Live Review: Glastonbury 2008, Part 2 ( [Director’s Cut]
November 5, 2009, 4:04 pm
Filed under: Features, Live Reviews


Saturday 28th: Day Two

By the time AU makes it to the Other Stage Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong are wilting though a blandly insidious set to a largely indifferent crowd. They receive their biggest response when the sun briefly appears, only to disappear again, a bit like Joe’s career trajectory perhaps?

After half an hour of stage tampering, by which time the rain has returned with a vengeance, Vampire Weekend finally appear to a now massively inflated Other Stage crowd. After opening with ‘Mansard Roof’ from their cherished debut they introduce the next three tunes as the “Massachusetts trilogy” (’Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’, ‘Bryn’, ‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance’).

Polite, unpretentious and pristinely mannered, the lovable Erza Koenig (“I hope you have your squishy boots!”) hosts a delightful set with ‘A-Punk’s Gabriel stomp setting a couple of thousand welly boots to work on the ‘squishy’ lawn (everybody! “eh-eh-eh-eh”). Koenig’s falsetto call-and-response game for ‘One (Blake’s Got A New Face)’ could be heard in every noodle-van cue and long-drop lavvy for the rest of the weekend. Undoubtedly, the most heart-warming set of the entire weekend and perfect afternoon scheduling for the most unyieldingly buoyant of bands.

Hiking it down through the Dance Village we approach the relatively out-posted John Peel Stage, a monster tent that would play host to 90% of this year’s buzz bands. We manage to catch the tail end of The Courteeners, Liam Fray’s muddled indie faring better with the help of a spirited crowd, eager to lend a hand at every Lad-rock chorus. Fray claims it to be the best day of his life before plunging into closer ‘Not Nineteen Forever’.

Before the mediocre Mancs have even shined their apples, the tent is restocked with a neon, tie-dyed squall baying for a 25th century mega-mix. Prepare to exit Planet Earth with MGMT – Bandana-clad space-hippies, inter-dimensional rock-gods, the coolest mother-fuckers in the galaxy, whatever – it’s the band of the year, right here in front 4000 pairs of bugged-out peepers.

Instead of shooting their cosmic load too early they submerge the Star-ship Peel in miles of meditative, sprawling Post-Apocalyptic fantasy from the latter stages of Oracular Spectacular. The biggest revelation being Andrew VanWyngarden’s untreated vocals, awe-inspiring in their power and androgynous, unspoiled clarity.

15 minutes into the future, however, the believers are getting restless, disappointed to not-as-yet be hanging from the rigging by their toe-nails in an LSD wig-out. Help arrives just in time as ‘Electric Feel’ has AU doing the ‘Electric Eel’ (Ohh Girl!), next to a MASSIVE guy dressed like tigger, loudly declared himself as King of The Cat People. Which is funny and then really annoying.

The next 20 minutes are all that we had hoped for, the crowd singing together like little babies of the new world order, to the truly generation-defining ‘Time To Pretend’. They finish with an extended version of ‘Kids’ in which Van Wyngarden rushes a wild-eyed front row. When the synth breakdown lands, the guitarist begins convulsing on the floor. It is this tendency for unashamed, old school showmanship that distinguishes MGMT from the far more humble Flaming Lips, a band to whom they are constantly compared.

The Ting Tings bring with them to the John Peel Stage a 1000 Katie White-worshiping handbag divas, wellies coordinated with florescent tights and denim minis. Though never quite conjuring the vampish insolence demonstrated on record, White acquits herself well. She is aided in no small part by drummer De Martino. He augments Katie’s efforts, banging out the Ting Tings’ ramshackle indie-dance with funky gusto and controlling the backing tracks – impressively – with his feet. ‘Great DJ’ and ‘That’s Not My Name’ set off the desired explosion of crowd activity.

With the rain finally easing on a desecrated Glastonbury site, muddied and bloodied, AU and many, many others make the pilgrimage to the legendary Pyramid Stage, where Tennessee’s favorite sons are set to make the grandest appearance of their lives. With sunlight fading fast, Caleb Followill’s face fills three immense screens. Viewed from where we stood – below the field’s only standing tree – this spectacle appears almost like a celestial triptych. Kings Of Leon may have drawn flak from nay-sayers who accused the band of lacking the requisite “Glastonbury anthems” but having experienced ‘Arizona’, ‘On Call’ and most vividly ‘Knocked Up’ in this hallowed setting it is almost impossible not to be overcome by the enormous sense of occasion.

Sure, KOL mainstays ‘The Bucket’, ‘California Waiting’ and ‘Molly’s Chambers’ keep the party going but it is the soul-mining, star-straddling gospel songs from the Kings’ most recent album that justify that Glastonbury top-slot. Hymns to the bands careworn faith they barrel through the field before finally escaping into the still night air. They are never less than captivating.

John Calvert

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