Glastonbury Day Three: Secret Acts, Heavy Rain, James Bay, Mark Ronson and Super Furry Animals

So the bands started in earnest on Friday morning and with a couple of big mysteries still on our plate (figuratively and literally) we embarked on a full day of live music. 

The first such mystery act were simply listed as “Special Guests” in the programme. We had a tip off on this and it was 100% spot on, meaning we enjoyed a full one hour set from The Charlatans. I used to be a big fan of Tim Burgess and Co., getting on board in the Melting Pot days and discovering their diverse back catalogue. Their set list for this gig was very much a greatest hits playlist and included the likes of Weirdo, North Country Boy, One To Another and The Only One I Know. It was fantastic to be reminded just how great some of their songs were and I’ll be picking up on some lost years when I get home.

James Bay blew away a rammed Pyramid Stage with some breathtaking vocals and subtly restrained guitars. He has been something of a revelation this year and has been playlisted frequently on both BBC Radio 1 and 2. He’s clearly very popular now and it’s easy to see why, especially when around 60,000 people are singing every word back to him on a couple of the bigger numbers. I saw Jake Bugg in the same slot a few years ago and the stage and occasion dwarved him, but I was glad this didn’t happen again to Bay, who revelled in his successes. For someone who was largely unknown a year ago he clearly has what it takes to command the largest of audiences. Well done sir, you were fantastic.

We stuck around at the Pyramid Stage for a couple of hours, some of which we were stranded under a tree when the showers hit. There really is no cover if you’re desperate here and not near one of the big tents. How I rued the moment I didn’t buy a poncho.

We saw all of both Alabama Shakes and Mary J. Blige, before nipping to the John Peel Stage for Chet Faker, then back to Pyramid for the end of Motörhead. That last act were particularly awful, failing to get any interest from a positive and happy crowd grateful that the sun had returned who wanted something a bit more than loud guitars and shouty vocals. [1]

The second surprise act of the day could have been anyone’s guess until the last minute. There were several strong rumours, my favourites being: Foo Fighters doing an acoustic set, Stereophonics, One Direction and Noel Gallagher. As it turned out, none of these were correct and as the logo for The Libertines appeared the crowd clearly had mixed feelings – it was great they would be witnessing a slice of festival history but it was a shame they hadn’t yet got around to actually listening to either of their albums. You see, for all the hype generated by a couple of magazines, not many people really genuinely like Pete Doherty’s output. He has his fans, sure, but they’re in their own bubble and have never broken out into mass success. Even when they played their biggest hits – Can’t Stand Me Now and Don’t Look Back Into The Sun – a lot of the crowd failed to sing along to the chorus, either through lack of knowledge or general indifference. I was once told that The Libertines were the band of our generation, but I’ve never been on board that boat. They have simply never been good enough and don’t have the songs to substantiate the claim.

The moment of the day came whilst watching Mark Ronson smash the Other Stage. Having won the audience (and any passers by) over with a constant stream of hits, delivered by many of the original artists, Ronson followed a poignant Amy Winehouse tribute with a rendition of The Song of 2015 Uptown Funk (which I think is its full name now). Firstly he brought out Grandmaster Flash to great fanfare, followed by the powerful Mary J. Blige for lead vocal duties and finally George Clinton of Parliament [2]. The whole arena instantly turned into a massive party and I left the gig wondering whether this would have been a better fit for the main stage. On reflection, probably yes.

Our chosen headliner of the day was on The Park Stage. I’ve been a fan of Super Furry Animals for a long time and have a lot of fond memories of some awesome nights at their gigs. Thankfully this train of thought was shared with all my friends so I didn’t have to go alone. SFA didn’t go with a Welsh-language-laden set and instead went for their biggest hits. Slow Burn opened the set, a perfectly anthemic opener for a crowd clearly reduced by having a rival in the heavily promoted Florence and the Machine set in the Pyramid Stage. The people who were there signalled their intentions with this opener by singing their hearts out. Racing through almost all of their back catalogue – Do or Die, Golden Retriever, Juxtapose With You, Hello Sunshine (“You’re a Mingeeeer!” never fails to amuse) – before finishing on a very loud high with The Man Don’t Give A Fuck, SFA were excellent value for money and their set was by far and away the best of the day.

We ended up watching Erol Alkan at The Beat Café into the small hours of the morning and that drew our third night to a close.

[1] We definitely saw The Vaccines too but I fail to see how that was possible given the stage times. They weren’t very good anyway.

[2] As this was announced a drunken reveller turned round in a panic and said to his friend “It’s George Clooney! Look!”. I wish I could have seen his disappointment but, seriously, what would he have been doing on stage if it was Clooney instead of Clinton?

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