Filed under: Festivals
It’s been a strange few months. In between going to some gigs and festivals, I’ve managed to have something of a breakdown, so apologies for not being around.
I was inspired to get back to this by a friend of mine <waves at Eamonn – big up the General’s Hi Fi!> telling me he went to see Rachel Unthank recently because of my recommendation on this very blog. That made me feel all warm inside and made me want to try and get some blogging momentum going again.
Having been signed off work pretty much constantly all summer, I’ve been listening to a LOT of music, although to be honest most of it hasn’t been new. I’ve been digging deeper into the astonishing amount of 40s and 50s R&B (stuff like you’d find on the Stompin’ At The Savoy boxset, that sort of thing), along with lots of gospel, blues, rockabilly. The prime motivation for this is that the gigs myself and Jared now play at the festivals are as Randy & Earl’s Old Record Club, which grew out of our old Lovely Morning slots at various festivals and is now what we call ourselves whenever we’re not doing People’s Republic Of Disco nights.
But alongside that, at the moment I’m just finding it a lot more rewarding than most of the new stuff that by rights I should be chasing down. Having said that, perhaps as a reaction to the amount of vintage music I’m listening to, I do seem to be getting back into lots of noise and filth and nonsense: lots of dark / doom / stoner metal (and not just the Wire-approved artsy end of it as well, but really dumb stuff like Electric Wizard), and even odd forays back into breakcore, the harder end of jungle, that sort of caper.
Anyway, Glastonbury was absolutely wonderful, a blessed relief after the preceding years (although the early signs weren’t good, weatherwise, and one more wet one might have finished it off forever for me.. ).
Highlights: well, it was Candi Staton’s festival, really. I’ve seen too many heritage-style soul revue shows to expect too much from such veterans these days, but she was a revelation. Low on cheese, high on funky, funky soul. Her voice is in great shape, she played a perfectly judged (mostly – I think – chronological) set that took in favourites like “Old Man’s Sweetheart” before finishing on a pretty decent version of “You Got The Love” that had the whole field really going for it.
The Old Record Club played no less than three different slots on the Sunday, so I barely saw any acts. However, I did manage to see about 2/3rds of Leonard Cohen’s totally spellbinding mainstage set. It all felt a bit odd – we knew why he was there, he knew we knew, etc. Having never seen him before, I can only guess that this was reflected in the utterly charming and gracious way he carried himself and the way he seemed too give it all he could (apparently his solo shows have been 3-hours plus…). Not too proud to admit that I sobbed like a child when he did Hallelujah and 70,000 or whatever voices joined in (I’m a sucker for a big moment, me). Scurrying up to do a set at the other end of the site straight after, I caught a couple of minutes of King Solomon Burke doing an equally momentous, heartbreaking number and was in a bit of a state when I showed up to play.
Holy Fuck were fantastic, but stuck on in a stupid afternoon slot – they deserved to be on late and loud. Jay-Z was great fun, and managed to make Noel Gallagher look like the troglodyte is he with smarts and humour rather than abuse. Winehouse put in a mostly good set, and here isn’t the place to go into all the various woes around her.
Managed to see Alabama 3 twice. The first time was when I fled Jimmy Cliff’s execrable performance on Jazz World (honestly, I felt embarassed for the bloke – the worst kind of Vegas twattery I’ve seen in a long time), and A3 were in full line-up mode in the Leftfield Tent. On excellent form as ever – the festival really is the best environment to see them, and despite people still writing them off as some kind of novelty act, they have more wit, politics, passion and tunes than most anybody I can think of. The second time was during a fantastic afternoon in the Avalon Tent – a run of acts that included Rachel Unthank (lovely as ever), The Handsome Family (same) and then the Alabama 3 Unplugged version: a guitar, a harmonica and some voices.
John Cale was an unexpected surprise (I even forgot he was on); The Slackers disappointed a bit but I can’t quite figure why (sounded ‘diluted’, somehow); The Young Knives were more fun than I thought they would be; Glasvegas sounded excellent from outside the tent, which is as near as we could get. Aside from some small bands in bar / tents, I don’t think I saw much else, and I don’t really mind.
The Mutoid Waste Company did wonders with their Trash City area this year, and although the Shangri-La field has improved on the very jaded Lost Vagueness of last year, it still needs to do more to impress against this kind of competition:
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