkinson about ‘American Interior’, Gruff started off like he didn’t know where he was and remained slightly perplexed throughout. But he was very funny with it as he described his quest to retrace a distant relative, John Evans’, search for the last Welsh tribe of the Madogwyg. Back at midnight, the Super Furry Animals front-man performed the album that accompanies the book. Priceless. [Saturday, Crows Nest, 12 noon interview / 12 midnight solo set]
  • Fat White Family Band – brilliantly chaotic. Mad-cap lead singer who seems to have modelled himself on Shane MacGowan. Raucous. Having seen them again since I’m surprised I thought they were worth 5 stars, but I did at the time and them’s the rules.. [Saturday, John Peel Stage, 15.00]
  • Robert Plant – awesome despite the rain. You could feel a silent groan when Plant announced he was going to do a set that “mixed Eastern and African influences” (although not from this quarter), but it soon transpired that this meant re-interpreting Led Zeppellin greatest hits along with blues classics. Plant belting out a pumping ‘Whole Lotta Love’ was possibly the best moment of the weekend. [Saturday, Pyramid Stage, 17.30]
  • Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – drawing an older audience to sing-a-long with hit after hit from The Beautiful South and The Housemartins. Lovely. [Saturday, Acoustic Tent, 8pm]


  • Afriquoi – a London-based band assembled from at least four African nations, providing uplifting African-infusion dance. [Shangri Hell, Thrusday, 9pm]
  • Rob Da Bank – cracking DJ set that we mainly enjoyed in the gaps between bands on the Hell stage, [Heaven, Thursday, 8pm]
  • The War on Drugs – drew a big crowd for the morning slot and filled the ground with swirling, psychedelic tinged rock. [Pyramid Stage, Friday, 12.30pm]
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela – there must have been at least 40,000 out to hear these Spanish-guitar rockers and it almost hit the highs of the first time I saw them at Glastonbury, headlining the West Holts stage in 2010, except then Rodrigo chose the perfect closing song, in ‘Wish You Were Here’, while this year it took four or five goes and ‘Creep’ before the crowd worked out we were supposed to provide the vocals. [Pyramid Stage, Friday, 1.45pm]
  • Will Hodgkinson – competing with Alex Petridis to be my favourite music journalist, but now sadly writing for the Times rather than the Guardian, Will Hodgkinson was talking about his autobiographical account of a family in breakdown. Dad joined a religious cult and swore to celibacy; Mum adopted extreme feminism; older brother (now editor of ‘The Idler’) a teenage intellectual and disdainful of his younger sibling, Will found solace in Bowie but still looks back on growing up with great affection. [Saturday, Crows Nest, 12.45pm]
  • Ken LivingstoneKen taking over the Tony Benn slot and doing a passionate job of it. A rally for a Labour government, with Ken arguing that while only two General Elections have really changed things in his lifetime (1945 and 1979), people demand that Ed Miliband be ambitious and aim to roll back Thatcher’s neo-liberalism in a way that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown declined. [Leftfield, 12pm, Sunday]
  • Jake Bugg – so this is where the non-Dolly watchers went and we only caught the last few tracks, but on this evidence Mr Bugg seems much better live than reviews have suggested. ‘Lightning Bolt’ was great and he gets an extra star for covering Neil Young’s ‘Needle and the Damage Done’. [Acoustic Tent, Sunday, 5.35pm]
  • M.I.A. – stunning stage set, with great white wheels decorate in Tamil motifs, while MIA glittered in gold. An angry performance, partly because the BBC refused to broadcast it due to the singer bringing out Tamil refugees to highlight their campaign against deportation (we think – it wasn’t very clear). Brilliant if a bit erratic [Friday, West Holts, 22.15].
  • Massive Attack – huge performance for a big crowd. Highly politically charged with the screen behind the band running a ticker tape on the Iraq war, US survellience, Palestine and other issues. A little bit of me was thinking that a sing-a-long is better at the end of Glastonbury, but I got one of those later anyway]. Sunday, Other Stage, 10pm]
  • Shy Fx – awesome tunes and I would now like to know what they were, other than the bit of Blondie that I definitely recognized! [Arcadia, Sunday, 1am]
  • Singalong in the Park – fun finish with some Oasis belted out around the piano amidst temporary new friends. [The Park, Sunday, 2.30am-ish]



  • King Porter Stomp – lively, erm, “stomp” including a swing version of Sweet Child of Mine [Thursday, Shangri Hell, 8pm]
  • Parquet Courts – strangely less fast and furious live than on record and suffered a little from the rain delay. But very good. [Park Stage, Friday, 6.30pm]
  • Billy Braggwe only caught the end of the show, having stayed at the Pyramid for Elbow, but still got treated to a New England, replete with the Kirsty MacColl verse. The chatter between songs gets less radical with the years: “holding capitalism to account, that’s what we mean by socialism.” [Friday, Leftfield, 21.00]
  • Wolf Alice – I honestly can’t remember a thing about them other than that when they were introduced it sounded like “Rolf Harris” and so was met with stoney silence. I think it may have been a bit prog-rocky but I put three ticks in the programme. [John Peel, Saturday, 4pm]
  • John Grant – voice worked much better in a big outdoor venue than when we saw him at the Roundhouse. Top notch, although we only caught the last three songs and thus can’t go more than 3 stars. [Park Stage, Saturday, 9.30pm]
  • Mogwai – something to watch while waiting for Gruff Rhys at the Crows Nest. Rather beautiful and dreamy actually. [Park Stage, Saturday, 11pm]
  • Mik Artistik – we caught ‘War on Turds’ and a couple of others. Entertaining as always and perfectly at home in the cabaret fields. [Summer House, Sunday, 6pm]
  • Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit – I do quite like him, although I can’t help feeling that he provides music for private school boys and girls [Sunday, Avalon Stage, 19.45].
  • Jagwar Ma – brilliant from the off, providing a dreamy, float-away ambience, although it worked slightly better when I saw them at the Elmore in LA than in this glorified beer tent. [Williams Green, Sunday, 7pm]


  • Gengahr – just popped in on passing. Liz wanted to leave after a few bars, but the second track sounded like they have some promise. [BBC Introducing, Sunday, 14.15





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