|Glastonbury Festival 2015|
24th - 27th Jun 2015
Worthy Farm, Worthy Lane, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA4 4BY, United Kingdom
So many wonderful moments both mainstream and offline.
This write up took as long as the festival. Now that’s memorable moments!
Glastonbury may not be for everyone but it certainly does its best to please all. This year was a little weird in the wake of the festival. There were lots of articles and social media comments, mostly I suspect from people who either watched the corporate TV coverage, or were bitter at not getting tickets. Either way, word was that Glastonbury has lost its heart, books the wrong kind of music and isn’t the roots hippy festival it once was.
Well I am here to set the record straight.
Not just once and for all, as this argument rears its ugly head almost every year, in some shape or form, and tries to dampen the spirits of Glastonbury’s soul, but because I consider myself a Glastonbury family member. A hardened festival goer. I work them. Review them. Enjoy them. So here is my opinion on what it’s all really about.
Glastonbury is the best festival around. It is the Granddaddy of all festivals and what you see and do there is up to you. It is a huge city, larger in population that Bath, Carlisle and Oxford. And just like any city, it has a range of areas, a gargantuan plethora of food options and an extravaganza of entertainment that can enliven, relax, engage and engross. All you need to do as a punter, is get off your butt and go find what you want.
It strikes me that people who moan about Glastonbury do not understand it. It is a festival of performing arts. Glastonbury has exactly what you want somewhere, it has more than something for everyone, it has everything for anyone.
I am proud to live (all be it temporarily) work and play in some of the most environmentally conscious, authentic, welcoming and original parts of this incredible festival.
Now in its 45th year, the festival heart is in the South West fields, from the stone circle, down through the healing and craft fields, to Avalon, Green futures and of course the Greenpeace fields. Here is where the heart and soul thrums and drums over the festival, keeping the vibes organic and manic, peaceful yet psychedelic. We try not to overly rave about the beauty, the green grass, the peacefulness of these areas, so as to keep them in their original state from when they were set up all those years ago. Similar to all those travel destination shows – shhhhh – (in quiet voice), don’t tell too many people for then what once was a quiet idyllic spot soon becomes a busy tourist attraction.
Forgive me for breaking the rule. But someone has to remind all those unbelievers out there that, yes, the real Glastonbury does exist and its heart beats very strong.
The south fields ensure the heart of the festival is happy, holding hands and positive. Even though we are now surrounded by The Park (BBC empire generic land) and Arcadia (most spectacular and loud show ON EARTH) we are still peacefully decorating the south fields. Barefoot and beautiful with our natural supplies and ancient techniques. Whittling and weaving, caring and carving. Mainly doing all those carefree happy hippy things that the corporate main-streamers balk at or laugh at because it takes them outside their comfort zone of controlled masses into a much organic and intuitive spiral of events.
So before you slate Glastonbury, let me ask you...are you making these comments based on being there and NOT having a good time, or based on the limited information you have seen from the beeb or social media? Or perhaps you are neglecting to recognise that what you criticise is merely a reflection of a part of yourself of which you are uncomfortable?
Personally the best years I have ever spent at Glastonbury are the years I have not even gone near the main stages. Not because I can’t do crowds or mainstream music, because I can and do. But because I love even more being able to walk around roomy fields and discover the sights of the European bests of comedy, theatrical arts, walk about performers. Discover small bands, hear famous bands do unplanned acoustic sets, see up and coming youngsters grinning from ear to ear to have any audience at Glastonbury, meet and greet total randomers with smiles on their faces, finding new friends in magical places. The street theatre, the ingenuity, the creativity, the beauty and the incredible. All of which go on, in places you just don’t find by sticking to the programme.
Glastonbury is so much more than what you see on the beeb. In fact, I think the coverage on the beeb does the festival a huge disservice. If you look at your wrist band you will see, Glastonbury is about the performance arts. Not. Just. Music.
