Entertainment behind the scenes
It’s a phrase often applied to the Glastonbury music festival, where the combination of some 180,000 people, rain and 900 acres of grassy fields in an English valley can produce an awful lot of the stuff.
At only my second Glastonbury after last year’s sun-baked edition, the rain and mud has come as a bit of a shock. Of course I’m careful who I complain to at the festival – veterans merely shrug their shoulders and say something like “nothing compared to …” and name a year when the conditions were particularly unpleasant.
Getting from one venue to the next is not easy at the best of times in Glastonbury, with crowds and a poor sense of direction often getting in my way. Now it takes at least twice as long as I trudge through sticky, squelchy mud and try to avoid the kind of messy belly flops I’ve seen performed – mostly accidentally – by fellow festival goers.
Keeping the tent from turning into a mud bath is another challenge, and taking notes in the rain a further frustration.
As a first-time Glastonbury-goer, I travelled to this year’s event with some trepidation. After all, I had to pitch my own tent, find my way around a massive site with hundreds of bands playing on dozens of stages, get enough food and water to live, and face the infamous portable toilet facilities that have a habit of overflowing as 150,000-plus revellers relieve themselves.
As the event reaches its conclusion tonight, with Stevie Wonder the headline act, I can safely say I would do it all again. Joining 100,000 or so people jumping up and down to the likes of Shakira, Scissor Sisters and Muse at the main Pyramid stage is something to remember, as is the infectious feel-good vibe that seems to fill the air despite the concentration of so many people in relatively small spaces. Of course, the smiling faces may have as much to do with alcohol and illegal substances as good music, but it doesn’t seem to matter as people enter an alternative universe for four days.
Music, beer and wellington boots tend to top Glastonbury revellers’ must-have list. This year they have added another essential commodity — shade. Baking hot temperatures in the high 20s Celsius are reducing many of the 150,000 revellers in the southwest of England to a lethargic crawl as they struggle to cope with the heat, not to mention the hangover.
Walk around the sprawling rural site and you will see unusually large empty spaces and then hundreds of people seemingly randomly crammed in odd places — against walls, around trees in the middle of dusty tracks and under benches. Then it becomes clear why — they have found shade from the sun, which has been beating down on the site virtually uninterrupted for the last two days.
Glastonbury, at 42.
While I worry about whether I have packed my ear plugs, the conversations of music fans around me on the train to Glastonbury this morning make me feel very old indeed. What does not help is that everyone in my crowded carriage from London’s Paddington station looks less than half my age. One girl in a high-spirited group reads a text from a friend describing what she was up to in a college library late the night before (hint: it was neither reading nor sleeping). A boy discusses what drugs he is hoping to score at the festival. Alcohol is a popular topic, overall, as is first-year university exam results.
That can be quite an intimidating range of topics for a man of middle age. Add to that the mind-blowingly bewildering geography of the sprawling site when you get here and I begin to wonder whether I am too old for this gig. A Glastonbury “virgin” too. Really, the shame.
After years of adulation over the hilarity of their genre-spawning rockumentary This is Spinal Tap, screenwriter Christopher Guest and the other actors of the much-loved spoof band Spinal Tap decided it was time to pay a visit to the prehistoric monument behind one of the hit movie’s funniest scenes – Stonehenge.
News of the visit comes courtesy of Canadian indie rock outfit Metric, who, like Spinal Tap, were fresh off a performance at Britain’s Glastonbury music festival when they made a pit stop to check out the landmark.