Song Of The Day #I Can’t Wait To Live In Berlin.

Boys Noize – Jeffer

I don’t think I need say much more apart from HOW GOOD ARE CLUBS IN BERLIN GOING TO BE?

Glastonbury 2010 – Part Three.

Oh Saturday… The Saturday of Glastonbury was hot! So bloody hot, but by this point I was getting used to it. Acclimatising, if you will. There wasn’t so much rushing around this time as there were less good bands to see, but we still made a good effort of it, and had a wicked evening at Shangri-La after the music finished too. Lovely stuff 🙂

We had nothing scheduled until The National at 5pm, so we took a wander around the whole site after a breakfast from Veggie Heaven, which, annoyingly, was not as good as last year. And I managed to get beans all over me 😦 But after that, we found an outstanding wine place in the Green Fields! I believe it was called Pennard Organic Wines, and we had a cup of the strawberry wine and wandered into a mini kids area. I mean the area was mini, kids are already mini.

Story time 🙂

To display to us how diverse Glastonbury is, we inadvertently managed to pick the spot of shade where next to us was a small model of ships and general sea-bay-18th century antics. Some chap in a dashing costume then started advertising his performance to the general public, and for half an hour, we were read a lovely story, with the models as props and visual aids, in the cooling shade, on a relaxed Saturday afternoon, with strawberry wine – and it was all about pirates! It was excellent. In many ways, I’m very glad there was no interesting music on at that time. It’s pleasant being read a story when you’re 22 and should be reading to small things yourself.

After our literary excursion, and once we’d finished the wine, we went for a wander and our first musical event was Wild Beasts, on the John Peel stage. They were ok. They didn’t exactly ‘wow’ me, but then they weren’t tragically bad I suppose. Accomplished in what they were trying to do, but nothing special. Like nearly everything else, according to me, it would seem. There is literally nothing else to say about Wild Beasts. Except one of them REALLY needs a haircut.

Mr National protects his retinas

Moving on, our next band was The National. I love this band. Really, I think they’re brilliant. Their performance was good – they started with ‘Anyone’s Ghost’, my favourite track from their new album, and also played ‘Mr November’ and ‘Fake Empire’, along with a good mix from the last two albums. However, they were everything I expected them to be – excellent, very good live, a good together band, but for some reason I wasn’t blown away by them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t immense, but then I was expecting them to be so. Possibly this is why, but on the plus side, at least they didn’t disappoint. What a lovely band 🙂 What an interesting band! Surrounded by a tsunami of generic indie bands, it’s excellent to find good ones still clinging on.

Tom wished to see Holy Fuck at The Queen’s Head after this, and refusing something to him is impossible to do, so off we went. It’s also a bloody stupid idea to refuse something musical to him. I believe it was described to me as “live electronica”, to which I said “How?!”, but it turned out to be refreshingly good! A huge surprise, his suggestions can be exceptionally hit and miss. Plus with a name like Holy Fuck, and described as live electronica, it could have been anything. But it was good! Almost definitely best live, though check out the track ‘Stay Lit’, not too offensive on the ears (for me anyway), and not pretentious wankers! Good music, actually good and original music. By that I mean they didn’t sound like every other band played most at the moment.

We spent the majority of the evening on that side of the festival site, and our next stop was to get a pizza. Yum. This was consumed, with a pint of cider, in the ‘West Holts’ field, with Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra to entertain us. Having seen them before, it was rather comforting to have them playing in the background, and like last time, the orchestra is outstanding, and does not necessarily need the ‘guidance’ of Mr Dammers to help them along. He did, however, manage to bring Arthur Brown (as in, Crazy World Of-) onstage, which I thought was pretty cool as I assumed he was already dead. But no!