If you are disappointed with the programme once you have arrived, leave it behind and just wander. You will find gems of entertainment every 10 minutes. Guaranteed. It is the best place in the world to go solo. My best Glasto moments ever I was on my own. I met magical, mystical, amusing new friends that I have never forgot. Wandering around to explore and not arrive, you notice all the artistic installations, the continuous décor, the various outsized wicker people and animals, the huge glowing random whales, foxes and fish in the trees. The largest disco ball ever glittering the tree lines with sparkles, the oversized huge benches which hold groups of eight people, the flower petals delicately dropped daily along secret paths, the hidden entrances to tiny little bars and snugs. All of which you totally miss when you surge with the masses from stage to stage, focusing on nothing but band time to band time.
THAT is where the magic of Glasto is at.
Weirdos and strangeness and throbbing and vagueness. You want wonderland? You are in the right place!
And yes people go to Glastonbury and take drugs and drink too much and toot NOS and share blow. But they do that at other gatherings separated from each other too. It is a huge party. So expect revelling. Do you really expect no letting loose? No messiness? Glastonbury Festival is the only festival I know, where all kinds of users and abusers mingle among each other, look out for each other and ultimately accept each other. There are more welfare tents in many guises than you can wave a rescue remedy at and more knowledgeable people to help a fellow human in distress than at a first aid meeting.
So all this back stabbing and post event slagging really does get my goat. Especially as I have witnessed the worse behaviour and disrespect from those who use the legal and openly abused mind altering substance named alcohol. Never have I seen such shameful behaviour than from those who have sipped from the tankard too many times. Shut down the bars and see how much that changes things. Challenge!
So, now I have had a good rant let's get down to the review.
We are lucky to arrive on site at 8am, the Saturday before. A full on hot southern summer day ahead and nine hours drive from the nippy north behind us. We were exhausted, ecstatic, excited and energetic. (For about an hour). We sailed through as vehicle number one, got our security check, and were health and safety inducted. Soon enjoying the delights of driving through the main gate onto the epic site. To be greeted by green grass, dusty tracks and hardly anything finished on site makes you feel honoured to be part of this growing gorgeous unique temporary city. We are grateful and grinning.
We spent the day slowly acclimatising to the heat, making areas of shade to work from, snoozing and generally doing everything at a snail’s pace so as not to increase the sweating and decrease the ability to properly function. Both the soaring heat and sleep deprivation greatly affected our bodies on day one. It is important to remember that although we are both English we live in Scotland and have acclimatised well to the less cosy climate of Bonnie Scotland.
Day two - Sunday may be a day of rest for some but in the pagan born fields of Glastonbury it’s a day of hard work and driven creativity. We were up and at them early while it was reasonably cool which helped us lay out our design for this year’s fence and archway. We worked until midday and then took a long siesta that came with intentions of working in the shade but looked much more like our version of ‘The Plank’ except on the grass under a well shaded tree. Work picked up again in the afternoon and we finally had all of the willow in place to start weaving our basket fence.
The lads who had been on site a day or so longer than us had done an immense job in creating a heart shaped arch, immediately nicknamed ‘the Hearch’ and much to our delight, in keeping with the theme of free HUGS. From then onwards everything in the design became about swoops and sweeps and hearts to keeps.
More of our troupes arrived early Sunday evening and base camp was soon complete with vans, awnings, camouflage nets covered in flowers and positive affirmation signs to fill any gaps. Our frozen slush puppy style cocktails had not even lasted one day in the soaring heat, even in their sealed ice boxes, so it was a spirited and syrupy evening that night as we toasted everyone’s arrival. Much hilarity and laughter spilling across the Pilton land (but not cocktails).
Monday was all about cracking on in the heat. Lots of wicker weaving, fence bending, heart shaping and making and general rushing to get finished. For such a delicate design this year, it sure did take a lot of time. Willow weaving is mind bendingly slow! The lads had the Hearch erected in no time and we were still gently weaving away. By early evening on Monday night we called it quits and decided it was time to venture out on our bikes and purvey the rest of the site.
We rode right across site, around the site and took various iconic pictures with virtually no one around. Glorious! In fact it was the furthest and quickest we travelled around site all week. Covering the 8.6 perimeter in no time. If only it was this quick when 200,000 people are here!
