Festival Frolics: Happy Birthday Glastonbury.

With a population of almost three times that of Bury and infinitely more culturally relevant than Chaucer’s tales of Canterbury pilgrimage, the return of The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Somerset’s largest settlement (if only for a single week in fifty-two) is forever heralded as the be-all and end-all of grubby weekends in fields. Whether it be clenching nostrils whilst gaping down into a mire of human excrement, wobbling around in giddy awe at one of Boy George’s seemingly endless cabaret cover shows or attempting to contain a mouthful of warm cider as the bubbles ping about cheek lining ferociously, a Worthy Farm hoedown is one quite unlike any other and 40 years on, there’s a little something worth celebrating. Linguistically challenged Yanks oft refer to Mr. Eavis’ annual knees-up as Glastonberry. Obviously not conventionally a fruit form, were the festival a berry, whilst perhaps not the most nutritious, it’d be as life-enriching as a Waterloo Sunset over and beyond the tip of the Pyramid Stage. 40 years down the line, ferment it and you wind up with something rather vintage, as intoxicating as an afternoon spent with your gullet superglued to the infamous teats of the cider bus barrels: Glastonbury 2010. So without further ado, with canvases hauled, Stevie in the Blight and feeling alright, and the Friesians temporarily deported and checked into the Mootel let us begin our cascade into the warped marvels of hedonistic equilibrium in the wild, woolly and wired nooks and crannies of deepest, darkest west country.

With more stages than Tesco currently has unwanted England car flags in stock nationwide, aside from a handful of arenas so monumental they’d integrate quite idyllically into the South Bank skyline (the gargantuan stature of Emperor Eavis’ Pyramid defies belief year after year) even the hardiest, crustiest of Glastonbury veterans require an incubation period of a day or two merely to get a foothold into some vague form of orientation, especially given the rejigging and rebranding of an area or two this year. Thursday night sees and hears the garage clicks and UK funky drops of Joy Orbison’s dubstep coalescence, an aforementioned Boy George karaoke slot and Jamie xx spin half an independent record store, climaxing with his superlative redemption of Florence’s hideous desecration of The Source’s You Got The Love, all under one roof. Sanity frays as heads sway, and it’s just begun.

Coincidentally, regardless of Glastonbury’s birthday festivities, 2010 may well be remembered primarily as the year of the cameo and secondarily, as the year of the xx. Whether it be Shakira giving Islands the once-over, Jamie nodding lethargically in the NYC Downlow whilst buxom blokes strut about like nymphomaniacal giraffes in the early hours of Sunday, or slumping in the wings of The Park to witness nigh on every other act, the South London trio are irrevocably ubiquitous.

Whilst the muddied slurries that consistently collect almost as much front page fodder as the headliners themselves are practically synonymous with Glastonbury in this day and age, not a single drop of rain flops from the heavens all weekend although the site gets pretty dusty, as flip flopping feet are caked in a perpetually sepia hue. Temperatures in the UV bright lights of day invoke many a case of sunstroke, whilst the John Peel Stage becomes progressively more mercurial, almost infernal throughout the weekend. It seems the British fascination with the weather truly thrives at Glastonbury and come torrential three-day thunderstorm or oven-recess Heatwave™, whatever the roulette wheel in the heavens lands on it merits lament.