Now, this evening, everyone was talking about Muse. Muse have never been a band I’ve caught the bug of, which appears to be essential to get the need to see them as much as the rest of the site did. So instead, we went to see Parliament/Funkadelic with George Clinton. Having only heard about them in the Mighty Boosh, and after researching their music on Spotify (and discovering their songs were about 5-6 minute tracks of the same sort of thing), I was dubious. It was another occasion of me saying “There’s nothing much on. What shall we see?” and Tom saying “Well I did rather want to see…”, HOWEVER, they were freaking awesome, and possibly the best thing I saw this festival. They all looked like they were having so much fun, and there were times when they’d merge one song into another for about twenty minutes, so you just got your groove on solidly, occasionally clapping when you were allowed/able to, and everyone in the field seemed to be having a good time. There was no crowding or pushing or anything – there was a general feeling of “this is awesome” and it was so much fun! I can’t remember the last time a band was actually fun. They went on for ages, but it felt like half an hour – I also can’t remember the last time I wanted a band to play more. YES P-Funk!

The weirdness of Shangri-La

By this stage of the festival, money had been saved (as apparently we’re too boring to drink it or something), and money had been found (by those who had drunk their money and dropped the rest of it), so to the Brothers Bar we went again, and then headed to Shangri-La before the Muse crowds got there. We actually got in this time! Easily as well, and headed straight for a crazy place called Bezs Acid House, which was, like the last event, so much fun! Apparently no one cares what you look like at Glasto, and we, for the second time that evening, cracked out some serious dance moves (yes really), and grooved away until we’d had enough. Which, given the early waking hours, the sun and the fact it was 2am, was pretty soon after, but we also explored the other crazy goings-on there, like a place called Fish N Tits, the Micro-rave, and consumed a saltfish fritter from the Caribbean food bar. It was simply marvellous, a brilliant evening. If all clubs were like that, I’d be there every evening. Being filled with scantily clad women, drunk leery men, and terrible music, I am not.

Glastonbury 2010 – Part Two.

This edition takes us into…

Friday, and music (finally) properly starting! Saying “finally” suggests boredom – which, obviously it wasn’t – but it did get a little exhausting walking around the site in such heat.  It was all about water and suncream (unlike last year, and I did not wish to be so sunburnt this year). We had quite a busy schedule for Friday this meant, but that was definitely a good thing. It was quite impressive the amount we managed to see, but first we started the day off with a plate of vegetarian breakfast food from a cafe in the Green Fields. I am now a major fan of the Green Fields – not specifically for the breakfasts as this particular one wasn’t the ultimate way to break your fast this festival – but the general ambiance and relaxed nature of the place meant it was a lovely little area to escape to if Shangri-La and Stevie all became too much for you.

The Bin-Men groove away to Steel Harmony

So what did we see? First we went to another of my favourite areas, The Park, to be entertained by the first act on here, called Steel Harmony. This was advertised to me as “a steel-pan band from Manchester”, to which I said “yeah alright then”, but they turned out to be excellent, and so much fun. The weather was perfect as they played somewhat more buoyant covers of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Transmission’ (Joy Division), ‘Hey Ya’, ‘Single Ladies’, and, my favourite number, ‘Ever Fallen In Love’. It was an excellent way to start the main music, and I would recommend them. You missed out!

Next came a search for shade, which was a tricky time considering Worthy Farm, being a farm, is pretty exposed and all covered parts were already taken by those who had had the idea earlier than us. However, Femi Kuti, son of the pioneer of Afrobeat Fela Kuti, was performing on the Pyramid Stage at this time, so our attention was drawn to him more than the sun, even if he did state that the weather was like being “in Nigeria”. Awesome. However, Kuti Jnr had some serious tunes – I prefer his work to his dad’s, as Fela seems to have a habit of milling a song to death, turning it into a ten minute track when it should have been three. Which is what Femi does, he makes songs of a decent length. Plus they all looked like they were having fun, and put on an excellent show. It was music that you didn’t have to know before you went, and that makes up for a lot. Good work Kuti clan!