Monday evening the whole gate gang made it up to Flag hill, alas no flags up yet.
But a beautiful long glowing sunset to remind us that no matter how awesome this temporary city is, the natural beauty around still astounds you hands down. A magical place to watch the magic of nature perform in all her glorious colours.
Tuesday was the day to push on. Everything must be finished by this evening and yet everything was taking so long. The large heavy installations were all in place, everything dangerous or structural done. Yet all the smaller time consuming decorative pieces just seemed to go on and on. And to add to the pressure, rain was forecast for Wednesday. We weaved, waved, wove and wound our way around the last minute healers arriving. By dusk the finishing touches are still not quite finished. From the vantage point of Pennard flag hill you can see lines and lines of people waiting on the car park side of the festival entrance gates to get in. The sun sets and our weary bones fall into bed. The night is crystal clear and dry, cold but mystical. You can feel the excitement of the thousands of preparing staff and performers and the frenetic energy of thousands more waiting punters.
Wednesday – the noise steadily increases as 8am arrives and the gates open to let in lots of very excited back packed people. The Green Party even got involved in the popular Pennard Hill camping field with a new initiative encouraging festival campers to set up in concentric circles with village greens as central points to remind people of how to love the farm and hopefully leave no trace. 100 ‘Young Greens’ from the political party will take inspiration from permaculture design and principles to the party masses. Find out more about it here.
We however worked on and on. Eventually getting members of interested public to join in for free with the weaving dream catchers into anything round! Fabulous collaboration just grew out of the spectators as we rushed on and on while laden campers struggled by. By night fall the solar lights were in place and as we finally sat down for tea in base camp with our warm wine and moisturised skin, we breathed a sigh of relief that finally, Wednesday evening, everything was done. We had missed the Healing field opening ceremony, still weaving away while our friends and field family passed by in their beautiful costumes. The greenman, the drummers, the singers and the flying eagle all ceremoniously parading around the field, wafting their loveliness at us as we wove in yet more willow and yet more wool. But we had to get it all finished.
As night fall arrived our base camp solar lights pinged on. So we all stood to see how the lights looked on the Hearch and our decorated bridge over to Pennard Hill. But OMG! I was appalled; the Hearch lights were on flash mode!! Noooo! This was no entrance to Las Vegas! I had to immediately rush up, scrabble about to find the controllers and quickly turn them to plain ON. Disaster averted alongside much hilarity from the team. Think that was the quickest I moved all week!
The opening fireworks in the Kings Meadow drew everyone across site and were as impressive as ever. And in the middle of the Healing field where each circle of fire, earth, wind and water meet, we had a perfect view of the gargantuan firework display competing with the practicing whoomps and explosions of the Arcadia spider. We felt truly blessed to be seeing such wonderful sights without the frightful hedgerow to hedgerow packed field in which the burning Phoenix was now on fire.
However the following deluge of thousands of people through the small healing field entrances and exits through us all into steward mode as we tried to guide people to the main tracks and prevent installations from getting crushed in the stampede to find more entertainment. It was a weird yet whirlwind hour under the half crescent lunar moon.
Thursday was absolutely heaving in the south west fields. There is limited entertainment in the festival on the Thursday even though the gates have been open two days and the bars are pumping beer, wine, cocktails and ale into people. There are items in the small programme but not in the large one. And most of that entertainment is held in smaller venues and with limited field space, so the place can get very congested where there is performance.
However it brings people up to the heart of the festival for a good look around during the daytime. It's a joy to watch everyone sitting in the gardens, having a go at the crafts in the craft field, laying on the now dry grass and generally being open to the more earthly experiences that can be found in Glastonbury.
