I am not one of those who queue up at the Glastonbury gates overnight, waiting to be let into the area at 8.00 am Wednesday morning. I can understand those who do, it is the only way to get the best camping spots and to be camped with your mates. I have upgraded to the soft Glamping experience and stay at The Love Fields This year I and two university friends made it to Glastonbury. For Ravi he was ticking of a bucket list item, and for Simon, well he is a musician, and all musicians should visit Glastonbury even if it’s not to perform. For me, it was my eleventh Glastonbury, the 9th in a row.
We set off from here early haveing been forcibly ejected by Rosemary, stopping on the way for a coffee and cakes at the Folly Row Cafe in Kington Saint Michael. After our coffee and loo break, we headed on to Glastonbury, taking the blue route which takes you along Pylle Lane. Very few holdups on the way. Drove into Love Fields and we were soon checked in and had emptied our belongings into the yurts. Simon and Ravi had two double beds while I had the one.
Our next step was to enter the festival site with our hospitality tickets from Love Fields and make our way over to the hospitality area behind the Pyramid Stage. Here we were issued with wrist bands. The hospitality area does allow you a greater chance of seeing some celebrities close up, and also allows you to get between the Other and Pyramid Stages a little faster. It is also an oasis from the outside crowds and a place to meet up.
Our next agenda item was a grand tour of the Glastonbury site, we headed to the Other Stage, then to Silver Hayes and way over to the west side of the campsite, I hadn’t been to the far west side campsites for years, this is where I used to camp. A walk up to the Park Area above the Ribbon Tower and then past the tepees and the new Glastonbury on Sea pier, not yet open. Supper at the West Holts Stage, tour of Avalon and then tried to get into the South East corner. But this was still under construction and was not due to open until Thursday.
Back at Love Fields we stopped at the bar for some drinks and listened to an array of bands who were playing. Unfortunately there was a strong wind which put us in a wind tunnel so we had to wrap up with blankets. The evening progressed with more ciders and some flat-breads with spicy toppings. At around 10.30 the bonfires on the festival site were lit and the firework display began. The Festival was now officially open.
Set off at 12.30 and arrived in a multi-storey car park in Twickenham at 14.00. The car park appeared to be heaving. I thought I would be there in plenty of time and miss all the crowds. After lunch and a long time before the show starts, there should be space. Didn’t quite work out that way, there were masses of fans already in the streets. Parking was crazy, cars driving round and round the car park looking for space. Struck lucky, a woman had arrived at her car with her Waitrose shopping. Grabbed the spot.
Walking to the arena there were crowds of Metalheads walking in the opposite direction. Had to check google maps to see I was heading the correct way. I think these fans had arrived by train and were heading into the centre of Twickenham for a pre-festival drink.
The walk to the stadium was 15 minutes and I arrived in time to check in for my free poster, T-shirt, beer and buffet lunch. There was also a Metallica exhibition and museum containing mementoes from their tours and the original handwritten pages with lyrics of their old songs. The buffet lunch was excellent with shredded pork and beef, vegetables and other accompaniments. Whilst there I spoke with another fan, he was Norwegian and had lived here for seven years. He had seen the same Metallica show recently in Norway. ((Slightly bemused (irate?) R says at the price I paid, I cannot call anything “free”.)
Time to get out on to the pitch. We had a 15-minute start on general entry. I did dither a bit, and when I entered the arena, (you were led through the back stage area by security staff), I saw there were people already on the crowd barriers. The Gold Circle is huge, so if you were late in you could still be miles from the front. In any case, I had only a couple of people in front of me, which ended up as one when Metallica came on.
There were a couple of support bands. Opening proceedings was Lars Ulrich’s favourite new band, Norwegian stoner punk trioBokassa. Then on came the Swedish metallers Ghost.
The sound in the arena was poor, huge echoes everywhere. Whenever the band members spoke, it was nearly impossible to hear what they said, their voice being drowned out by the arena echoes. This was even at the front where we were near to the speakers. What it was like for the rest, I have no idea. Thankfully when music was being played was not noticeable.
Then on came Metallica at about 20.00, and they played until about 22.30. An excellent set. Some issues with the screens, their video screens let the background light through, and until it was dark there were poor images on the huge backgrounds. They used the stage to the maximum, moving out to the wings and up to the front. Lars, though remained hidden, because I was so close to the over 2-metre high stage and he was at the back of the stage. Even this was circumvented by him playing a set of drums which had magically appeared on the runway out at the front of the stage. So pictures of Lars were taken, but all from behind.
After finishing their final song, Enter the Sandman, they did their usual thank you and threw their plectrums and drum sticks into the crowds. So many plectrums, such that I was able to go away with one. Happy days!
