George Lightyear’s Blog

My Glastonbury Top 50

3 July 2008

Glastonbury Festival. A wonderland of creativity shared for one weekend a year by 200,000 people. With so much to do, see, taste, smell, it would be impossible for any two people to have the same experience. Here’s mine.

These are the 50 things I’ll remember Glastonbury 2008 for.

Royworld on the John Peel Stage50 Chatting to Rod from Royworld   
Six months ago they supported The Lightyears at the Clapham Grand. On Friday morning they opened the John Peel stage, the most important stage for new bands, at Glastonbury Festival. They looked and sounded great; like their album, the production was crisp and pounding. The tent was full too, which is unusual for the opening band on a Friday.

We chatted to Rod, the singer, after the gig and discovered the following things:

  • He’s very modest about how things are going
  • He programs the basslines himself and uses rhythm modulators to speed up and slow down the tracks for a natural feel
  • Royworld had two other gigs at other festivals (including Wakestock) over the course of the weekend
  • He has to sit in the front of the bus because of motion sickness
  • He has no good reason not to adopt our idea of changing the name of the band to Rodworld (apart perhaps from the fact it sounds like a horrific gay porno)
49 Glas-tum-berry    
2008 was the year that the festival changed it’s name, at least among the artists. In previous years, I had been used to the headliners et al joyously yelling “Hellooooo Glas-Tun-Bree” as they took to the stage. This year we seemed to go from cheese to fruit without any obvious consultation. It was all “Hellooooo Glas-Tum-Berry!” Even Tony was at it! I’ll have to have words.
48 Oxygen Bar   
Once I’d been told about the Oxygen bar I made up my mind that I had to go there. “It’s opposite the Silent Disco,” someone said, without telling me there were three silent discos… It took me about 36 hours to eventually track it down and, when I did, everyone I was with seemed a little disappointed. I liked it though! Basically, you get tube, plug it into a series of canisters containing homeopathic juices (and one with vodka), stick the other end in your nose and breathe in the lightly flavoured pure oxygen. I’m not convinced that it had quite the medicinal effect that had been promised but I liked the neon tube which I got to keep and which prompted numerous questions and concerned looks for the rest of the festival!
47 Brothers strawberry cider   
If you’re thirsty at Glastonbury there’s really only one place to go and that’s the Brothers Cider Bar next to the Jazz World stage. And if you’re going there you might as well drink their outstanding Strawberry Cider. It tastes like Ribena!
46 Snoozing at the Jazz World stage on Sunday (Baltic Beatbox)          

After a heavy Saturday night that didn’t end until the very small hours I needed some nap time on Sunday. I napped a bit during the Mystery Jets up at The Park, before settling down properly at the Jazz World stage as Baltic Beatbox did their thing. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of the music thanks to the quality of the sleeping I did, but waking up to crazy music and happy people is always a good feeling.

45 Bangers and Mash in a Yorkshire Pudding          

Probably the best and most surprising food I ate at the festival this year was bangers and mash from the 24hr breakfast bar just next to our tent that was served in a yorkshire pudding that was quite significantly bigger than my head. I couldn’t finish it!

44 Mumford and Sons          

A great call from Jamie. A chap called Cosmo who I met over a cup of tea in Shangri La late on Saturday night had recommended them too. They played on Sunday on The Park stage. Having seen MGMT there the night before it was a little surreal seeing a load of people all sitting down in the lightest of drizzles. As I arrived on the hill I was met by the guy’s voice. And what a voice. Subtle and haunting, giving way to the most anguished of snarls. I lay back, closed my eyes and enjoyed an exquisite 25mins of music.

43 Flipflops and Wellies          

I had trainers ready to go and at the very last minute decided I’d simply go to extremes and take only flipflops and wellies. This worked out fine on Thursday when I wore flipflops during the day and wellies at night, and on Friday when it was quite wet. Saturday and Sunday however, especially during the evenings I could really have done with something warm on my feet that wasn’t my boots. Small complaint though! Flipflops at all was a joy!

42 “Charlie Bit Me”          

At Shangri La on Saturday night I learned that calling “Hey, wait, stop” when you’re in a crowd is not usually very successful and often leads to annoyance and lost party members. On the other hand, a well-timed utterance of the word “Trebuchet” can be incredibly effective, often stopping others around you in their tracks too. It’s a code word, apparently, from the middle ages and adopted by certain festival-goers.

