Paul Weller live at the Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, 28th June 2015

Setlist:

White Sky
The Changingman
From the Floorboards Up
I’m Where I Should Be
Long Time
That’s Entertainment
Above the Clouds
Saturn’s Pattern
Going My Way
Friday Street
Porcelain Gods
Broken Stones
You Do Something to Me
Start!
Peacock Suit
Whirlpool’s End
Town Called Malice

Well, there we have it. Another year of good-hearted, fun-loving live music done and dusted as Glastonbury 2015 comes to a close. All the flaws my body has developed over its first thirty years have come to the surface and I am out of both alcohol and money. It has been emotional.

The highlight set on the Sunday was a crowd-pleasing effort from Paul Weller. With a career spanning 40 years he had plenty to go on and the song selection was spot on.

Fittingly, he opened the set with a storming rendition of “White Sky”, the lead track from the new album Saturn’s Pattern. It’s a great song, though I don’t think I was alone in the crowd wondering whether the set was just going to be full of songs from his recently-released album.

This concern was put to bed with second track “The Changingman”. It immediately got the packed crowd singing along and on-side and truly kicked-off a night of fun with The Who just around the corner.

Indeed, the mid-nineties tracks he played – including “Peacock Suit”, “Broken Stones”, “Friday Street”, “Porcelain Gods” and “You Do Something To Me” – were only the tip of the iceberg. Whilst The Style Council were completely bypassed, he found space for three of The Jam’s biggest hits: “Start!”, “That’s Entertainment” and “Town Called Malice”.

The highlight for me was “Above The Clouds”, a track from his eponymous debut solo album. It has always been a favourite of mine and the rendition here was one of the highlights of a very special festival.

His voice didn’t even have a hint of cracking at any point, which bodes well for a long future of touring yet, something not possible for every artist that has been around for as long as Mr Weller. It was also nice to see Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock on stage with him again.

Well done sirs. It was a stunning set.

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Glastonbury Day Five: The Who, Paul Weller, The Shires, body pain, inevitably poor personal hygiene 

Well, there we have it. Another year of good-hearted, fun-loving live music done and dusted as Glastonbury 2015 comes to a close. All the flaws my body has developed over its first thirty years have come to the surface and I am out of both alcohol and money. It has been emotional.

The highlight set for my party on the Sunday was a crowd-pleasing effort from Paul Weller. With a career spanning 40 years he had plenty to go on and the song selection was spot on, allowing him to promote his new material a little whilst reminding everyone just how good he is. My favourite track was “Above The Clouds”, though “Peacock Suit” was a close second. His voice didn’t even have a hint of cracking at any point, which bodes well for a long future of touring yet. It was also nice to see Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock on stage with Mr Weller again. Well done sirs. It was a stunning set.

  

The Who were the first headline act we saw on the main stage. Hit after hit arrived on the sound-system as a genuine rock giant showed the Glastonbury crowd what a real gig was like. Kanye take note – you can get cocky once you’ve had some quality output. Two hours of rocking inevitably ended with a bit of set destruction, but we wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Apparently they were having sound issues but I didn’t really notice; far worse was Lionel Richie earlier in the day who sounded like the bass drum was being played by someone keeping time to a different tune. Wholly off putting and a genuine set ruined for everyone I could hear complaining vocally in the crowd.

The Shires were an odd but fruitful choice. I was pushing to see them, against the will of at least one of my party. Everyone was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous country tunes and beautiful vocals they are blessed with. They aren’t a groundbreaking act and I think everyone there knows that, but what they do have are some excellent songs to sing along to and an inspiring attitude that got the whole audience on side immediately. “State Lines” is still in my head now.

Elsewhere Eric Bibb and The Bootleg Beatles were juxtaposed on the Acoustic Stage but were equally brilliant; Patti Smith seemed like she was struggling to engage with the crowd, although the Dalai Lama saved the day with some thought-provoking messages; and the night was rounded off by a secret DJ set from 2manydjs at Arcadia, because we love having our faces burned off by a giant spider [1]. We even managed to take in an under-advertised sneak preview of the new Pixar film Inside Out (more on that at a later date).

The countdown has now begun to the return home and have a proper shower and a comfy. Believe me, it is much-needed.

Thank you Mr Eavis for inviting us all to the best party of the summer. Sorry we wrecked everything. We promise we’ll be tidier next time.

[1] To be honest, we felt so claustrophobic that we went back to our campsite and listened from there. You know, like all the cool kids.

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?

Glastonbury Day Two: Wilko Johnson, Beans on Toast, Elle and the Pocket Belles, Silent Disco

The second day at Glastonbury is when the fun starts to get interesting. A few familiar acts start to pop up and by and by and nobody has a 50 minute pilgrimage with a 40kg weight strapped to their back to kick off the day.

  
Our first act of the day was Wilko Johnson on the William’s Green Stage. It was a short set (about 30 minutes) followed by a long interview (about 30 minutes) followed by an exclusive screening of the new Julien Temple documentary The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, ostensibly about Wilko’s battle with cancer as he was given ten months to live. It covers this period, then goes on to what he describes as “extra time” and then his miraculous recovery following some radical treatment. The film was a fantastic introduction to Wilko’s music (admittedly I’m not overly familiar with it) and a fascinating insight into people battling with terminal illness. Well worth watching when it appears later this year.

Later on we caught a bit of Elle and the Pocket Belles at Avalon Café. Their set was the perfect way to see in the sunny evening as they nailed a series of popular tunes with their own style of blended vocals and punchy brass backing. I think they’re playing elsewhere over the weekend so I’m hoping to bump into them again.

Beans on Toast was next on the Hell Stage in Shangri-La. It was heaving and it was obviously a hot ticket but it didn’t really resonate with me. It’s and act that has become a frequent performer at festivals though and if you like political statements in humorous song form then maybe you’ll be more inspired.

The evening became a bit of a blur after this, though I do recall dancing to Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” in the Park Silent Disco in the early hours of the morning. It would have been rude not to.