Sunday, 30 June 2013

glastonbury 2013 (part 2)

"How you doin' Glastonbury.. !!"
It's the go to phrase for every band when faced with the sea of faces stretching back into the festival horizon. The sun is out. Everyone is happy. The music is everywhere. 100 stages of it.
The biggest decision of your life for 3 days is which stage and what time.
At the same time you'll understand, rending any overview of the event impossible or pointless.
Glastonbury presents such a mass of performers it can also end up with the bizarre juxtaposition of John Lydon and Public Image Ltd singing "anger is an energy" on one stage and veteran C&W singer Kenny Rogers on another singing "You've painted up your lips an rolled and curled your tinted hair."
Although when it comes to engaging a crowd in between song banter Kenny has it completely nailed. Natural sense of humour and without a hint of pre-planned dialogue the sea of faces laughed and reacted with ease.

On the other hand the shock or need of addressing and engaging this sea of faces can leave what appears the most hardened rockers coming over a bit, well how can you put it... "lame".
Take for example Friday's headline 'Arctic Monkeys'. As tight and hard rock and roll outfit as you can find with Alex Turner's moody and sullen delivery, yet somehow he felt compelled to ask the sea of faces to "..sing Happy Birthday to my mum who's somewhere in the crowd". It's a phrase he might well be advised not return to again. Sort of eclipses any energy built up in a set.
Look guys, as much as we understand the love you might have for mum it's not really a great rock and roll moment when a crowd sings this because 1. It's been asked to and wouldn't have otherwise. 2. It's a ghastly tune,
The older performers are less intoxicated with the gooeyness of the moment and talk calmly with the sea of faces.

Seasick Steve did just that. That and battling with his homemade guitars that were reacting to the open air with an obstinacy to be somewhere else for the opening chords until Steve manhandled the tuning back into shape. Eventually they succumbed to their bosses wishes only to de-tune themselves for the next song. "did you hear that..? " he cheerfully asked "sounded like a washing machine". It did too. But who cares, Seasick Steve with John Paul Jones on bass and drummer Dan Magnusson always work their blues out.

Saturday of course was the big event. The Rolling Stones on the Pyramid Stage. Organiser Michael Eavis had waited decades for them to except the gig and last night the show rolled out onto the Stones' custom arena stage ready to take Mick's energetic pacing and prancing. The rest of the Stones are less animated so require less room, apart from a few feet for Keef to shuffle over to Ronnie or shuffle to the front to throw a few guitar shapes.
The presence here of their old lead guitarist Mick Taylor on a couple of numbers seemed an odd counterpoint considering he mainly strummed his way through a couple of songs with one lead break chucked in, and quite inexplicably played an acoustic guitar on 'Tumbling Dice' which remained unheard throughout.
With Bill Wyman on site with his band it might have been considered worthwhile and appreciated by die hard Stones fans to ask him to join them for a couple of songs . For what ever reason that did not occur.

The Stones set about compiling their show from their back catalogue of hits by the year. The only problem with that is after the Brown Sugar/Tumbling Dice era they sort of dry up making it seem like that's when the Stones did too.
But a surprise addition in the 1967/8 era was greeted with some anticipation, '2000 Light Years From Home' from their often unfairly derided psychedelic 'Satanic Majesties Request' album. Actually it would be preferable to hear that stuff these days than Mick rather inappropriately singing "Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good (a-ha) brown sugar, just like a young girl should.. A-huh.
From a 70 year old man that just sounds plain creepy. Dump that song man.. it's over.

Anyway if anyone thought we were going to be treated to anymore than a track from 'Satanic..' they'd have been disappointed from the off, Mick informed us "..not the whole album... just this" seeming a little reluctant to do just even that track. They launched '2000 Light Years..' with some spaced out improvisation that sounded more than promising until engaging all boosters for the trip into space with a rather drunken version of the song. Slightly staggering and sorely missing Bill Wyman's majestic bass line, Keefs mistimed riff beneath Mick no longer singing the light ethereal vocal of the original, but barking out the lyrics much like er.. well the rest of the set, sounded just like they hadn't played it for 2000 years.
Mick's highest vocal range of the night being the between song cajoling of the sea of faces with high pitch shouts of "OW" through what seemed like most of the second half of their two hour show.
It was an odd way of solving the between song banter problem.
But the Stones show always is a spectacle and that's how it ended. In lots of spectacular lighting to the sound of You Can't Always Get What You Want.
It didn't rain on The Stones so they would have been happy. A few of the sea of faces were interviewed by gabbling BBC presenters who informed us "they were the best band they'd ever seen".
Yes, The Stones Roll on and on and...
Glastonbury finishes tonight with 'Mumford And Son'. Everyone will sing along. Bet someone say's "How you doin' Glastonbury.. !!"

Seasick Steve with stubborn hubcap

The Strypes don't care where they are.