This was the 30th anniversary of my first visit to Pilton – hopefully it won’t be my last!
The Annual Worthy farm musical joyride started on the Wednesday this year with Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip playing an outdoor session in the field of Avalon – one of many they played over the festival but I didn’t catch any of their others. We did bump into ace Ego Trip guitarist Johnny one night though and (after asking him if he’d really had an offer from another f***ing band) asked him how much they got paid – “Not enough” he said with a rueful smile.
We met up with the Ilkley QUIMS boys and had newcommer Jonny with us as we wandered the site and ended up at the RumShack in Shangri-La where the first DJ played ace Ska and Mod tunes (without any attempt to mix one into the other). As the night wore on, subsiquent DJ’s were more skilled but less entertaining to these ears.
Thanks to the Rum Shack, Thursday was rather a tired day of contemplation and Marisa and I hid from the sun by watching a new film by Julian Temple about Wilco Johnson which started with a Q+A with them both. Beautifully shot and with Temples trademark splicing of films to tell a story, it was hugely enjoyable. “I made this bloke a £100 bet that I’d be dead by Christmas – Think about that”. I was rather glad to work that afternoon/evening to give myself a rest.
Friday was the start of the festival proper and after a fry up, Marisa and I got along to ‘The Burning Hell’ who were on at 11.30: “Good Morning……..I don’t think I’ve ever said that on stage before!” We’ve loved them ever since we heard the line “come on dog it’s the Apocalypse, we can’t get sentimental” in ‘Amateur Rapper’ They did not disappoint, definitely one of the best things we saw over the week end. Funny and obviously having a ball!
Funny and having a ball could also be said of ‘Terry and Gerry who opened up the Acoustic tent. “This ones about JFK, an American President – for the youngsters in the crowd, that was even before the Minors Strike!”
Funny and having a ball wouldn’t be how I would describe ‘Lonelady’ but she is intense and steely eyed with ACR tinged funky tunes that keep you moving. “Simon Topping comes from our village” said Mike O’Connor who we bumped into at the front…….2 great LPs and another with the bass machine that is Jah Wobble – she can do little wrong in my eyes.
For a bit of light relief we went to the theatre field where the usual madness was going on. Stayed to watch a few acts in the outdoor circus, one who did an abstract painting to a 3 minute Sex Pistols soundtrack, only to turn it 180 degrees and it was Johnny Rotten! One of the magicians had some ‘near the knuckle’ banter which Jay thought was hillarious and left Marisa tight lipped….
I’d seen ‘Raghu Dixit’ before at WOMAD when my friend Ana Luisa got up to play with them so was keen to catch their set. On the way the only rain of the week-end caught us but didn’t dampen our spirits. Raghu tells stories before each of his songs that often seem to have 300 year old lyrics about being true to yourself. “God isn’t found in temples and churches, god is in your friends”. He comes across as such a genuine bloke – loved it!
On our way to the main stage we popped into the tiny Spoken Word tent where Erin Bolen a poetry slam winner, did some amazing, funny, touching poems. My fave was about how her parents were patchwork colourful which embarrassed her at the time but not now……brought a tear to my eye….
We then met up with Fog, Rachel, Lee, Nicki, Sam and Bat and his pals for ‘Motorhead’. Haven’t seen them since the early 1980’s but Lemmy looks just the same….maybe slighly less animated but still COOL! There was a lengthy drum solo as part of the set which, to my suprise, was one of Marisa’s highlights. “Every drummer I saw after that I thought, yeah but you’re not as good as Motorheads drummer!”
We then headed to see ‘The Proclaimers’ in a packed Acoustic tent. They played a fab set chock-full of hits including my personal favourite ‘Let’s get married’. With everyone singing along to every song there was a real party atmosphere in there.
For the finale we headed to the Park and watched the sun go down from the hill at the end of the site.
We then met up with Jez, Si and Gary for an amazing set by the ‘Super Furry Animals’ – they really pulled it off! Marisa didn’t know anything by them and still though it was one of the best things she’d seen. After my favourite ‘Hello Sunshine’ Gruff quipped “When we did that here 10 years ago the sun did come out….. mind you if it came out now…….that’d be a bit disturbing”. Their encore saw them in Yeti suits singing “The Man don’t give a fuck” – just brilliant!
I was working Saturday 8am-4pm – a busy session with more blisters than you could shake a stick at. I rushed from work to the John Peel tent and caught ‘The Pop Group’ who were in fine form. Doling out mis-information between their incredibly funky tunes. They should be so much bigger than they are!
