Yep – still frazzled from our muddy weekend at the Glastonbury Festival, but to paraphrase Destiny’s Child: we are survivors.
Friday got off to a soggy start as shin-deep mud hampered movement across the site, which is perhaps why we ended up watching most of The Vaccines‘ set despite having zero prior knowledge of their music. “A bit Editors-y,” we concluded. (Vaccines video highlights here.)
WATCH: The Vaccines ‘If You Wanna’
After that we headed to The Park for some Warpaint action, and though we couldn’t actually *see* the female art-rockers in question, their hypnotic blend of driving drums and ghostly riffs made for highly enjoyable listening. (Warpaint highlights here.)
WATCH: Warpaint ‘Undertow’
Next up, we helped two girls lodged firmly and face down in the mud – but fortunately absolutely pissing themselves laughing – and then slid all the way to Ke$ha, who managed to pack out the Dance East stage despite clashing with ‘secret’ act Radiohead. We know we made the right choice, quite frankly – unless Thom Yorke has recently taken to drinking blood, firing glitter guns and dancing with gutter-trannies on stage, it’s hard to see how Radiohead could have been more entertaining. Let’s hope Ke$ha is back in 2013 with a higher-profile billing. The rest of the day is a bit hazy, but we do recall watching 20 minutes of U2 in the rain (a fairly miserable experience) before heading to the NYC Downlow bar where a very friendly man briefly put us in restraints before admiring his handiwork by taking a few photographs. As you do.
WATCH: U2 ‘I Will Follow’
Blearily we awoke on Saturday to find that the drizzle had passed and the ground was beginning to firm up. Hurrah! With no clear plan in mind (something of a recurring theme) we walked aimlessly for miles, eventually finding ourselves hanging out with our 6 year-old niece in the Kidz Field. Amazingly, this was probably the most relaxing part of the entire weekend, and the toilets were spotless – but you won’t be able to get in without a child. Perhaps in 2013 you can ‘borrow’ one in order to access to a clean lav. Just a thought.
It wasn’t until 5pm that we remembered to actually go and watch some live music, so we trotted off to the Pyramid stage for Tinie Tempah. As luck would have it, the sun came out with gusto during his well-received slot, which featured most of his ‘Disc-overy’ album plus new single ‘Moshpit’. Bizarrely, the latter was entirely unmoshable, so it’s back to the drawing board on the whole ‘rap-rock’ idea, Tinie.
WATCH: Tinie Tempah ‘Wonderman’
By this point we were worryingly sober, so a few pints later and a blast of Friendly Fires on the Other Stage and we were ready to rock. Only mildly, mind, which is what one does when watching Coldplay. As with U2, we gave it 20 minutes before again heading off to the decadent Shangri-La area where we completely failed to find our friends, but did lose our minds. Swings and roundabouts, innit?
WATCH: Coldplay ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’
Rudely awoken at an unrepeatable hour by blazing sunshine, Sunday morning saw us scratching our heads and trying to remember if we really had watched the beginning of Coldplay or if the whole thing had been a rather beige dream. Simple thought processes proved an impossibility, however, as we quickly realised that we were sitting in an oven in the middle of a heatwave. Scrambling pathetically out of our tent we were overjoyed to learn that the ground had finally solidified (well, maybe 80% of it.) Amazing!
It was a good job we were up so early, as it transpired – some nutcase had scheduled The Pierces for 12.30 on The Park stage, miles from our tent. We made it there with ease, however, given that the ground was actually walkable by this point. The girls and their four backing boys put on a sublime performance which was heavy on tracks from their third and breakthrough album ‘You & I’, and they looked the part too – forget Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, Catherine and Allison Pierce have got boho-chic down. Next up came a quick photograph session on the hill overlooking the entire festival site (stunning), then it was off to Paul Simon. After telling the sweltering crowd that he had a throat infection, Paul performed a set full of songs we didn’t recognise, causing us to flounce off in search of shade. (Watch Paul Simon highlights here.)
Now, we’re not entirely sure what happened next, but we later found ourselves coming to in a field behind the Pyramid Stage with the abhorrent Pendulum playing nearby at a frankly ludicrously volume. This meant that we’d been asleep for two hours and had completely buggered up our chances of seeing either Robyn or Lykke Li, both of whom were playing dangerously close to Beyonce’s slot, and neither at stages particularly close to the Pyramid. Knowing that we’ve seen Robyn three times during the Body Talk era meant we were able to handle our disappointment, but we were gutted to have missed Lykke Li. Maybe in 2013?
The good news, however, was that we were nicely refreshed for Beyonce‘s closing headline appearance. She kept the crowd waiting for 15 minutes, which was a risky move given the temperature and general feeling of exhaustion, and for a second there it looked as if the crowd might turn on her before she’d even begun. Luckily for B, however, she had a winning opening salvo of ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Single Ladies’ and FIREWORKS up her sleeve. So as you can imagine, the first 10 minutes of Beyonce were essentially better than forty minutes of U2 and Coldplay combined.
The incredible staging and video screens lifted the performance to a level rarely seen at festivals, while a well-paced setlist (featuring several covers and a fab Destiny’s Child medley) ensured the crowd energy didn’t flag too much during new tracks and ballads. Some fans have since quibbled that B drew too heavily on her ‘I Am…’ world tour, but viewers unfamiliar with her live oeuvre will surely have been blown away. Nice little promo slot for the next-day release of new album ’4′ as well, seeing as parts of the set were simulcast in America and France.
Our only complaint is that B does have a tendency to rearrange and drag songs out in a slightly unnecessary fashion – plus the continual audience interaction began to grate in places – but her undeniable charisma and spectacular vocals more than made up for these minor quibbles. (Watch Beyonce highlights here.) Also, the inclusion of Tricky during ‘Baby Boy’ will surely go down in Glasto legend as the moist pointless and random guest appearance ever!
WATCH: Beyonce chats to Lauren Laverne and Jo Whiley after her performance
1. Crazy In Love
2. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
3. Naughty Girl
4. Baby Boy (ft. Tricky)
5. Happy Birthday (to someone called Steve)
6. Best Thing I Never Had
7. End Of Time
8. If I Were A Boy
9. Sweet Dreams / Sweet Dreams (mash-up with Eurythmics cover)
10. Why Don’t You Love Me
11. Why Don’t You Love Me (reprise)
12. The Mamas (backing singers’ interlude)
13. The Beautiful Ones (Prince cover)
14. Sex On Fire (Kings Of Leon cover)
17. Independent Women (DC medley)
18. Bootylicious (DC medley)
19. Bug A Boo (DC medley)
20. Telephone (Lady Gaga cover)
21. Say My Name (DC medley)
22. Jumpin’ Jumpin’ (DC medley)
23. Survivor (DC medley)
24. At Last (Etta James cover)
See you there in 2013, slags….