Thursday morning started for us at the Trawler Stage on the side of the Greenpeace Destroyer boat to take part in the awesome and yet ridiculous ‘Power Ballad Yoga’ (PBY). If you do yoga, this is nothing like it. If you like a laugh, you will love this. Kitty Shark-Ra is dressed in a ridiculous 80’s disco keep fit outfit and encouraging us to embrace the concepts of Power Ballad Yoga through moves such as the air grab to blow the dandelion, the air guitar to a rather intimate group sax position and even had us spanking drums (bums) and where possible singing along to old time classics from Lionel Richie, Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf to name but a few. The moves and indeed their titles were ridiculous, the synchronised positioning of the increasingly huge crowd around the Greenpeace destroyer was only enhanced by the sound of everyone's laughter and singing along. Many re-enactments were spotted by devoted PBY fans. Kitty Shark-Ra is an absolute legend. When I asked her the reason she started PBY and why at Glastonbury, she held her crotch and seriously stated "I believe that the crotch is the beginning of the journey to true enlightenment.”
Well there is no arguing with that with a belly full of laughter and a few strains from stretches. No seriously, we had strains from PBY!
But I suspect our strains were nothing like the injuries from the death slide on the side of the Destroyer boat where people braver than I were dropping off down the ridiculous cliff face with nothing but their buttocks and a hard hat covered in a squishy cushion in the shape of a fish on it! The point of what I could not work out, other than perhaps Greenpeace were on a radical mission, kill more people! Save more fish?...
Thursday afternoon I found myself Hoola Hooping with Hanna from Hoop ala Hoop for two whole hours!
This sequin clad beauty was entrancing in the hooping skills of her own and quite astonishing at teaching you how to not just keep up a hoola hoop (its all about having an adult size hoop ya know!) but taught us tricks too! I also ended up assisting Hanna and others as apparently, I looked quite good at it! It was quite the scene, approximately 40 people all Hoola Hooping around the water Garden in the sun. If I heard one person say “I can't hoola hoop” I heard it 50 times, but Hanna worked her magic on all of them, and within minutes they all found their knack and smiled their way into hooping happiness.
When I asked Hanna why she decided to bring Hoola Hooping to the masses at Glastonbury, she said “'hooping takes people back to being a child - suddenly a plastic circle has the ability to make you let go of your inhibitions and just smile and laugh. You have to be relaxed in yourself and be able to laugh at yourself for hooping and I think that is an important thing generally for people to remember and enjoy. Hooping helps us to find that place again. People walk away from their time here with a great big smile and that just says it all.”
She even wowed us later in the evening with an LED hula hoop, which spun out incredible patterns and shapes. It was absolutely hypnotic!
Thursday evening we finally socialised with the remainder of the field crew and caught the late night Barry Ashworths DJ set at the Engine Room. It was quite impressive. Not just because we enjoyed the dancing and the set he played out but because he really did impress up with his mix up of quite diverse tracks that you would not usually put together. Well done Barry. I never thoughtI would hear Pendulums Island Part 2, mixed with Red Hot Chilli Peppers Zepher Song, it was incredible, it really worked and we pulled our best ‘drop the beat’ faces and skanked until he finished with, of course, Mucky Weekend by the Dubs.
Friday brought rain. Booo. But we were prepared so were without care. A late start, a gorge from one of the beautiful falafel stalls in the Greenpeace market place and by early afternoon we were ready to kick off our weekend of dancing and prancing with the Dub Pistols for real in the beautiful Glade venue. Nestled in the trees just off the railway track, now surrounded with a variety of bars all pumping their own tunes and decorated in their own styles. Sometimes it overwhelms me that you can be in one space and hear four different types of music coming at you, all of them teasing you towards you. The dilemma the dilemma!!! You take a step and one noise gains governance, take another and its somewhere else that wins. Best option I feel is to place yourself in front of what you want to hear, get inside the critical projected arch of sound from the circle of speakers so you are blasted with nothing but surround sound. And this we just about found in the packed Glade venue. The rain somehow managed to avoid us once we arrived, protected by the tress with the occasional drop from a leaf.
And the Dub Pistols rocked the place. The tracks from the new album went down well with everyone and they threw in all the old favourites of course so everyone could shout along, pioint over enthusiastically at the sky, strut and bounce and enjoy an uplifting set to coincide with the last of the rain and the sunshine peeking over the cloudy horizon.
