Glastonbury 2017 Day Four: Thundercat, Corbyn, Foo Fighters, The National

A cracking headline slot and a politically-empowering speech from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn defined Saturday at Glastonbury Festival 2017.

The order of the day was love, which is apparently all you really need. The Bootleg Beatles opened the Pyramid with a Sgt. Peppers-era set that featured a the likes of ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, ‘Penny Lane’, ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘A Day in the Life’, though I was personally disappointed they didn’t add the extra twenty verses recently written by Peter Serafinowicz.

I was able to dash across the site to catch the entire Whitney set, which was an uplifting surprise despite the weather. The fresh-faced American band, led by drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrlich, wooed the crowd with their hazy Americana tunes and sarcastic banter. It’s rare for me to get so entranced by a band after just 45 minutes of listening but I’m keen to hear more now.

The Thundercat set on the West Holts Stage was a showcase of musicianship masterclasses, though it was married with a penchant for memorable and soulful delivery by frontman Stephen Bruner.

One defining moment of the day came from an empowering speech from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He spoke for around ten minutes to a packed crowd in the Pyramid and it felt like everyone in attendance took a step to the left, no matter where they started from. Admittedly, he was inevitably going to be popular here, but he’s quickly becoming the voice of a generation that seemed for so long to have nobody fighting their corner. The next five years will be the most interesting politically Britain has seen for decades.

From the stirring to the boring, The Kaiser Chiefs blandly went through he motions of their set to an indifferent crowd clearly waiting for Liam Gallagher to appear. This kind of band brings out the worst in middle-aged people clearly harbouring dormant lad culture personas inside their older bodies. Out come the Kangol hats, Oasis t-shirts and angry alter-egos and, some eight pints later, everyone can have a fight. Wonderful. Liam put in a solid performance, mind you, with a mixture of tracks from his upcoming ‘As You Were’ album and Oasis hits (up to and including 1997 but no later).

The National underlined the 10+ recommendations I’ve had from friends who clearly have better music taste than me. They were brilliant and had the crowds singing along. I’ve no idea how they’ve slipped through the net thus far but they’ll be unslipping very shortly.

The absolute hands-down 100% best set of the day came from Foo Fighters. They performed for well over two hours, providing hit after hit from their eight studio albums and their upcoming ninth album Concrete and Gold, due for release later this year. Starting with ‘Times Like These’, which was sweetly dedicated to Florence Welch, they blasted through a set that included ‘This Is A Call’, ‘All My Life’, new single ‘Run’, ‘My Hero’ and ended on fan favourite ‘Everlong’. The crowd didn’t want them to stop, so just carried on the chanting from ‘Best of You’ as they dispersed. Special mention to Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl for duetting on ‘Under Pressure’, doing their best impressions of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. A classic moment.

If only I could get those songs out of my head I’d be able to sleep better!

Glastonbury 2017 Day Three: The Pretenders, Glass Animals, Surprise it’s Elbow, Radiohead

A day that had promised sunshine turned out to be disappointingly overcast, leaving the Hot to be created by the acts on stage. Wow, that was a corny start to a blog. Still, we proceed.

The Pretenders supplied a hit-filled set in the late morning opening slot on the Other Stage. A disappointing endeavour to buy breakfast at a stand with a good view from the queue led to a lorry blocking us off from the action for three songs, then the stall running out of eggs just before we ordered. Guys, this is relevant info!Catching almost none of Paul Carrack’s set followed by almost none of the Hot 8 Brass Band’s set reminded us that you can’t get between stages easily. I’m sure both sets were great but we saw neither.


A chance stumbling onto the A Little More Sensation stage in the Circus Field meant we were able to catch the absolutely brilliant Fraser Hooper. It was a silent comedy special with plenty of audience participation, featured a duck, a boxing match and some cracking sound effects. He transfixed a potentially transient audience and was a healthy reminder that there’s plenty going on around the site away from the listed main stages.

There was a genius moment we’re a band of performance artists dressed as seagulls ambushed a fish finger stand. Classic.