Left the stadium, slow progress getting back to the car park with Whitton Road filled with people. Of course, the station platforms became full and this backed up onto the road. Thankfully the pedestrian management did allow me fast access to the car park. This is where it all now went wrong. Twenty minutes before I could pay for parking and another hour sitting in my car unable to move. Exit from the car park was slow, and of course, I was on the top floor, so all the floors underneath had to empty. When I did get out, the roads were empty except for the street where the car park was on. The traffic light lets four cars out onto the A305 at a time, and you then sat there watching no vehicles go by on the A305 for ages. Made it home just before 2.00am. The M25 was empty and no road works.
A quote from one of the music papers about Metallica crowds:
The security guys at Twickenham said the Metallica crowds were far easier and nicer to deal with than the Ascot crowds he was working with the previous day, confirming what we already knew – Metalheads are the best.
I think this sums up the culture of entitlement which pervades some of the events attended by the 1%.
The Memory Remains
Ride The Lightning
Harvester Of Sorrow
Here Comes Revenge
Moth Into Flame
Sad But True
No Leaf Clover followed by Kirk and Rob’s version of Killers
Left home for Download on Thursday 14.00 in Morrison. Uneventful trip, but I took notice of the driving instructions on the motorway which took me off at an earlier junction than I’d anticipated. This route went through loads of winding lanes. Think it would have been easier to go by the main route. Arrived at the RIP camping ground, which looked a bit on the full side. Seems most people had arrived on Wednesday. A little concerned about the state of the ground, and whether I would be able to get out on Monday. There had been reports of torrential rain, and some festival-goers were already giving up and going home. This had incited a Twitter spat where some of those who go to Glastonbury tweeted, I thought Metal fans were hard. The RIP field though was pretty green, except for the areas around the loos, showers and food stalls.
After checking in and parking, I went into the Park Farmhouse complex where there was a good real ale bar, food and bands playing. Listened to a two-person tribute band, who when I arrived were playing some Metallica. Had several pints, and ate supper there. Then discovered the bar had closed. I think they had run out of real ales. Sad, I went back to the campervan and read a book.
Friday Def Leppard or Rob Zombie
Friday is a late start for the music, so no rush in the morning. Started the day off with a shower, and then a breakfast of bacon and hash browns in a roll. Went through to the VIP area and ordered a cappuccino and a sticky nut oatcake.
Last In Line
First band the main stage, played for 30 minutes, my thoughts were a boring rock band.
Sacremento based rockers, quite an enjoyable band. Rained during their show, not heavily.
Atlanta based quintet formed in 2000.
Southern rock, lots of grinding riffs, an enjoyable set. Short drizzle during their set.
A British band, playing some good songs, a great drum solo from Tommy Aldridge. This band has been going since 1978 and has had around fifty band members.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Slash was his usual self, playing away on the side of the stage.
It was a question of watching Def Leppard, who I have seen live before or watching something different, so I went to the Zippo stage to watch Rob Zombie. The Zippo stage was crowded and I was way at the back. Not a good choice.
So during the day it did rain a little, normally short, light showers. The arena was green on entry, but turned into mud during the day. Not like Glastonbury mud. By the end of the day I felt the ground was drier than the start. The bars were virtually inaccessible, with huge queues. I hate queues and ended up drinking coffee.
Saturday and Slipknot
The day started sunny, and it was definitely drier underfoot. Changed my allegiance for breakfast to another food vendor, this one did a lovely fried egg and bacon roll, with filter coffee. Then more coffee and oatcake in the VIP place. While I was waiting for this second coffee I overheard some kiwis talking about Brits in NZ who don’t use sunscreen. So I said hi, I had been to NZ and it just rained all the time. During a conversation about the merits of the North and South Islands, they mentioned that the first band on the main stage was a New Zealand band.
A young trio performing some very heavy metal. Many of the lyrics and chants were in Māori also known as te reo. They are on a North American and European tour and have an album called Tū. Well worth listening to.
The unlikely looking band, well dressed, chatty humourous lead singer. All wearing red jackets accessorised with a pearl necklace. At the end, they played some Metallica.
Dallas Texas band, complete with shouting and lots of fist punching. Their slogan was ‘ Powerful people, we must fight them’
European band, anti-Christ. Kept going off and coming back in with new costumes. Fire and smoke. Loved the 3 nuns in the audience dancing at the front. After watching them, I went and bought Vegan Sushi and ate it in the rain.
British band. The only song I knew was at the end of their set when we all jumped and whirled our coats around. Their set was packed. Rained throughout their set, pity the ground was drying out.
