It’s Rock. But Not As We Know It?
Another Summer and another Glastonbury Festival, or should that now be ‘Glasto’ if you want to sound all in and hip or more to the point, like a complete moron. For those of you who won’t be travelling to this field of mud baked obligatory hype, I say respect. Glastonbury is of course that annual festival of music and performing arts which reminds everybody just where Somerset is located. And, contrary to what the hot press intelligentsia may tell you, it’s totally, unequivocally, overhyped, rubbish.
This is mainly because what started many years ago as a laid back, hippie-influenced love-fest has now evolved into a corporate, money-grabbing business empire with all the soul and atmosphere of a three-day sales and marketing conference in Milton Keynes, where some college lecturer spouts endlessly about sales targets and quarterly reviews. Then we are presented with the gift of BBC presenters who proceed to take credit for every new act that appears on stage, refer to every musician as if they were their bestist mates and when a song is patently terrible they look at each other and exclaim ‘wow, that was spellbinding’ or something similarly ridiculous. This especially true when we get the now de-riguer acoustic number in the studio that now passes as a poor audition for the x-factor!
The spirt of the festival is also more in-tune with an exclusivity that wasn’t always present. Many years ago, pleasure-seeking locals could simply hop over the fence or burrow beneath it to avoid paying the small mortgage that masqueraded as an entry fee. This week there will be in place a multi-billion pound security system that would give ISIS second thoughts about trespassing. The parameter fences will be patrolled by armed members of the SAS who are programmed to shoot any musical revellers in the face whenever they try to gain unlawful access. Personally I don’t know why all this security is necessary because most of the bands on this year’s line-up are so terrible that they should, to my mind, act as a deterrent to anyone who was planning on heading down to watch it
.And things aren’t much better even if you do have a degree in astrophysics that at least helps to understand and maybe successfully negotiate the utterly bewildering ticketing process and get in, where you’ll be charged roughly £2,500 for a pint of diluted warm cider and the same again for a dodgy burger that would make McDonald’s wince in embarrassment. Then you’ll be met by the usual array of new age hippies, gurus and space cadets with ridiculous names like Josh, or Toby and the obligatory lesbian, Amarinta, who will try and hug you and persuade you just what an amazing connection you all have. The fake bonhomie alone is enough to make you want kill yourself by the end of the first day..But then to make things worse it seems that all of the up and coming artists are overshadowed by the boring, overrated monoliths. Of course there are a number of small stages where it is possible to get into a brand of music you might have otherwise have been able to which I suppose is a small plus because to me, Rock and Roll is all about small venues, up and coming bands, excitement. It’s all about the unexpected.
At the end of the day, the whole Glastonbury thing is not about any of this at all but all about what you see on television. The whole event has become somehow homogenised and sterilised for people sitting at home, sipping red wine on their sofas and pretending that they’re all sharing in the entire karaoke experience.Even now I can still picture the Rolling Stones in 2013 on the Pyramid stage who, in spite of their incredible back catalogue, simply appeared as their own tribute band bashing out the exact kind of raised-eyebrow, sing-a-long cabaret tat that Glastonbury loves to wallow in. Maybe that explains the subsequent invites to Dolly Parton, Lionel Ritchie et al and this year there’s bound to be embarrassing tribute acts to Bowie and Prince?
Anyway please forgive my absence this year because the very thought of spending three days in a ploughed up field, up to my testicles in mud listening to the interminable boredom that is Coldplay seems about as enjoyable as spending three days repeatedly smashing my forehead up against a concrete lamppost. And that’s before we get to the terrible Adele, assuming that most of the audience isn’t by this stage hanging from nearby trees. Her set will be just one more of the excoriating and never-changing tale of lost love that she croons, and re-croons ad nauseam. In my view nothing she has done comes close to Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’ classic which was a work of raw, lyrical brilliance and very clearly about her tumultuous love affair with Blake Fielder Civil who caused her such heartache. And yet, although Adele has shifted more albums than the Saudis have sold barrels of oil, not one person has ever been able to identify the man who apparently filled Adele with so much unhappiness. Which begs the question as to whether he does in-fact exist?
The entire festival might be a lot of things to a lot of people but the one thing it ain’t is rock & roll?
22nd June 2016.