We were able, after this, to make our way to The Other Stage and catch the majority of The Stranglers set, which also turned out to be very good. The area was packed, which I found unusual – I’ve always found support for the Stranglers minimal in today’s society, and deem them as one of the most underrated bands of all time, but it was a good performance, and we saw ‘Always The Sun’, ‘Peaches’, ‘No More Heroes’, ‘Golden Brown’ and ‘Nice And Sleazy’ to name but a few. Crazy seeing such numbers you listened to on scratchy vinyl, and it was hellishly hot by this point, but good all the same.

Seth is Powered By The Sun

Then a quick transfer to the Croissant Neuf stage in the Green Fields, to see one of my favourites, Seth Lakeman. I was mildly disappointed that someone (Tom) wasn’t quite as enthused by him as I’d hoped, but the tent was PACKED and everyone else seemed to enjoy it too 🙂 I love Seth. He ended the first round with ‘Kitty Jay’ but it was so crowded and lacking in air-flow that we didn’t stay for the encore and went for a wander instead. Had I not seen him previously, I would have insisted on staying longer, but I am not a fan of making people do things they don’t wish to (Kristof).

As the heat continued to melt us, we went in search of shade in the Pyramid Stage field, as Willie Nelson was playing. The only cover available was under the big tree quite a way up the hill, and we found a corner to sit in as Mr Nelson belted out song after song, in his 30-track set. Quite impressive for someone who’s nearly 80. His songs, being only around 2-3 minutes in length each, were occasionally broken up with a mumbled “Thank you very much” but generally he just kept going. Such stamina!

We moved on to The Other Stage as Tom wished to see Phoenix. They didn’t exactly inspire me, but I was able to sit and save energy, whilst Tom stood and provided shade (boyfriends are AWESOME 😀 ) Musically, this was probably the weak point of the day, as I found it, to quote the final festival review (I think) “accomplished, but not particularly memorable, Middle Of The Road”. Which disappointed me as Tom’s taste is anything BUT middle of the road. Usually weird and controversial, but definitely MOR. But the evening sets more than made up for it!

Yorke and Greenwood get their melancholy mood on

After Phoenix’s performance, we made our way up to The Park, by way of the tent, for supplies from Mummy Bench and a beverage of the wine or ale variety (I miss Glasto 😦 ). For supper, we tried Teriyaki Chicken! I’d only ever had this in crisp form before, in that crazy selection of new crisp flavours that Walkers brought out for the World Cup (which was, obviously, SO worth going to all that trouble). This makes me sound retarded and uncultured. I am not. I was merely brought up as vegetarian, and therefore haven’t tried such delicacies as marinated chicken. It turned out to be pretty good really, except possibly a little bland as it was just chicken and rice. And why oh why did they give us chopsticks? I’m all for authenticity, but this is a field in Somerset, not a Tokyo high street, and there’s no need to be so impractical. Or pretentious. Forks always work better.

The general plan was to head to The Park for some of the evening anyway, but then we were informed that the Secret Gig there that evening could be Radiohead. Radiohead! But it would clash with Hot Chip… Struggling with which musical treat to choose, we stayed in The Park, thinking that we could hop down to Hot Chip if it turned out to be some retard instead. The Radiohead rumour disagreed with what the sound-desk had informed Tom earlier – that the Special Guest was to be Michael Jackson.

We found a space very near the front, and the first guest on stage was Mr Eavis himself. Huge cheers! Who would have thought a humble farmer would be such a hero? He introduced the next two stars, and the set turned out to be one from Thom Yorke and Jonny “I’ve got no face” Greenwood. It was outstanding. Thom Yorke looked like “a homeless tennis player”, and they played a selection of his solo work, ending things with Karma Police which was immense – the entire crowd joined in and gave me tingles on the back of my neck. Sounds gay but it’s happened to you I’m sure. Their last track was Street Spirit, and even after they left the stage, people were still yelling “For a minute there, I lost myself” (etc), and this was definitely a Festival Highlight. And as it turns out, Hot Chip are playing at the Berlin Festival, so we made the right choice.

