Wow – it was a bit of a scorcher! I need to look it up to see if this was the hottest Glastonbury Festival ever, or whether that honour goes to our first one in 1995. I know in the past I’ve sometimes split up my Glastonbury review into sections like music, circus acts; overall impressions, and that sort-of thing, but I think this time I’ll do it diary-style and talk you through my whole time at the festival…
Wednesday 26th June
All four of us began Glastonbury Festival together, which was lovely, and we went down not long before lunch time (Oh – if you’re new here, I should explain that we live in Pilton, where Glastonbury Festival takes place) and got our wrist bands, programme, mini guide and a cotton bag, this time sponsored by the co-op. These bags are so handy – I used mine for the rest of the festival.
Unless you have somewhere you return to once a year; somewhere you feel at home, but without any of the worries that surround home; somewhere that excites you and inspires you and fills you up with joy; then it’s difficult to fully explain how it feels when they press the metal down on your wristband and you make that first walk down Muddy Lane. You have that unsteady sensation of stones rolling beneath your feet (or mud sloshing around your wellies), and then the first smells of out-door cooking; the sound of people’s trolleys laden with camping gear and cans of cider; and then eventually there’s a gap in the hedge and you see the pyramid stage for the first time, and the camping fields beginning to fill up. I’ve never got close to that feeling anywhere else in my life. Not even Cornwall, and that’s saying something.
Overheard quote of the day: “That’s so Beyonce.” – In reference to the female Morris dancers we sat and watched for a while by the bandstand.
Wednesday is traditionally our walking round the whole site together day, whilst browsing the stalls in the market areas. I have to say, I’ve never seen it so crowded so early – a lot of people must have arrived on the Tuesday night and set up their tents early. Otherwise, there’s not much to say about Wednesday! However Rain and I made the walk up to the Croissant Neuf bandstand to watch the BeauBowBelles – a modern folk band – who were brilliant and made the perfect first band to kick off the festival for us.
We’d originally planned to stay to watch the opening fireworks display, but in the end we decided to go home and watch them from the garden. We have a great view from there, and it was nice to avoid the crowds in the Sacred Space.
Thursday 27th June
On Thursday Chris stayed at home to conserve energy, so it was just the three of us, however we went our separate ways to begin with as I’d taken in my heavy long lens and wanted to spend some time taking photos; mainly in the circus fields.
I only had about an hour and a half though before meeting up with the kids again, and we went for a wander together through the craft field, the green futures field and Permaculture, before trying to get through the Greenpeace field. However the crowd was so dense around the stage, we couldn’t get through, so we had to go back on ourselves to the old railway track to get out.
This is the problem with Thursday – everyone has the same idea: ‘Let’s do the green fields while it won’t clash with any of the music.’ It was packed up there, and difficult to get around.
Sara Tasker’s ‘Hashtag Authentic’ Book Tour
At 4pm J and I left the festival – she for a nap at home before coming in later, and me because I was off to Bristol to see Sara Tasker at Waterstones for her book tour. (Just typical that she picked a bloody Glastonbury Festival day!) It was a shame because there were actually a few small bands I wanted to see that evening, but never mind – they’re the sort that I’ll probably see again another year. I’m very excited though that I actually saw Sara Tasker in real life and was even brave enough to talk to her briefly, so it was worth it.
Friday 28th June
Dr Alice Roberts
There were so many clashes it was difficult to know what to do today! It’s started off fairly easy; R and I were off to the Free University of Glastonbury to see Dr Alice Roberts. This was not a successful beginning to the day. They often have really good speakers there, but it’s so far up the hill and out of the way, I haven’t had the energy to do it. However R was keen to go, and as I’ve been watching her latest television series about the important towns of British history, I was happy to join her. We walked to the top entrance of The Park, where we thought it was; however, as everything in The Park has had a shift-around this year, we checked the map on the app, and it put the tent at the bottom of the hill. Off we went to the bottom of the hill, which would have taken us 15 minutes less time to get to if we’d known it was there. It wasn’t there. Eventually, after asking lots of people who didn’t know; we figured out it was at the top of the hill after all. That climb up the hill in the middle of the day in the hot temperature near killed me.
Best overheard conversation on the way:
“She’s quite famous isn’t she?”
“Yeah…well, as famous as an anthropologist can be.”
By the time we got there, the tent was full, so we sat on the shady side and listened from the outskirts. It was difficult to hear clearly, and she was talking about how babies develop = her anatomist expertise rather than the history expertise we had hoped for. After recovering from the climb, we decided it wasn’t really worth hanging around, and had a look at the new pier instead.
