Friday 5 July 2013

I wanna be ignored by the stiff and the bored....

Earworms of the Week

"Mason on the Boundary" - The Duckworth Lewis Method

There's a bit of a Glastonbury theme to this week's earworms.... but let's get started with a bit of what my wife would call "crickety folk".  The oldest rivalry in cricket resumes at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Wednesday morning with the first test of the 2013 Ashes.  I've seen England play Australia many times over the last few years, and given that I spent most of the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s watching us getting mercilessly humped by one of the greatest teams the game has seen, I can't say that I'm bored of the fact that I'm starting to see England win an awful lot more often.  Trent Bridge is a beautiful ground and I'm very much looking forward to watching the game - not least because I've managed to snag tickets for every day of the game.  I'm taking my father-in-law to the first two days of the match, and I think he's beside himself with excitement.  It's the Ashes!  As an added bonus, the night before the game sees the Duckworth Lewis Method launching their new album at the Nottingham Playhouse and I've got tickets to that too.  I know cricket-themed songs don't sound very promising, but this is a Neil Hannon side-project and their first album was properly splendid.  It's "Jiggery Pokery" that really sticks in the memory, but really the overall tone of the album is one of gentle, pastoral paeans to the greatest game.  Should be good.

"Tessellate" - Alt-J

I only got to see a little over half of Alt-J's set at the Other Stage in the end... I had a date with Billy Bragg at the Leftfield... but they're one of those bands that I really want to see properly in a smaller venue.  Over the years, I'm finally getting the hang of the idea that it's okay to only watch a handful of bands *properly* at Glastonbury.  The rest you can hear in passing, but a festival isn't really the best place to give someone a proper listen.  I did hear them play this song, mind, and it is my absolute favourite and it sounded magnificent.  They're perhaps a little bit quirky and arty for a big festival stage, but they made a pretty good fist of it, I think.

"I Want Your Love" - Chic

Chic were fantastic on the West Holts stage on Friday night.  It was one of those sets where you come in thinking you know one or two songs and that this might be fun, and you leave thinking that Nile Rodgers wrote, produced or performed on most of the biggest records of the 1970s and 1980s.  It was ridiculous.  "Like a Virgin", for goodness sake!  They played "Get Lucky" over the PA at the end of the set, and Rodgers lingered on the stage looking at the massive crowd singing it back to him, and he wouldn't be human if he didn't walk away thinking "Still got it!".  Fantastic.  I quite like the Arctic Monkeys and Portishead, but this was really no contest.

"Seen It All" - Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg is 19 years old and yet he seemed totally unfazed by playing to a huge crowd at the Pyramid Stage on Friday afternoon.  He hasn't really got much in the way of stage banter yet, but he certainly knows how to play and appears to be entirely nerveless.  I was a touch disappointed that he didn't play "Folsom Prison Blues" this time, but he did play "Hey, Hey, My, My" by Neil Young, so that was pretty good.  The uncle that lent him his record collection and bought him his first guitar must be a very proud man indeed.

"Manhattan" - Cat Power

I spent my Sunday night about as far away from Mumford & Sons as I possibly could - right up the top end of the site at the Park Stage.  It was totally worth it, too... I think this might have been my favourite set of the weekend.  I've been waiting to see Chan Marshall live now for some time and she certainly didn't disappoint.  What I'd forgotten was quite how shy she is: given that her songs are incredibly emotional and powerful and that she belts them out with real gusto, it's a real surprise that her nerves are so bad that she is basically unable to communicate with the crowd between songs.  She clearly desperately wants to, and she tries but really she just ends up waving at us shyly and gesturing from the back of the stage.  At the end of her set, she actually lingers, reluctant to leave the stage but unable to speak to the crowd.... it's incredibly endearing.  She's really bloody good too, and her songs are amazing.  It wasn't a big crowd, but it was respectable and it was certainly nice to spend some time away from the hullabaloo for a little while.  A fantastic way to end my festival.

"Shipbulding" - Elvis Costello

The last time I saw Elvis Costello at Glastonbury, he was a right miserable git.  This time around, on just before Primal Scream and the Stones, he was a pussycat and played all the hits.  Go figure.  Still, who's complaining?  I'm not sure his is the best version of this song, or even the second best... but it's a bloody good song.

"Fight Them Back" - Steve Mason

On just before Cat Power at the Park Stage.  His last album is really very good.  He finished his set with this, and introduced it by saying that it's a very misunderstood song and isn't really about violence at all.  Hmm.  Really?  The chorus says that we should fight them back with "a fist, a boot and a baseball bat".  How is that not violent, Steve?  Good song, mind.

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" - The Rolling Stones

When the Stones came onstage and started playing this song, Keith Richards looked like the coolest man alive, chopping out one of the most famous riffs ever recorded.  Outstanding.  They played a pretty long set, and I thought it inevitably sagged a little in the middle, but they are probably one of the best headliners I have ever seen on the Pyramid Stage.  How was I not going to watch the Rolling Stones, for goodness sake?

"Help Save the Youth of America" - Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg was famously inspired to become a musician when he saw the Clash at Rock Against Racism... and not surprisingly this sounds a lot like a Clash song.  In a good way, obviously.  Billy is a hero of mine.  His music remains pretty good, but increasingly I'm drawn to him for the humanity of his politics.  When I watched him sharing a sofa with the 88 year old Tony Benn, I saw another fine example of what we don't see often enough in politics - a genuine care for other human beings.  Today is the 65th birthday of the National Health Service, and it was founded by people like that, you know.

"Hate To Say I Told You So" - The Hives

Best set of the festival.  Full stop.  Beady Eye were on just before them as "Special Guests" to open the Other Stage on Friday morning.  Howlin' Pelle Almqvist really showed Liam Gallagher up for the arrogant gibbon he is: Gallagher thinks that swagger alone is enough (coupled with a rhyming dictionary of the bleedin' obvious), but Almqvist really knows how to work a crowd and, by the end of their set, they not only have a bigger crowd than Beady Eye, they also have a much more engaged crowd.  Almqvist has us eating out of the palm of his hand and jumping up and sitting down pretty much on command.  It helps that they have the tunes too, mind.  This is their most famous song, but it's far from being their only good song.... brilliant set.  Good festival.

Right.  That's it.  Have a great weekend, y'all.  Looks like sun, which is nice.

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