Advertisement

Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Accolades for Worst Kept Secret, Most Formidable Lungs, and Greatest Living Rock Star!

Advertisement
Advertisement

You can be a regular festivalgoer, a first-timer, or just hooked on the BBC TV coverage in the UK — everyone has an opinion on Glastonbury. Just look at the response when Kanye West was confirmed as the Saturday night headliner and the predictably disparate reaction to his performance. The truism that you can’t please all the people all the time especially resonates at Glastonbury.

If you can’t find music here to seduce your eardrums or tempt your dancing toes, though, you’re a hard one to please. The dilemma is always deciding what can you afford to miss out of all the music and art laid out before you. It’s a high class problem, as my old boss used to say.

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -26 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

This year, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts turned 45. The festival might be scarcely recognizable from its 1970 incarnation, when it cost just £1 to get in and the cover included free milk from the Eavis family’s Worthy Farm, where the event is still housed today. Yet within the commerciality that comes from accommodating 170,000 people over five days, Glastonbury maintains its independent spirit, manifested in green initiatives, charity and cause support, and those areas of the site that are forever full of hippies.

Somehow, Glastonbury also manages to get better each year, so much so that Consequence of Sound felt that some awards were overdue. The site organization never ceases to amaze and is a testimony to everyone involved, however large or small their role. So, as a tribute to Glastonbury, Worthy Farm, the organizers, staff and performers, we present The Worthys.

–Tony Hardy
Senior Staff Writer

Worst Kept Secret

1 Worst Kept Secret

Photo by Jason Bryant

Nominees: The Charlatans, The Libertines, Prince (no he wasn’t coming), Fleetwood Mac (no, no, no), Elbow (nope, sorry — just a T-shirt)

Can’t anyone keep a secret these days? I blame society — I mean, social media. There is a tradition of secret sets at Glastonbury, but improved connectivity on site (I blame Kevin Bacon) has meant truth spreads as rapidly as rumors. It started with the Special Guest slot on Thursday night at the Rabbit Hole just past midnight — it was never going to be Prince and the slot was actually canceled. The Charlatans taking the annual Friday 11:00 secret spot on the Other Stage surprised few given the size of the crowd who enjoyed some breezy nostalgia, with frontman Tim Burgess sporting shades to match his sunny disposition.

There was absolutely no chance that we’d see Fleetwood Mac parachuted in. You needed to be at London’s O2 instead. A rumour spread that Elbow were going to take the sunset slot between Motorhead and Florence and reprise the marvellous “My Sad Captains” once more. But that ended up as nothing more than a bloke who looked like a roadie wearing an Elbow T-shirt, so it came down to The Libertines instead. The lovely Glastonbury PR maintained that only “Michael Eavis and two others” knew who was filling that spot but within an hour or so the net was buzzing with the news of Pete Doherty’s return.

Winner: The Libertines

–Tony Hardy

Most People on Stage

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -28 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

Nominees: The Mothership Returns feat. George Clinton, the Parliament-Funkadelic and The Family Stone; Belle and Sebastian; The Unthanks with Orchestra conducted by Charles Hazlewood

The festival had more than its fair share of uplifting moments, and Saturday morning’s Pyramid opening set from The Unthanks accompanied by a disabled virtuoso orchestra was a case in point. It was a bold collaboration featuring otherworldly close harmonies from Rachel and Becky Unthank and even clog dancing amid the orchestral swell — and, of course, lots of people on stage.

However, Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch had a trick up his sleeve during the Scots’ sunny Sunday evening show on the Other Stage. With a set blending old and new from its 20 year span and bookended by two terrific dance tracks “Nobody’s Empire” and “I Didn’t See It Coming”, the much-loved indies hit a genuinely celebratory note throughout. Security guards then looked on anxiously as Murdoch capped it all by inviting the audience up on stage after climbing onto the front barrier during “The Boy with the Arab Strap”. I lost count of how many made it up.

Winner: Belle and Sebastian

–Tony Hardy

Best Live Song

3 alt Reveller at Hot Chip

Photo by Mark Muldoon

Nominees: The Chemical Brothers – “Go”, Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk”, MGMT – “Kids” (Soulwax remix), Hot Chip – “Dancing In The Dark/All My Friends”

Hot Chip, a band normally adept at delivering sets of unparalleled joy, on the whole put in a solid but unremarkable set this Glastonbury. Was it because they weren’t ready to step up to headlining the festival’s huge third stage, or could it have been the massively average album they just put out? Either way, they’ve been touring a showstopper ending; to close the first night of the festival they even brought Caribou (who played the slot before them on the same stage) back on for a big old seven minute group cover of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” that for its last two minutes morphed its way into LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”.

