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.

Later With Jools Holland – 23rd April.

An odd edition of Jools, who is usually pretty on top of things. Musically, that is. Featuring Kate Nash (why?!), Plan B, Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra, Band Of Horses, Jack Bruce and Melody Gardot, this week’s episode was a little thin, but had some tiny glimmers of hope in it. I’m pretty sure Jools was pissed again, and he kept going on about how they were in a smaller studio this week due to the election. The election isn’t until the 6th, and not everyone has a studio Mr Holland. Shh.

So! What happened? Not much, but Kate Nash made a sort-of effort, with contributions from her new album. Which has taken long enough, and by the sounds of it, was not worth the wait. Traditionally I’m not a fan anyway, as her lyrics are dire, her music is incredibly uninspiring and she tries for the “I don’t want to be here” vocal style, but this fails as it’s a terrible style anyway, and her slightly more refined sound nowadays shows that she obviously has a better voice than that – so why not use it? I couldn’t see much difference from one song to the next, and, as I was using iPlayer, chose to skip the last song instead as it grated just a little too much…

Band Of Horses felt far too much like indie landfill to me, and they were! They tried to pull off the bad haircuts and facial hair ‘thing’ (which you can only do at the moment if you’re Fleet Foxes), and didn’t sway from the ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-chorus’ style of things. We’re not children! I need something less formulaic and more creative. These first two acts felt very much like music you didn’t have to listen to – it just occurred for background sounds – which is a huge shame as music can be incredible, and what’s the point in putting in all that hard work just to come out with background noise after it all?

Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra I have seen before in Bristol, so I was a little more tolerant of these than the first two, but I felt they didn’t play their best stuff. It was more like they were trying to give the audience a well-rounded view of what they could do, but missed out some of the better solos, and didn’t include the excellent parts when the whole brass section comes together. Plus there was far too much free jazzing again (any free jazz is too much), and the female vocalist insisting on doing her weird squeaky animal noises, which is not what I want to hear! Dear me. Sort it out Dammers. You also need new teeth, and I assume you can afford them. It is not a good look.

Plan B – sounds like a rapper’s name, turns out he IS but writes generic stuff that you hear and never know who it’s by. The song he started with, ‘ She Said’, I have heard many times before (God knows how!), but I thought it was sung by a bird and don’t really like it. I also had to skip past his last song as I also found him pretty dull and uninspiring. Shame shame shame. And disappointing. Whatever happened to good music?! Whatever happened to just being satisfied with what’s available?

Melody Gardot – now this I liked! It was subtle and minimalist, but not in an irritating The xx kind of way. It was good jazz (wow it actually exists?!), and sort of had a “Paris in the 1920s” feel to it. Far more interesting and good than anything else on this week, and I would actually consider going to see her if she was around in the area. Having said that, she was wearing sunglasses when it wasn’t needed. Did add to the super-cool “I’m a decent jazz artist and I know it” look though. Good call Gardot.

Jools get some better artists! Next week (ie. this Friday) features Gorillaz, Mos Def, and (sickeningly) Laura Marling. Better music is a-coming.

Mezzo Forte – Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra.

So. These guys are a bit weird aren’t they.

Performing at Bristol’s Colston Hall on a Wednesday evening in April (the 7th to be exact), this was my first proper experience of live jazz, and it was… Interesting. It ranged mainly from excellent to awful, although it wasn’t the playing that was bad. Just what they were playing. Jerry Dammers (of Specials fame), seems to be making quite a noise (literally on some occasions) with this musical project of his, in which he and his orchestra pay tribute to Sun Ra (who I hadn’t heard of until I was told we were going to see JD and Orchestra) and thus,  apparantly there must be some seriously odd elements to Mr Ra.

The Orchestra played a good deal of well-known stuff, including a Satie piece (originally written for the piano), the Batman Theme, something by Mike Oldfield, which was brilliant – it is an excellent orchestra and their playing ability, together and separately, is brilliant – but for some unknown reason, they (or Mr Dammers?) thought it would make it better if they interspersed it with animal noise (what the hell?! The female singer was good, but why ‘sing’ animal noises when you can actually sing?), and FREE JAZZ. Whoever invented this (this was investigated later but I forget the name) should really be shot. There is no musical merit in going into a ‘jazz trance’ (there were a lot of these that evening) and playing whatever you want. It sounds terrible,  it does not fit into the rest of the music, it’s just noise, and makes your ears bleed! Why listen to that when you can listen to the wonderful ensemble of all the brass counterparts playing together? The only solo that was actually good was the percussion dude – just him on the bongos and he had the audience captivated.

In all fairness, Mr Dammers did sort of seem like a spare part some of the time – he was neither a conductor nor a player of a musical instrument, he didn’t really lead the orchestra and didn’t seem like one of the unit most of the time. But apparently none of it would have happened if it wasn’t for him so I suppose he should be there.

One of the best parts was the set and costumes. So elaborate! And so juxtaposed to a sit-down event in a fancy hall that, generically, the performers should have been wearing suits for. A clear favourite for most was the electric bass player in full Pharoah regalia. With sunglasses. It sort of fused Egyptian headdress with African outfits, and for technical there was a sarcophagus, figures with ‘keytars’ and other instruments, projections onto various parts of the stage, and I believe some form of car contraption strung up above the key section. All very odd but the set and costumes were excellent.

I should remind you it was a musical event, not theatre. Although it is pleasant when it’s more of an all-round performance, and people have actually seemed to care about the rest of the ensemble, as well as the music. Good call.

It was an enjoyable evening, but one of the best parts was the orchestra exiting through the audience, then continuing to play in the foyer of Colston Hall (with the band that was performing in the foyer at the time!), and then taking their music outside to the street as well. Now that is a good bit of improvisation, improv-jazz is not.

For next time, no animal noise and no free jazz. Other than that, excellent playing and an excellent orchestra – marvellous performance!