Friday, 26 June 2009

Glastonbury 2009 - Friday live blogging (Lily Allen, The Specials, The Maccabees, Lady Gaga, White Lies, Little Boots, Jack Penate, The Ting Tings...)

So Glastonbury is finally here and for me that means BBC coverage on TV and radio - a combination of BBC Three (complete with annoying amateur presenters - and of course Edith and Reggie!), BBC Two and 6 Music (with for some reason Cerys Matthews). It's almost as good as being there, but sadly not for me this year.

So first up is Lily Allen and WOW what an outfit. Say what you like about the women, she is an alluring presence, especially in this blue Kylie-esque number open at the front and revealing just about everything. Nice purple hair too. Lots of shots of youngsters in the crowd and as yet no profanities.

What is this with R&B and Rap at Glastonbury?!? Does anyone realise it just does not fit. In spite of this obvious fact, NERD made a surprise appearance this afternoon and got the crowd moving with limp vocals and not much else. It seems to be obligatory to shout 'Glast-on-berry' at the crowd every five minutes if you are an American act. A huge shame as NERD are a compelling mix of guitars, rock and rap (like it's 1995 again!) even if they do come across like a limp version of Body Count.

Friendly Fires perform the soundtrack of the festival - Jump In The Pool, with the crowd under the summer sun and enjoying it immensely. Great stuff.

A quick blast of The Maccabees on 6music sounding ok. Hope to catch them on TV.

Ah now the enigma that is VV Brown. How she got a Pyramid Stage slot is anyone's guess. It brings back horrible memories of her turn on Later with Jools earlier this year and the fantastic song writing that is "crying tears from my eyes..." from Crying Blood. And because she doesn't have any other songs she sings it again, this time as a Reggae version. Laughable if it wasn't so sad. Time to move on...

Lily now in the studio talking to Edith and Reggie, wearing a different dress and a nice pair of green wellies. Back on stage it's Littlest Things and she has the crowd in the palm of her hand. Well at least the bit that isn't holding the cigarette. The single long white glove is a neat touch. Then she performs 22, another whimsical tale from her new album. And then an oldie: Smile followed by the horrible Womanizer ?!? A Brittany cover and not a great one either. Oh dear. Off comes the hair but thankfully (for the sake of decency) the dress stays on.

OOoooo Now we are talking...White Lies are on. Not sure the 80s suits work boys! First up from the indie-goths is Farewell To The Fairground complete with crowd sing-along stadium bit. Nice one lads.

More Friendly Fires now. Loads of brass and more early evening summer sun. Glorious.

And now Little Boots talks to BBC Three's Gemma, just finished her set (that's the lovely LB and not the hapless G). LB reveals that her first album was the debut Take That!!!?!

And earlier from the John Peel stage she performs Earthquake. It is definitely the girls shining this year so far. In great voice as always and lots of commitment. Apparently she is flying off to do another gig and then flying back by helicopter to see Blur on Sunday!!! Showbiz ftw!

New In Town is also great. Contender for single of the year. Maybe I've heard it too many times. Love the chorus.

More Maccabees now - Love You Better. Yes it's the track that sounds like a Arcade Fire cover. I like it - beautifully constructed epic pop with lashings of brass again. Great festival stuff.

"I love a live Horn" - Edith Bowman, Glastonbury 2009. Eeek!

Help! It's Lady Gaga. Who seems to be performing from within a huge artificial cake! She is mad as cheese with an outfit that puts Lilly Allen to shame. Paparazzi is actually good - question is where are the backing singers helping her out with the vocals? Or is she miming? Surely not...

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more weird, a space-aged guitar-keyboard thing comes out of nowhere and she 'pretends' to play it while turning round and round on a turntable. What little creditability she had is lost with a big 'glast-on-berry' and she launches into Love Game. And it all goes bad disco. Lots of mad dancing and we seem to be in a rave hosted by Marilyn Manson!!!

The Ting Tings are on the BBC Three sofa! Taking a break from France, the pop duo are back in England for a slice of summer festival life.

Torn On The Platform by Jack Penate is up next. Not a fan but it's decent enough.

And then back to Just Dance by Lady Gaga. Yes she's still mad but this time in a new outfit. I'm not sure if I am becoming a fan. Poker Face kills it for me...

Not entirely sure what this track is but it's going on a bit... Ah set over.

Back to Lily again with The Fear. Whoa mass audience participation expletive moment! Excellent stuff.

