Live Music + Gig Reviews

Glastonbury Festival 2005, Day 3 @ Worthy Farm, Pilton

26 June 2005

A horrifyingly short time after going to bed the night before, I woke up in a steaming sauna of a tent, only to open the doors and be greeted by the surprise appearance of the weekend: the sun.

Relaxing down at the Other Stage we were in time for Cornish band, Thirteen Senses at a strangely early position on the bill. Maybe it was for this reason, or because everyone was so busy relaxing in the sunshine that crowd atmosphere was lacking a bit. The quartet played without fault and some moments were genuinely touching and beautiful. History, Thru The Glass and Into The Fire proving to be the high points of an accomplished, though decidedly inert set.

We stayed around to witness the New York cool of Ambulance LTD, but it largely washed over me as I lay back and topped up the tan, or, as it turned out, got sunburnt.

Having decided to pack up our stuff and check the car hadn’t drowned in mud (it hadn’t), we returned from the long trek back to car park ‘West 30’ to see The Rakes play the Guardian Lounge. Singer Alan Donohoe was fabulously animated in this tiny tent and as I enjoyed an extortionately priced ice cream outside, the awesome Strasbourg and similar tightly cropped Libertines-esque tunes raged inside.

Immediately following which it was time to see the man, the legend, Brian Wilson at the Pyramid Stage. Lying in the sunshine listening to a varied collection of Beach Boys hits and lost gems from his signature work, the lost opus SMiLe was perfection itself. There was a strange contrast to be seen between Wilson’s pristine Hawaiian shirt and the crowd’s mud-spattered dishevelment. Golden oldies Sloop John B, California Girls, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Surfin’ USA, Good Vibrations and more were joined by a few from SMiLe and even a Wilson led rendition of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Whilst this was an amazing experience – to hear a legend perform some of the greatest pop songs of all time, it was also tinged with sadness. Wilson’s eyes were vacant, fixed on the middle distance and looking vaguely scared – it was pretty clear that he had visited some dark places from which he has not totally returned.

At which point it was time to go to the Other Stage for possibly the best singer-songwriter to emerge in recent years, Rufus Wainwright. Flamboyance was in no short supply as the modern troubadour took to the stage in a suit/shirt/tie ensemble made of the same curtain. The spellbinding set which followed included my personal favourite Rufus Wainwright song, The Art Teacher, a cover of Hallelujah in tribute to the late Jeff Buckley and closer Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk, sister Martha Wainwright even made a guest appearance. His banter throughout the set was earnest and amusing and it was a refreshingly different act to most of what I’d seen over the weekend.

As it turned out, Rufus Wainwright was the last act I saw at Glastonbury 2005. Knackered, unable to face another night in the tent, and since Ryan Adams had cancelled with an ear infection, the decision was made to leave having just seen something really memorable and also escape the traffic a bit.

So that was that and Glastonbury is over for another year, or two actually as 2006 is to be a ‘fallow’ year to allow the farm, the Eavis’ and the local residents a break. This was my first ever Glastonbury and my first ever festival, the sights and sounds of which will live long in the memory. Whilst the weather certainly made life difficult at times, it barely dulled the shine of some experiences that have barely begun to sink in. If I can get a ticket, and I’ve got all the mud off me by then, I will definitely be back in 2007.

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