Friday, 9 July 2010

The long, late Glastonbury blog.

It's July now. Is that too late to blog about Glastonbury? Doesn't matter. I kept filing things away in my head while I was there, to write about later. Then I came back to Cardiff and had to hit the ground running, with a couple of trips to London, and then I kind of lost momentum... So, here we are. July.

It was a fantastic festival. The weather was bone dry and scorchingly hot, which helped. But I think I had a great time partly because I treated it like a working holiday, and ignored the compulsion to do as much as possible. I don't like big concerts, but I've felt guilty about not going to the big acts in previous years. This year I didn't bother feeling guilty about anything. I had two goals only: to avoid getting sunburned, and to avoid tearful distress (both in reaction to last year's Glastonbury, which is a story in itself, best left untold...)

My dislike of large concerts aside, I did go to one gig at the Pyramid stage: Willie Nelson, at three in the afternoon. If heaven existed, it would be a beautiful sunny festival, and all my favourite acts would be there. Johnny Cash would certainly be playing. Willie Nelson is the closest I'll get to that in my life I guess. I stood in the hot sun, downed a litre of water during his set and watched the shadow of the stage inch its way towards me. He sang "Always on my mind" and I cried a little tear of joy. He sang a gospel tune about how his spirit will fly away one day, and I thought, looking at him, that the day may be quite soon, and that I was pretty damn fortunate to be standing there on a glorious afternoon listening to him sing. He finished before the shadow reached me.

The other music gigs I attended were tiny in scale and so perfectly to my taste. Martha Tilston, in a small tent in the gentle Greenfields, sang the lyric that was the theme of my last year in London... "I'm gonna run across the office tables, saying no, no, you can't have me". Martha moved me to tears; she's so calm, centred and beautiful, and so many of her songs seem to come from a searching place similar to where I am at present. The Correspondents overcame a poor sound system and a stage made of a stack of pallets to get the whole crowd in the Blind Pig Bar dancing at 1 a.m. to their filthy swing-hop. The Movvits did the same, and I laughed out loud that I was dancing to a man rapping in Swedish at half-past-four in the morning in a tent in a field in Somerset.

But of course I was there to work, with my cabaret double-act Peek & Boo. We didn't make it the first night - my partner Ms Boo arrived on site already ill with a throat infection, and it got worse overnight, turning into full-blown tonsilitis. On Friday morning one of the on-site doctors was threatening to send her home, but as nothing was going to drag her away, he gave her antibiotics instead. So we had to pull our performance on Friday night, but made up for it the next night with a great scheduled gig in our cabaret tent Mavericks, and then an impromptu gig the Fat Belly speakeasy across the field. Sunday night's gig was also great, to a crowd maybe of a few hundred - it's hard to tell, but the tent was definitely full, with people standing at the back. Both nights I then stayed up until dawn, trailing back to the van in the cool and pearlescent morning.

And that's that until next year! Peek & Boo don't have any other festival gigs this summer. I'm going to one more festival, Shambala, at the end of August, but I'll be the Clown's plus-one and thus footloose and responsibility-free. It's a tiny festival. I'm looking forward to it.