I met Marisa at the back of the Pyramid stage whilst ‘Burt Bacharach’ played to an enormous crowd – ‘Do you know the way to San Jose?’ had everyone joining in….infact most of them had everyone joining in. We headed to the Acoustic tent for a lie down in the shade and caught ‘Tom Robinson’ who did the wonderful ‘Martin’ – the tune that stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Still making accessable pop tunes with a political message.
After she blew me away at the Brudenell earlier in the year, I wasn’t going to miss ‘Courtney Barnett’. She rocked out a packed Williams Green tent whilst telling us this was the best ay of her life…..then the worst day of her life….then one or the other…..before throwing her guitar on the floor and storming off after a blistering ‘Pedestrian at Best’, leaving band mates Bones and Dave waving to the crowd with bemused smiles on their faces – Ace!
We then met up with Jill and Jay and had a look at the Maccabees whilst heading across the site – didn’t know any of their stuff, don’t think I’ll be exploring their back catalogue either…
After much debate we headed to see ‘La Roux’ who was/were a hoot! Looking every inch a Station-to-Station Bowiefile (with the same mannerisms and mike holding technique) they had everyone in the Peel tent jumping up and down and screaming for more. Fun fun fun!
As we were near the Gully we popped in to see Andy Kershaws DJ set. There was no-one dancing to his top african the Cuban songs. We tried to start some off but there was too much going on around. He should have been on at Avalon, not the dance village.
Jill and Jay stayed for Leftfield whilst Marisa and I headed to meet up with Jez to see ‘The Neville Staple Band’. A brilliant mix of old ska tunes and Specials classics which you couldn’t stand still to. Enjoy Yourself…..we certainly did…. It was then food time at the fish finger butty bar (genius idea) before a tired walk up the hill to a greatful bed.
Sunday saw Marisa and Jonny go off to see Hozier whilst the rest of us went to the kids field with the kids – they should open it up to adults at night time, looked ace. I then saw a bit of ‘The Shires’ before heading to meet Marisa at the pyramid.
Patti Smith put on the highlight of the week end (in my humble opinion) with a set that was gloriously irreverent but thought provoking and spot on in so many ways – I loved it! I just kept thinking why I’d never gone to see her before – more fool me!
Halfway through the set she did a poem to the Dalai Lama (after previously singing “Jesus died for somebodies sins – but not mine!”) who then came on to join her. It was his 80th birthday and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him and he blew out candles and cut a cake and then gave us a blessing and said a few words about being kind to others and that trust is the most important thing we have…..a surreal Glastonbury moment. Patti fell during the finale and whilst literally ripping the strings off her electric guitar screamed “Yeah I fell on my fucking ass at Glastonbury and do you know why? Cos I’m a FUCKING ANIMAL!!!!”. Rock’n’Roll doesn’t get better than that!
A bit of food and a wander brought us past the Other stage (where ‘Twin Atlantic’ were very loud) and onto the Glade where a great Drum and Bass band ‘Dr Meaker’ had us dancing our socks off. Everyone else there seemed to be from Bristol!
We really wanted to see the Bootleg Beatles again so got to the Acoustic tent early and caught some of ‘Gretchen Peters’ set before Bat and his crew met us.
They were late setting up the Bootleg Beatles equipment which meant a truncated set (at least I assume that’s why they weren’t on long). Still, long enough to get the crowd dancing, waving their arms and singing along to ‘Day Tripper’ ‘Yesterday’ “Hey Jude’….etc…etc.
After that we caught the end of ‘Alt-J’ on the Pyramid before meeting up with the others for Paul Weller who did a set, lightly peppered with oldies that we all knew and danced to.
It doesn’t happen often but meeting someone you didn’t plan to, is one of those little joys that gives an added extra at a festival and Romy, a work friend from many moons ago spotted me and came over to say hello
We were in such a good spot between the field speakers, next to the mixing desk, that we decided to stay there for the Who (except Nicki who was desperate to see the Chemical Brothers). I was so glad we did. They were awesome with hit after hit after hit. “It’s our job to sent you home happy” said Pete Townsend. We all danced the night away until the last rousing “Won’t get fooled again” did indeed send us home happy.
The list of what I missed would make a fantastic line up and I’d like to say ‘sorry’ to Sharon Van Etten, Billy Bragg, Chronixx, The Unthanks, Christy Moore, King Creosote, Hot Chip, Buzzcocks, Thea Gilmore, Sleaford Mods, Mavis Staples, I Am Kloot, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low, Belle and Sebastian, The Fall, Future Islands, The Chemical Brothers, Father John Misty, Leftfield, Ryan Adams, FFS, Steel Pulse, Donovan, PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING, George Clinton………etc..etc..etc…
Bob the Chiropodist