Review: Glastonbury Festival 2013

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Crowds at Glastonbury 2013 © Jason Bryant (Glastonbury Festival website)

Crowds at Glastonbury 2013 © Jason Bryant (Glastonbury Festival website)

Throughout my 21 years I’ve enjoyed countless moments that have taken my breath away and left me with priceless memories.

But no matter what else I go on to experience in life, I will find it pretty hard to beat or even match the five days I spent at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.

Having pulled out all the stops to obtain an elusive ticket all the way back on a stressful Sunday morning in October last year, the thought of reaching the musical Mecca that is Worthy Farm was enough to keep me going throughout my final year of university.

So when the time had come shortly after midnight on Wednesday 26th June to head south, not even the long arduous journey ahead through the night could take away the excitement that had consumed me.

And once the sun began to rise as we edged closer towards Somerset, any lack of sleep was conquered by a Lucozade-fuelled buzz which was essential as my friends and I queued with our tents and bags for over an hour to enter the site.

Although we managed to successfully pitch our tents by 10 am, we still had to make another trip back to the cars for the most important cargo of them all… alcohol.

As Glastonbury is the only major festival that allows people to bring as much liquor as they want, we took full advantage of this rule and brought copious amounts of lager, cider and whatever spirits we could get our hands on. But as we struggled to make our way back up the hills to our camp site, my early optimism succumbed to aches, pains and a desperate need for a lie down.

Yet once I was able to sit down in the sun with a can of lager, my feelgood factor soon returned as it began to sink in I was at Glastonbury and I was eager to go out and explore what it had to offer. As the sun began to set on day one, our group ventured up to a hill that offered a breathtaking view of the sights and sounds that were on offer before heading to Stone Circle for a fireworks display.

Despite another sunny start on day two, Glastonbury wouldn’t have been the same if there wasn’t a bit of rain somewhere down the line and fortunately for us the mid-afternoon downpour failed to dampen spirits as we drank inside one of the bigger tents before sampling Arcadia for the first time.

A notable highlight on this particular evening had to be the surprise performance of Fatboy Slim who appeared in the Wow! Tent shortly after 1:30 am. The undoubted highlight of his set had to be when two people appeared on stage in Daft Punk regalia for barely a minute, sparking the already burning rumours that they were set to play a surprise set at some point over the weekend. Sadly this wasn’t to be, but fair play to Norman Cook or whoever it was behind the prank.

Shortly afterwards, the weird and wonderful world of Shangri-La was to be my next port of call and although it was 4am I was still eager to explore as much as I possibly could… which isn’t easy, given the huge scale of the festival site.

Just five hours later I awoke thanks to the early morning sun beating down on my tent which made for an uncomfortable experience. But after a quick bite to eat I was ready to pick up where I’d left off from the night before and my first port of call was the Other Stage where Beady Eye played at the relatively early time at 11:30 am to kick off my live music for the day.

A few hours later and things really got going with The 1975 before I managed to catch Jake Bugg in the Acoustic Tent. Later on I headed to the Sonic Tent to catch DJ’s Steve Aoki and Julio Bashmore who set me up perfectly before heading back to watch Disclosure, who were one of my standout performers of the weekend. But disappointment was soon to follow.

Crowds at the eagerly awaited Rolling Stones set on the Pyramid Stage © Jason Bryant (Glastonbury Festival website)

Crowds at the eagerly awaited Rolling Stones set on the Pyramid Stage © Jason Bryant (Glastonbury Festival website)

After leaving the duo’s set early to head up to the Pyramid Stage to watch the Arctic Monkeys, my friends and I were unable to grab a decent viewing spec and after being caught up in a lot of pushing and shoving and we were left with no choice but to leave in search of another stress-free option. There’s always next year I suppose…

Saturday brought more glorious sunshine so the wellies that had served me well for the previous two days were dispensed with before I headed out for an afternoon at the Pyramid Stage, sipping on cider and catching Ben Howard who I must admit was not on my original list of acts to see. Then, after a quick trip back to camp to stock up on alcoholic supplies, I returned to where I’d been earlier to see Primal Scream who set the tone nicely before the stand-out moment of the weekend.

Though they may be OAPs, The Rolling Stones can still put on a show and their two-hour set was a rollercoaster filled with timeless classics such as ‘Paint it Back’, ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. Topped with a flaming Phoenix perched above the Pyramid Stage, to see these rockers in person was an experience in itself and the 100,000+ crowd loved every minute of it.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and it was with a heavy heart that the final day of this wonderful festival arrived. After one last trip around the site, which included watching the TV legend that is Bruce Forsyth (who’d have thought it?!), I made my way back to my friend’s car physically tired but reflecting on what had been one of the best experiences of my life.

Glastonbury – see you soon, lad.

About Joel Richards, JMU Journalism