It actually seems like we were a little bit spoilt this year. British summer music festivals aren’t supposed to go without a hitch, but 2013 lacked any real washouts, both in terms of the weather and performances, and there were relatively few real diva strops and piss pelting incidents to report. What’s going on? Bestival didn’t flood, the Stones didn’t sulk and Primal Scream didn’t verbally abuse the crowds.
Always endeavouring to bring you the most comprehensive festival news and reviews on the web however, this PAAM festival software blog will bring you a small slice of the many highs and the few lows of the 2013 festival fun.
Glastonbury Festival back with a bang
So, to kick off, the obvious high this year was the return of Glastonbury Festival. The 2012 Olympics meant that the organisers of Britain’s biggest festival could take a well earned break last year and blame it on a shortage of policemen and portable loos.
Headlining in 2013 were the Rolling Stones; if it wasn’t shoved down our throats by organisers and the press every five minutes, it would have been hard to believe these aging rock gods had never performed at Glastonbury before.
Thankfully, all the rumours about Sir Mick’s spat with the BBC over television rights had absolutely no impact on the performance, which was as stellar as could be expected. A two-hour set of 20 songs was kicked off with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, Mick pranced and prowled in a green-sequined jacket like only Mick can, and even Charlie Watts (who previously said in no uncertain terms that festivals aren’t his thing) appeared to be thoroughly enjoying himself. The Pyramid stage was modified with three catwalks, allowing Mick to thrust his snake-hips and pout his fish-lips to all angles of the adoring crowd.
Rumours were rife that various guest stars would be making an appearance, but other than former Stone’s guitarist Mick Taylor, who turned up for a magical Midnight Rambler rendition, it was a night for the band. And who needs Adele or Springsteen when you’ve got Jagger and the boys at full tilt?
The encore of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ rounded off one of the most memorable Glastonbury sets ever. Big boss Eavis couldn’t have said it better: “the high spot of 43 years of Glastonbury… they finally did it, and it was fantastic. My God, did they deliver!”
Others that definitely didn’t disappoint at Glastonbury
Other highlights of Glastonbury 2013 included The Arctic Monkeys, who recovered from a lack-lustre 2007 appearance to well and truly earn their Glastonbury stripes this year. Bobbie Gillespie’s neon-pink suit was also a clear crowd pleaser, and although Primal Scream were much better behaved than they were in 2005 (when Gillespie allegedly made Nazi salutes during ‘Swastika Eyes’), the feisty frontman did manage a: “Take acid! Take speed! Take ecstasy!” yell that proved the Primals still know how to court controversy.
Mixed reviews of Kraftwerk comeback
Both the audience and critic reviews of Kraftwerk’s performance at Latitude Festival were a bit of a mixed bag; some call it disappointing while others maintain it was ‘masterful’. Easily the most anticipated act on the Latitude Festival line-up, the performance should have been an outright success.
The 3D laser show was somewhat lost in the open air of the festival, with only those positioned dead centre and standing above 6’2″ getting anything more than neck ache and frustration from it. It was also pretty eerie looking back into a crowd with everyone routed to the spot and wearing 3D glasses.
Perhaps the melancholic refrains of the godfathers of electro were lost on younger members of the audience, as their seemed to be a real age divide between those who loved and hated the gig. Although Kraftwerk are still superb and their influence on the world of music undeniable, perhaps four aging men standing austerely at their keyboards is just not what you need at a festival.
It pains us to say it, but there are younger, more vibrant acts aching to inject what Kraftwerk has taught them into the energy of a crowd. There was nothing wrong with what the boys did, it just didn’t electrify, and if Kraftwerk aren’t sticking a few volts of electricity into the crowd, then are they doing their job properly? On a high note however, Bobby Womack, who’s soulful genius was exhibited earlier in the day, held up his end for the older artists
Fatboy Slim cooks up a storm at Bestival
Bestival 2013 had a fabulous year thanks to an interesting mix of new acts and festival vets. Representing the latter, Fatboy Slim certainly didn’t disappoint as he took to the Main Stage to celebrate the festival’s 10th year (and his 50th!). A hour-and-a-half of blistering beats and hectic house was complemented by fireworks, lasers and a nostalgic big screen montage of Bestivals past. Joining Norman Cook on the piano for a special orchestral and choir rendition of ‘Praise You’ was festival founder Rob da Bank, who helped close the set with a megamix of club classic ‘Rockafella Skank’ and the Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Nuff said!
The amount of trash being left behind was obviously…rubbish
Summer festivals are never the tidiest, or cleanest, of places. People hardly ever rock up for the spa-like showers or the quality of the toilets, but the sheer amount of junk being left behind seems to be getting worse. The clean-up after Glastonbury took six-weeks this year, as hundreds of litter pickers walked around the site filling endless rubbish bags, and tractors trawled the fields with metallic strips picking up tent pegs, beer cans and no doubt a whole lot of loose change (silver lining!).
It was just a tad disappointing to see that thousands of tents had been left standing because it was apparently too much trouble to roll them up and pack them away for next year, or donate to one of the many local groups and charities who work with the festivals. We know stuffing muddy tarp into a reverse Tardis is the last thing you want to do on the Monday morning, but it really is just lazy not to even try.
Stone Roses adored at the Isle of Wight Festival
The Stones Roses have a checkered festival past, and the reformation of bands as volatile as these is not always a recipe for success. However, at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival the boys were on sparkling form.
Ian Brown delivered on the vocals and John Squire proved that he can still produce stinging guitar riffs. And the rhythms being chopped out by Reni and Mani had the crowd going wild two-and-a-half decades on from the release of the first album.
But most importantly, the Manc quartet swallowed their pride and played the songs everybody wanted to hear. The set list was from the band’s self-titled first album and Second Coming, rather than an hour of solo material that, let’s face it, no-one really cares about (sorry Ian).
Eminem and Beyonce get testy about the telly
Undeniably the most anticipated act at the Reading Festival and Leeds Festival this year was rap bad boy Eminem. Unfortunately for fans unable to make Reading on the Saturday who had planned to stay in and watch his performance on the box however, an announcement on Twitter well and truly dashed their hopes.
Organisers confirmed the rapper had asked for his set not to be broadcast, prompting Twitter to erupt with the outrage. However, the ire didn’t end there, as many who paid to see Slim in the flesh were furious that he appeared to mime throughout the 90-minute set.
However, to keep some balance, although he may well have been using a backing track, many Tweets maintained Mr Mathers definitely wasn’t miming. Melvin Benn also assuredly refuted claims that Eminem was miming in a typically frank interview with the NME!
Beyonce was also criticised a week earlier for refusing to allow her V Festival set to be broadcast.
Have your say about 2013 festivals
We have listed just a few of the highs and lows at this year’s summer music festivals, but you too can have your say via the UK Festival Awards.
Numerous categories are up for grabs, including Headline Performance of the Year, Best Breakthrough Artist, Anthem of the Summer, and, of course, Best Toilets. Online voting is now open, so make sure the results reflect your experience. The awards ceremony will take place at London’s Roundhouse on Monday 2 December.