First Aid Kit lit up the main stage as a crowd full of people said “Oh I know this one!” ten seconds into each song. Clearly a band I need to check it more in the aftermath of the festival. 

We sadly gave up on Kris Kristofferson after about six songs. It was a real struggle to engage and there were clearly some sound issues that may well have been the performer rather than the sound engineer. Glass Animals were a far better choice!

Watching Mark Lanegan and Angel Olson from the hill on The Park was a great way to relax before the worst kept secret act of the day in the form of Elbow. A great set by a great band, my only reservation is that they seem to have forgotten everything they released prior to The Seldom Seen Kid. If they just did one song from the vastly superior Cast of Thousands I’d be so much happier.

And so it was time for the day’s big headliners, Radiohead. They pulled out a cracking set and I talk in much greater detail here, but in summary it was the standout set of the day for me and one I’ll remember for a long time.

The Trojans took on the Avalon Cafe at midnight and that saw out the night for me. Another big day of music is due tomorrow and I can hardly wait.

Live Music Review – Radiohead, Glastonbury Festival, 23rd June 2017

Setlist:
Daydreaming
Lucky
Ful Stop
Airbag
15 Step
Myxomatosis
Exit Music (for a Film)
Pyramid Song
Everything in Its Right Place
Let Down
Bloom
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Idioteque
You and Whose Army?
There There
Bodysnatchers
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Encore:1:
No Surprises
Nude
2 + 2 = 5
Paranoid Android
Fake Plastic Trees

Encore 2:
Lotus Flower
Creep
Karma Police

“Bring down the government, they don’t speak for us.” As the lyrics to one of Radiohead’s most commercially famous songs – ‘No Surprises’ – the crowd let out a ginormous cheer. Any doubt that one of Britain’s most critically-celebrated bands had failed to engage the audience were quashed at that moment. It seemed to inflate lead singer Thom Yorke’s confidence. At the end of the song he said, simply, “See you later, Theresa. Just shut the door on your way out.”

A huge laugh from the immeasurably-sized crowd was followed by a louder cheer. Yorke clearly knew his audience and knew a left-wing statement was a safe bet.

But the setlist was anything but a safe bet. 

Confidently appearing on stage to the piano theme from ‘Daydreaming’, they launched into a set made primarily of OK Computer album tracks and singles lifted from their more recent releases. 

It was reassuring to see how many people were able to sing along to the likes of ‘Bloom’, ‘Weird Fishes’ and ‘You and Whose Army?”. 
It was only when they launched into ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ did they start to mine what would be considered their more mainstream songs, and the patient crowd were rewarded an eight-song, two-part encore that featured a handful of crowd-pleasers. Or, the most crowd-pleasing Radiohead have ever done. ‘Fake Plastic Trees’, a blasting ‘Paranoid Android’ and an extra crunchy ‘Creep’ ensured the set would live on in memory as one that walked the line between the awkwardly obscure and pleasingly familiar.

It was a great snapshot of one of the greatest bands to grace our planet, and the set is up there with the best, for this crowd member at least.

Glastonbury 2017 Day Two – Prince Achmed, Quiz, Napalm Death, Everything

My second day at Glastonbury this year found me out for the lightweight I really am. I’m sat in my tent at 23:20 now, having given up for the night. There are probably four hours of quality entertainment ahead of me but I simply can’t hack it.

My day started swimmingly with a trip to the Pilton Palais for a screening of The Adventures of Prince Achmed. The performance was accompanied by the Guildhall Electronic Music Studio. The film and accompaniment were top quality and it was a well-chosen start to the day.

After wandering with some friends for a while, I stumbled across a man playing a great selection of covers songs at the Open Arms Bar. We watched a handful of songs, sand heartily (if ironically) to “Take Me Home Country Road” and then set off towards the West Holts Bar. This is where I was “that guy” – the one that randomly helps out with a pub quiz without anyone asking him to. Everyone loves that guy. Right?

Our next step, bizarrely, was to visit Shangri-La and watch Napalm Death. I’m going to be honest – the songs merged into one another and I was hardly impressed by any of their music. Perhaps I was too far back but it didn’t feel like any of their songs were distinct enough or had enough dynamics to encapsulate a crowd who started the set with interest if not enthusiasm.