More random wandering around until our next return to the Glade this time armed with our trolley of overnight supplies (waterproofs, lots of beer, twinkling lights, spare glitter,digital camera, review note book and more beer) we somehow managed to walk right up to the front row, with the trolley. Of course once the place filled up for the old timers yet still entrancing and amazing Eat Static, we had to stay put for the whole set as there was no way to drag that trolley back through the crowd. People did ask us if we had a child in there? To which we rejoiced, YES! Its a beer baby!
Eat Static spinning out alien trance
Boy did we dance to Eat Static. There were cardboard boxes and all sorts of different sized fish everywhere. Our arms embraced yet another work out as we really enjoy that set. Mesmerising hypnotic graphics to coincide with the trance dance continuous bombardment of techno music. Alien obsessive Eat Static actually overloaded our stimulus ability and we had to stop watching from time to time before our eye balls exploded.
We then went straight to the track, picking up more friends on route and me leading the way with my trolley creating a gaping wake for my friends to follow. I did wonder how everyone was moving out of the way so well until I remembered I was wearing this T-Shirt....but all in all it worked and before we knew it we were at the new and much improved rather large Other Stage, right into the critical arch of speakers for Rudimental.
All our non Eat Static attending friends loved it. And we loved it in a way. But memories of their epic 2014 Pyramid Stage set (even though it was cut short for lightening) and in the aftermath of the super fast, super techno Eat Static, Rudimental feel positively ambient. And before we could say we HAD been waiting all night for them to sing us what we wanted, the rest of us were chanting impatiently “Spider! Spider! Spider!” where we knew the explosions, the bass line and the thousand beats a minute were exactly what we wanted.
So we split from the crowd again and dragged the trolley up the hill towards a red and scary looking Arcadia to catch three DJ sets: Maceo Plex, Pan Pot and Adam Beyer. All of which were foot-stompingly-fan-bloomingly-tastic. I lost 3 hours in time and about 1 stone in weight with all the dancing, some of which was definitely from around my face from all the grinning. We shared glitter with strangers (I knew it was worth popping in the trolley) and even opened one side to let other less hard core ravers sit down for a little bit, while the Arcadia spider eyes glared its lasers around us and exploded fire above us frequently, yet jumping us out of our skin every joyous time.
Bedtime at dawn. Great state to go to bed late.
Saturday was day of dressing up, messing up and staying up all night. Of course a long lay in was needed and a few adjustments to some of our costumes to cope with the heat and ensure everyone had a fair share of glitter and glamour.
The trolley was reinforced and restocked with supplies to take us right through to Dalai Lama o’clock on Sunday morning. We had promised our friends who like to get some sleep to be there from early o’clock and ensure a good spot at the front. So we had to be prepared for all eventuality. As well as ensure our costumes had the right accompaniments to keep our hair, make-up and accessories all in working order.
But before all of that we started our Saturday with much hilarity getting ready. We had Shakti Mama Disco in her holographic leggings, sparkly sequin top, hair feathers and fluff. We had Gaia in all her green flowing natural beauty, with solar powered glowing butterflies wrapped around her hair pinned with flowers and ivy. And then there was me, the weird Bluetopia alien, with humongous spiky blue and silver hair (with solar LED lights too), Tron boots and side pockets with fully fuelled silver bubble guns. Between the three of us we were quite a spectacle. Which of course double the time it took to get anywhere due to photographic opportunities with random appreciative festival goers. Often it was shouted “ten out of ten for effort” and plenty of high fives to go round. It made for an interesting experienced when I had to go solo to fight my way into a crowd to get a good photograph for my reviews or tweets. Not so bad on the way out when people looking towards you and see you coming but bopping through a crowd of people with their back to you, no matter how poitely you tap on tier shoulder and say “excuse me”, a 6ft shiney massive head alien is not what they were expecting to see and I did freak a lot of people out. MUCH FUN!
Best comment all night had to be comparing me to a cross between Princess Leia and Sonic the hedgehog!!
So we went like that to see Dreadzone at the Avalon stage but I have to admit we were a tad late, what with it taking so long to get there clearing the way for the space my hair and my trolley needed to get through and the frequent photographic requests. But who can resist when its little children and you just make their day. Not me!