This was the main new big thing for Glastonbury Festival 2019 – a new creation by Joe Rush – a mechanical inventor who has been involved with the festival for a long time. We did the right thing waiting till Friday to see it – J had tried on Thursday and gave up as the queue was so long. We went straight on and it was easy to look around. I loved what they’d done – everywhere looked very 1950’s; R loved the pastel colours and we noticed that the paint effects on the stalls had been done to look vintage and worn-in and we loved that attention to detail. You could buy Glastonbury rock; Glastonbury-on-sea fudge, along with paper windmills and that sort of thing. There were slot machines, a fortune teller, and opposite the entrance there was a mini stage with a small vintage-style girl-band singing traditional sea-side songs and talking to passers by. There were also bumper cars next-door.
I’m afraid to say, the only thing we weren’t keen on was the band-stand at the end of the pier. It was utterly amazing, but it didn’t belong there, it belonged in Shangrila. Joe Rush had somehow made an entire band from robots – there was even a pole-dancing robot. It was so steampunk, it was incredible and we loved it; but it just didn’t belong. A proper merry-go-round with traditional horses would have been so much nicer. Also, Michael and Emily, if you’re reading this, the helter skelter from Avalon, and the fish and chip stall from Cabaret would fit it SO well at Glastonbury-on-sea, you have to move them there. And move the bandstand to Shangrila with the other crazy weird stuff.
We then walked along the top, through the Sacred Space – I have honestly never before seen the stone circle so empty. There’s just no shade up there so I suppose people were staying away. And made our way to Croissant Neuf for Wildwood Kin. This has to be my best music discovery of the festival. I’d heard a recommendation and added them to my list, but I had no idea they were that good. Three women (I think they might be sisters) all singing and playing keyboard, guitar and the main singer on drums. It was incredible and we couldn’t get over their talent. I can’t think of anything similar to help you out in understanding what they sound like, but it’s quite modern folky, but really rousing and I loved the beat of the drums. Will definitely be downloading their album.
I met up with Chris for The Lumineers at the Other Stage – I think this was my only time there this year! It’s funny being that side of the festival, because in the early days we used to camp next to it, and spend a lot of our time sitting in that field listening to whoever happened to be playing. There’s also a very different vibe in the Other Stage field – a bit more like it used to be back in the day, a bit wilder – but I can’t quite put my finger on why. The crowd is definitely younger – maybe that has something to do with it.
Anyway, The Lumineers were really good; definitely better than they were in 2016 despite the audience being half the size to what it was then. It was a good atmosphere, but it’s not an act I’m going to be raving about to other people.
Chris and I separated and I met up with R again in the Avalon field. Steeleye Span was not a band I’d heard of before, but on a recommendation we went to check them out, and they clearly have a big fanbase as the Avalon tent was packed. R and I sat on the outskirts and had a rest whilst listening to everyone joining in with something about ‘All round my hat’! It was a lovely traditional folk band I’ll have to learn the songs of before we see them again.
We missed the end of Steeleye Span in order to wander across the field to the Avalon Cafe. Swimming Girls was one R had discovered from looking up the line-up before the festival. I have a feeling they didn’t really want to be there and probably would’ve been better seen at one of their other sets (I think they had three across the weekend.) It was late afternoon on a gorgeous sunny day and most people were outside. Their audience was very small, yes, but I still feel that the lead singer could have made a bit more effort to engage with us. It was a shame because the music was really up my street (reminded me a lot of Garbage) so I hope I catch them again on a better day. Or maybe it’s just her thing to be a bit moody, I dunno.
We grabbed some food (or rather queued for ages in the cafe at the back), ate outside and then returned for The Leylines. They really picked up the energy in the tent (dancey folky vibes) and had a group of fans dancing at the front. In contrast to the Swimming Girls, the lead singer talked to us a lot and got us involved in the songs, which makes such a difference to the atmosphere of the audience. They were really good and I hope to see them again.
Circus in the Big Top
It’s so difficult to tell you afterwards the names of the acts in the Big Top as the programme nor the mini-guide give you the information and often the list on the chalk board outside doesn’t seem to match up. Anyway, R and I spent the last of the evening in there watching some really impressive acts. I wish I’d had more time in the Big Top over the weekend actually, but it was usually too hot to sit inside or the acts we’d heard of clashed with other things, usually the opposite side of the festival site!
There were a lot of clashes on the Friday actually, but in the end it was too hot and exhausting to move much, so it ended up being quite a chilled day and we were ready to leave for a relatively early night.
Saturday 29th June
Saturday was one of those confusing days where you really don’t know where you want to be! We were fine to begin with – we all came in together and watched The Proclaimers on the Pyramid stage. It was a good opening set to begin the day – lively and fun and I really enjoyed them even though I hardly knew any of their songs.