We had our own Trebuchet. Doubling as a way of finding lost comrades and a social experiment, I spent much of this year’s festival wandering around yelling “Charlie bit me” or “Ouch Charlie” or “That really hurt Charlie, and it’s still hurting”. If this means nothing to you check out this YouTube video and look at how many hits it’s had. Apart from my friends I had no response from anyone! Not one person. Emily once heard someone saying such phrases in Central Park so I thought Somerset would be a dead cert. Disappointing Glastonbury.

Chris & Jamie: MGMT?

41 Chris and Jamie look like MGMT          

Not something I’d considered before, but with Jamie’s dangly hat and Chris’s crazy hair and big sunglasses combo – plus the fact that, as brothers, they have a distinct ‘look!’ – they attracted several double takes before someone eventually approached them and said “You’re MGMT aren’t you.!?” and wouldn’t take no for an answer, insisting he’d met them before and they didn’t need to be coy!

40 Remembering how great Crowded House are          

John said, “Let’s all go and see Crowded House.” We all said, “Hmmm, alright then.” One of my gigs of the festival? Definitely!

There are times when you want to be challenged by ideas and new music and cultures and there are times where you want your cries of ‘Play the hits!!” not to fall on deaf ears. But, of course, Crowded House already knew all that. And they’ve got themselves some hits! With the exception of a few mellow new tracks, everything they played was well known and well loved and they had a choir of thousands. Highlights were Don’t Dream It’s Over and, of course, Weather With You with the crowd engaging in a massive back to front mexican wave that knocked Neil Finn off his feet!

His banter with the stoic security team in front of the stage was priceless too!

39 Meeting at the front for Ben Folds          

I watched Vampire Weekend from midway back and was very impressed with their sound. For Ben Folds though, I wanted to be right at the front. What was great was that all my friends clearly had the same idea and, as fortune would have it, we all arrived at exactly the same place, at exactly the same time. The atmosphere among the crowd at large during his set was muted. The atmosphere among me and my pals during his set was electric. I thought we were going to be told to be quiet at one point!

38 Kissmet          

Definitely one of the best bands I saw at Glastonbury 2008. These guys play Punjabi and Rock fusion, with insanely funky backbeats and production that would melt the eyebrows off a duck. The best thing about them, for me, was that we discovered them by walking through the mud of the Theatre Field and the Avalon Field on our way to Shangri La on Friday evening and their music just drew us in.

37 Dancing round Kai at the Tilted Disco          

The Tilted Disco in Shangri La has sofas and coffee tables on the ceiling and an angled floor that means when throwing out some moves after a few sherbets, twisted ankles are a distinct possibility. We visited it on Friday early evening with the sun still in the sky (albeit behind a cloud) and spent a happy 20 mins or so dancing like billy-o! Although the seven of us were the only people in there at first, a group of guys soon came in and after a while crowded round a dancing Kai, presumably trying to freak him out. Some chance! Kai just enlarged his moves and his assailants-turned-admirers were forced into a larger circle where Kai continued to stun them with his sweet shapes. A dance-off ensued!

36 Security Guy on Drugs and Violence          

One of the most surreal conversations I had all weekend was with one of the security detail by the Other Stage who, with not much to do, proceeded to tell me, in some detail, about some of the scrapes he and his colleagues get themselves into. Like the festival he polices where ‘Roadhouse’ rules apply, which for the uninitiated, as I was, means ‘The rules are there are no rules’. He said they literally break people’s faces off for dealing drugs. They also, of course, confiscate the drugs and quite often then take them themselves!

35 Chai Tea in the Green Fields          

Think of your favourite little cafe that serves tea and cakes and things just the way you like – a proper home from home, and somewhere only you know about. The Green Fields at Glastonbury is made up of places like this. You pick a random five cafes and they will all instantly go in your top five cafes of all time list. The drink of choice at this year’s festival was Chai tea. Everyone was drinking it. Hot and spicy, it’s the perfect pick-me-up after a day drinking in the sunshine.

