FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: A VIRTUAL GLASTONBURY
Next weekend would have marked a true cultural milestone; the 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury Festival. There might be no camping this year, other than in your own socially distanced back garden, but the BBC has come to the virtual rescue by hosting a number of classic sets across TV, radio and online. Among the choice cuts promised, David Bowie’s 2000 show stands out, not least because it will be the first time this iconic performance has ever been broadcast in full on TV.
BBC iPlayer has a new pop-up BBC Glastonbury channel, bringing viewers wall-to-wall iconic sets and highlights from past years while BBC Sounds will serve up top audio moments. BBC Radio highlights include a series of special shows from Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2 from Monday 22 June, while the following Friday morning will see Lauren Laverne joined on her BBC Radio 6 Music programme by Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis.
From Thursday 25 June, some of the BBC’s best loved presenters including Clara Amfo, Edith Bowman, Jo Whiley, Lauren Laverne and Mark Radcliffe will host four days of programming on BBC Television and BBC iPlayer, dedicated to Glastonbury. All you need to know can be found on the BBC’s Glastonbury site and with much of the stuff available on demand, there’s no need for the Clashfinder app this year.
There is content on the BBC site going all the way back to 1970 when a short video sees a youthful Michael Eavis discussing his plans for the first ever Glastonbury festival. To signal that the old order had scarcely been subjugated yet by such modern innovations as pop festivals, the interviewer conducts himself in what used to be called BBC English, or most precisely, received pronunciation.
Back then, it cost just £1 to get in to the Worthy Farm Pop Festival, as it was initially titled, and this included free milk from the Eavis family’s farm, where the event is still housed today. Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex headlined after both The Kinks and Wayne Fontana pulled out; perhaps an item of some regret for these acts 50 years on! DJ Mad Mick is probably still dining out on it, mind.
Spinning on to present day, BBC iPlayer is hosting 16 full sets from the 2019 festival. Might I recommend four ace shows all from the John Peel Stage – Pale Waves, Freya Ridings, Low and Sharon Van Etten. Pale Waves delivered a majestic set on Friday evening with charismatic front woman, Heather Baron-Gracie in irresistible form, while the Saturday afternoon segue of Freya Ridings, Low and Sharon Van Etten was a simply inspired product of the art of stage booking.
As John Peel himself would have said, these are Pale Waves and “There’s a Honey”.
While I’m at it here are two more of my personal favourites from Glastonbury 2019. The excellent Michael Kiwanuka with “Cold Little Heart” and the ridiculously gifted Vampire Weekend with “This Life”.
Continuing our Glastonbury theme today, the winners of the 2020 Emerging Talent Competition were also announced this week. The outright winner was South-East Londoner, R.A.E., who was the overwhelming choice of the final judging panel, wowed by her radiant, pin-sharp hip-hop and R&B. R.A.E. will get to perform on one of the main stages at Glastonbury 2021 while she also picks up a handy £5,000 Talent Development prize from PRS Foundation. Emily Eavis remarked: “I’m absolutely thrilled for R.A.E. Her music is so uplifting and vibrant, and she absolutely wowed the judges. I really can’t wait to see her at next year’s Glastonbury!”
The judges, comprising Michael and Emily Eavis, Glastonbury stage bookers, music business professionals and former ETC winner Declan McKenna, awarded second place to Newcastle’s AJIMAL and third place to West London singer-songwriter Matilda Mann. Both acts will be invited to play at Glastonbury 2021 and each receive a £2,500 Talent Development prize from the PRS Foundation. With no live finals possible this year, the final judges used the eight finalists’ songs and videos to select the winners.
Stop Glasto press… the eco-friendly folk of Green Futures Field at Glastonbury have just announced a streaming event from 1pm on Wednesday 24 June, notable for the inclusion of those inimitable permaculture Aussies, the Formidable Vegetable Sound System, Andrew Maxwell Morris (featured in this column last week) and Somerset-based alt folkies, The Portraits, among others.
Described as ‘a series of snippets and curios reflecting the field in a nutshell’, I suggest you keep an eye on the GFF Facebook page as the current information doesn’t quite extend to how you tune into this!
Pyramid Photo by Jason Bryant