Review of Glastonbury Festival 2013
What do you get if you cross, some ageing rockers, a field in the middle of Somerset, some mixed weather, lots of cider, some random pop acts and a mixed variety and level of new music talent? Well you only bloody get Glastonbury Festival 2013.
So there were some big headliners at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Perhaps the main headlines were grabbed by old school rockers, Rolling Stones. Their presence couldn’t have been bigger. Across the weekend you couldn’t go 5 seconds without seeing somebody with the trademark lips on their t-shirt, often donned by festival goers that weren’t even born when The Stones were in their hey day.
There are sometimes legendary acts that actually don’t live up to their hype. There are other legends that are simply poor live and not worthy of their billing. The Rolling Stones simply don’t fit either category. Their show is full of effortless energy, the buzz they create sends the biggest pyramid stage crowd in years into raptures. The feeling was electric. Mick Jagger and long-time backing singer Lisa Fischer are amazing at delivering vocals and the group as a whole bely their age. The Stones put on a show that would be the envy of many current artists and a blueprint for new acts.
Friday 28th June, 2013 saw Glastonbury Festival kick-off. Whilst a lot of attention was understandably focussed on the Arctic Monkeys, however the other acts were really good too. Liam Gallagher returned to Glastonbury nine years after saying he would never perform at the festival again. His band Beady Eye put on a (not so) secret show at the festival. His early morning slot on the Other Stage gave the weary crowd a look into his Beatles inspired pop/rock tunes. The Beady Eye performance gave the crowd the kickstart it needed.
Still away from the main stage, many festival goers wanted to see Alt-J. However in our book Alt-J seemed a little subdued. The quartet seemed nervous and overawed by the occasion. Unlike many of the performers, they also seemed to lack anything to spark that crowd participation that is the lifeblood of festivals.
Apparently on the non-main stage the first day was stolen by disco legends Chic. Now we didn’t see them, having already reviewed them at the recent Love Saves The Day festival, but it seems the positivity from that festival continued in to the big one. Apparently they killed it with ‘Le Freak’ wish we saw them. So that brings us on to the main events for day one.
All the noise was about Arctic Monkeys, who in all fairness put on a good show. Combinations of the great party, tongue in cheek hits that help make their named combined with tracks from their following four albums. The band were in high spirits and like any good headliner got the crowd going.
However for me, Day One was stolen by a stellar performance from semi-local band Portishead. Their set was a complex, moody and yet uplifting one. They performed with such accomplishment you wondered who really should be headlining, the sign of a quality act.
Other highlights from day one included Florence and the Machine, Jake Bugg, Rita Ora and Professor Green.
Day Two aka Rolling Stones day took a different look and feel. The 1975 were one of the key highlights with a strong performance worthy of the acclaim from the critics. The biggest surprise for me was how many in the crowd didn’t know The 1975 before the gig. Rest assured after hearing the set, there were many converts.
Two Door Cinema Club and Everything Everything put on good shows, but the crowd are all sidelined by the big event, of course the Rolling Stones (covered at the start of this article).
So on to Day Three. The weather is good, there are a lot of tired eyes and copious amounts of alcohol has been consumed by the near 200,000 strong crowd. The biggest surprise for us was the appearance of the legendary Sir Bruce Forsyth. The reaction he received was reminiscent of the one Rolf Harris received, demonstrating that so-called trendy music fans love a bit of nostalgia.
So as a mad keen lover of all things from Brasil, I couldn’t wait to see Sergio Mendes. His performance was completely matched to the somewhat exotic weather we were experiencing. It was somewhat telling that Sergio was performing and later on Brasil would triumph over world number one, Spain, in the Confederations Cup final. Sergio performed a number of his authentic latin tracks to a relatively small crowd. He did mix it up with some contemporary Westernised tunes as well, including the version of monster hit ‘Mas Que Nada’ which he adapted to include rap with Black Eyed Peas for the Nike commercial.
Liana Le Havas, the Mercury prize nominated Londoner, but on a great show. Her stunning voice sounded as great in the huge open space, live environment as it does on a recording. She genuinely has such a pure voice that she captivates her audience. Her set comprised of quite an eclectic mix, bouncing (albeit it in a structured way) between laid back jazz and big rock, almost diva sounds illustrating what a great performer she is and adding substance to her huge potential.
The xx, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Vampire Weekend all provided highlights, but our thoughts were, how suitable are Mumford and Sons to close the festival given the festival stealing main event of the Rolling Stones on Day Two.
Well, there was nothing wrong at all with the closing performance from Mumford and Sons. The compostion of the set was on point. They played every track with precision and expertise. The vocals were spot on and like any closing act, they delivered a great show that really engaged with the festival crowd. Under normal circumstances you would have said this was an amazing performance.
Now Mumford fans will hate me for this. This was no normal circumstance. The Rolling Stones were superb. Entertainers. Icons. Enigmas. What ever words you want to use, they set the bar at such a height nobody else could follow. Glastonbury 2013 belonged to The Rolling Stones.