34 Groovy Movie Picture House          

On Friday night we found ourselves at the Groovy Movie Picture House, opposite the Croissant Neuf, watching short films. It’s basically a tent with carpets and cushions and a cinema screen. There was a lot of chilling going on in there! After a while, and just as I was trying to work out whether to move on, a film started that boasted quite an ecletic and starry cast, from Simon Pegg and Jim Broadbent to Woody Harrelson. It was an animated feature called Free Jimmy, about a circus elephant addicted to hard drugs and the various miscreants who want him dead. The film featured fairly explicit sex scenes, violence and very strong language. Not for kids, but quite amusing…

On the security banners for Shlomo

33 On the Barriers for Shlomo          

Up at The Park stage we caught beatboxer extraordiaire ShoMo performing solo unaided, with a loop station, with his outstanding BeatBox Orchestra and finally with a selection of artists he’d cherry-picked from the rest of the festival including Martha Wainwright, Martina Toply-Bird and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. And we watched all this, in the blazing sunshine, from atop the security barriers by the sounddesk, putting us higher than the rest of the crowd and in no doubt of who the true legends were (it was us by the way).

32 Sausage Saturday Glasto style          

Sausage Saturday is a tradition round our house. Much more than simply eating sausages on a Saturday, it is a ceremony of friendship and pork with stringent rules that need to be adhered to. To summarise, you get sausages, put them in some kind of floured bap, add condiments (ketchup, brown sauce, mustard, cheese, whatever you fancy) and when everyone’s ready listen to John give the Sausge Salut, “One for sausage and sausage for all”. Then you can eat.

If you don’t have access to John, you have to work out who the next of kin would be, or closest relative, or most like John. This part’s really important and can be quite hard to get right. And it is a deal-breaker. Unless you sort out this part it ain’t Sausage Saturday. We generally have John though so it’s not normally a problem for us.

At Glastonbury we were able to fulfill all the necessary criteria with added eggs and bacon in the bread and thumping tunes courtesy of the Other Stage! One for sausage and sausage for all!

31 Jamming by the Band Stand on Thursday Morning          

With the sun out and the promise of the festival buzzing around us, the only thing to do was to break out the guitars (sorry guitar and ukelele…) and sing songs. We played Bright Eyes. We played The Beatles. We played Amy Winehouse. We even played The Lightyears!

30 Meeting Joe for White Denim          

White Denim were hotly-tipped and I went to see them on Saturday afternoon at the Queen’s Head. After I arrived I spent the first ten minutes hoping that whichever shit band was currently playing would get off tTwo weeks ago, we in The Lightyears began a new regime of songwriting, meeting for a pre-Glastonbury rehearsal with no fewer than 11 songs written in a week. We played two of them at the Small World gig on Friday night.

Tony’s song Put The Gun Down is a stomper with a cool piano riff and singalong bits. Chris’s Good Time Back is a 50s-style post-blues tune to make you dance! We hope it’ll mark the beginning of a bigger set shakeup over the next two or three months.

29 The Levellers          

“Quick, The Levellers are playing on the Leftfield Stage!” Thus went the cry. Through the freshly falling rain we made our way across the farm and threw ourselves into a heavy crowd. How we got to the front I’ll never know, but get there we did, moshing and singing and clapping. The purest ‘band’ experience of my Glastonbury ’08. Afterwards, full of the excitement of the gig I bounded outside and fell straight over filling my left ear with mud. Nice.

28 New Songs          

Two weeks ago, we in The Lightyears began a new regime of songwriting, meeting for a pre-Glastonbury rehearsal with no fewer than 11 songs written in a week. We played two of them at the Small World gig on Friday night.

Tony’s song Put The Gun Down is a stomper with a cool piano riff and singalong bits. Chris’s Good Time Back is a 50s-style post-blues tune to make you dance! We hope it’ll mark the beginning of a bigger set shakeup over the next two or three months.

27 Bumping into Dave at the Park          

The chances of bumping into someone you know at Glastonbury at some point over the weekend are pretty good. The chances of us bumping into Dave in the way we did on Sunday are much much smaller. Dave is an old friend from school days. The last time we had seen him was a year ago. Almost to the minute! We had discovered him wandering around near the Other Stage on the Sunday afternoon just after Mika in 2007. This year it was just before Mumford and Sons up at The Park. Very strange indeed!

26 The Friendly Lockup Staff          

Without a permit to drive our car onto the site or a team of dedicated roadies to attend to our every whim, playing a frantic and potentially really quite muddy music festival is a sobering thought. Thankfully, Glastonbury has a series of Lockup tents where you can securely leave your most valuable possessions. This means no mud and no crime on my lovely guitar!

This year we were particularly lucky with a lockup we hadn’t previously spotted only a 30 second walk from where we’d pitched our tents! And all the staff who were volunteering there were really friendly and helpful so a very big thankyou to everyone who kept my stuff safe!!

25 Cup Train          

On Thursday afternoon, before the bands had started and while most people were still arriving, people found ways of making their own fun. At the Jazz World stage a team of cider drinkers collected all their finished paper cups and make a huge tower out of them. Finding there were so many, they proceeded to make them into a large circle, to tumultuous applause. More cups were produced and offered up and the structure grew in size. It was when they started wheeling it around the field that it got really exciting. Who needs bands.!?

I fell over...

24 Embracing the Rain          

After a day of sunshine, when the rain arrived on Thursday night you could feel the people of Glastonbury draw a deep breath of ‘here we go again’. And maybe it was the cider, but there was a part of me – as it turns out quite a big part of me – that got quite excited! Pulling on my waterproof trousers and jacket and exchanging my flipflops for wellies I found myself thinking (or maybe I was bellowing) “Hello rain, hello muddy Glastonbury, hello old friend!”

23 Shaair and Func          

Another ‘undiscovered’ gem. We came across Shaair and Func on the Tadpole stage on Saturday night after Jay-Z. Hailing from Mumbai and New York City they fuse Indian-influenced rock with tight funky beats, extraordinary live musicians with incredibly well-produced backing tracks. And Shaair, the singer, is hot.

22 Dancing with the Audience in the Encore at Green Fuse          

By the end of our set on the Green Fuse stage we were really starting to enjoy ourselves. We’d played for an hour and when we were called up for an encore we had a crack at You Are Wrong, a song we used to play at every gig but hadn’t played for a couple of years. It had been requested by the folks who run the stage who remembered it from our 2005 set.

Following that, we played a cover of Blue Suede Shoes and the people flooded to the front with their dancing shoes on tight. This was enough for me and I was off the stage in the thick of it, running back up for verses but otherwise staying with the audience on the dancefloor. It was a great moment.

21 Whisky and Maltloaf          

Perhaps not the most nutritious of diets but a staple at Glastonbury. We tried beer the first year, but it gets very warm and is incredibly heavy. Whisky on the other hand is portable and can be mixed easily with cold cans of coke! Dangerous if consumed in large quantities but no one would be crazy enough to do that…

And malt loaf? Well, it’s delicious and helps with waste issues. Clogging. You know what I mean.

20 Learning the Perfect High-Five          

Shaun Russell, prime specimen of a human being that he is, taught me something I will never forget at Glastonbury this year. Just as Ben Folds was singing about how he wants to be Kate I got excited and went for a high-five. Shaun looked at me with distain and told me to try again, but this time to watch his elbow. I can now high-five like a champ and spent the rest of the festival teaching strangers how to improve their own technique. There was a lot of high-five-ing going on in Pilton by Sunday night.

19 Jay-Z Intro          

After all the talk about whether Jay-Z was going to ruin Glastonbury, how did it all work out? For me, the opening ten minutes of Jay-Z’s set were one of the undoubted highlights of the weekend. Before the now infamous Wonderwall cover was a superb video montage featuring Noel Gallagher’s denouncement of Jay-Z’s booking and a selection of dignitries including Gordon Brown and The Queen appearing to support the performance. Appearing on stage in a parka, with a guitar round his neck, leading a singalong to Wonderwall was genius. He continued “For anyone who didn’t get the memo, I’m Jay-Z, and I’m fucking awesome!” The crowd went wild.

Jay-Z’s first proper song, 99 Problems, was performed at top volume with enormous energy and settled the argument once and for all. A good night for hip hop at Glastonbury.

18 Blue eyes at Small World          

The girl who sold me Spiced Indian Tea at the Small World stage on Sunday was beautiful… I’m starting to wish I’d asked her to marry me. We could have lived in a teepee beyond the healing fields and raised a family of delightful, blue eyed scamps and drunk Spiced Indian Tea and lived happily ever after… Ah, regrets…

17 Patrick Watson          

Friday morning, Canada’s Patrick Watson on the John Peel stage was the gig to be at. A great singer, great songs and a world class band. They had the feel and the quality to let their songs run, to bend and shape the music as they were playing it, to keep the audience guessing but deeply satisfied. A great call from Jamie and Shaun.

16 On the Big Screen          

When your standing near the front at the Pyramid stage, and the crane camera swings round and points straight at you and then the big screen changes to a generic shot of the crowd, what do you do? You do what I did of course. You raise your arms and shout very loudly and grin for the rest of the day when people come up to you and say “I saw you on the big screen earlier!”

15 Looking Like a Rock Star          

I love Glastonbury for the things you can get away with. I started fairly modestly with a two-tone pink headband, moved on through eyeliner and bright pink headband to which I added sunglasses. I got hold of a blue headband next and added mascara. I was also, of course, wearing my festival guide round my neck like a AAA pass (as one does at Glasto) and, after my trip to the Oxygen bar, had my luminous rubber tube keeping people guessing too. Add a genuine suntan and some exciting nonstop bedhair and it’s little wonder that quite a few people approached me and asked if I was the lead singer of a band. It was, of course, with no small pride that I answered that yes I was and that the gigs had gone splendidly!

Singing on the Small World Stage

14 Jamming Out Songs at our Gigs          

I’ve seen a number of bands at Glastonbury (and in general) deal with the fact that they haven’t got a bass player by programming bass lines on laptops or running from DAT. Rod from Royworld impressed me by talking about how he’ll set the tracks to speed up and slow down so they feel more natural, but the problem is there’s no room to maneuver if things go wrong, or if you fancy shaking things up a little.

At Glastonbury, we felt like shaking things up a little.

Songs like Fine and The Last NIght and Home For The Weekend are perfect for this and perfect festival tunes, especially in the Green Fields. When the audience is listening and the band is listening and the mood is right, that’s when the really good stuff happens. That’s why I distrust prerecorded basslines, respect Chris’s bass hand and love playing festivals.

13 The Travelling Band          

We decided on mass to eschew the Sunday headliners and made our way instead to the Green Fields where we sat in the Small World tent, drinking Indian Tea and watching what turned out to be one of my favourite bands of the festival. When I described them to Emily, back in London, she said, “They sound like a bunch of hippies.” Which I guess they were. There were seven of them and they all looked stoned. But when they sang, the music, though laid back, was rich with harmonies and so carefully balanced between the subtlety of their playing and the strength of the mood that I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to get up and play with them or just listen to them forever.

They had played the Other Stage the day before, fully electric in front of thousands of people. John had caught that set and said it was amazing. This, though, was enough for me and the perfect musical end to a fantastic and varied festival.

12 Playing Frisbee by the Dance Tents          

Kai said, “Yo, we’ve got to go and see A-Track play in the dance tent – he’s phat isssiiiiiit!”. But when we got there, it was Kai who whipped out the frisbee and kept us all in the sunshine for an extra hour! Frisbee and pumping bass is, I can tell you, a match made in heaven.

11 John Mayer Plays Guitar          

The last time I saw John Mayer play was at the Apollo in Hammersmith the day before his second album ‘Heavier Things’ was released and he played a load of pop songs from his first album and some songs that, at the time I didn’t know. What impressed me most about him though was discovering that, far from being just a good-looking American singer-songwriter as he’s marketed, he’s actually one hell of a guitarist.

Since then, his guitar playing has been endorsed by Eric Clapton, who has him supporting at the Albert Hall at the moment, but also by my friend Ant Law (who’s probably better than Clapton anyway, issiiit!) Ant’s a stunning jazz guitarist based in Edinburgh who periodically comes to stay with us and went through a stage of waking us up by blasting out ‘Waiting On The World To Change’ from Continuum at top volume first thing in the morning.

So how did John Mayer get on at Worthy Farm? His set was heavy on the newer, less pop-oriented material, and featuring extended, effortless guitar playing that blew my socks off. He got it just right and will no doubt have won over legions of fans. I’d been hearing his name around the farm for the few days leading up to his appearance, always attached to a compliment or a recommendation and, as a longtime fan myself, was always happy to add my vote. In the end, he did all the real work by himself!

10 TV Interview for Youth Music          

Through our connections to the Sing Up project we got involved with Youth Music at Glastonbury who were running a project called ‘Build A Band’. They had auditioned kids from across the country and brought them together in time for the festival where they had a few days to write and rehearse a protest song to be performed on Sunday evening on the Leftfield Stage. We caught up with them on Thursday evening where they interviewed us in front of cameras for the Orange website about being in band, writing, rehearsing, performance tips, band dynamics and more. We bumped into a couple of them the following day, randomly, and then made it along for their performance on the Sunday which, as it happened had been moved forward, so we only caught the very end. Great bunch though and very talented.

Check out Youth Music here.
Check out SingUp here.

9 Saturday Night in Shangri La          

Shangri La is the new face of Lost Vagueness. My experience of Lost Vagueness at the last two Glastonburys was limited to late night battles through crowds and mud after the headliners on Saturday night. We had already visited Shangri La by day and explored and I was wary about returning on Saturday night this year. However, a combination of less rain and mud and a later entry meant that the experience was much less hectic without diluting the craziness.

It began with a cup of tea, provided for free by folk who wanted the party outside their caravan! From there Gaby and I hit every tent with banging music, starting at the the Bassline Circus and ending eventually at Tarts & Tease where it was next to impossible to get in and even harder to get out. By the time we left our feet were in serious amounts of pain!

8 Hot Cider on Thursday Morning          

I woke on Thursday morning with one thought on my mind – find the cider bus! So it was at 10.30 on Thursday morning that for breakfast we had steaming cups of hot and spicy Somerset cider to get us in the mood for the rest of the fest…

7 MGMT          

With their infectious, summer pop melodies and off-the-wall attire MGMT were the band I was most looking forward to. In the run up to my first Glastonbury in 2005 the idea of watching The Killers sing “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” filled me with joy. This year it was the “Duh duh duh duh duh duuh duuh” from ‘Time To Pretend’ that was getting me excited. Indeed I spent some time over the first couple of the days of the festival randomly singing it to get others excited too.

We caught up with MGMT at The Park stage where we managed to get right to the front, filling the vacuum of people leaving The Last Shadow Puppets (featuring Jack White) on their way to Amy Winehouse. It appeared to be me, Chris and Jamie and a load of supercool 14 year olds, but we didn’t mind that. The band were excellent, their tunes every bit as compelling as I had hoped. The only thing that slightly marred the experience was how the band ended their set, finishing on ‘Kids’ which frontmen Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden sang from a backing track before wandering off the stage without any ceremony. When the track ended the audience was left wondering what was going on. That aside, this was my band of the festival.

Sunset over the Green Fields

6 Sun Goes Down on Glasto          

As the festival was drawing to a close and most people were trying to choose between The Verve and Grove Amada, me and my merry friends made our way up to the Stone Circle, high above the Green Fields to watch the sun set. We lit a lantern which rose gently into the orange sky and then we sat between the feet of a giant wooden dragon and, as the sun disappeared behind the Somerset hills, we gave a round of applause. “Well done sunshine.. Well done sun, same again next year, eh!”

5 The Park          

My venue of choice this year was The Park stage. It was my third Glastonbury and amazingly only the first time I’d ever made my way up to The Park. I guess I’d always assumed it was miles and miles away and, although it’s not close, say, to the Acoustic Stage, it was pretty close to where we were camping. At The Park I played frisbee with Shaun and Kai. I ate Cuban pork. I bumped into Dave. I inhaled pure oxygen. On The Park stage I saw MGMT, Mumford and Sons, Shlomo and bits of Mystery Jets.

4 Owning a Little Corner of the Festival          

We played two gigs at Glastonbury this year, both reflecting the laid back nature of the gigs we’ve played at the festival before. Not being a label band, it’s tricky getting on the big stages but, unlike the other major UK festivals, playing on one of the many smaller stages isn’t that difficult.

