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Tort's Pick of the Festival

posted 11 Jun 2009, 10:19 by Paul Holmes   [ updated 13 Oct 2009, 10:02 ]

FAQ writer Tort talks us through an eclectic musical journey

I’m a prodigious wanderer when it comes to Glastonbury and spend a great deal of my time off on my own, snooping around in little corners of the festival and creating a photographic record in order to both embellish the F.A.Q’s on this website and also to include within my own festival photography galleries. The advice I give within the F.A.Q’s is to only pick 2 or 3 “must see” performances each day, but nevertheless I have to confess that I've been diligently studying Halvin's excellent “Clashfinder” for the last few days & working out a vague plan of the routes I'm going to take around the festival.  I did the same thing last year and was surprised at how much I achieved. 

Assuming the weather is fine, the first thing I would advise anybody to do is to take a wander up to “Flagtopia” where you can get the most unbelievable views across the whole of the site. It’s a bit of a climb but it’s so worth the effort and it really gives the Glastonbury newcomer their first taste of exactly how enormous the festival is. 

For those who get their tents up early enough and are looking for something to do at 3pm on the Wednesday afternoon you could do worse than popping along to the Pyramid Field to see my good friends Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs. Fresh from their support slot on the recent Levellers tour these 3 men of Kent will astound you with their instrumental dexterity!!!  If you miss them on the Wednesday they will be doing several other gigs over the course of the festival. 

One of my favourite smaller festivals is Endorse-It In-Dorset where the music is geared towards the punk / ska / skiffle end of the spectrum. I’m therefore going to be making a bee-line for Club Dada in Shangri-La on the Thursday evening for the Punk Folk Ceilidh Hoedown, where Endorse-It organisers and cowpunk aficionados Pronghorn head the billing. 

One area that made an enormous impression on me last year was Trash City with the amazing pyrotechnics and flaming DJ Tower which had an old school rave atmosphere in a Mad Max setting. Arcadia, who were responsible for these attractions last year, will have their own field in 2009 and I’m especially looking forward to spending some time there with my hands in the air for Hybrid’s session on the Friday night. 

The larger stages of Avalon and Croissant Neuf get plenty of press coverage and rightly so because they both have wonderful atmospheres and great line ups. But smaller Greenfield venues like the Tadpole, One World and Mandala Stages, as well as places like the Bimble Inn in The Park are less well advertised. Some have entertainment programmed all the way through the weekend from Wednesday onwards so I’ll be making sure I spend plenty of time flitting between these places and catching up with old favourites like 3 Daft Monkeys, Biggles Wartime Band, Tarantism, Loonaloop and the Weirdstrings 

I’m heavily into what is generically called “World” music and one of the most amazing experiences I have had at Glastonbury was the extraordinary Africa Express collaboration which Damon Albarn brought to the Park in 2007.  This year we have an Africa Express Sound System to look forward to so I will be back at Club Dada for this to dance into the early hours of Sunday morning.   

Then as far as the entertainment on the main stages is concerned, well everybody’s tastes are different, but when it comes to live music in the open air I tend to err towards uplifting tunes which put a smile on my face and get my creaky old knees moving.  My personal recommendations are therefore as follows:- 

I saw Speed Caravan at WOMAD last year and they blew me away with their foot stomping set of Arabic / rock crossover music played on the ancient Oud. So if, like me, you are growing a little weary of the seemingly endless stream of indie guitar bands these guys will restore your faith that there really is something new in rock’n’roll. 

Being a 60’s child Rolf Harris always holds a special place in my heart and he has become a Glastonbury legend over the years. But if you feel his jokes are getting a little tired then pop up to Avalon for the Lancashire Hotpots instead and a spot of Chippy Tea! 

Easy Star Allstars are doing 3 sets over the course of the weekend and will be playing each of their 3 albums in turn. They came to most people’s attention a few years ago with their “Dub Side Of The Moon” covers of Pink Floyd classics in a dub style.  This was followed by “RadioDread” for all you shoegazing fans of Thom Yorke & co. But fresh off the press is their “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Dub Band” and I hope to be up & about in time to catch this on the Pyramid Stage first thing on Sunday. 

Amadou and Mariam are the blind couple from Mali who have been making excellent Afro-pop music for years but really came to the fore in 2005 with their Manu Chao produced “Dimanche a Bamako”. Their recent “Welcome to Mali” has pushed them even further into mainstream awareness and their joyous sound will be perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

Tinariwen are another group who have come out of Africa and become enormously popular in Europe with their shuffling desert blues and traditional dress of the Saharan Touareg nomadic tribesmen. They are appearing on the Pyramid on Saturday but I am especially looking forward to their collaboration with innovative folksters Tunng in the Park. 

And then finally I’m breaking with tradition. I’ve not actually seen a headline act on the Pyramid Stage since the Chemical Brothers played in 2000 and I’ve never had the opportunity to enjoy the fireworks at the end of the Sunday night headliner’s set.  But I’m a huge fan of Damon Albarn, not only for his work with Blur but as much for his projects with Gorillaz and Monkey, Journey To The West and his innovative involvement with Africa Express. So I’m going to get myself down to the Pyramid on Sunday evening for a good old singalong and to hopefully get a few photos of those lovely fireworks over the Pyramid. 

So those are my plans. Some will come to fruition, others will no doubt end up being binned because I’ll have stumbled across something that grabs my fancy more at that particular moment in time.

But whatever you choose to do – Happy Glastonbury!

Pictured top: Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs, performing at Endorse It. Photo by londoninflames, Flickr.

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