..Glastonbury 2009 – Madness, Madness they call it Madness

Si, Mark and I travelled down to the festival from Lincoln, early on the Wednesday this year. A journey that should take 4 hours took 6 due to heavy traffic, but we were lucky. Others had taken that long to get from Bristol – the M5 motorway was closed most of the day due to an accident and festival goers were delayed longer and longer as the day went on. The festival site opens on the Wednesday and it looked 80% full by that night.

My only complaint with this years festival was that there was too much good stuff on the main stage which meant I didnt explore the rest of the site as much as I usually do. The weather was superb – too hot at times, had us scrambling for shade at some points.

Thursday night the FMS house-band The Mandrills entertained with a brace of covers that had us all dancing. Working the next day, I had to make an early exit, only to be woken about 2ish by Mark “Bob, you awake? Michael Jacksons died!” “And you woke me because.?!”. One foot we saw on the Friday morning had been scolded the day before when a pan of boiling water was spilt on it. “You’ll need to go off site to the Hospital” says the doc “Noooo!” says the injured party “not til after the Streets?!!!”.

After work I was able to catch Hugh Cornwell in the Acoustic tent. His bass player was a busty lass (but still not as sexy as JJ).

hugh cornwell

A gang of us met up in front of the pyramid stage and lay in the sun, soaking up the Fleet Foxes harmonies and having a dance to Lily Allen who was on top form.


We moved closer for The Specials who blasted through a fantastic brace of songs including my personnel faves ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Friday night Saturday Morning’. “It’s TOO HOT!” became one of the catchphrases of the week-end. ‘Rudi, a message to you’ had us all “De de ded ded der derrrr-ing” and I this thats when my voice went. With the BNP winning seats we need them more than ever!

Neil Young was just fantastic – he was so into what he was doing! The multiple endings to Rockin in the free world were hilarious; each one greeted with louder and louder cheers. He did the Beatles ‘Day in the life’ as an encore breathing new life into it.

neil young

This was Marks first Glastonbury. I was pretty sure he’d have a good time but you can never tell. “Bob, if it had finished tonight, it would have been an amazing festival”………”I know, and another 2 days to go”.
neil young

Saturday started with us trying to see Rolf Harris. We dawdled on our way to the Jazz World stage (saw a very good singer in the Queens Head on the way down) and by the time we got there the field was packed. Rolf came on and was a small white shirted figure in the distance. ‘Tie me kangaroo down sport’ and ‘the court of King Caractacus’ and we squeezed our way back towards the market place and then to ‘Tinariwen‘ on the Pyramid. On the drive down to the festival, Si had played us an ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ album, which was rock, not death metal. We stayed for them and then had a wander down to through the markets to the south side of the site. We popped our heads into the Avalon stage as ‘The Lancashire Hotpots’ were playing – great stuff especially ‘Chippy Tea’ and the one about his shop mobility motor.


Near trash city we paused in the shade whilst a band was rocking it out on top of a high stage before heading for more shade c/o the circus tent…..


….where the worst act of the week-end (2 jugglers stretching some mediocre tricks into a full sub music hall type act – very poor) was on. We lay down and snoozed whilst waiting for the gang to gather. There were some good acts on like the 2 cowboy ladies on the ropes trying to out do each other to a duelling banjos sound track, and the earnest, expressive acrobatic dancers who were making a point about something, but I’m wasn’t quite sure what.


Mark then went off to see ‘Crosb,y Stills and Nash’ whilst the rest of us headed to the Dance area for a teatime rave. It’s always a packed part of the festival, but I just don’t get rave culture (guess I’m just too old or on the wrong drugs) so off to the John Peel stage where ‘Passion Pit‘ were playing to a warm crowd. Having been impressed by her on the NME tour, we hung around for ‘Florence and the Machine‘. and was glad we did. High heels, hot pants, tassles, flaming red hairwhat a star! We’d heard her play the live lounge on radio one on the way down and she was really good – sounded so kookie and emotional. She climbed the scaffolding at one point (not easy in those heels) and at the end of one song she was obviously on the edge of tears (happy ones I think but you never know with a girl like that) and the crowd sensing it, cranked up the noise another notch. Her final song brought the house down ‘You got the love’ – Awesome stuff!


