I really enjoyed watching some of the coverage of Glastonbury 2024 on TV this year. As I’m sure is the case for many, watching it has become a bit of an annual fixture for me and my partner.

I’ve only been to the festival once (2014), when I was there as a session pianist for two acts.

Glastonbury 2014- setting up

The Monday morning after the 2014 festival finished, I staved off my departure by climbing Glastonbury Tor. Upon arrival, I bemusedly watched a man running down the hill screaming while strumming a broken guitar (in what I hope was an ingenious piece of performance art), pondered with a friendly lady the exact location of the sacred ley lines’ intersection point, and spoke to a lovely couple on their daily walk up from the town itself. Aside from this small assortment of people, the top of the Tor was pretty solitary. I felt peaceful, euphoric and a little sad. It was a bittersweet feeling, looking out over the patchwork of fields stretching into the haze ahead, because I knew I’d imminently be getting into my old hatchback and driving back across those fields to my hometown without much on the horizon for the rest of that summer. I guess I also knew that I couldn’t take for granted the fact that I’d play at Glastonbury again. Playing there had been one of my dreams and I’d achieved it, albeit in one of the smaller tents!

Glastonbury Tor

Watching Glastonbury on TV somehow instils in me a similar sense of hazy positivity that I got from actually being there. There is this inarticulable sense that things can change for the better and that humans are generally a lovely bunch and, no matter how many reactionary commentators carp on Twitter about what they see as various hypocrisies inherent to this utopia (“Inclusive… but the festival has a ‘border’! Hah!” “Eco… but a few people have dropped some litter! Aha!”), nothing can really dent that sense of optimism and togetherness that the festival promotes.

Highlights from the smattering of Glastonbury 2024 coverage I saw this year included:

  • Fontaines DC slamming their way through their set with the perfect combination of respectful aloofness and frenzied energy.
  • Laura Mvula’s exceptional acapella arrangement and performance of Coldplay’s ‘Violet Hill’.
  • Bombay Bicycle Club nailing their new song, ‘Rural Radio Predicts the Rapture’ and seeming to have a lot of fun playing it.
  • The National performing ‘Abel’ (which I’d never heard before but really liked); ‘MY MIND’S NOT RIGHT!’ being repeatedly screamed by the most unlikely looking man you could imagine screaming those words.

But the main highlight was seeing The Streets. When Original Pirate Material was released, Mike Skinner seemed ‘wise beyond his years’. Now I guess he’s just ‘wise’, which is just as good. His performance invoked all my fond memories of listening obsessively to the first couple of albums as a teen. I think he did confuse the audience slightly with his fixation on waving a flag with his own face on it but otherwise he was great and his band were really good.

His repeated exhortation that ‘we are closer to the end than the beginning’…

It was about the festival but also about life, I guess. And I mulled it over some more. We are all closer to the end than we are the beginning- you, me, even a one day old baby. Because time is irreversible and we are infinitely distant from that which we cannot return to. I don’t know if that’s what Mike Skinner meant but, either way, it’s a good reminder to live life to the full and do the things you dream of doing.

I guess when I looked out from the top of Glastonbury Tor 10 years ago, I was thinking about that concept, albeit not in those words. I was less than 24 hours away from having performed at the festival but I knew that I’d never be able to return to that moment, and that I could only try and create new ones in future which would hopefully be as good or better.

View from the Tor

We are closer to the end than we are to the beginning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *