Ten Acts You Should See at Glastonbury 2014

Glastonbury, the greatest music festival on Earth. It's an undeniable fact. I'm excited to be making my return after a three year absence (one fallow year, one year I couldn't get the time off work and one year I decided to head elsewhere - fool that I am).

It's less than a week until the gates open and I cannot wait. On this extended blog post I'll give a few tips, some musical and a few general ones about how I think you can get the best out of your weekend. I'm not claiming to be a Glasto expert, I've been five times, others I know have been countless more...

The first and most important thing to tell any newbies is to pack properly, take wet and dry, warm and cold clothes and wellies, definitely take wellies. Definitely. No matter what the forecast is. If you don't use them, it's better than not having them and needing them. A little bit of rain and the ground turns to slush. The other essential thing to mention is respect, and although it's something that perhaps shouldn't need mentioning, photographs of the aftermath show that it does. Respect those you are camping around, everyone you are walking past and respect the festival. As tempting as it may be (for some) if the weather is especially bad, leaving your rubbish littered all over the farm and your tent erected gives someone a huge clean-up task after you've gone home. It take each of us ten minutes to ensure we leave the ground we pitch in as we found it, show some consideration.

If you are anything like me, you've not actually looked too much into the line-up yet, I think it pays to leave your daily plan not too rigid, at Glastonbury things are never quite simple. Packing in a dozen acts over the day is easily possible but if you plan on seeing one act at the John Peel and then another five minutes later at The Park and then the same again at The Acoustic Stage, think again. It's not going to happen. The festival is spread out through miles of land and getting from one stage to another, especially in packed crowds and even more so in mud, is a timely and energy sapping experience. My advice is to pick a handful of must see acts and then to enjoy yourself in-between, soak up some of the festival's unrivaled atmosphere, head to the Circus/Cabaret area or take a trip to the Green Fields and then perhaps stumble on something you've not even looked up in the programme. I say this about every festival too; take pen and paper, it never runs out, unlike the battery on your phone...

One of my 2010 highlights Mountain Man happened exactly that way, at an area I whole-heartedly recommend you to check out, The Crow's Nest. It's located at the very top of The Park, to the left of the big Glastonbury sign as you look at it, up the big hill, a haven of tranquility and fantastic secret sets awaits. I've seen the aforementioned Mountain Man play there, alongside Oh Land, Caitlin Rose, The Guillemots, Summer Camp and more. It's worth checking daily to see who is playing, I'm not sure some of the acts will be announced in advance (that is of course if there is live music this year, I hope so!).

Okay, enough rambling. Ten acts I've got highlighted to see over the weekend. I'm not going to write too much for a change...

Arcade Fire
The Pyramid Stage - Friday - 22.00 - 23.45

Let me start with the most obvious of all, Arcade Fire, who headline the main stage on the first evening and will mark the first time I've actually seen a headliner on the Pyramid Stage since 2007. This band will be worth the crowds. They are a phenomenal live band, their set is going to be an extraordinary release of shiver-inducing emotion full of sing-along anthems and euphoric energy. I'm somewhere in the crowd of the video I've included below, seven years ago... wow!

Lykke Li
John Peel Stage - Friday - 21.15 - 22.15

Thankfully Lykke Li is playing at one of the closest stage's to the Pyramid, the worst partial clash of the weekend see's her play just before Arcade Fire, I'll probably only stay for half her set. I saw her a couple of months back and as I just said, AF is unmissable but Lykke Li has produced one of my favourite releases of the year so for with I Never Learn and her live performance is a thunderbolt of perhaps unexpected joyous energy and propulsive rhythm. Expect to be dancing.

Courtney Barnett
The Park - Friday - 15.30 - 16.30
John Peel Stage - Saturday - 17.00 - 17.40

I think Courtney Barnett played about fifty sets at The Great Escape yet I managed to miss them all, thankfully she is playing two more at Glastonbury and I promise not to make the same mistake again, her set promising to be an intoxicating blend of intimate beauty and an expansive live sound that her studio recordings seldom hint at. It comes highly recommend and an afternoon slot at The Park should be the perfect setting.

Lana Del Rey
The Pyramid Stage - Saturday - 16.00 - 17.00

The last time I saw Lana Del Rey at the Hammersmith Apollo I felt like I was in the half-way house between a youth club and couples dinner. The noise the kids made was deafening throughout, they can't possibly have been enjoying the music, though perhaps the experience whilst at the back it was couples making out to "Video Games". Hopefully the audience at Glastonbury will be there to enjoy the entire set and not one track, after initially leaving myself out of the LDR argument Born to Die became my most-listened to and favourite album of 2012, the recently released Ultraviolence delivers darker, starker moods and beauty. It's going to be interesting to see how it is delivered live.

Smoke Fairies
Williams's Green - Saturday - 18.00 - 18.40

I'm anticipating me spending quite some time in William's Green next weekend, it's line-up is perhaps the most 'alternative' of all the stages, full of the smaller sort of bands who fill these pages, one such is Smoke Fairies who are a band with the perfect fit for a Glastonbury crowd and I'm expecting their set to deliver.

Manic Street Preachers
Other Stage - Saturday - 19.30 - 20.30

I have a great memory of seeing The Manics at Glasto, it was basically an hour long sing-along. I'm hoping it will be again - although I'm sure some die-hard fans are not - who doesn't want to be transported back to the nostalgia of Everything Must Go. Nina Persson is playing on Saturday as well - can we expect a reunion once again?

Dolly Parton
Pyramid Stage - Sunday - 16.20 - 17.30

I think my Dad would kill me if I didn't go and see Dolly Parton, I think you have to in any case. When else are you going to get the chance to see her? Expect tens of thousand of people swooning and even more singing along to "Jolene". It promises to be one of the 'I was there' moments of the entire weekend.

Only Girl
Avalon Cafe - Sunday - 18.30 - 19.30

It's good to see all the bands that made the Glastonbury Emerging Talent contest final find their way onto the final line-up in some form, I'll definitely be checking out a couple of them but the one I am most looking forward to is Only Girl, I'm perhaps a little biased after selecting her as one of my picks but what a vocal delivery on "Bittersweet".

St. Vincent
The Park Stage - Sunday - 19.30 - 20.30

Another somewhat predictable pick from me but seeing Annie Clark is essential. I'm loving the St Vincent album and how it transfers live too, a set that combines the rhythms and horns of the side-project with David Byrne with Annie's rockier guitar-wielding side. It's a match made in heaven.

London Grammar
John Peel Stage - Sunday - 22.15 - 23.15

It's quite incredible that London Grammar are headlining one of the recognised stages at Glastonbury a little more than eighteen months after they started. Their rise has been meteoric but it's hardly surprising once you give the band a listen, soaring, anthemic, beautiful. Expect a transfixed audience and a spectacular conclusion to the weekend.