Sunday, 29 June 2014

Memories of Glastonbury: 1995

Glastonbury’s 25th Anniversary, at the time its biggest ever. It was also to be my last. Once again it was hot, hot hot. I blagged a free ticket from a local trader who was taking solar-powered showers to the festival in return for a feature in the paper. Probably highly unethical and completely against my employer’s code of conduct, but needs must. I was offered a seat in a minibus with some of the local rugby players. They weren’t my usual crowd and I was a little wary of spending the weekend with them. As it turned out though, it was one of the most hilarious weekends I’ve ever had. Each morning we’d fetch cider from our stash in the minibus. We nearly got mugged on one such trip before the biggest, scariest member of our party, Dave, sent the dirty scabbers packing. It was Dave who also built a perimeter fence around our cluster of tents and patrolled it each night with a big stick over his shoulder, like a sentry guard outside Buckingham Palace. Anyone who dared to step into our territory soon had a burly rugby player wielding a big stick marching towards them shouting “Oi oi, get off my land.” 

Britpop was at its height in 1995, the line-up on the NME stage paid testament to this, though the Main Stage also hosted a few of the scene’s biggest names:

PJ Harvey
My only previous live encounter with PJ Harvey was at Reading in 1992, when PJ Harvey was the name of the whole band. By 1995, the band had split but Polly continued under the same moniker (it was her name, after all), and she was now on her third album, ‘To Bring You My Love’. And she was A-MAAAAAAAAAA-ZING! Resplendent in a fluorescent pink catsuit, with lashings of eye make-up and lipstick, her performance was confident, striking and not just a little bizarre. Only two oldies were aired, the rest was new material - so no safe hits set for Polly. ‘To Bring You My Love’ was an experimental record, reminiscent of some of Kate Bush’s finest work, and this came through on stage. You wonder in fact just how much Polly had studied Kate around this time. It was an unforgettable show.


Meet Ze Monsta [live] – PJ Harvey (from ‘Live At Glastonbury’ bootleg)

John Otway
The man who’s famous for not being famous. Although I had heard of John Otway, I had never heard any of his music. I decided to catch his set in the Acoustic Tent on the recommendation of one of my punk friends. I wasn’t disappointed; on the contrary, I was blown away. John Otway was no spring chicken (41), but he had more energy on that stage than pretty much anyone else I saw that weekend. He would perform forward rolls whilst playing guitar and not miss a single note! During Headbutt he would headbutt his mic – hard! And of course, there was also his famous take on House of the Rising Sun, with full audience participation. He’s still going strong (I'm seeing him in September, in fact) and every bit as good as he was in 1995. A movie has even been made about him!


House Of The Rising Sun [live] – John Otway (from ‘Greatest Hits’)

Nowt I can add to what’s already been written numerous times about this show. It was undoubtedly the show that turned Jarvis into a bonafide star, but it may never have been - Pulp only stepped in as last-minute replacements for the newly defunct Stone Roses. What a stroke of luck for band and audience alike. I was there, at the front, and it was a ‘wow’ moment. If Common People had given them a mainstream audience, it was this live performance that truly won the hearts and minds of everyone who saw it. They also debuted their next single, Sorted For E's And Whizz, which pretty much summed up the event and the time. That, more than anything, confirmed Pulp was the most relevant band around at that moment. A remarkable performance that more than deserves its place in Glastonbury folklore.


Sorted For E's And Whizz [live] – Pulp (from ‘Live At Glastonbury’ bootleg)

I liken Oasis at Glasto in ’95 to Nirvana at Reading in ’92 – there certainly are parallels there. Both had played the same respective festivals the previous year on the second stage halfway down the billing. In the 12 months that followed, each band became absolutely massive and were booked as Main Stage headliners. Both shows were hotly anticipated and much hyped. Both were also raved about afterwards with the words “legendary”, “historical” and “unforgettable” being bandied around like they were the only three adjectives in the English language. Yet, like with Nirvana at Reading ’92, I felt rather underwhelmed. Oasis weren’t bad – on the contrary, they were very good – but they were definitely outdone by PJ Harvey, Pulp and even John Otway in my book.


Supersonic [live] – Oasis (from ‘Live At Glastonbury’ bootleg)

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