Live Reviews: Glastonbury 2008, Part 3 ([Director’s Cut]
November 5, 2009, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Features, Live Reviews

Battles on The Park Stage. Or just Battle in this case

Saturday 28th: Day Two

Returning to the Other Stage, yesterday’s carpet of slop has miraculously hardened underfoot and the mid-afternoon sun begins to burn the low hanging cloud from it’s stronghold. The Glasto press office is no doubt set alight with reports of dusty roads and sun-burnt indie bands. Overly-confident Verve fans forsake upper-body clothing, the ice cream vans begin to look appropriate and someone flies a lovely, fluttery kite. For any of you who once have squirmed in a sodden tent, wet and miserable, trying to sleep whilst a gathering of 400 bare-chested men sing ‘Wonderwall’ for 6 hours , you can appreciate that the sense of relief was immense.

To celebrate, Saint Eavis blesses Worthy farm with lavish Eightie’s-inspired sex-pop in the shape of MySpace super-act Black Kids. In a divine instance of serendipity, the hotly tipped Floridians play out their sun-blessed kitsch under expanding stretches of glorious blue sky. Reggie Youngblood and co. flirt outrageously with the merry onlookers, a team of pop stars of exotic beauty and rare glamour.

That said, in the endless steppes that lie before Glasto’s second biggest stage, the tunes seem to saunter rather than sizzle. The easy, sultry sound rendered on their E.P begins to flounder as the wind picks up. Maybe in these early days their star isn’t fully in the ascendant, not enough at any rate for them to fully inhabit such a big-hitter slot. Mental Note: Catch Black Kids another day, add beach hut venue, a tropical weather system, marguerites, Hawaiian shirt.

Neon Neon arrive and restore calm with electro-pastiche so leisured that Gruff Rhys, after making probably the coolest James Blunt dig of the day, sings the first five songs sitting down. Underground hip-hop producer Boom Bip completes the pairing. It’s an intriguing act – brainy, genuinely hip and sophisticated. We undoubtedly are missing a whole pile of deft touches, being so far away from the stage, but still they provide incredibly appropriate listening for Glastonbury’s newly balmy fields. For the final few tracks the one and only Har Mar Superstar emerges to ply his falsetto sauciness over some fittingly pervy grooves. Soon the irony-dial is angling towards the red-for-danger,

Making it back to a transformed John Peel Stage, thousands sit/lie/die outside the tent, watching Vampire Weekend on the big-screen as they make their second outing of the weekend with the same festive results. Black Lips and their singular brand of diabolic ‘Flower Punk’ follow, just in time to chase off any rogue hippies straying too far from the falafel stand.

All the better for a pathetic turnout, AU enjoys it‘s first ‘intimate gig’ of the trip. The stage is decorated with disembodied Pig’s Heads mounted on sticks, the significance of which, is anyone‘s guess, but its looks totally cool anyway. Much the same as guitarist Cole Alexander, malevolently cloaked in a black hijab, and of course there’s Ian St Pe’s gold-minted grimace. The Black Lips are indeed some righteous trash.The stage is decorated with disembodied pigs heads mounted on sticks, the significance of which, is anyone‘s guess, but its looks totally cool anyway. As does guitarist Cole Alexander, malevolently cloaked in a black hijab, and of course there’s Ian St Pé’s gold-minted grimace. Black Lips are indeed some righteous trash.

Pandemonium breaks out as ‘Oh Katrina’ segues into ‘Navajo’ a kind of circle-pit forms and a girl dressed as a banana is pushed in the back, resurfacing from the brouhaha with her yellow fur looking a little less yellowy. Probably having golf-carted it from the Neon Neon set, cameo-Specialist Har-Mar invades the stage for ‘Bad Kids’. After an attempt to impregnate the drum kit, His Funkadelic Majesty hightails it to sexier pastures leaving the Lips to race to a turbo charged finish with a rendition of ‘Juvenile’. At the close, the band ignite fireworks on-stage. A stick of dynamite fleetingly hangs from St Pe’s chops like the way Butch the Bulldog dangles his string of sausages. A good opportunity to rage, if the Worthy Farm worthiness was getting all in your stinking punk principles.

For this reviewer’s 150 bucks it was Hot Chip that became the real event of Glastonbury 2008. As twilight beckons, within a medley of the band’s songs Redbridge Brass Band plays ‘And I Was A Boy From School’ – elderly men with elderly instruments, interpreting beautifully the saddest dance tune ever conceived. It’s a poignant primer and a reminder that is Glastonbury and these special little moments do occur.

With the Other Stage vicinity choking to absolute capacity with weekenders hankering for a proper going over, the dance superstars take their places behind a banquet of various electronic and analogue machines. Right out of the gates a primal “Shake the Fist” and a contorted ‘….Boy From School’ sets in motion the best communal experience of the festival. Guest spot of the year goes to Wiley who bounds onto stage to perform ‘Wearing My Rolex’. As far as the eye can see, people are going crazy and singing “usually bubble” in their best East London accents with the chemistry between the Grime Overlord and a diminutive Lab-coat-and-specs wearing Alexis Taylor, bizarrely perfect.

After, the one-two punch of ‘Ready for The Floor’ and out and out modern classic ‘Over and Over’ have laid waste to several thousand eardrums, to bring an end to the performance the Prince-junkies play Sinead O’Connor’s version of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. After many ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ahh’s’ of recognition there is a collective sigh of contentment as Taylor’s little voice works at a few pairs of trembling lower lips.

With Jay-Z planning Glasto villainy on the Pyramid Stage and Massive Attack just too cumbersome a prospect in our post H.C. rush, we elect instead to head for the hilltop-situated Park Stage and the day’s best double-whammy; Battles followed by CSS.

Bathed in white-light, American math-rockers Battles come at us with a juggernauting demonstration of inhuman brilliance. They are determined it seems to take us to the furthest reaches of outer space. The manner in which the mechanics of anatomically mind-boggling futurism unfold is awe-inspiring and Magnum opus ‘Atlas’ is flawlessly executed, whipping up a perfect storm of avant-garde mastery.

Headliners CSS bound onto the stage resplendent in silver jumpsuits and Sub-Pop tees. They perform a typically anarchic set, the stage overflowing with gigantic balloons and sexual frisson. On the eve of their second full-length release, the Brazilians are clearly hell-bent on topping last year’s career-defining appearance. Aggressive outpouring of their still scintillating older material culminates with ‘Let’s Make Love’ and a dismantling on their instruments.

John Calvert

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