But the last half of their set was fantastic and we bobbed and bopped about just outside the Avalon tent to their ska reggae dance roots cross music. Love the Dreadzone. A quick (ish) stroll all along the railway track to the very last right hand turn before you might actually leave the site at Gate XX, and went straight on up to the dance arena that is the spectacular Silver Haze and the incredible spacious and sprawling Sonic Tent. We caught the last few tracks of Gorgon City who we had never heard of but thoroughly enjoyed along with everyone who sung along to them. And then the crowds dispersed and we rolled right into the front again with our trolley for the awesome, the incredible Leftfield. They blew the roof!!!
I was asked to take off my hair. And refused. Stating that it was not a wig, it is attached. All hair is where I come from! I had after all, just come for the day from my cold planet to see if Earth was inhabitable for my people. My rocket was crashed landed just over there (point generally) so if you don’t mind, I was here first and I will dance furiously to all of this. Thank you mister!
And dance we did. Holographic legs splaying and kicking all over the place. Blue spikes gently bouncing onto people’s heads and Gaia just flowing and ebbing her beauty among everyone. It was magical and slightly surreal experience. And of course the place went wild when they played Phat Planet. They also came back on and played a beautiful hypnotic encore. Loving the Leftfield.
We then bumbled back across site to the Small World Stage to see an incredible live band from Brighton called the Carnival Collective. There are so many members in this band they take up the stage AND the front three rows of the tent, with their synchronised musicians and vibrant conductor. They play incredible music with every instrument you can imagine, and do unbelievable mash ups of popular dance anthems including R&B, favourites like the Prodigy and heavy bass lines and fast jamming beats you just cannot believe they are a live band with not a sign of a laptop or sample technology in site. We grooved away as fast as we could while I spent most of the set agape proclaiming “All with their own instruments!”
We hung out around the Green Futures Field for the rest of the night, enjoying the company around the open fire, the various conversations and comfort as the early dawn crept up on us.
We moved over to the beautiful wrought iron garden on the main track, complete wooden walkways dividing the ponds and a large hanging pod which you could sit inside. Finding ourselves inside the pod at dawn we decided to vacate and take up position on an oversized wooden carved armchair and observe the hilarity in the pod develop. The group inside were intent on chanting names at people coming up the track towards them until the chosen person gave in and ran over and jumped inside the pod to a loud cheer and much rolling over of feet until they were ejected for the next request. My favourite being when the crowds increased come 5am and Superman came wandering up the track. Easily spotted, the People in the pod soon began chanting “Sup-er-man! Sup-er-man!” who was awoken from his lazy hazey walk up the hill, located the chanting and ran around the garden in full on Superman pose, cape flapping behind him and launched himself inside the pod. They all cheered, the group of spectators giggled, his feet turned upside down and around a few times and then Superman was ejected. Much more awake and grinning from ear to ear as he went on his way.
A lovely couple who had been sharing takes in the large chair with us for an hour or so realised I had bubble guns in my side pockets and asking politely if she could borrow one the lovely local lass from Street, ran to the pod, poked in her head and shouted “I’ve got something to make you happy!” and proceeded to fill the pod with bubbles. The People in the Pod were elated. A tremendous cheer rang out and they all shouted “BUBBLES!” and the whole track laughed at the childish yet heart warming laughter that spilled from inside.
At just gone 5:30am the group in the pod spilled out and we could not quite believe how many there were, all now heading off in the direction of the Kings Meadow, still chanting with each other “Peas in a pod, peas in a pod, pea' in a pod”. Hilarious.
We soon realised it was getting on for preparation for Dalai Lama o’clock and made our own way up into the Peace Garden in the stone circle field of Kings Meadow.