Bruce Springsteen finished his 2009 set with “Dancing in the Dark”, which is remembered as one of those all-time classic Glastonbury moments. The only problem with that was he didn’t stick “All My Friends” on the end of it. LCD Soundsystem made a similar error in 2010 when they played “All My Friends” without “Dancing In The Dark” immediately beforehand. Hot Chip thankfully didn’t make the same mistake. Even if only because of simple arithmetic, it’s an all-time classic Glastonbury moment.

Winner: Hot Chip

 –Mark Muldoon

Most Confusing Stage

rabbit hole Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Nominees: Rabbit Hole, Underground Piano Bar

Ah, the Rabbit Hole, but which one? There are two of them, and it’s easier than it should be to find you’re at the wrong one when the band you’ve come to see has not shown up yet. The Rabbit Hole is an area of the festival dedicated to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s devilishly difficult to find; the bar staff at a nearby watering hole had never heard of it. We found the entrance eventually, crawled down a short tunnel, and emerged by a small dance floor with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party around the corner. The only stage being used seemed too small to hold the band we’d come to see, Shields. Meanwhile we were entertained by a bizarre cabaret featuring a contortionist dressed as the White Rabbit and a belly dancer with flames rising from both hands. We emerged from the hole soon after to find Shields playing their signature anthem, “Mezzanine”, on a nearby, much larger stage.

Winner: The Rabbit Hole

–Tony Hardy

Most Satisfied Festivalgoers

Nominees: Kanye West’s fan base, the kids dancing on stage with Pharrell, people who bought the Halloumi and Chorizo Burrito from Carlito’s Burritos, anybody that made it to sunrise every night

Everybody down the front went absolutely crazy throughout virtually all of Kanye West’s set. The problem, however, is that this is who the performance was aimed at. If you’re headlining the main stage at Glastonbury, you need to also aim your set at the kind of people who get into new music after seeing the act on Saturday Night Live. When Jay Z succeeded in headlining Glastonbury in 2008, his intro video was created especially for the festival, he came out ironically singing Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, and then mashed “99 Problems” with the guitar riff from “Back in Black”. We got a Jay Z show adapted for Glastonbury. Metallica last year made similar efforts. In 2015, Kanye West gave Glastonbury a Kanye West show.

The set design was bolder than any that’s graced this stage and completely brilliant, but it proved to be quite a disjointed, undercooked show. For a man supposedly previewing his new album, he didn’t preview any new songs; a disproportionally large amount of time was spent on older album tracks. As has been widely reported and somehow even more widely mocked, just as the show was ending, Kanye proclaimed himself to be the greatest living rock star on the planet. By this point in his shows, one imagines that his audience are usually on board with the statement. The fact he did so after some particularly painful singing on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” didn’t help matters. But then, if you were in Kanye’s entourage, I bet you wouldn’t be the one to tell him he’s a poor live singer either.

Most people seemed to get the opinions they already had about Kanye reinforced. The fans loved it, while those who’ve never seen him before didn’t gain any interest in doing so again. Music journalists who think he’s a gifted but problematic artist thought it was a gifted but problematic performance. Kanye West perhaps left thinking the show is a piece of misunderstood genius. Yet everyone was most satisfied:

Winner: Kanye West

–Mark Muldoon

Best Family Entertainment

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Lionel Richie, Burt Bacharach, Pharrell Williams, the Kid’s Field

If you believe all those family soundbites on the BBC and in the national press, you would think that no one with young children ever escapes from the Kid’s Field. Yet there’s no doubt that the prime Saturday and Sunday afternoon slots on the main Pyramid Stage are also aimed at the broadest Glastonbury demographic. Pharrell’s set was almost like watching a variety show turn. That leaves a shoot out between Burt Bacharach and Lionel Richie, who both delivered the kind of singalongs that make you feel that all’s well with the world, almost in defiance of the tragic events that unfolded on a beach in Tunisia, and that are echoed across a world of conflict. Both acts were flawless, but Mr. Bacharach couldn’t be topped; he’s as sprightly an octogenarian as you could wish to meet with a delightful bevy of old school soul singers weaving their magic with his timeless melodies.

Winner: Burt Bacharach

–Tony Hardy

Most Blatant Product Placement

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Pharrell Williams, IGOE Stage Hire

Pharrell is fantastic, but first let’s deal with the award at hand, as he was responsible for some of the biggest embarrassments of the weekend. His all-female (natch) backing dancers came on stage with huge Adidas logos emblazoned across them. The lead guitarist even had one across his backside too. For a festival where corporate logos bigger than, say, a vinyl case are banned, it all felt teeth-gnawingly out of place.

He was also slimy towards the audience — at one point, he announced that “English girls are the most beautiful in the world,” to which you’d have to respond, “Pharrell, mate, I wouldn’t stop traveling just yet.” It came off as the most nakedly insincere stage banter all weekend.

