Burning gold, glass ceiling and the ghost train

21st July 2010

At 21:03, rolling past Chamomile Street on the way to London Bridge, the city canyon is in shadow, but the sun still illuminates the crane tops and scrapers. We stop in our tracks and I pull out the Leica, shooting beams and angles. It’s only a moment but it feels like magic, this play of light and shade on the concrete, steel and glass up above.

At 00:47 the long train begins to roll through. It must be heavy because it makes the rails squeal, sometimes it sounds like singing, sometimes screaming, depending on the wind direction and the mood I guess. I don’t know where it comes from, what it contains, or where it goes. But somehow, as I poke my head out of the window, the better to listen to the sound, it makes me feel more alive.

The Sun Rising – Out Now

20th July 2010

Normalites is Chris Coco and Steve Miller (aka Afterlife and The Sun Rising is out now on Bar Grooves.

Get it on Beatport now!

Find their song Pink Skyscraper on the latest edition of Hotel Costes. Get their Dead Cat Bounce EP.

Normalites on Myspace

Rough Trade East

18th July 2010

Saturday includes the customary trip to Rough Trade East to pick up booty for next week’s shows and general listening pleasure, and to view the Album Of The Week. It’s strange to see the albums that have been boxed in my kitchen for so long in an actual shop.

Sunday is in many ways the best day…

27th June 2010

Sunday is in many ways the best day. We are all embedded, sort of just here, in festimode, tops off, boots on, so many layers of sun block and dust it starts to feel like skin. And this morning we have the leader of the Yeovil Town Brass Band declaring that his part in their performance, first up on the Pyramid, is not just great but the greatest half hour of his life. Some claim but I know how he feels. And he doesn’t want it to end. Luckily he decides to stop chatting and leave the stage before the man in black shorts and black baggy t-shirt with the walkie talkie pulls the plug.

He is followed by Paloma Faith, whose song about New York (yes, another one) causes the second tingles of the day (first was the Town Band’s rendition of The Great Escape). She sings tied to two giant balloons, almost floating off her gold-top mules.

Then after a slight diversion, the football on a big screen that looks small, engulfed by at least 50,000 faithful, , we leave at half time to witness Grizzly Bear on the Other, who proceed to give us the result and the inevitable sinking feeling via a radio held up to the mic when one of their machines malfunctions. They, unlike our great team, play magnificently, weaving harmonies in and out of those drifting guitar melodies and off beat drums.

The Park provides more surprise highlights. Beak, who, they inform us in languidly ironic style, have travelled all the way from Bristol on the motorway and everything, to entertain us with their brand of experimental Krautrock. Frightened Rabbit entertain in acoustic solo mode in the Crow’s Nest, the smallest bar at the top of the hill, near the wall. He asks us first if Jesus exists, then if he is here at the festival. Well, I haven’t seen him, but I have seen Dr Who so anything is possible actually.

Back down in the valley a mellow MGMT impress with their youthful, beautiful arrogance, but then give in and do a version of Kids, complete with tambourine wielding groupies.

But they are no match for LCD Soundsystem who simply rock with their layered build of rock and roll, funk, New York disco and arrogance and fuck-you screaming energy. “It’s not raining,” quips James Murphy, by way of introduction, “but it still smells of human faeces.” And it does, but it really doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.

Saturday begins with a coffee and a muffin…

26th June 2010

…And Two Door Cinema Club, first up on the Other Stage, and first band to draw tears to go with the customary goose bumps that come when somebody plays something that feels fabulous. “To the basement people, to the basement, many surprises await you,” sing the young whippersnappers from Bangor in Northern Ireland. That’s the song for me and my boy. that’s his future and my past, maybe, sort of, all wrapped up in a not particularly clear, but decidedly poetic and beautiful line. Well it all makes sense to me.

Two Door Cinema Club are how bands should be – young and beautifully talented and genuinely excited to be playing Glasto; How bands shouldn’t be is like Phenomenal Handclap Band, the next stop on the schedule. There is no excuse for crap guitar solos and it’s crazy to do extended, sloppy ‘versions’ of your best songs (Baby for example) before most people have even heard the original. Oh it doesn’t matter, I was hopeful, but live they are just not very good.

Unlike Strange Boys, an unexpected treat at the Park, coming on like the ghostly essence of Velvet Underground having a jam with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Needless to say, after the show, I buy their CD from a man sporting khaki shorts, a straggly beard, a red nose and a huge grin.

And so, via stops for curry goat and some local wine from Pennard Hill vineyard, it goes on.

Dead Weather on the Pyramid are too heavy for me. Alison Mosshart’s smouldering sex kitten act with The Kills transforms into full predatory panther with the Dead Weather. If she simmers with the Kills, here she is the milk boiling over and spoiling all your freshly cleaned surfaces. White is an enigma. Undeniably brilliant but not generally exactly to my taste.

Unlike Foals who totally smash it on the John Peel, transformed from the studious math rockers I encountered early one afternoon on the Other two years ago, into proper crowd surfing party dudes. (To prove it lead singer loses his top while crowd surfing)

Unlike the XX who are so beautifully laid back and atmospheric it almost hurts. But they do go pop for a moment when they are joined by Florence (of the Machine) for their rendition of their remix of her cover of the inevitable ‘You Got The Love’. OK, so she’s probably just doing it because it’s on telly, but these sort of surprise magic moments are what make Glastonbury so special.

We finish the day with the Pet Shop Boys’ quintessentially English, oh so London, arch, knowing, clever, lovely, vulnerable, beautiful, brilliant show that is more disco and modern dance and cabaret than rock and roll but is none the worse for that.

So much greatness and beauty in one place, it’s hard to take it all in. All that and the burning sun making it almost as hard to move and think straight as the more customary mud.