:: The Prodigy :: Bat For Lashes :: Bon Iver :: Linda Lewis :: Tom Jones :: Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, 28-06-09
Tiredness after so many late nights, getting to bed at 4 or so and up before 9, had kicked in but this was the last day and the last chance to hammer it before heading back to real life. A slow start had us at Jazz World (when will they ever put some jazz on?!) relaxing to the unchallenging but listenable vocals of British soul singer LINDA LEWIS. Just listening to her voice (imagine Duffy but much better and less annoying) you’d swear she was 20 but she’s nearly three times that age, having worked with Bowie (backing vocals on Aladdin Sane) and Van Morrison in her time. A pleasant way to start the afternoon.
I confess I’d been looking forward to the designated ‘oldie’ slot of the afternoon - TOM JONES. Last year it had been the dreadful Neil Diamond and was best avoided; this year it was a big party. You think you only know a few songs but it turns out you know almost all of them. A real charmer, he knows how to work the crowd and his soaring voice must have filled the entire farm. Tremendous entertainment.
A short time later we arrived at the Other Stage for the rest of the night. And I witnessed the best back-to-back performances of the weekend. First up was the staggeringly talented Natasha Khan and her band BAT FOR LASHES. More accessible than Kate Bush and not as weird as Bjork she surely has a long career ahead of her, producing magical music. Beautiful songs accompanied by elfin magnetism.
As with Bat For Lashes, the next act were also a solo project, except in name since the leader is the singer and songwriter. Reminding me of Richard Thompson and Tim Buckley came the stand out non-headline performance of the weekend - BON IVER. Leader Justin Vernon wrote the first record in a remote cabin in wintry Wisconsin, his hometown, recovering from serious illness and heartbreak. The crowd felt every sinew of passion and pain as every torn falsetto seared right into you as he told tales of love and loss. It was a truly extraordinary.
Having found Glasvegas to be the emperor’s new clothes the year before we gave them a miss and prepared for the final show. I had been on the fence about it, whether to subject myself to the assault of THE PRODIGY, who I had seen live once before, or take in Blur for the first time. I knew the back catalogues of both bands well so it was just a straight choice. In the end, the Oasis fan in me took over and I thought: fuck Blur. I’ll regret not seeing the Prodigy but I won’t regret not seeing the Essex art-school boys. I needed a big finish to the weekend. And thus I let the Prodigy, also from Essex as it happens, hit me over the head.
No-one does what they do as well as them, of that there’s no doubt. As powerful, and no doubt illegal, flares were set off during Firestarter and the crowd bounced with all the energy they had left I knew I had made the right choice. Without the genius of Howlett they are just a pair of panto villains shouting at you but they were irresistible. And then it was over for another year, as the mud dried, the tents were left in the fields and the long journey home began.
World’s On Fire/Breathe/Omen/Their Law/Poison/Warrior’s Dance/Firestarter/Run With The Wolves/Voodoo People/Comanche/Omen (reprise)/Invaders Must Die/Diesel Power/Smack My Bitch Up/Take Me To The Hospital/Out Of Space