We could not believe the amount of people in the stone circle, yet we found a vacant thrown in the peace garden! We sat upon our throne, admiring the beauty of the peace garden, the prepared stage for his holiness and spent the next couple of hours hunched away from the drizzle and covering over sleeping people with our spare blankets. We were sorely disappointed when the clear up crew, Glastonbury’s epic Litter Pickers turned up and ousted us from our throne! We thought we had such a wonderful spot but no, no one was allowed in the peace garden while Mr Lama was there. So, taking the direction of the chairs into account we decided to head for a large but angle cut tree stump at the edges of the field where we could see everything. Gaia and I marched over, now getting on for 7am and decided before we climbed up to stamp down the four foot stinging nettles around the stump. Nothing unusual to us. But what a picture we must have looked to the variety of litter pickers and security, watching us from not so far away, stomping our way around the tree, unnoticed by us until we met each other in the middle on the far side of the tree and looked up, satisfied with our clearance, to see quite a few faces staring back at us in bemused puzzlement. Turns out they thought we were going to pee in the bushes but once we perched on the stump we became a rather popular photographic opportunity. So we kindly obliged for another hour or so. Until we then realised that the chairs on the peace garden stage were now facing out the way and a few people had gathered on the other side of the peace garden. Gaia was delighted as she was unable to sit on the slope very well due to her slight and light physic. Whereas this alien was more used to such contrasting edges and to be honest less gravity pressure to help keep me in situ on uneven surfaces. Gaia!
We quickly jumped down and dragged the trolley round to the new front of the peace garden and found ourselves in the front row, with a mix of about twenty other last men standing or Buddhists. At this point we were pleased as punch with our position and with it coming up to 8am, were texting the troupes to let them know their front of stage position was secured.
Hazard tape went up and we could literally bite it if we wanted to. We even had our trolley for a seat. We saved our last beer each for Dalai Lama o’clock and sat out the wait while the rain grew more persistent and the crowd grew and grew in size. Finally half our gang arrived and were delighted and fresh faced and ecstatic to be at the front. Ew all kissed and cuddled and caught up on each others news since we had parted the day before. At some point, I had to leave the group and rush down to the Water Aid toilets (which were incredible btw! Generating electricity from your pee!!) WaterAid loo link here:
After all the effort to secure our front row place, you can imagine the look of shame on my friends faces and the look of horror on mine as I rejoined the gang to find the hazard tape had been removed and we were now 11 rows from the front. The crowd had moved forward without anyone from the gang noticing! What a bunch of nin-com-poops! Disgusted with their place saving inability I slumped in my trolley and tutted A LOT.
Still, we were very near the front, so its wasn’t that bad really…but Pah! What are friends like eh?
The Dalai Lama eventually arrived. All headdresses, large hats and umbrellas were removed and a serene peace fell over the field. He was incredible. Humble, witty, soft and inspiring. He talked about how we need to change the way we educate our children, to value each other, kindness and compassion. He spoke of happiness, simplicity, love and generally being nice. We sung happy birthday to him and then a reporter asked him a load of stupid questions that basically required the Dalai Lama to repeat himself. As if they reporter guy had not been listening. But hey ho. Thats the media for you. So wrapped up in their pre-prepared questions they were not actually listening.
Afterwards everyone was happy and calm. A beautiful energy flowing as the crowds parted through the gates. We slowly found our way back to base camp and quite happily crumpled into bed after vegetarian snacks and our Dalai Lama beers, (because it just didn’t feel right to crack one open while he was there!) He was too pure. Highlight number 1 of the whole weekend.
We awoke late afternoon and had a very slow peaceful start to the evening filled with smiles and glitter while getting ready to see Groove Armada at the Arcadia Spider. Right up close and personal we had a perfect view of the central DJ booth and were well positioned for the proceeding Arcadia show. Groove Armada were brilliant, stomping, well mixed of old and new. The place filling up more and more and more. We danced and grooved (of course) through the whole set that went by in a flash. And then…LOADS of unbelievable amazing stuff happened that quite frankly I don’t think you will believe...but let's see.
Metamorphosis – The Arcadia Spectacular show blew us away. We stood with stunned faces, eyes all flicking all over different places and for the hour after the show we could only gape at each other and say WOW.
The Arcadia spider is a three legged, three armed mechanical structure. Its central DJ booth hangs beneath the belly of this awesome LED covered structure. Each mechanical arm is controlled and moves around. There are three high wires running from each static spider leg out past the crowd. The three sides, the central underbelly DJ booth and the way the whole show is designed and choreographed you can see everything repeatedly in triplicate, so you don’t miss anything from any angle. From where we were standing we could see two of everything that happened.
