For some people Glastonbury 2013 belonged to the Rolling Stones, whilst the dance music fraternity had Chic featuring Nile Rodgers to celebrate - Chic for me was the highlight of the weekend. It drew me to arrive at the conclusion that there are actually inherent similarities between Keith Richards and Nile Rodgers in that they are both supreme proponents of the guitar riff, and pretty much all their biggest hits are derived from singularly catchy riffs - Stones is mostly blues-tinged though while Chic is primed for the dancefloor.
The Rolling Stones were pretty competent, you can’t argue with that setlist - but it was not a wholly flawless experience and at times it was too reminiscent of Dawn of the Zombies - with only Mick Jagger really tearing up the stage. Everything about Chic though was spot on - the two lead vocalists - Folami and Kimberly Davis, the taut, virtuoso musicianship - and hit after hit after hit. It was amazing to spot where so many classic house tracks got their root samples from. I also really enjoyed other ’old-timers’ - Public Enemy (even though only 1/4 of original lineup!), Rodriguez and Tom Tom Club; as well as new to me - ’Goat’ and ’Moko’. BBC Sound of 2013 winners HAIM put in a great performance, as did Arctic Monkeys, and Icelandic favourites - Of Monsters and Men.
From a technology point of view the live experience was far from perfect - the streaming was very turbulent - with lots of drop-outs on every live act I witnessed. I hate Flash as it is, and it crashed badly on Chrome and Firefox when the streaming got turbulent - I eventually found a relatively safe haven on Safari browser, but it was still glitching out now and again - so much different to watching the dedicated Coachella YouTube site which streamed flawlessly.
BBC came good in depth and breadth of coverage - with as many as 10 live streaming options plus indexed video archives and iPlayer featurettes. It was nice to see the setlists back as well after the Radio 1 Big Weekend omissions. There were still some exceptions though, and no video for Iggy Azalea’s performance, and no tracklistings for the DJ sets. The overall tone for the weekend was exceptionally eclectic as always, along with re-invigorated older come-backs, including Kenny Rogers, who showed the young upstarts a thing or two about proper crowd interaction and showmanship (proper stagecraft). I agree with many that closing headliners Mumford & Sons were a little bit anti-climatic and let the festival fizzle out rather than end with a bang.
There was some controlled social media from BBC staffers only, but nowhere near the level of social media interaction there should have been with an event of this kind. The BBC should really allow members of the public to upload videos and featurettes also from some of the smaller stages and arenas which are not featured in the main broadcasts.
The BBC does much to represent the mainstream of Glastonbury, but there are too many nooks and crannies left uncovered - we armchair festival goers really want to be able to experience it all, when all we really get is highlights. I still think that the technology-side of the Glastonbury coverage can be much improved. I would not mind paying a fee for unfettered video / social media access to every area Glastonbury has to offer. Michael and Emily Eavis need to be brave in this area, and however much I love the BBC, there’s much about its broadcasting which is restrictive and restricted. Having a combination of YouTube’s flawless Coachella streaming and Social Media, crossed with the BBC’s depth in editorial coverage and smartly indexed archives is surely the perfect formula.
Here are the acts I caught; the ones with asterisks are those I particularly enjoyed: