Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Glastonbury 2013: A top 10 from behind the scenes

Let's face it, there are worse jobs in the world than reporting on Glastonbury. Saturday may have been a 22-hour slog that combined mud, blisters and sunburn with a 4:30am start and 11 interviews - but I had an absolute blast.

So, here are my top 10 (and a half) moments from a busy weekend. I even got to watch some music.

10) Liam Gallagher liked my t-shirt.
Thanks, Liam, but Beady Eye are still shit.

9) A never-ending supply of Haribo.
Seriously, they were everywhere: Scattered in the dressing rooms, littering the production offices, propping up the catering tents. On Saturday, when the sun came out, they all started to melt and coalesce into one giant mecha-Haribo. I have come to the conclusion that the festival is secretly run by Gummy Bears.

8) Catching Aluna "AlunaGeorge" Francis scoffing a bag of crisps just before the band's inaugural Glastonbury set (but after she'd joined Dizzee Rascal - aka "the grime Black Lace" - on Friday evening).

7) Rudimental, whose tiggerish levels of bounciness led to one of the best shows of the festival. Imagine a Basement Jaxx gig played by James Brown's band. They're that good.

6.5) This slurry tank.

6) Hastily applying sun cream and running out the door to speak to Two Door Cinema Club. As the interview progressed, the cream started to melt and run into my eyes. Ever the professional, I kept the recording going for 10 minutes as my face streamed with tears. "Are you ok?" asked Alex Trimble after we finished. "Sorry," I replied, wiping my eyes. "It's just that I'm your biggest fan."

5) Watching Bruce Forsyth take over the Avalon field ("if you're good I'll play for two hours. If you're bad, I'll do four-and-a-half") then recording the best vox pop of all time.

Actually, I'm lying. That's only the second-best vox pop of all time. On Saturday afternoon, Colin Paterson was interviewing people on 5 Live when a woman walked past with the lyrics to Wild Horses tattooed on her arm.

"You must be going to see the Rolling Stones," he said.
"No, I'm gonna see Chase and Status."
"But you have their lyrics tattooed on your arm?"
"No, mate, that's the Susan Boyle version".

4) Speaking of The Strolling Bones - I've never been a big fan, and I would never have paid real money to see them, but they totally won me over. Music aside, the most amazing thing about their set was that almost everyone put their cameraphone away.

It also became clear why the band were reluctant to let the BBC broadcast their performance: The Stones' live show is designed for a stadium audience, low on subtlety and high on arm-waving, gurny-faced aerobics. Shrunk down to TV size, they were ridiculous and camp. In person they were spectacular.

3) The inestimable Lizo Mzimba, BBC Entertainment Reporter, former Newsround anchor, all-round gentleman and semi-professional Howard-from-the-Halifax-adverts impersonator. As the Rolling Stones took to the stage, he was broadcasting to News 24 from a platform overlooking the Pyramid Stage. 10 minutes later, the final chord to Paint It Black rang out and the audience erupted. But not for the Stones. No, they were chanting "Li-zo, Li-zo, Li-zo".

Lizo's notoriety produced another incredible moment later that night, when a slightly "refreshed" Dan from Bastille came across him interviewing the Stones' fans.

2) The Staves. Not only do they have the voices of angels, but they are bloody lovely people. My task for the weekend (self-imposed) was to follow them band around and document their Glastonbury experience for the BBC website.

It wasn't a difficult job - they're funny and friendly and supremely talented. Crouching next to them, holding a microphone to Jess's guitar as they performed In The Long Run in perfect three-part harmony for Radio 4 was literally breath-taking.

The sisters were originally at Glastonbury for three low-key shows across three days - but then they got a call from Ben Mumford, who wanted them to do this.

Watching that from the crowd, I felt like a proud uncle at the biggest nativity play of all time. They were justifiably over-the-moon afterwards - and it couldn't have happened to three nicer people.



There were plenty of other memorable moments: Jessie Ware threatening to climb the rafters; meeting Kenny Rogers in his dressing room; Haim being mobbed everywhere they went; Chris O'Dowd actually running away when I approached him with a microphone; and the shower in my caravan running out of water, which left me with no choice but to rinse off the soap suds with a bottle of mineral water straight from the fridge.

There's nowhere on earth like it, and nowhere I would rather have been.

Next year, we've worked out the headliners will be Kanye West, Fleetwood Mac and Prince, with Billy Joel doing the Sunday Afternoon "legend" slot. See you there.

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