Dave on the Green Fuse stage and Pony on the Small World stage have both had The Lightyears to play at previous Glastonburys and were both happy to have us back this year. Playing Glastonbury for us is not about hospitality and cleaner toilets. When people approach you after you play to tell you you were a highlight of their festival experience, that’s a good feeling.

3 Going With The Crowd          

It’s not everyday you’re part of a huge crowd all singing and clapping together, and it’s a thrilling experience. Humanity acting together, whether it’s hippies at the Stone Circle booing the drug-busting police, or 60,000 people spontaneously deciding they love hiphop and that, yes, Jay-Z is ‘fucking awesome’ if he says so, or the thousands who took part in the Neil Finn felling back-to-front mexican wave – it’s a beautiful thing.

2 Going Against The Crowd          

But, that said, the thing that really marked this Glastonbury apart for me was the decisions we made that took us away from the crowds to the paths less trod. It takes some courage I think to not ‘get your money’s worth’ by seeing all the big name headliners and treat Glastonbury more as just another festival. But the reward if you do it is huge. Because Glastonbury is not just another festival.

Every little thing has been built with love and care and huge creativity. Like the palm tree up at The Park made out of traffic cones and old tyres. Or the lanterns in the Green Field. Or the miniature festival made of clay in the Avalon field. Or the Green Police who chase after people who go to the toilet in the bushes, blowing whistles and causing a scene. If something’s at Glastonbury it’s because it’s special and worth spending time investigating. And that’s what we did this year.

Kai, Sheba, Jamie, Chris, Gaby, Poppy, John and me

1 Having a Crew          

The absolute best thing about Glastonbury 2008? People to share the experience with. I had a great time just with Chris last year, but this year was extra special. With the tickets being on sale for longer people came who maybe weren’t initially planning to. The result was an eclectic but beautifully balanced group of people with different tastes in music but a shared desire to have a culturally enriching weekend – and not just by watching The Verve!

So, Chris, Jamie, John, Poppy, Kai, Gabby, Sheba and also Tony, Anna, Shaun and all of Shaun’s 7 girlfriends – here’s to us and here’s to Glasto 2009!

Del Boy’s Funeral

15 June 2008

Idiots of AntsToday I spent the day as a ‘supporting artist’ for my good friends Idiots of Ants, who were beginning ten days shooting for a collection of comedy sketches to be shown on E4 this August. Idiots of Ants are Ben Wilson, Elliott Tiney, James Wrighton and Andy Spears – most of whom I went to university with.

I remember a conversation I had with James when they first formed about 18 months ago, talking about the parallels between comedy and music. Having spent a number of years working as jobbing actors and putting up with the endless frustrations associated with it, I think part of the impetus for the guys was to have a little more control over their careers.

It’s something I’ve seen a number of my actor friends do to cope with the frustration of an overcrowded industry and, whilst comedy obviously won’t work for everyone, those who can do it and are so inclined at the very least get the satisfaction of writing their own material and booking their own gigs on their own terms. But, as with the music industry, the big challenge is to translate that passion and personal drive into something sustainable – something that can fulfill you and also make you money.

The Idiots discussing the sceneIn that sense Idiots of Ants are in a very strong position. They were the darlings of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, selling out every one of their shows on the Pleasance Courtyard. Tickets are already on sale for this year’s run (also on the Pleasance Courtyard, at 6.20pm daily) and are available here. This year they’ve been featured on BBC’s The Wall as well as on Radio 4’s Loose Ends. Recently, their sketch Facebloke notched up more than a million views on YouTube.

Jimmy and me outside the pubSo, my day today was spent firstly in a pub in Stockwell filming reactions to the death of one Del Boy, who died tragically after falling through the hole in the bar and smashing his head on an ice machine. The scene featured outstanding beard acting from Jimmy as Uncle Albert.

This afternoon we were at a house filming a fancy dress party where all the guests have come in suits (as assassins, waiters, Blues Brothers, undertakers etc) – all except for Elliot…

Today’s sketches, together with five or six others can be seen on E4 as part of Funny Cuts in August.

In the meantime, here’s Facebloke:

Boys in black at the partyElliott Tiney is a weird naked indian.