by / June 30th, 2008 /

Glastonbury: Diamonds, Punchups and Hip-Hop


Jay-Z at Glastonbury – by the BBC.

It’s easy to forget what a spectacle Glasto is. Before this year’s festival, all the talk was about the line-up but as Phil pointed out recently, Glastonbury is about so much more than the that. It’s much more than a music festival. For the first time ever it failed to sell out, and the “controversy” of a hip-hop headliner in Jay-Z only highlighted the prejudices of traditional festivalgoers expecting the Saturday headliner to be a little bit more…white.

As it happens, a side-by-side study of Friday and Saturday night headliners leaves no doubt about the decision. Friday night saw the Kings of Leon deliver a greatest hits with no panache, sincerity or engagement. It was very white and a very average performance. The band looked listless throughout. Where was the energy? Just because a band are on a big stage in front of thousands, it does not mean the performance is going to be remembered for years as BBC’s presenters repeatedly extolled after nearly every main stage performance.

In contrast Jay-Z took all the criticism in his stride and delivered a much more entertaining and unique show. The kind of show that Glastonbury should be known for. Starting with a rather cheeky rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ following Noel Gallagher’s comments about his unsuitability as a headliner, it was the clear highlight especially when it was followed with the only tune that could have proceeded it – ’99 Problems’ spliced with AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’.

Jigga demonstrated himself as a supreme showman with his set and despite playing a few poor songs in his canon, he was more than able to hold his own. At one point, he looked like he was choking tears behind his glasses when he said something along the lines of “I thought none y’all wanted me.” I think it was very clear by the triumphant ending, he was wanted.

The BBC have always made the effort to highlight the characters occupying the nether-regions of Worthy Farm but for the armchair enthusiast, a variety of coverage was distinctly lacking. The coverage repeatedly showed the same limited number of artists on rotation and without the red button option, it was quite tedious at times. Thankfully the BBC Glasto site goes some way to rectifying the problem.

Sunday’s headliners The Verve exceeded expectations albeit ten years later than expected. The closing one-two punch of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and the anthemic new single ‘Love is Noise’ delivered a suitably emotional finale, especially with the band members clearly relishing every moment.

What’s to be said about Amy Winehouse’s performance? The girl looked ragged, off her head and a little bit unhinged. Plus, she dances like a skeletal 85 year old granny. Very strange performance. And that’s not even mentioning the incident where she took a swipe at the person in the front row. Give us Duffy’s performance anyday.

Elsewhere we’ve collated some video highlights for y’all to enjoy a second time round.

OK, tell us, what did we miss?

  • Gav

    Foals + Brass = yes please.
    If they had that for the picnic twould be amazing.

  • 99Bottles

    you missed the intro video played before Jay-Z came on and did Wonderwall.
    It was incredible. Apparently he bought the rights to the audio of the interview where Noel Gallagher ‘ain’t havin’ ‘ip ‘op at glastonbury’ and played it – spliced with footage of various world leaders, to make it look like they had opinions on the matter. It included Boris Johnson. It was all very odd, but got the crowd hyped up beyond belief.
    Cant find the footage anywhere on the beeb site unfortunately.

  • Phil

    They couldn’t show it but…

  • Joe

    Why is Foals – Cassius always just woeful live.

  • Sean Donegan

    fair play to jay z, i am more of a Nas man myself but you gotta admire his bottle in pulling of the show successfully in the face of all the criticism. He certainly ain’t no mug.

  • bob

    any footage of ilya K at glasto?

  • it did sell out by the time the music all started

    and why is all the attention on the main stage, there are loads of other stages where you can see whatever band you like.

    this year was my first time to miss the festival in 5 festivals, very sad weekend for me….

  • AstonishingSodApe

    Of course Black Kids were “not awesome”! They’re one of the worst bands I’ve ever heard!

    And where the hell was Leonard Cohen amidst all the coverage? I was away and taped 10 hours of highlights, got back, watched them all and saw NO Leonard Cohen! Saw live bits on Sunday too, along with a few hours of red-button “different stage” action and didn’t see any of his set. Seriously, can someone explain this? Without being facetious?

    How on earth does Neil Diamond take precedence over Leonard Cohen? Half expected Tony Christie and Bagatelle to join him towards the end.

    I’ve had my fill of mediocre space-fillers like Eddy Grant, Mark Ronson and Goldfrapp (YAWN) being used to pad out the live and highlights packages. Why no coverage (still) of the Glade stage? I mean, Squarepusher’s been on the Culture Show, surely he’s big enough to squeeze one song in? And then the usual spiel of “the amazing thing about Glastonbury is the random things you find”, followed by The Pigeon Detectives, The Wombats or other such drivel.


    (although there was some good stuff, like Crystal Castles, Manu Chao, some of Jay-Z and John Mayer’s solo on “Gravity”)

  • Leonard Cohen declined to be filmed for TV or recorded for radio. Jo Whiley said it at one point I think. It’s on the BBC site too under his listing. Pity. The footage on youtube looks amazing.