Glastonbury 2015

I wrote a list of my Glastonbury highlights for friends on Facebook and some of them suggested I publish it so here it is.

1. Spending most of Wednesday lying on the grass and laughing with friends, which I don’t get to do enough. It was like a theme park based on my early 20s.
2. Going to Strummerville and hearing an anecdote about a teenager confidently explaining to his friend how it got its name: “There was this guy called Joey Strummerville who loved building fires and then he died. He was a really good guy.” Then realising we weren’t at Strummerville at all. Someone had just set fire to something.
3. Doing a Q&A with Wilko Johnson and Julien Temple and telling Temple, director of the Joe Strummer documentary, about Joey Strummerville. He thought Joe would have liked it.
4. Pussy Riot redeeming an otherwise misjudged, and very long, piece of performance art by screaming the phrase “Shut your fucking up!”
5. Hearing from a Guardian colleague that the Supreme Court had just ruled in favour of gay marriage, instead of hearing about it through Twitter as bloody usual.
6. Mary J Blige bringing ten tons of soul to No More Drama in the pissing rain and receiving an ovation so long that she couldn’t start the next song for ages and started crying. Soul bores who say modern R&B isn’t the real thing be damned: this was as electrifying as Aretha or Otis.
7. Hearing a DJ play King Kunta very loud for the first time.
8. Randomly coming across a band playing krautfolk to about 20 people and realising it was Trembling Bells. Then, when we had to go to review the Libertines, my fellow reviewer’s apologetic thumbs up to the drummer: “We’re leaving but we like you, honest.”
9. The West Holts field, my favourite crowd of the festival, singing along to Caribou’s Can’t Do Without You.
10. Run the Jewels’ repartee. El-P: “We spent our entire stage production budget on making the sun come out for you.” Killer Mike: “Yeah. 83 dollars.”
11. Mark Ronson playing Uptown Funk and introducing Grandmaster Flash, then Mary J Blige, then George Clinton. If Stephen Hawking hadn’t cancelled I’m sure he’d have rocked up too.
12. Seeing enough of Florence to clock that she’s still not my cup of tea but that she was totally nailing her headlining set and never felt like a second choice.
13. The dawning realisation that Hot Chip were covering Dancing in the Dark in spectacular disco style. With Caribou. And merging it into All My Friends. Which all happened just after bumping into a massive group of friends I wasn’t expecting to catch up with.
14. Accidentally seeing Lamb in the Avalon tent while looking for something else. Which meant that…
15. For the first time ever I’d seen 15 bands in one day.
16. Slaves’ inability to say anything without sounding sarcastic and hostile.
17. Seeing a list of all the swear words that appeared in Sleaford Mods’ set. It was very long and included the phrase “shredded wheat cunt”
18. The singer in Burt Bacharach’s band who looked like Barbie’s friend Ken. A shame Burt, who now sings like Tom Waits, played Glastonbury with about the same passion he would bring to a private birthday party for a Russian oligarch.
19. Kate Tempest’s a closing cappella rap/poem/speech about life, Glastonbury and everything.
20. Everything about Father John Misty’s knockout set but especially his response to a request. “A request? Sure. But we have to follow procedure. You need to collect a petition. The petition requires a minimum of 200 signatures. Then it goes to committee. And then we’ll play Freebird.” Father John Misty comes across as the guy who seduced Tobias Jesso Jr’s girlfriend and then wrote a mean song about it.
21. Pharrell reaching the point in the set where he has nothing but hits and playing Blurred Lines followed by Get Lucky followed by Happy because he can do that.
22. The Goan Fish Curry stall. Handy West Holts rendezvous point and source of delight.
23. The blockbuster first half-hour of Kanye’s set, before he lost the crowd. People watching at home should note that on TV it looked better and sounded better and gave you no sense of the audience reaction beyond the front rows. Later I saw that social media seemed to be divided between lovers and haters but almost everyone I was with, or spoke to afterwards, was in a different camp: people who love Kanye and wanted nothing more than for him to blow the doubters away yet felt he’d fallen short. He didn’t need to lovebomb people like Florence or write a special song about Avalon. He could have played basically the same set but with a touch of Jay-Z (or Killer Mike) charm and it would have worked brilliantly. He was that close.
24. A hoarse Patti Smith coming to the lip of the stage during Land and saying, “I’m sorry about my voice but this is fucking awesome.” Her set was nothing like the Horses one she did at Field Day but every bit as good. What a remarkable performer.
25. The Dalai Lama, who doesn’t listen to music, complimenting Patti for being so “active”, like this was an over-60s aerobic class.
26. Filing my last review on Sunday afternoon. Free at last.
27. Lionel Richie’s delighted WTF face. “What the hell is going on?”
28. The girl on her dad’s shoulders during Charli XCX’s fantastic set, losing her shit to Fancy.
29. The mob of dancers from the crowd that Stuart Murdoch invited on stage during The Boy With the Arab Strap. When he did it in London it looked awkward and sloppy but here it looked utterly joyous and even glamorous, perhaps because Stuart has a keen eye for hippy girls with bare midriffs. Then he called Glastonbury “the best little corner of England” and one of my friends burst into tears.
30. The contrast between FKA twigs’ indomitable R&B khaleesi stage persona and her incredibly sweet, polite speaking voice. If she’s this good with just one album, just imagine what she’ll be like with two or three.
31. Watching the Chemical Brothers play Chemical Beats and Setting Sun while I was dancing behind four men dressed as Teletubbies. Hello, the 90s. Then the crowd’s berserk glee during Saturate. Red flares going off, flags waving, people on shoulders, general rave delirium.
32. 2 Many DJs closing their banging techno set beneath Arcadia’s giant fire-breathing spider with Supergrass’s Alright.
33. Then Altern 8 taking over and opening with Orbital’s Chime.
34. The closing party at the Stone Bridge bar. 90s house and two-step garage.
35. The point on Sunday when a part of me was convinced that my life now consisted of seeing bands all day, staying up late and not looking after children.
36. Realising that I’d walked several miles a day while drinking Tennessee Honey. The new workout plan.

37. The company of many of the best people I know, in the best place I know.
38. Oh, everything.


  1. I was the woman on my friends shoulders right at the beginning of the set with a flare in each hand during Hey Boy Hey Girl. The instructions said “activate when aircraft sighted” haha

    Amazing memories written there had me giggling.

    Amazing weekend. Just amazing to feel like a wild dog all weekend then see myself on iplayer lighting up The Other Stage. Chemical Brothers were a highlight and La Roux oh and Leftfield. LOVED IT ALLLLLL


  2. Great piece! Is their a link to the sleaford mods list

  3. Have you seen Aretha and Otis live?

    I never compare because nearly 50 years of live music expo has shown me that there is little point. It is what it is, at that point. You should shake all else off.


  4. Great piece, and amusing insofar as we seemed to have been in the same place for half the festival.

    Misty was indeed sensational, upping Kate Tempest’s incredible ante. Leaving half way through to DJ was both the best and worst thing of perhaps the entire festival.

    Hot Chip doing Dancing In The Dark with Caribou was so brilliant, even if I’d seen them do it in London, and knowing they would. It’s a properly great cover, and when Al started singing All My Friends I cried. I was on the Guardian Blind Date at the time. Not sure if she was touched or just felt sorry for me.

    My mate got onstage for Belle And Sebastian. It was a lovely moment.

    As for the Chems, I can’t think of a better way for my tired bones to be lifted one last time. They never disappoint. 2ManyDJs was the last I could hack though. It was my 5th day.

    Such great memories. Thanks Dorian!

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