All building up for The Ting Tings set....

But first more Lady Gaga with Eh, Eh complete with Madonna style boobs - this time with added fire... And then Poker Face in her underwear. Who says sex doesn't sell? Actually no does.

To be fair it was a great show with a lot more than just being on stage and churning out songs. It's good to see thought going into a performance even if the end result is insane. 10/10 for effort.

Still no Ting Tings - come on BBC Three!!!!

More set from Jack Penate. Have I Been A Fool? is ok but it's all a bit samey for me.

Edith talks to Jez Williams from John Peel headliners Doves.

And then Be The One by Jack Penate. A bit rushed and breathless but a good solid energetic performance from the Londoner. Bit too much brass though... Mark Ronson anyone?

Over on BBC Four The Specials are churning out the hits - Friday Night and Saturday Morning is one of my favourite songs of all time. Hall and the boys do their best but suffer terribly without Dammers' keyboards. At least they all look as if they want to be there. Even the dour faced Hall. Oh dear Man At C&A. Awful song....

Then Message To You Rudy - a true classic. No doubt the band still has the spark and they seem to be . It's all a bit lacklustre. Do Nothing is just going through the motions. They are a band living in the shadow of the politics that tore them apart. "I'm just living in a life without feeling" seems to sum it all up.

Back to BBC Three and The Ting Tings are finally on the Other stage. Katie looking great in a purple and black catsuit. Great time to play, just as the sun is setting. We Walk is delivered with skill and perfection: Jules at the drums on guitar and Katie singing and playing keyboards. Lots of unnecessary screeching from Katie but a solid performance.

Katie grabs a guitar for Great DJ after demanding that the crowd 'f**king dance!'. Rock n roll. This is followed by an excellent version of Fruit Machine using a loop pedal. Some great accompaniment from the glamorous brass section! If this isn't the best set of the night, I don't know what will be. Although Neil Young is to come later...

A break for Eastenders? Seriously is anyone still watching that???

Back on BBC 2 Mark Radcliffe and the fragrant Lauren Laverne are on the hill. Weather reports out of the way (it's not raining!), a quick montage then Mark talks about The Specials "back in all their glory". Really Mark? Really?

Anyway we kick off again with a frantic version of Too Much Too Young. The band seem to rise to the occasion.

Ok some bizarre editing sees Zane Lowe introduce the Ting Tings again - starting with Great DJ previously shown on BBC Three. That's another one for the BBC "reality check" archives...

On the 'red' button, Little Boots is still going. Setting up her Tenori-on she launches into her final song Stuck On Repeat. A weird version with a lot of open spaces and electronics... If this girl is not massive in a year I don't know what she has to do to get there.

A cool feature about Neil Young, telling all those people who have no idea who he is, erm...who he is. And playing some of his great music from After The Goldrush and of course Heart Of Gold and more. I am looking forward to hearing the set - with fifty albums worth of stuff to choose from...He might just do the whole of Fork In The Road. That might cause a riot. A full 13 minute version of Change Your Mind would make my night...

Ah..excellent more Ting Tings. Shut Up And Let Me Go is introduced with a very long drum intro before kicking off, again with Katie on guitar. A central break before some huge drumming as Jules gets the crowd going. These two certainly work for their art. And the final song of the set is What's My Name. I would have liked to hear We Started Nothing, complete with Ronson-esque brass ensemble. But it's a big crowd sing-along for the 'big single'.

And it is superb.

What the hell is the big deal with Jamie T? Sounds like a guy doing Arctic Monkeys covers...really badly. Awful.

Reggie and his wellies, introducing Ghost Town by The Specials. Looking forward to this enormously. Sadly it doesn't work at all live. There is a good reason they haven't performed this since the 80s. Good effort. Some really good instrumentation. Hall still looks very uneasy and not pleased to be there.

A brief chat with Mike Skinner (The Streets) then Edith introduces Bloc Party. No band just lots of dedicated fans. So back to Reggie for more pointless rambling with Mike Skinner. Nice crop circle of his face though...

And now Bloc Party are up, opening with One Month Off. Was surprised to see the band so high up on a main stage bill but they are one of these acts that have a huge following - and are seen as the antithesis of the 'granddads' on the other stage. Kele Okereke is such a charming and enigmatic front man - no wonder the band has such a loyal fan base. And the John Peel t-shirt is a great touch.

Back on the red button (what DID we do without it?) Little Boots is well into Meddle. My favourite song from Hands....

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