Snoop introduces the Plastic Beach

Not only were we able to see those two marvellous musicians, we got a relatively decent spot for Gorillaz, the Friday headliner, and they put on an excellent show. It was definitely more a ‘show’ than just a set or them playing their music, and such effort had been put into it! General feedback seems to be disappointment, although this generally seems to be down to people not knowing the newer material, Albarn possibly considering it might be like last year’s Blur performance, and people wanting to hear Clash songs and other numbers from the guests and members of the Gorillaz live band. But why? They are performing as Gorillaz, not anything they’ve done previously. I was very much impressed with their set – not quite a Festival Highlight, but still very, very good. So many stars on stage! All guests appeared apart from Mos Def, and they played some absolute tunes. A very good way to round-up a lovely day of music.

The next plan was to head to Shangri-La to check out the insane night-life there, but it was so full of people trying to get there (to the point of being claustrophobic in a crowd), and the main entrance was blocked off, so it really wasn’t worth it. Instead, we found joy in the 50p Tea Tent, with a cup of hot tea and sharing a piece of cake. Which is much better than trying to force your way into something that could be rubbish. You can always rely on tea.

Glastonbury 2010 – Part One.

Well this was an epic five days wasn’t it? So epic that I feel it deserves four (yes, four) blog entries about it! Detailing the amount of sunrays penetrating pale skin, the quantities of dust in one’s eyes, each and every band viewed, meals consumed and pints of cider drunk, this is how Glastonbury’s 40th Birthday unfolded for two people.

Wednesday – After an early wake and a decent breakfast, and a small wait for a younger siblings to get packed and ready, the car was loaded and a drive through the tiny roads of the West Country was taken. For me, it actually took until seeing the white snaking line of the superfence to get as excited as I expected myself to be, but finally it happened. And then Tom felt less retarded at being as excited as he was. Equality returned 🙂 We were allowed to park in what has to be the biggest house known to man that wasn’t owned by the National Trust or English Heritage (it had a lake, stables, a wood! And required a small cart contraption to get from the house to the end of the drive. How ridiculous). And this dwelling just so happened to be literally right next to the festival site. So, after parking, onwards we went on foot, unaware that the next hour would involve the biggest trek ever. After a little ‘queuing’ (just a flock of people moving slowly through really), festival bands were adorning our currently clean wrists, and bags and programmes and quantities of other free paraphernalia was thrown our way as we entered the site properly. One of our party thought bringing three crates of continental lager was a good idea, so after a visit to the lock-ups, we began the long, long, exceptionally sweaty, walk to the other side of Worthy Farm – with the Ribbon Tower in the distance, we made our advance on The Park.

A slightly frustrated moment occurred when it would appear all spaces had been taken, and we would not be able to make The Park our home for the next five days, but we weaved our way in, pitched three tents, separated with one of the party, and then commenced the much-anticipated Wednesday Wander. A must-do for all festival goers.

This year, as “the football” was on, and I was bloody hungry by this point, Tom and I returned to the place we visited on the Wednesday last year, and found a shady spot to consume a Schnitzel Burger whilst said football was being watched. I fell asleep after this so I have no idea of the match’s outcome, and couldn’t care less anyway, but apparently it doesn’t matter now anyway. The more pressing issue was with the Brothers Bar, and to get the first pint of strawberry cider. For some reason, it tastes nicer out of a cardboard cup, sitting in a sunny field, rather than from a glass bottle in some quiet pub. Brothers did not disappoint, and this was a particularly beautiful moment of Wednesday.

The rest of this day was filled with discovering any changes made (a new field was in place for extra camping and “the football” – who needs a Football Field when you’re at the world’s biggest music festival?), and stalls you had to visit later when it was necessary – like Pieminister. More on pies later. The afternoon was spent exploring the Stone Dragon, in a quiet wooden enclosure not known to many, just off of the Stone Circle, and spending a fair few moments in the National Trust tent – where you sank into huge beanbags, exchanged your shoes for headphones, and listened to birds calling, rushing water and wind rustling the trees. Lovely for a tiring afternoon! – and the evening was spent on the on the hill up above The Park, with the sun going down, sky lanterns going up, ponchos being worn and a general buzz of “this is the best place in the world to be at the moment”.