The Lounge Kittens
After that the day is a bit of a blur – the heat got to me! I know I spent some time back in the Big Top and managed to see all the same people as the day before – why does that always happen?! I also remember watching The Lounge Kittens in the cabaret tent. They were brilliant the first two Glastonburies we saw them there, but maybe the novelty has worn off now. They do cover versions of songs with a lounge music twist and it still sounds fantastic, but two years on and they’re still using their negative comments on youTube for their chat between songs, and the joke fell a little flat this time – I got the feeling everyone there had also heard it in 2017. Never mind, their medley of ’80’s children’s programme theme songs is still fantastic.
I said goodbye to the family for a while and went off to find William’s Green for a band I’d only just found in the programme and sounded really good: “Mighty fuzz-fuelled guitars and wah-wah solos lurk behind an ethereal vocal from this all-girl rock powerhouse.”
Now, you’d think that after twenty-four years I’d know my way around Glastonbury Festival by now, however I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched anything in the William’s Green tent (was there always a tent there? I know the Left Field tent used to be in that field – oh well) and I managed to go completely wrong twice and had to ask at an info point! I got there in the end and it turned out to be a waste of time and valuable energy. Madonnatron, despite their cool name were not for me after all. They sounded like Hole in the early years before they worked out how to put a decent set of words to music…actually worse than that. The woman singing nothing but wahwahwah had her microphone up too loud and it was pretty awful.
Sorry if I’m being harsh, but it was such a disappointment when I’d gone to all that effort to see them, and in the hottest part of the day. (Plus I need to be honest because I refer back these reviews when I look up bands in future years to see if I want to see them again!) I was very lucky and nabbed a rare spot in the shade under a shelter nearby, so I sat and ate my Alpen Light and a Breakaway; drank a load of water and revived myself ready to try somewhere else.
It was lovely to then catch up with our good friends – who we sometimes only manage to see at Glastonbury – at the Pyramid stage near the back, so we didn’t get on people’s nerves when we were chatting! We watched some of Janet Jackson and talked through some of it, which was perfect for Janet Jackson. I thought there’d be more songs I recognised actually, but there wasn’t, which was a shame. There was one song though (whose title I can’t remember) that I’d definitely learnt a dance to in my jazz dance classes and the moves were the same, so that was fun to remember. She put a lot of energy into the show and was dancing away, but somehow the energy didn’t reach all the way up the field.
We didn’t bother going to see Liam Gallagher when he played the Pilton Party last year, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have bothered now either. Yes, singing along with everyone to Wonderwall and Roll With It are good moments, but I don’t think it was all that worth it.
It’s difficult for people who have never been to Glastonbury festival to fully appreciate a) Just how big the site is, and b) The effort involved in getting from one place to the other fighting through all the crowds in the heat (or mud). Our clashes were all in Avalon or Cabaret, and as our next act were also on the Pyramid it made sense to stay there.
We had very low hopes for The Killers to be honest. We didn’t catch their secret set in the John Peel tent in 2017, but we did see them in 2005 when they came on stage, played their album and left. The songs were good, but the performance rubbish. Well, either they’ve been to stage school since, or they were just having a bad day before, because oh my, they were absolutely brilliant!
Brandon Flowers did everything he didn’t do before – he talked to the crowd, introduced songs, leapt all around the Pyramid Stage, and basically looked like he was loving it. He oozed energy, and we were up on our feet for the whole set. Now that’s exactly what we want from a headliner and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
Sunday 30th June
Sunday is always a difficult day. You know it’s the last day, so you want to fit everything in that you haven’t done already, but also you are utterly exhausted, so can’t really do any of that! I thought it was going to be a more manageable temperature, and the day started off cloudy, but got hotter and hotter, and despite reapplying my chapstick with SPF, my bottom lip got totally burned and the next day swelled up to look like lip fillers gone very wrong! Luckily I didn’t have to see anyone for a couple of days until it calmed down again!
Anyway, R and I began the day in the circus Big Top and enjoyed watching some more really good acts. Then we made our way to West Holts for Jeff Goldblum. R unsuccessfully tried to meet up with friends there, but we ended up with a really good spot near the front. It was cool to see him, and he came out saying ‘Nature always finds a way’ – his quote from Jurassic Park, but neither of us are particular fans of jazz music, so we didn’t stay long.
It was just as well we allowed enough time to get to the Pyramid Stage. It was announced that morning that David Attenborough was going to be there, and the whole festival swarmed to see him. Chris came earlier than he’d expected to in order to see him. And I have to say, (even though I don’t want to) he was one of the biggest disappointments of the festival actually. He said very briefly how good it was that Glastonbury Festival have stopped allowing traders to sell plastic, and then it was just an advert for the BBC and his next programme that’s on later in the year. I couldn’t believe that was it! They shouldn’t have announced him – he should’ve come on between acts to say his bit and those already there would be lucky enough to see him. As he didn’t give a talk, I would have rather taken my time wandering other areas of the festival before Kylie.
I was nine or ten when Kylie released I Should Be So Lucky, and have remained a fan throughout her career – even standing by her when I was thirteen and it was not at all cool to still like her! She was definitely the act I was looking forward to seeing the most, and actually I hadn’t realised quite how much until we were sitting in the Pyramid field with friends, waiting for her to come on. And I totally cried when she got emotional as well!
Kylie was amazing! Definitely a highlight from all the Glastonbury Festivals I’ve been to (which has been all of them since 1995), particularly when the entire field joined in the singing. Apparently she drew the biggest crowd the pyramid stage has ever seen and 80% of the people at the festival were there. It was so funny (and made me feel old) when you realised half of them had never heard the likes of The Locomotion, Je ne sais pas pourquoi and Hand on Your Heart. She really went through all the old hits, plus of course the new ones, and also had time to talk to us a little as well. She should have been given a longer slot really, but she managed it!
A couple of complaints: It was great to see Nick Cave join her for Where The Wild Roses Grow, but would rather have had Jason Donavan for Especially for You. Or even Robbie Williams for Kids, but never mind! BUT. I do have a big complaint that I think I will even write to the festival about. The performance was spoiled by all the selfish bastards with their fucking flags at the front. I couldn’t see the stage at all and the sun was so bright, it was difficult to see the screens as well, so whilst I was there and totally immersed in the atmosphere of the crowd, which was incredible, I had to watch Kylie’s performance on the telly afterwards to actually see it properly!
To my local friends who weren’t bothered about Miley; I actually predicted she was going to be one of the best performances of the festival. Maybe it was this big expectation, but we were all a bit disappointed. Yes, she put in a good amount of energy, but I got the feeling she didn’t really get the audience much on side. She didn’t sing enough songs we’d recognise from the old days, and the new ones I liked she put too much of a rock spin on them so you couldn’t sing along.
Dolly Parton didn’t make a surprise appearance, which was a shame, but we all enjoyed her cover of Jolene. And it was cool when her Dad, Billy Ray Cyrus joined her.
We said goodbye to our friends then, and split up for a while. Chris and I tried the Cabaret tent, but the comedian was awful, so we left again. I popped up to Bananerama in Avalon, but I’m just that little bit too young, and it was definitely a band to see with friends so I left again. I think we then just got some food and went back to the Pyramid for The Cure. The Cure were very good, and Robert Smith sounded amazing. However, I just wasn’t enough of a fan to know most of the music. Much of the time I made notes in my little notebook for Glastonbury related blog and youtube ideas for next year! And it was such a long set; before it ended we met up with the kids again, and made that final heart-wrenching walk up the hill for the last time, back to the villagers’ car park.
Overall review of Glastonbury Festival 2019
It was a great one, that’s for sure. There’s no doubt that nice weather makes the festival so much more enjoyable. Music-wise, the line-up wasn’t my favourite, however Kylie Minogue and The Killers made up for that. And the day-time folk bands R and I wanted to see all seemed to clash with each other, but we discovered a few new good ones, particularly Wildwood Kin (though you have to catch them live; you just don’t get the drum beats well enough on recordings, having listened to them again since.)
The general atmosphere of Glastonbury Festival this year was good, although you could tell the heat was zapping everyone’s energy in the middle of the day. I got the impression that people’s moods were calm and chilled out this year – I didn’t witness any trouble at all. Everyone was really happy, and there was a good blend of newcomers and Glasto veterans! There was also a good mix of age-groups this year – sometimes the balance isn’t quite right – however there did seem to be too many people altogether! Probably because everyone’s tents were too hot to hang around in, the crowds seemed too much. And I’ve been saying it for a while, but they really need to put entertainment on the main stages on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday now – just get all the bands from the Avalon cafe on there to disperse the crowds around a bit from the Green Fields.
When it comes to my post-Glastonbury Festival blog posts, I’m always disappointed in myself that I’m never doing it justice. I think I explained it better in this post about Glastonbury Festival in 2017, but I never seem to fully get across just how flipping amazing it is! I feel so lucky that I get to experience it every year and can’t wait for the next one.
I did of course make a video for my YouTube channel. I hope you enjoy it:
Joining the #sharealllinkup atNot Dressed as Lamb.
LiseJuly 19, 2019
Loved this post! Thanks. Lise
HelenJuly 25, 2019
Thank you Lise 🙂