Festival Review: Glastonbury Festival 2011 – Part Four: Saturday (25.06.11)

  • Simon Clark
  • July 8, 2011
  • Comments Off on Festival Review: Glastonbury Festival 2011 – Part Four: Saturday (25.06.11)

Saturday brought with it the prospect of better weather and another day chock full of great entertainment and fantastic music. Heading across to the Acoustic Stage for rising folk star Benjamin Francis Leftwich (pictured below) I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day. Leftwich managed to draw a sizeable crowd given the fact he was first on and on a stage which doesn’t always see the biggest crowds.

With the crowd initially being kept out due to a lack of stewards, the ensuing rush to the stage as Leftwich wandered on really highlights the esteem in which his fans hold him. Sublime vocals and striking guitar work are the main feature of the set, Leftwich has some of the best vocals out of those currently on the folk scene. His lyrics are witty and full of insight, something which sets him apart from some of the singer-songwriters on the market. All in all a beautiful set which still remains one of my festival favourites.

It was then across to the Pyramid Stage, where I caught the tail end of Tame Impala‘s set (pictured below), the band being one of the few Australian bands on the bill this year. They drew what seemed to be a quite impressive crowd. Much like at Southbound earlier in the year, the band chose to play rather than talk a lot with the crowd, given the limited playing time normally allotted to bands at festivals this didn’t necessarily seem like a bad idea, though it may have left some within the crowd feeling less than engaged. The sound however on the Pyramid Stage was fantastic, with the band sounding perhaps the best I have heard them live.

Following on from Tame Imapala and returning to the festival were New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem (pictured in header). The band came out on stage to the strains of Bruce Springsteen’s Jungleland, which served for me to not only highlight the link between the two New Jersey bands, but also to in part commemorate the passing of Springsteen’s sax player Clarence Clemmons. From the moment they walked on stage to the moment they left, the band as a whole were fantastic and put in a performance that is certainly a contender for best of the weekend.

Front man Brian Fallon has certainly grown as a performer since I last saw him, and certainly since he was last at Glastonbury. He was completely engaging, working the crowd and looking very much like a man who was enjoying himself. The band mostly played tracks off their second album, with a particularly emotional and resonant “59 Sound” dedicated to Clarence, other than that they slipped a few tracks from their latest album Boxer, as well as few new ones to the great delight of fans in the audience.

It was then a trek across to the Park Stage for another set of American rockers, The Walkmen. With rumours already circulating about who the evening’s Special Guests were going to be, the Park Stage was already beginning to fill up, around two or three hours before the mystery band were due to take the stage. As such The Walkmen played to a sizeable crowd. They sounded great live, with a nice sort of early rock and roll edge to their sound. There were a few sing-along moments, proving that not everyone was killing time for later bands. Looking sharp in a suit and tie combo the band played a good all round set, but unfortunately it would be overshadowed by some of the later performances.

Next on the stage was Tame Impala, returning for their second set of the day. It was almost as if they couldn’t get on stage quick enough, taking to the stage earlier than planned, a rare occurrence at a festival. Without the intimacy the Pyramid Stage’s big screens afford the audience, the band’s reluctance to talk at any length to the audience meant there didn’t feel like there was any real connection between certain members of the audience who may not have necessarily been there to see the band. The band’s lovely psychy and distorted guitars offered the perfect accompaniment to the afternoon sunshine. Occasionally it felt as if the vocals were getting lost in the mix, though it could just have been that the sound didn’t travel all that well. All in all it was a good set, with “Desire Be Desire Go” being the real highlight.

Up next were the surprise guests, who to not many people’s surprise turned out to be Glastonbury legends Pulp back for their fourth appearance festival. By the point they walked on stage the Park Stage and the surrounding fields were absolutely packed out, with an estimated 30,000 people watching Jarvis and co play their hit laden set which drew upon the band’s long history at Glastonbury. Jarvis Cocker was his usual eccentric and charming self, great front man, he spent most of his time between songs chatting to the audience, handing out chocolates and generally just being incredibly likeable.

For me it was probably the best set of the festival, and was clearly one of those festival moments, the ones you remember years down the line. I mean there’s definitely something great about joining in with such a huge crowd for mass sing-alongs of the likes of “Disco 2000” and “Common People”. Singalongs, sunshine and great music, what more can you ask for. Plus, it’s not very often you can say you saw a gig Kate Moss was turned away from. Jarvis finished by saying he wouldn’t mind coming back for a fifth time, based on this performance there aren’t many who would say no to that prospect.

As you would expect getting 30,000 out from the Park Stage was no easy feat. I was initally planning on seeing Nick Lowe at nine, but by the time I had managed to get both out of the Park Stage area and down to the Acoustic Stage (the other side of the site) Lowe was unfortunately onto his last song before an encore. However, what I did hear sounded great, and he managed to draw a small but dedicated crowd. The sound was very reminicent of Johnny Cash. There was a real acoustic country rock sort of feel to it with Lowe on acoustic and at least one of his band members on upright bass. A great energetic end to the set.

Once again I wasn’t too fussed about seeing the evening’s headlining band, but with so much on offer you aren’t stuck for finding something else to see or do. In my case I headed back to the Bourbon Street stage for another performance by Londoner Marcus Bonfanti this time with band in tow, proving it’s amazing what a difference a band can make. Whereas before I felt he had a sort of country rock feel, the inclusion of the band immediately transformed the sound into some great swampy blues rock. A charismatic performer there was great chemistry between Bonfanti and his band, as well as with the audience, which was unfortunately small given that no doubt everyone was off watching Coldplay or The Chemical Brothers. Switching between a Resonator and a standard electric, Bonfanti worked through his repertoire of self penned songs. If you are into the blues, Bonfanti is someone I’d definitely recommend you check out.

Following on from Bonfanti and finishing off my Saturday night was the great Paddy Milner who put on a fantastic performance which was a real delight and a whole lot of fun to witness. With some stunning boogie woogie piano throughout Milner managed to create this great carnival and Mardi-Gras feel, transforming a tent in the middle of Somerset into a New Orleans bar. The atmosphere was fantastic with the majority of the crowd fully into the music, dancing away. Milner and his band were joined around midway through the set by Bonfanti, his guitar giving the mix a little added kick. Vocally Milner put in a great performance, but it was his piano playing that really grabbed my attention. A fantastic set and a fantastic way to top off a day of fantastic music.

Elsewhere at Glastonbury:

Coldplay return to Glastonbury to headline the Pyramid Stage for a set full of their hits as well as their recently released new song. Warming the crowd up beforehand were Elbow a band fast becoming festival favourites.Aloe Blacc, Janelle Monáe and Big Boi all played the West Holts Stage, whilst Wild Beasts and man of the moment James Blake played on the Park Stage.

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.