Glastonbury Review 2011 - Friday

The start of my belated Glastonbury review - I needed some time to recover!

Unlike perhaps 95% of the 175 thousand punters who now go through Glastonbury's doors (surely too many) I arrive early on Thursday and spend the first few hours doing undoubtedly the worst thing of the weekend, walking (and walking) with a heavy bag and camping gear finding a suitable place to pitch up. The less said about the better, I spend most of the day wandering around the green fields having a couple of drinks and enjoying an extended afternoon's rest - after the rain of Wednesday the walkway's are pretty muddy and wellies are essential though at my campsite the ground is okay to enjoy some sun. Anyway, that's all a bit boring, this is neither a weather, nor a camping blog. I do meet a few bloggers on Thursday afternoon, hello again to them!

The music starts for me on Friday morning at the place where I will watch most of my acts, The Park. Group Love aren't my thing, their summery, happy music wins over a pretty large midday audience but I move after three tracks to the BBC Introducing stage and see Deep Cut. Musically I'm impressed, their tracks are definitely the sort of thing I'm into but perhaps nerves take the better of the lead singer who fails to engage the audience between the tracks, it's not disappointing but it could have been better.

A short walk next to see Summer Camp at the renamed Oxlyers in West - Glastonbury was one stage down this year (I for one missed the Queen's Head Stage) and during the day some 'indie' bands played in one of the dance tents - Summer Camp are great, Elizabeth's swooning vocals, Jeremy's keys and guitars and for the first time I've seen, a live drummer win over a pretty impressively large early afternoon audience. A combination of sweet and powerful songs with an overwhelming vibe of summer sunshine, just what the overcast day needed. Closure "I Want You" stands out ahead of earlier singles "Ghost Train" and "Round The Moon".

A walk back to The Park area next, where I'll remain for the rest of the day (it might not be too long a distance if you took away all the punters, but through the crows and mud I decided a trip back from the Park to the BBC intro stage and all the way back again is too much, so later in the day unfortunately miss Spotlight Kid). One of my most anticipated acts of the weekend is next, Caitlin Rose.

Caitlin is perhaps more subdued than normal on the big stage at the start of her performance but before long her charm and humour win over the stage and then of course there are her songs. The stomping "Spare Me" and "Shanghai Cigarettes" especially work well and even though it's now raining it's still goosebumps as she closes on "Sinful Wishing Well", rich, warm and utterly wonderful. Caitlin's first show of the festival ends, thankfully I'll see her again tomorrow.

Next I take my first walk up to The Crow's Nest - After seeing Mountain Man here last year and being blown away I knew I'd be spending quite a bit of time here. It's probably the highest and most intimate setting of the entire festival situated at the (very) top of The Park hill and this year it's even better than I could have hoped. I end up seeing seven or eight bands here over the weekend.

The first is an acoustic duo show of Summer Camp, seeing them for the second time in two hours, this time in much more intimate setting which allows them to relax a little and entertain the crowd. The highlight is definitely at the end when after some prompting from Elizabeth, Jeremy says he'll cover a song from the soon to be 'Special Guests' Radiohead. He plays "Karma Police" and it's pretty brilliant.

Next back down the hill for Warpaint who play to the largest crowd of the day so far on the main stage, their hour long performance is the best I'd seen them for a while, the sound was brilliant which helps, the girls really need good sound (it wasn't too great at Primavera) and their psychedelic tinged extended guitar meandering jams are perfect. Their stunning vocal harmonies are great and of course, as I've said every time I see them, Stella steals the show. The rain even holds off for most of the set, that's what you call a Brucie Bonus.

My thighs get more of a work-out as I climb back to the Crow's Nest and catch Alice Gold play the tail end of her set. Her acoustic guitar numbers are pretty good and I remind myself to check out her material when I get home. I take some shelter from the increasingly wet weather and admire the view of the site, it's pretty darn impressive as the crowds assemble for the not so secret Radiohead set about to happen. Here's a view from outside:

I however prefer to stay in The Crow's Nest and watch Oh Land play to a ridiculously small number of people (it's not her fault she clashes with Radiohead) and it's great too. Really, really great. Pop tinged electronic music with a stunning beautiful voice and look, she says this is only a half-set but it sounds wonderful. "White Nights" excels. I even recorded on my crappy camera - my good camera's video broke after the two attempts above! Watch.

Walking (slowly) down the hill I hear Thom and co playing a track or so as streams of people appear to be leaving after realising they were to be treated to a set containing newer material and not a 'greatest hits' set. I head to The Rabbit Hole and come across Beth Rowley. Her bluesy, gospel voice is quite delicious. I'd not come across her before and I certainly enjoy her set. Compelling and beautiful, she mentions writing some new material for a forthcoming album and it'll certainly one I'll be checking out.

I stay to catch another set by Oh Land, this time her full setup and it's even better than the earlier one. There are a dozen or so younger people in the crowd dancing at the front and I do my best not to join in - I'm too old for that sort of thing. I'm pretty sure most of the 150 or so people in tent will have all made a mental note to check out the Danish star. After seeing her play two extremely intimate sets I'm shocked when I get home to find she has seventy six thousand fans on facebook. The UK it seems is way behind with Oh Land. Given the quality of her shows this will change, "White Nights" and "Wolf & I" are gorgeous, brilliant and then their is "Sun of a Gun" which is a monster pop hit.

Crystal Castles end my day. They come on stage late, over half an hour late. I'm not sure if it's their fault or if the stage is overrunning due to the Radiohead set earlier but I manage to get close to the front and enjoy the set a lot more than I expected to. The couple of beers I have whilst standing around in the rain might well help. Even without Robert Smith to lend a hand with the vocals my highlight is "Not In Love". Alice is pretty well behaved, she heads into the crowd a couple of times but I'm sure the security guards were anticipated more of a work-out. The set is cut short due to the overrun, it's a good time to call an end to the first nights proceedings. A highly enjoyable first day of the main festival. Now if only the weather could improve.

Oh Land - White Nights
I Want You by Summer Camp
Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes