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

Glastonbury 2016 – not that muddy really

The British summer festival season is in full so swing and so it is time for the first of many markontour reviews, starting with what remains the greatest of them all – Glastonbury. As usual the acts I saw will be scored based on what I scribbled down at the time and with a tendency to allocate extra stars to the new and unusual.

Headline acts: Muse; Adele; Coldplay.

Weather: contrary to many media descriptions, this year's festival really wasn't the muddiest ever, but there was enough rain to require emergency bin-liner modification to the markontour tent (R.I.P.).

Contemperaneous events: enough people believed the lies of Boris and Farage for Britain to vote itself out of the European Union.

Author's festival credentials: working the bar between the Wow and Sonic stages with the amazing LARAG team.


The Scores


Kate Tempest (5*) – two amazing sets, first a brilliant monologue and then a fiery improvisation with her brother on decks. Progressive, achingly smart and politically spot-on. (9pm/10pm, Rhum Shack/Hell Stage, Thursday

Jagwar Ma – a pumping, blissed out set in a tiny corner of The Park that revived memories of seeing them for the first time in Los Angeles a few years ago. (1am maybe?, Crows Nest, Friday)

Meilyr Jones – full-octane and slightly trippy in the manner of Welsh compatriots, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, this was a startling performance in a tiny tent. The people in front had vampire bats on sticks. (Midnight, Crows Nest, Saturday)

The Very Best – I have scored everything I saw in the Crows Nest with 5/5, which reflects what a cracking atmosphere they conjured up. This Malawian/British band got a massive dance going with an acoustic set, despite a band name that sounds like a corny MOR song. (1am, Crows Nest, Saturday)

Pete Fowler – a stonking DJ set from the man who also made the mannikin of John Evans for Gruff Rhys' 'American Interior' film. (2am, Crows Nest, Saturday)

She Drew The Gun – my new favourite band. Steve Lamacq was lurking appreciatively. “We buy these things we don't need / With money we don't have / To impress people we don't like”. (11am, John Peel, Sunday & 2.50pm, Greenpeace, Saturday)



Speech Debelle – it was a bit hard to hear at the back of the Rhum Bar but still a great indication of why she won the Mercury Prize a few years back. (8pm, Rhum Shack, Thursday)

Rozi Plain – Walthamstow's finest, who is deservedly getting a lot of airplay on Radio 6 this year, as well as being on the 2015 Festive Fifteen. (7.30, Crows Nest, Friday)

Ronnie Spector – a real treat and a masterclass in stage performermance, joined by ZZ Top for 'Be My Baby', and topped by a cheeky Amy Winehouse 'tribute'. (8pm, The Park, Friday)

Renegade Brass Bandtop rap, brass & politics and a real crowd pleaser in the drizzle. (Noon, Greenpeace Stage, Saturday)

The Big Moon – full of spiky attitude, Juliette Jackson and co had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Their debut album promises to be special. (2pm, William's Green, Saturday)

Palace – dressed like the Beastie Boys and sounding like Jagwar Ma (see above), Palace dreamily overcame technical difficulties & captured the Glastonbury spirit by staying on stage to get selfies with the crowd. (11am, John Peel, Saturday)

Madness – 'It Must Be Love' provided the one real Glastonbury moment of full crowd participation that I witnessed this year and they also did a lovely tribute of Bowie's 'Kooks'. Surely this should be a 5, but my note has 4 ticks and the rule is to go with what I wrote at the time. (4.30pm, Pyramid, Saturday)

Lee Scratch Perry – mad as bats, this was a characteristically testy performance on the reggae stage opposite where we were working. The day after David Cameron resigned, this former Bob Marley producer was happy to keep twisting the knife. (11pm, Gully, Saturday)

New Order – in truth we only saw 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', but it's such a great song it's worth 4 stars on its own. (10.30pm, Other Stage, Saturday)

Beck – slightly let down by a crowd that was mostly waiting to be bored by Coldplay, Beck was still amazing & delivered a cracking covers outro as we made a hasty exit from looming mundanity. (7.15pm, Pyramid, Sunday)



A Guy Called Gerald – the set was pretty good, but the crush was too great to dance and enjoy to the full. (1am, The Glade, Thursday)

Nothing But Thieves – big crowd and I could understand why, but didn't really connect with me. (11.50, John Peel, Saturday)

Earth Wind and Fire – I know we had a briliant time making new friends in the mud, but I can't remember a song & didn't write down a score. (9.45pm, West Holts, Sunday)

Rag 'n' Bone Man – extraordinary voice & great stage presence. (2.30pm, Gully, Sunday)


Here's what you could've won

Bands that I regret not seeing / not being able to get to included Wolf Alice, Saint Etienne – whom I was gutted not to see on the Park Stage due to a conflicting bar shift, Christine and the Queens, and most of all, James – whose delayed start to open the festival on the Other Stage meant we missed out.


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