And this, is what happened…
The show kicked off with a silver clad predator walking horizontally down each spider leg. At the end of each leg were three transparent orbs with strange moving creepy creatures inside. The horizontal predators reached the bottom to banging music and connected one of the zorbs to the moving arm. The predators were slowly dangled out above the crowd as they twisted and twirled on their wires into impressive shapes and scary movements. Then BAM! They dropped down to the crowd and picked someone up and out, pulling them up high into the sky and wrapping and wrapping them in a spider web type cocoon. Once the poor person was completely covered they were dropped inside an orb. We realised then that moving along the three wires were upside down mechanical spiders, approaching in a creepily accurate upside down slow spiderly scamper towards the orbs. They picked up one each and took it away over the heads of the thousands of people dancing and watching below.
Next the arm swings around and spray dry ice across the crowd as it reached down for another orb with struggling movement inside. As it lifted it up high and the music dropped yet again into a loud bouncing beat out sprang an LED lit version of a cross between an octopus and a daddy long legs spider. It was gross yet engrossing at the same time. The LED legged spiderpus danced about for a while, as the mechanical wire spiders came back again to take the orb. Once the orbs were removed the led spiderpus climbed the static legs of the spider and joined onto the harness with the other silver predator and together they swung about in triplet synchronicity. Creepy, stunning, spine chilling moves with fireworks exploding from their feet, fireworks exploding from the main spider and huge fire bursts going off everywhere.
Then it all went dark and our eyes were drawn to a lone man standing on a column. One arm pointing to the sky, his covered face looking down and as he began to move to the new music pumping out of the spider DJ booth lightening sprang from his fingertips! Then from his hands! It coursed across his body as he cut move after wonderful move. Then he picked up a short pole and the lightening coursed across that too. And he continued his funky and impressive dance routine while we all gawped at the spikes of electricity and lightening branches reaching out from him into the sky. It was truly and utterly impressive and outstanding.
Then FOR the finale the mechanical wire spiders started to return to the huge central spider, the dancing harness predators and LED spiderpus continually spiralled around each other with feet flares going off, the top of the huge spider exploded time after time with outward blasts of fire and fireworks, the mechanical wire spider drivers then dropped out of their seats and twisted round and round in circles powered round by dry ice extinguishers, the lightening guy danced and just about everything exploded! It was awesome and quite literally overwhelming and mind blowing.
The roar of appreciation from us and the crowd was incredible. Those that could whistled and whooped and clapped. While those that couldn’t just stood, awestruck in disbelief. We danced a little more to the next set of DJs but our hearts were not in it. We had been out performed. Nothing could compare to the extravaganza we had just witnessed and we actually needed time to walk away, process our stimulus and converse about the brilliance of it all. And what impressed me again when I was home was to read in the Glastonbury programme that it was all done using biofuel this year. So very well done to the Arcadia team for not only being creatively awesome but also for being environmentally conscious awesome.
We bumbled around the park finding food, shelter and late night Pimms for a little bit longer but all we could talk about was the show or if not talk just wander in silence occasionally looking back at the spider magnificent in the distance and whisper to each other with sore throats, whoa! And eventually went to bed with cups of tea and hob-nob biscuits. Because nothing could end Glastonbury better than the Arcadia Metamorphosis show. Highlight number 2 of the whole weekend.
If you ever get the chance any time any place anywhere, GO GO GO! Find out more about them here:
Or view the pictures of this year's show on Facebook, I was too dumbstruck to the spot to function a camera.
So Glastonbury 2015 was a resounding success. It was everything and more as it always is. Having been coming here for 20 years I think I know what to expect. And yet every year it amazes me. It has creativity, kindness, inspiration, talent, economic and a conscious soul. It is beautiful, hilarious, gentle and loud. Clever, artistic, incredible and highly edible.
So explore the expanse of options before you moan.
If you really can't find something to enjoy there, its probably because you’re at home.
Review: Lou Hyland