The end of June means that the emperor of all festivals is back for another 1000-acre weekend of insanity for the 177,500 of us who managed to get hold of a ticket.
As ever the build-up to this year’s event attracted a lot of debate over the headliners – well, one headliner in particular. For when Irish rockers U2 were announced to be preparing for their first ever appearance at Worthy Farm, a collective sneer travelled around the internet, with a power that forced any Bono admirers into the closet and slammed the door. However, with Bono’s joints not being what they used to be, the band pulled out and, after a short and genuinely exciting frenzy of speculation, the Eavises surprised us all by calling on the services of concept band Gorillaz.
While the response to that seems to have been a conversely overwhelming positive one, whether Damon Albarn, his cartoon friends and their shedload of collaborators can really carry off a headline set of this size remains to be seen. If it’s as good as it has the potential to be – and half as good as his turn with Blur last year was – it’ll go down in history as one of “those” Glastonbury moments.
With the Pyramid Stage being otherwise headlined by the stadium glam-rock of Muse on Saturday and no other than Stevie Wonder on Sunday, all three are first-time headliners this year. But with a bewildering number of musical stages on offer providing platforms for pretty much every useful act on the planet right now, what are you going to head for? Here are a few of our tips:
If you want to get straight into the musical side of the festival, the place to head to on the unofficial first night is The Queen’s Head where you’ll find a few of the best up-and-comings. Two Door Cinema Club, Egyptian Hip Hop and Micachu And The Shapes are among the hot young things getting the party started. Meanwhile if you’d rather soak in some of the elements of the festival new to 2010, there a million other things to bump into on your wanders. Thursday-starting acts should include Silver Columns at Magic Bubbles, Professor Green at Pussy Parlure and Joy Orbison at Wow, while the Greenpeace Stage, the Bandstand and Stonebridge Bar will all be ready for business.
But really things will begin in earnest on the Friday. And that’s when your headaches begin to form, and not just because Rolf Harris is responsible for opening the Pyramid Stage. No, the range of choices will force you to cast aside some of your favourites as you go in search of the defining performances of Glastonbury 2010. For today’s best afternoon vibes, head to what was the Jazzworld but is now the West Holts Stage for super-talented American mentalist tUnE-yArDs and the eccentric charm of Mariachi El Bronx. The Park Stage promises great sets from former The Beta Band frontman Steve Mason and Broken Bells, while as we move nearer to the headliners there’s the opportunity to see Kele showcase the jagged blippiness of his solo material and the blues-rock of The Black Keys, currently in the process of taking things up a notch with recent album Brothers.
Big names for today come in the shape of La Roux and Florence And The Machine still, yes STILL touring last year’s ubiquitous tunes before the Pyramid Stage plays host to the American genre-skipping double bill of Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg. Who are of course best of mates in real life. Obviously.
The Park Stage is looking like the banker for good music today with a line-up including Beach House, Stornoway, Laura Marling and Midlake. Meanwhile the East Dance tent goes urban if that’s your ting with XL signing Giggs slotting in nicely around sets by Tinie Tempah and later performances by Kelis and N’Dubz. For an ever so slightly more relaxed time, the Leftfield Stage has been revived and this year is being curated by Billy Bragg. He’s booked himself in for a headline slot today after the likes of Thea Gilmore and Green Day-botherer Frank Turner have played their sets.
Get ready for tantrums and arguments as the strong evening schedules get closer. You’d be mad to miss The National on the Other Stage, but then the prospect of seeing Shakira wiggling her flexible self around the Pyramid Stage may prove one temptation too far. Tonight’s headliners offer up an over-the-top slice of camp whichever you end up at. Muse have that award-winning reputation as the best live rock band in the world and will no doubt have some spectacular tricks up their sleeves. But the Pet Shop Boys are here on the back of the highlight set of Spain’s Primavera Festival. Either way, Saturday night seems given to fun.
Over the Saturday hump and the end is in sight. But there’s still a whole day of scheduling to navigate yourself around. If your nan’s in town then she’ll appreciate those Fisherman’s Friends on early at the Acoustic Stage with their major label courting sea shanties. But later on there’ll be some potentially great sets from the London Community Gospel Choir and both Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson, fresh from his stint curating the Meltdown Festival at London’s South Bank Centre. The John Peel Stage has pulled in an impressive array of music from the melodic electronic tunes of Holy Fuck to the classic British post-punk offerings of Gang Of Four and a solo gig by Julian Casablancas, having a night away from his recently reformed band The Strokes.
Stevie Wonder is an untouchable legend – there aren’t many singers in that category any more, and it’s an absolute privilege to have him headlining Sunday night. No one’s allowed to criticise Stevie; it’s the law. However, if for any reason you wanted something a bit livelier then there’s a holy double bill heading up The Other Stage tonight: LCD Soundsystem and Orbital. For a last stab of absolute 100% tunes, head there and make a finale of it.
Forty years in and there’s no getting away from the mammoth array of acts Glastonbury’s pulled in this time. 2010’s turning out to be a brilliant year for music, and there’s no better venue than this, the biggest music festival in Europe to showcase it.