Stopped raining and sun about to come out. US band from Atlanta, but they call Donnington home. All these bands do.
Hate this type of music, so instead I went around for a walk of the site. Found the real ale bar and had a Charles Welles pint. Then I went up on to the Pepsi Max platform to look over the sit. Then back to the campsite area for a sit down and another beer. Walked back for Slipknot
Started a little late. First band to start late. Traditional apparently. Anyway they were headlining, so not constrained for time. I quite like Slipknot.
Sunday and Tool
Started off a little sunny, but a tad cold. Thought I might wear a little more, but luckily didn’t. Not so cold when I got to the arena. Bought some sun tan cream on the way, was a bit burnt on my face yesterday, especially my nose. Guarantee it will be totally cloudy today.
The band seemed to have problems setting up at the start. It was also the first time I have seen band members actually doing some of the work themselves. They ordered circles in the audience to be created. Not quite seen a circle quite like this one before. Some old people (“old people” being anyone older than me) should be banned from participating in these. Everyone lolloped around the circle. Oh, when the circle was created I realised I was in an empty space. I panicked and ran for it.
Not a bad gig, so I celebrated with a Falafel for lunch. Must practice the pronunciation of this word. I have sorted out Huawei!
From Michigan, younger singer, with a broken foot, also seemed to fall off the stage at one point. Started to rain at the end. Headed for RIP bar to escape the rain. Now the sun is out while waiting for Underoath
From Tampa. Rain again.
Sully Erna the lead singer founded the Scars foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. Sully had faced an overwhelming number of fellow artists and friends who had committed suicide over the past few years.
The band is unforgettable, something different. Loved the two drum kits which came on for a short period, enjoyed this band. No rain!!
Lots of vikings, horns, fighting and fire. Swedish band who are named after the volcano in the Lord of the Rings. (And yes, I do know; real Vikings did not have horns on their helmets.)
Lamb of God
Richmond, Virginia. Great circles and crowd surfing. Left area for a break, so lost my position on the side rail. Still managed to get quite near it.
The Smashing Pumpkins
Had a strange set with three inflatable dolls.
Tool were a revelation, never played their music in the past. It is now something I will listen to constantly. The images on the set were bizarre, but fun. There were no projections of the band, so if you were far back you would never have seen them.
Picked up some chips on the way home to Morrison.
Monday morning I was away at around 7.30, no issues driving out. On arriving home, R screamed at the state of my nose (not to mention my clothes).
Rosemary and I, with Julie and Ian, visited London to see a matinee performance of the play “Pictures of Dorian Gray”. This was a new production and starred a local actor, Stanton Wright, who was playing Dorian Gray. The cast swap roles around, so in the evening show, Stanton would be playing someone else, hence the title “Pictures of Dorian Gray”. The play was being shown in the Jermyn Street Theatre, a very small theatre with about 70 seats.
We arrived in London, and took a walk up Regent Street, thinking this looks like a larger version of Bicester Village, but with buses and cars. We stopped in Hamleys and spent an hour looking and playing with the toys. Back towards the theatre we stopped for lunch at Prezzo and then when into the theatre. We were re-seated from our allocated seats to a better set of seats.
Then it was time for the show to start. I quite enjoyed the play, I have not read any Oscar Wilde, but Rosemary had given me a hint as to story before we went.
I have become addicted to the YouTube channel Fully Charged with hosts Robert Llewellyn and Jonny Smith. They talk and review electric cars and discuss renewable energy. Yes, there are lots of reviews of cars, because so many manufacturers are now launching them. Robert desires to talk more about renewables for the home. One interesting recent review was about a Norwegian car and truck ferry which is now powered by electricity. When it enters port it plugs in and takes on electricity. Normally charging for 7-9 minutes.
So today we went to Silverstone to see the show. Lots of cars on show, as well as solar panels, batteries and wind generators to power your home. There were talks, which I didn’t go to, but probably should have done. Well, we did see the opening talk by the Fully Charged team, and then an interview with a design person from the company Rivian, which is launching a super pickup truck which is on my want list.
The day was very wet, so the outside stands had to be visited in the dry spells. I did get into a BMW i8 which was a lovely car. Managed to find the correct buttons to get out, and haul my self out with the aid of a handle on the gullwing doors. R said I could not have one. I also tried the electric scooters. Really fun to whizz along, but not practical where we live with the huge Buckinghamshire potholes.
We left the show, and rode back to the carpark in a Tesla S. The Tesla Owners Club had provided 150 cars with their drivers to ferry visitors between the carpark and the show. Not an inconsiderable distance. Money was thrown into a charity bucket.