We tried then to see Everything Everything at the Williams Green stage. The crowds were busy for this set, which was possibly the worst-kept secret of the weekend. Alas, we gave up by the second song and moved on.

And that brings me to here. I was too tired to carry on and made my way back to my tent, even though I desperately wanted to see a friend performing with The Trojans. Exhausted and in need of some rest, I’m hoping I last longer tomorrow night for the huge headline set from Radiohead. I’m sure they’ll have an uplifting song or two to get me through the tiredness barrier.

Film review – Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed / The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Lotte Reiniger, 1926)

The uniquely-animated ‘Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed’, Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film, is a hugely important film. Work started on it in 1923, and it is the earliest-surviving animated feature film – it clocks in at 65 minutes.

The animation technique used involved cutting out cardboard silhouettes of the characters and manipulating them frame by frame. Some 93,000 frames were created for the film.

Reiniger’s attention to detail was matched by that of the restoration team at the Deutsches Filmmuseum, who in 1999 returned it to its former glory and allowed new generations to enjoy it.

Today’s screening, which was at the Tilda Swindon-curated Pilton Palais at Glastonbury Festival, was accompanied by a unique re-score by the Guildhall Electronic Music Studio.

It’s easy to create a modern score for a classic piece that simply doesn’t fit – Air’s ‘The Journey to the Moon’ is certainly guilty of that – but the mix of classical piano and basic sound effects works perfectly. Mike Oliver oversaw the project and acted as a mentor to those involved. The piano accompaniment from Barbara De Biasi is reminiscent of the Joe Hisaishi scores for Ghibli Studio. As a fan of Hisaishi’s work this was very much welcome. This was augmented by Eric Fabrizi with paper-based sound effects and live narration from Mike Oliver and his daughter Molly.

It all came together wonderfully and felt respectful of the original work whilst breathing a new life into it for a new, younger audience.

It was well attended by an early-afternoon festival crowd. Anyone appearing early for the Frozen sing-a-long would have been entirely confused. For everyone else, the film was a triumph. Congratulations to all involved.

Glastonbury 2017 Day One: Arrival, Pitching, Fireworks, Sleeping

I’ve arrived at Glastonbury for another year of fun in the sun. The weather is absolutely scorching and the beers I’ve brought with me are still, just about, cold.

Much of my anticipation of the festival has been around two of the headliners: The Foo Fighters and Radiohead. I’m a huge fan of both, with the two of them being in heavy rotation when I was doing my GCSEs and A Levels. It sounds corny to reply with two of the headliners when asked about who I’m most excited about, but it’s an honest answer. They’ve simply been there for me for two decades.

Wednesday is usually about exploring and getting used to the site. A few things feel like they’ve moved around but to be honest I’m not 100% confident on what is where anymore.

The highlight for me was catching a gigantic fireworks display up in the Stone Circle near The Park. It was extensive and the crowd appreciated it. My only draw back was observing that one of the displays was exceptionally close to my camp site and seemed to be the most unwieldy. Fortunately my tent was still there when I got back!

For many, watching the summer soltace sunset at Glastonbury is a rite of passage. For me, I remember people cheering. Unfortunately, I was asleep at the time. Evidently the three-mile walk from car to campsite had taken it out of me.

A perfect start to the festival, though hopefully I’ll last longer tomorrow!

Top ten Radiohead music videos of all time

Radiohead are set to take Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage by storm this weekend, so I thought it would be a great time to give a chronological run through of their greatest music videos. I was able to choose my very personally-opinionated list from an eclectic output, which has never felt like it was conforming to anything like the norm.

Take a look and feel free to challenge me if you think I’ve missed anything.

1. Just (Jamie Thraves, 1995)

Jamie Thraves’s breakthrough announced his work to the world and made him one of the most sought-after music video directors on the planet. He has since contributed some brilliant short films to bands (Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ and Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ are amongst his more popular work), though his feature film career remains highly underrated.

