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My Glastonbury 2013 review…

Glastonbury is commonly regarded as the world’s biggest and best festival for lots of reasons, but the one reason that stands out for me is the freedom it offers festival-goers to enjoy the weekend however they choose to. Other festivals pack you into designated areas and have a limited amount of stages and options. At Glastonbury, once you’re in you can go and do what you want whenever you want – and as well as a huge amount of different stages and music acts, there’s a ridiculous amount of other entertainment to be found in areas like Shangri-La and Arcadia.

For me, the focus of Glastonbury 2013 was very much on the bands on show – and now I’ve had time to digest it all, here’s an overview of Glastonbury from my perspective…

My festival highlight
I spent most of Saturday telling just about everyone I met that I don’t really like The Rolling Stones. For whatever reason, I’ve never been much of a fan. But as there were no other headliners on Saturday that piqued my interest I found myself wrestling my way to the Pyramid Stage like everyone else – and I’m glad I made the effort. Musically I thought the Stones were fairly average, but the sheer spectacle of being amongst 100,000 people rammed into a field – with flares, fireworks and a scrap-metal Phoenix adding to the atmosphere – was the kind of festival experience that makes you forget your aching feet and sunburnt face!
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Best performance
If anyone at The Other Stage at 9pm on Friday had any doubts about Foals’ arena rock pretensions, they were surely swayed by a performance that was as intense as it was professional. Holy Fire tracks like ‘Inhaler’ and ‘My Number’ really stand out when performed live, and what Yannis may lack in vocal skills he more than makes up for in energy and showmanship.
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Worst performance
The Other Stage is notoriously bad for sound, and on Friday the wind was a bit strong – but that’s still no excuse for Beady Eye’s flat, one-dimensional performance. They were the big ‘TBA’ of the festival, and they blew it with a show that even they didn’t look interested in.

Best song
As soon as Johnny Marr broke out ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, there was only going to be one winner of this in my mind. An awesome Glastonbury moment – just listen to the crowd throughout this…

Best new song
Jake Bugg’s performance on the Pyramid stage was one of my personal highlights of the festival, and showed that he has the potential to become absolutely huge in the next few years. All that will depend on his next album though, and the two new songs he performed sounded more than promising – with a more expansive and confident approach.
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Best newcomer
I’ve based this on bands that don’t have an album out yet, and of all the bands I saw over the weekend (see below) I think Haim and Swim Deep are the only ones that fit that criteria. For me, B-town 90’s revivalists Swim Deep were head, shoulders and toes above Haim.

Best rumour
The only thing more prevalent around Glastonbury than the sound of nitrous oxide cartridges being fired into balloons were the constant rumours. Daft Punk are playing with Chic! Dolly Parton is performing with Kenny Rogers! Thom Yorke is DJ-ing here, there and everywhere! The ‘David Bowie on the John Peel Stage’ rumour sparked by the Guardian live blog on Saturday was the best for pure excitement and false hope.

Biggest surprise
For a band I can usually take or leave, The Smashing Pumpkins at The Other Stage on Sunday blew me away. As a friend said, their set ‘took you on a journey’. He was a bit messy by then, obviously, but he had a point…
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Best find
None of the headliners on Sunday night appealed to me (although I did catch a lot of The xx who sounded brilliant) so I found myself checking out blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr at the Avalon stage. He was so good I’ve already made a Spotify playlist of his albums!

Biggest disappointment
Probably the one band I was looking forward to seeing the most was Tame Impala, but they were let down massively by a slot on The Other Stage. Their sound relies on texture and nuance, which was never going to carry over the windswept open plains in front of The Other Stage.
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Biggest regret
Friday night was a nightmare for me, having to choose between Arctic Monkeys, The Horrors, Crystal Castles and Portishead. In the end I plumped for The Horrors (who were predictably brilliant), but in hindsight I should have been thinking about Chic feat. Nile Rodgers above all the other Friday headliners. Everyone who saw them said they were amazing, and it was the first set I watched when I got back.
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Who I watched…

Friday:
Beady Eye
Swim Deep
Haim
Jake Bugg
Tame Impala
Foals
The Horrors

Saturday:
Jagwar Ma
Ed Harcourt
Johnny Marr
Savages
The Rolling Stones

Sunday:
First Aid Kit
Tim Burgess
Tom Odell
Editors
The Smashing Pumpkins
Gary Clark Jr
The xx

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