There was then another split in the ranks. Some headed off to see that eight legged groove machine that is the ‘Wonder Stuff’ whilst the rest of us stayed for the Boss ‘Bruce Springsteen‘ who easily pulled the biggest crowd of the week-end. He didn’t play many tunes I knew, but his energy could have lit up the festival twice over. A joyous, elated affair. Over 2.5 Hours and my attention never wavered..apart from needing the loo and just as Nina and I got out of sight of the stage he stated doing ‘Born to run’ everyone we passed was playing the ‘Dow dow doww’ bit on the air guitar. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and ‘Glory Days’ made a raucous ending to a fab show.


Afterwards, we ended up back in the circus tent after that where an S+M fire juggling troupe were whipping each other with fiery poi pois…..only at Glasto!

By Sunday, your feet are aching, you’re tired, youre kind of ready to go home really….but after a morning fry up in the sunshine and a read of the paper you thinking ‘Come on!!!!’ Mark Si and I dragged Rachel kicking and screaming to see the ‘Easy Star All Stars’ who were first up on the main stage at 11. They did a set of Sgt Pepper Reggae covers and we were right at the front. We stayed there for ‘Staus Quo‘ who were fantastic! I’ve always liked their singles but never really taken them seriously. My mates dad (Bob Dawson) always raved about them and as they started I could see why – guitar riffs AC/DC would be proud of and an interchange of guitars, the precision of which can only come with a lifetimes practice. They had all the shapes, the iconic guitar poses and were obviously having a ball. Even them doing ‘In the army now’ couldnt spoil it.


We next wandered up to the Acoustic tent where the Martin Harley Band were on. Harley plays the guitar on his lap to great effect.

martin harley

After a wee wander in the theatre field (with giant praying mantises) and some top nosh we had a lie down back in the acoustic tent listening to ‘Kate Walsh’ and then ‘The Penguin Cafe Orchestra’ who made a wonderful sound.


By now were really were pooped and could only lie in front of the main stage trying to rest our feet. ‘Tom Jones’ was easy on the ears even had a guy doing a strip near us to ‘You can keep your hat on’. Next was ‘Madness‘. “We’ve got to go down the front” say Lee and Mark “If they play ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ they’ll kill me!” I even had to dance to that with a bad back when I heard it on 6music breakfast recently  – “Perhaps you’ll die during ‘Cardiac Arrest'” Mark quips “Perhaps you’ll shit yourself during ‘Embarrassment'”…and so, even though my legs scream NO! I know I’ll regret it if I dont……so do…..and, oh boy…..was I glad I did! Perhaps the performance of the week-end! Tired as I was, you just had to run on the spot in an exaggerated nutty boy type way when you hear ‘House of fun’ ‘Baggy Trousers’ ‘Wings of a dove’…..so many wonderful songs with Suggs quips between songs – would definitely go and see them again! Lee got the guy next to him up on his shoulders then the guy returned the favour – everyone had big smiles on their faces. This is our last song and they do ‘Madness’ Superb! Then just as it ends……the low Sax ships horn of ‘Night boat to Cairo’! thankfully, I’m here to tell the tale.


Nick Cave dedicated the Bad Seeds set to “The late, great, talented…..Farrah Fawcett Majors” Who’d died the same day as Jackson! The stuff off Dig Lazarus Dig is so powerful live and blends in seamlessly with the old classics, ‘Tupelo’, ‘Deanna’, ‘Weeping Song’ ‘Red right hand’..etc..etc. He’s ferocious live, ploughing his own perculiar black vision.

nick cave

Festival closers were the reformed ‘Blur‘ who did a greatest hits set of the highest order. ‘Tender’ was my fave I first heard it during times of emotional difficulty and the “Come on, Get through it! Loves the greatest thing” line that gets endlessly repeated became a bit of a mantra for me. Damon got emotional at one point but they certainly pulled it off with ‘Song 2’ – blisteringly good.

Another vintage year of my favourite festival – Long may you run!


Bob the Chiropodist

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