It’s worth watching before anyone tells you anything about it. Then you can Google “What does the guy say at the end of Just by Radiohead?”. Then in 22 years’ time you’ll be where I am now.

Utter genius.

2. Street Spirit (Jonathan Glazer, 1996)

Jonathan Glazer’s visually-stunning black and white video for ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ was a masterpiece at the time and it has certainly stood the test of time. The slow frame rate mixed with regular or fast-forward shots creates a really effective result, and if the overall impression doesn’t do it for you then you can at least wonder how it was achieved technically without the use of computer imagery.

3. Paranoid Android (Magnus Carlsson, 1997)

Paranoid Android is an epic saga of a tune that fused three separate crunching progressive rock song and juxtaposed them with some darkly humorous lyrics. It’s essentially Radiohead doing a song like Bohemian Rhapsody but doing everything they can to not do a song like Bohemian Rhapsody.

The video that accompanies it, created by Swedish animator Magnus Carlsson, is just as bizarre. The band were fans of his animated series Robin, and asked him to create a video featuring the character. The dark playfulness of the songs lyrics and composition marries perfectly with the visuals, which could easily trick a young person into thinking it was a regular cartoon. They’d soon see a man with a head foetus poking out of his belly, or a bare-breasted mermaid swimming around.

4. No Surprises (Grant Gee, 1998)

No discussion of Radiohead videos would be complete without mention of the visually iconic ‘No Surprises’ music video. Thom Yorke’s head is slowly submerged in a tank that fills from the bottom, with some subtle slow-motion work causing it to feel even longer to increase the feeling of tension and suffocation. I guarantee the first time everyone saw it they all took a breath as the water was eventually released. Simple but very effective.

Gee was also involved with Radiohead during the infamous OK Computer tour, which almost led to the band breaking up. It was covered in the engrossing feature-length documentary ‘Meeting People is Easy’, released on VHS in 1998.

5. Knives Out (Michel Gondry, 2002)

Michel Gondry’s one-shot video for ‘Knives Out’ feels like a thematic predecessor to ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, Gondry’s 2004 masterpiece that must surely be one of the best films of the decade. Thom Yorke is in a hospital bed next to his partner, played by Emma de Caunes (who later appeared in Gondry’s The Science of Sleep). She’s undergoing some operations but her body is represented by an oversized version of the Operation board game. Thom looks on in a nightmarish panic, underpinned by a feeling of repetition and inability to escape.

The marrying of two of the most creative artists in their respective mediums was inevitably going to lead to greatness and ‘Knives Out’ doesn’t disappoint.

6. There There (Chris Hopewell, 2003)

The first of two Chris Hopewell videos on this list. There There is a stop-motion animated video that features Thom Yorke venturing into a dark forest and encountering some small mice having a dinner party. He steals some magical shoes, gets attacked by some crowd and turns into a tree.

Brilliant.

7. Nude (Adam Buxton and Garth Jennings, 2008)

British comedian/podcaster/beardy cyclist Adam Buxton joined forces with music video and film director Garth Jennings to produce a beautiful and simplistic music video for Radiohead’s ‘Nude’ single.

Each member of the band performs against a black background, filmed in slow motion as the space they inhabit fills up with white feathers.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. And it’s wonderful.

8. House of Cards (James Frost, 2008)

No cameras were used in the making of James Frost’s mesmerising video for ‘House of Cards‘. Instead, 3D plotting devices were used to collect, collate and interpret data on the positional relationship between objects.

It’s hard to visualise and harder to forget once you’ve seen it.

9. Lotus Flower (Garth Jennings, 2010)

Because who doesnt want to see a black and white Thom Yorke dancing around like a maniac for five minutes and eight seconds?

10. Burn the Witch (Chris Hopewell, 2016)

One of the best music videos I’ve seen recently was for ‘A Moon Shaped Pool‘ lead single ‘Burn the Witch’. It is, specifically, Trumpton does The Wicker Man. It was created by Chris Hopewell of ‘There There’ fame. Another dark video that belies the cutesy animated fa├žade.