Live Review

Glastonbury Festival, Saturday 28th June 2009

The kind of display you almost feel embarrassed to be witnessing.

With the opening night proving too clustered to sneak in our third aforementioned mental delight, it is left until their John Peel debut on the Saturday am for The Big Pink to give us that all important fuzzy wake-up call in the form of ‘Too Young To Love’. As possibly the most packed event of the weekend, you couldn’t swing a cat by any means unless you were intending on replicating their guitar screeches on ‘Velvet’. On the nearby Dance East, We Have Band seem determined to bully people into partying midday and ‘You Went Out’ sounds out of it’s box early on.

Similarly, Wiley is a safe bet for those seeking a souped-up time. He could do with being a lot LOT louder, but as ‘Rolex’ sweeps in early, it matters not. This is followed by a mix of Dizzee’s, ‘Just A Rascal’, spat to perfection with a hint of danger. On the reverse is Hockey who, although generally a more dancey, up-tempo proposition, mix things up with their “oldest” song – a folky little number of nostalgia and ‘home-on-the-ranch’ mood.

As one of the greater disappointments of the weekend, somehow leaving their genuine humour behind, Spinal Tap fail to raise the likes of ‘Sex Farm’ and ‘Stonehenge’ above being mere out-of-date re-runs of dad jokes. The kind of display you almost feel embarrassed to be witnessing. Musically, they play with some vigour but not quite enthusiasm, and in actuality, for once, the music takes a back seat.

Fortunately the stylings of Passion Pit herald a return to par across the grass with ‘The Reeling’ a choice cut in a set characterised by Michael Angelakos’ falsetto crooning riding bass grooves. ‘Manners’ is almost played in its entirety, with foot shuffling the only appropriate response and where another thousand people would make this more of a party, the sneeking suspicion is that they’ve all ventured to see La Roux next door.

While Kasabian are trading blows with the early 70s, it only seems right that they soundtrack the transition of daylight with their psychedelic and tribal beating hits. ‘LSF’ sounds deranged as the sun fades and on enormous speakers their bass sounds like the heavens opening. For the tens of thousands gathering in front of the Pyramid Stage Kasabian provide the limb loosening effect needed for a mammoth two-and-a-half hour set from one of the most anticipated headliner’s this festival has had in any year of its history.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band jog onto the stage with the ease and assuredness that comes from hearing 200,000 hands beating time. With the unmistakable gravelly tones that Springsteen now sports, he still cavorts around the stage in bounds with enthusiasm and rousing choruses. He plays to the crowd more significantly than the new-album-heavy start would indicate. ‘Working On A Dream’, despite being in its marketed infancy still gets a lighters-aloft moment, preceding which Bruce takes it upon himself to give the Glastonbury good will speech – a little haywire and lengthy, but nonetheless is greeted with woops and hollers.

Exceeding his allotted stage time, they smash through the back catalogue into an encore of Irish jig, Seeger Sessions such as ‘John Henry’, interspersed with rare classics such like the harmonica-fired ‘The River’ and an increasingly driven ‘Thunder Road’. It would seem fair to say, having taken requests from the front, said hello to the back and graced his public with nearly all of his career bests, Bruce Springsteen still seems to have an additional back up of fuel compared to every other ageing artist. Perhaps it’s the E Street Band, whose rendition of ‘Because The Night’ leaves us singing well into the darkness. We can only hope that his first appearance at UK festivals won’t be his last.

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