Thursday we awoke in a sticky, sweltering tent, and we were already tinged pink with sunburn from the day before. A casual stroll in the morning took us past the stall advertising a delicacy so enthused about by my brother last year… After small deliberation, breakfast was all about The Growler. Or The Big Dog. I love food, and I struggled to finish it. But it was so awesome. A baguette with chips, melted cheese and bacon or sausage. Immense.

A lie-down in the Pyramid Stage field was required after that, and then another general wander around the site, to look at small stage line-ups, generic hippy stalls, and other culinary delights on offer.

That evening, we had Pieminister for supper. Pieminister is genius and never fails. I had the Heidi Pie, consisting of sweet potato, goat’s cheese and roasted garlic – amazing – Tom had the Chicken of Aragon Pie, and we both had strawberry cider again 🙂 The general idea was to get going after food, but it was such a relaxed evening that we left it a while. Beardyman was performing in the Dance Village that evening, so we aimed for that, but it was so crowded it wasn’t even worth hanging around in the queue outside. We tried the same stage again for Joy Orbison a few hours later, but not only was it just as crowded, some complete bitch told Tom “Er, excuse me? I had a perfect view and you just ruined it?!”, when we stopped for a moment to see if we could see anything. What an idiot. So on we went, and left the Dance Village for good. DV is not a nice place, and those wishing to have perfect views constantly should probably not attend festivals with 177,500 people in attendance.

We slept, eagerly awaiting the music that commenced the next day.

Festival Fashion… *cough*

So! The best season (aside from maybe Christmas) is on the near horizon, and I am ridiculously excited – as I am sure all of you are too if you are lucky enough to be going to any – but I, currently, am continuously bombarded with adverts telling me to “get the festival look” or to “be in style this summer festival season”, and so on and so forth. But why?! I ask you why, and what is wrong with a good pair of wellies and a water proof poncho? Actually I have a warm poncho from a South American chap in Green Park Station market – both will be coming with me.

Accessorize is a culprit of glamourising festivals it would seem, as adverts for “festival fever” screamed at me as I walked past it today (sounds more like something you might catch if a typhus epidemic broke out in the camping area). Ironically, I was drawn in, and the majority of it seemed somewhat illogical to me. Some things on offer were lovely – yes – but there are the last things I would take to a festival. A festival typically contains mud. I don’t particularly want a bag that I spent over £30 on (generally I wouldn’t do that anyway) drifting down a tidal wave of murky water.

Coverage of Glastonbury last year was minimalised by an episodic bit called ‘Glasto Glamour’, I believe, and it consisted mainly of a presenter (I’d like to add the majority involved in this were female – be practical for once won’t you?) interviewing people and asking them what they are wearing and why. Traditionally the answer should be “Clothes, because I’ll be arrested otherwise”, but usually it was “Well I’m wearing this really cute vintage dress I picked up in Paris last spring, and I thought it looked awesome so I wore it.” Why would you wear a piece of history to a potentially very messy five-day event?

It generally just leads back to my theory that fashion was made to be impractical, and my thoughts on Glasto Glamour and the Festival Fashions are to be sensible and practical:

Definite yes to the wellies, preferably without stupid designs on them. Walking boots are good too – take both.

Everyone needs something to sleep in. Replace make up, hair spray, the latest ‘look’ and whatever else you have in your bag that is unnecessary with somewhere to live for the next five days.

And alcohol. As it costs quite a lot at a festival.

And that is your basic festival kit. Anyone who feels the need to look glamorous and incredible at a festival where it is likely to rain and you won’t be washing for the next five days has clearly missed the point.

Martello Tower.

Night has finally fallen. I have my back against the Martello Tower and my eyes to Eastbourne. I have the seagulls for company, and the sea rocks gently back and forth. The milky white moon dazzles the water. In the distance out to sea, very faintly, and only twice in quick succession every few minutes, Sovereign Lighthouse twinkles back at me. If I were the Shipping Forecast, I’d be talking about it right now. Shingle is my seat, and I can feel dried out seaweed scratching at my legs. Little wayside shrubs have nestled their way up through the pebbles, poking out only to be battered by the south sound winds. But they’re resilient little things, and the gales do not vex them. All is so sedately quiet.

A resident of the Tower screams it head off in the dark, and suddenly a flock can be heard, congregating together. Not fit for humans now, seagulls are the only ones who can access all areas. The ideal inhabitant for any letting agency. The Lighthouse blinks absently again, and I run down to meet the sea as it washes over the dirty sand. The wind blows through my hair and I do not think to adorn my feet with my flip-flops. I take a place on the bedraggled and tumbled-down break water, who, like the Tower and the Lighthouse, never really change. After many minutes of watching the mesmerising ebb and flow of salty water, the chill begins to set in, and I walk a few paces up the beach to a very special house.

In the morning, we find the vivacious sea has spat many of its pebbles into the garden. That is the only downside of a house upon the beach. My father and I, instead of taking the car, walk the two miles into Pevensey Bay, and return later with kippers and fresh bread for breakfast, and humongous chocolate chip cookies for ‘elevenses’. We eat looking out over the sea in the morning, and to the hills in the evening. Every so often, the sound of train can be heard, and there’s a rush to the North-facing balcony to guess two things – what direction? And how many carriages? In early evening, there’s a walk a few miles in the direction of Bexhill, to find a pub for a summer’s sunset drink. We walk back along the fields, say hello to the sheep, cross the level crossing, and are once again, on the beach. One day we may make it further than a few miles, but it doesn’t really seem necessary.

Into The Bleak.

Out of the hotel room, I see two or three men huddling around a bin fire. Although no snow is blowing around, it is inches and inches deep on the ground. Night has quite set in by this point, and I feel awfully glad of my bed, despite the characterless decor and undrinkable tap water from the bathroom.

The next morning, I awake my comrade by playing ‘The Soviet National Anthem’ – a rousing tune by anyone’s standards – but she disapproves greatly, thinking post-Communist St Petersburg would too. Even though it is bitterly, bitingly cold outside, I discard my thermal vest on dressing, finding it warming abilities an uncomfortable test of my body’s acclimatisation. We breakfast looking over the River Neva, with the Cruiser Aurora in the distance. It is a long way from the soggy green garden at home. At this stage of the Russian winter, the Neva has frozen over, and tracks of one man can be seen in the thick snow. He had trekked straight over the river, without a care the ice might collapse.

That day was a visit to the Winter Palace. The Winter Palace! This is the stuff of revolutionary legends, and it is quite surreal walking into the grand, audacious, and, quite frankly, ridiculously over the top – palace. That word fits it stunningly well. No expense has been spared on its decor, and the monstrous gap between the luxuries of the royals and the dire life of the poor was more crude and poignant than ever. There were some parts of St Petersburg that looked like Dostoyevsky had just written about them, ‘Notes From The Underground’ did not first emerge 150 years ago, and the Tsar was still on the throne. It looks, to put it plainly, like there has been no real equality here at all.

Eleven PM. Our Sleeper Train waits patiently at the station as we flap about with heavy bags and, for some slightly less bright ones, stilettos. Nothing yells “tourist!” more than multi-coloured coats and inappropriate footwear. All aboard, I hope for some stray Russian called Sasha to be carrying a ukulele, and maybe we could all have a nice sing-song, reminiscent of something from the war, but sleep seems to be on everyone else’s minds. I take the occasion to stay awake, looking out of the window, as each station we rattled past was lit up brilliantly for a moment, then lost again in the quiet darkness. The gentle rocking of the carriage, and the somewhat intense (yet very welcome) heating soon takes its hold over me, and we awake a few hours later, all a little groggy and sleepy, in a rather foreign place called Moscow.

(Russian Travels, February 2004)