Due to a) being a tad skint, b) having no one to go with and c) having my heart set on Leeds, Glasto has once again passed me by for another year. Therefore, I’m reduced once more to the quite good BBC highlights over the weekend. Obviously, the performances will lose something with me not being there in the flesh, but I’ll do my best. One little moan though, no footage of Radiohead’s not-so-secret set on the Park Stage, although the fact it contained mostly material from “The King Of Limbs” probably meant it wasn’t exactly stellar. The premier music festival has an odd mix on its bill this year with safe bets such as Coldplay and U2 mixing with Beyonce, Friendly Fires and Wu-Tang Clan. Safe to say, there’s something for everyone.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, and I’m sure you more snobby types will pick the latter, but Bono & Co know how to write an anthem. Not anthems in the way a song is massive for a few weeks, sun along to by fans and newcomers alike then disappears into the ether of the pop-culture melting pot; anthems in that millions of people across the globe can bellow every syllable word for word, grown men can drunkenly sob and hug each other, and that they’re generally great songs. Deny that last point at your peril. Pop snobs can sniff all they want, but if Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday or Pride don’t make your heart or chest swell even just a miniscule a bit, then I’m not sure you have much of a soul. Yeah, it can be glib, middle of the road, a tad bland, but in terms of festival headliners, what more can you want than a truckful of iconic riffs and rhetoric shouted at you from a miniature Irishman in sunglasses. At night. When it’s raining.
Dipping into their extensive back catalogue, U2 were obviously going to bring out the big guns: Vertigo, Where The Streets Have No Name etc, as well as the odd stinker (*cough* Get On Your Boots) and chucking verses from “Jerusalem”, “She Loves You” and “Moving On Up” willy-nilly, whenever Bono felt like it. The stage show was surprisingly bare, save for a bunch of videoscreens (used to great/cringe-worthy effect during Beautiful Day, featuring a videochat with the International Space Station). The protests and naysayers seem to have had little to no effect on the set, it being rapturously recieved and even turning forcing some critics to re-evaluate their opinions of the Irish foursome. Coldplay sure have a lot to live up to.
Primal Scream, still touring their Screamadelica album show, were always going to be popular with those too “alternative” for U2. Drawing in a sizeable crowd, “Movin’ On Up” and “Loaded” were raucous and brilliant as ever. Not quite sure why Mani chose a thick peacoat for his stage attire though. Meanwhile, Cee-Lo Green decided on equally bizzare clothing for his set, looking like a pimped out Road Warrior. Mixing solo work with Gnarls Barkley material, the two biggest hits were naturally Fuck You and Crazy, which was spliced with Moby’s Natural Blues and shifted sonically from Spaghetti Western soundtrack to funk jam to Hendrix rock-out. Damn good stuff.
The less said about Chase & Status, the better. Okay they’re not as soul-destroying as Pendulum, but they’re pretty close in terms of brainlessness. Generic dance beats, a shrill female vocal hook and anonymous couple of verses. Which song you ask? All of them. Maverick Sabre is a name that has been floating around for some time, having featured on Professor Green’s single Jungle as well as a spot on Later with Jools Holland. Looking at him, he looks like the average Jack Wills connoisseur in your local Wetherspoons, but his vocals are surprisingly enigmatic and unexpected; a soulful Paolo Nutini-esque croon, just not awful.
As I so eloquently summed up on my Twitter; Fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons. Mediocre, middle of the road, folksy twaddle played posh boy gap year students, reappropriating folk to fit their bland garbage… *ahem* I believe I’ve made myself quite clear on that matter, so we’ll move on to something of infinitely greater quality; Morrissey. No massive jump in direction or demeanour from the Mozfather (opening line “Hello Glasto, how strange it is to see me here…”), but another solid rocking set. Pops at U2 and David Cameron being par for the course, a Morrissey set seemed oddly fitting for a wet, miserable festival afternoon. Although the rockier, Marr-less This Charming Man ain’t too great, I’ll admit.
Can we book Jimmy Cliff for every festival ever? Even just for that amazing gold suit. It’d certainly make a welcome change from Interpol and White Lies popping up everywhere. Biffy Clyro, shirtless as ever. You’d think they’d be cold, but then they’re Scottish, so it probably felt like a balmy summer’s day to them. Habing slowly become one of the country’s premier rock bands, it looks as if they pulled in a sizeable crowd, although singalongs were reserved for the choruses. Draw your own conclusions from that, if you will. Musically, the Biff sound as tight as ever, bringing some actual rock riffs to the Pyramid Stage. Never a bad thing.
All in all, it seems like a damn fine opening day for Glasto 2011. Coldplay, Beyonce et al have a high standard to match over the rest of the weekend.