That said, it was otherwise enormous fun. Again, one senses that the segment of classic N.E.R.D. songs usually goes down better at his own concerts, but combined with the run of hits that made up the final third of the show, Pharell demonstrated how unmatched his career has been. Getting cute kids on stage to dance during “Happy” even had those of us who now hate that song jumping and getting teary eyed.

Winner: Pharrell

–Mark Muldoon

Best Bloke with a Guitar

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -27 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

Nominees: James Bay, George Ezra, Andrew Maxwell Morris, Ben Howard, Hozier

There was no shortage of blokes with guitars (that’s Britspeak for singer-songwriters) at Glastonbury; acoustic, electric, or both, with backing bands or solo. It’s often said that this area of the musical beach is the most crowded and too many deck chairs are the same color, so you can never find your own.

James Bay, George Ezra and Hozier all played good shows on the Pyramid, bringing out legions of adoring fans. The 30-somethings were well represented in the Green Futures area, notably once again by the redoubtable Andrew Maxwell Morris, who could have comfortably worked his magic on the big stage if so called. But no one could match the black-clad Ben Howard for rare passion and intensity. His Saturday evening set on the Other Stage was a cathartic experience, one that gripped a crowd brought up on the easier access of his debut record. Calling on songs like “I Forget Where We Were” and the elegiac “End Of The Affair” made him truly the strongest bloke with a six-string.

Winner: Ben Howard

–Tony Hardy

Best Girl with a Guitar

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -27 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

Nominees: Molly Rankin of Alvvays, Courtney Barnett, SOAK, Patti Smith, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis (wait, the last one’s a bloke)

The girls with a guitar had their say too, whether part of a band or solo. Among the bands, lead singer and guitarist Molly Rankin from Toronto’s Alvvays, aided by band mate Kerri MacLellan on keyboards and harmonies, stood out for her sugary yet sharp vocal lines. You could hardly diss Patti Smith, a veteran but still on the attack, while 16-year-old Irish prodigy SOAK proved to be one to watch for the future. Sisters Kitty and Daisy of London sibling trio Kitty, Daisy and Lewis showed versatility to match their vocals when playing musical chairs with guitar, keys, and drums. The self-deprecating Aussie Courtney Barnett, however, won over a Saturday lunchtime Pyramid crowd with her rambling, acerbic song-stories, lazy drawl, and primal guitar work. She arrived looking like a fan after a hard night with mud on her jeans and boots, and left in a flurry of feedback like an artist you’d want to see again and again.

Winner: Courtney Barnett

Tony Hardy

Best Stage Booker

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Pyramid Stage booker, Park Stage booker, West Holts Stage booker, William’s Green Stage booker

While the festival had spent the last few months putting together a bill not exactly short on potential headliners (Lionel Richie, Pharrell Williams, The Chemical Brothers, Florence & The Machine, etc.) those responsible for the Pyramid stage deserve extra credit this year for securing such a booking — London’s shambolic heroes The Libertines — in the 10 days since the Foo Fighters pulled out.

Winner: Pyramid Stage booker

–Mark Muldoon

Biggest Hero of Glastonbury

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Michael Eavis, Emily Eavis, Florence Welch, The Man at the Shangri-La toilets

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine has been a longstanding hero of Glastonbury ever since she spent a day at the 2013 festival backstage turning a gang of children into a flash mob, but she’s just been edged out by the man by the toilets in Shangri-La. We watched him for 20 minutes hours after Kanye West’s headlining set. Every few minutes he would take a drink from a can of Red Stripe lager and look like he was really deeply enjoying just how delicious it was, seemingly unaware that the can was both unopened and upside down.

Winner: The Man at the Shangri-La toilets

Mark Muldoon

Most Excessive Use of a Smoke Machine

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Florence and the Machine, Jamie XX, Arcadia, err … everyone else

Remember the smoke monster from Lost? I do and have the box set to prove it. There were times at Glastonbury when you felt the on-stage version had arrived. As one who marvels how anyone can keep time when strobes are flashing, equally I wonder how musicians can see through the fog. Even in more gentle arenas like the Acoustic Stage, you couldn’t escape it. That’s it: They are now banned. Environmentally unfriendly, potentially lethal, and what was that about no smoking in public places, The Worthy?

This award has to go to the truly anthemic Florence and the Smoke Machine. Not only did the flame-haired Florence step up and take the Friday headline slot vacated by Foo Fighters with spirit and aplomb, but you had to marvel at how she could continually stride the full width of the Pyramid Stage and use those lungs so effectively in the face of a seriously excessive barrage of smoke.

Winner: Florence and the Machine

–Tony Hardy

Best Glastonbury Virgins

13 Shields Glasto 2015

Photo by Mark Muldoon

Nominees: Declan McKenna, Shields, Lucy Kitchen, and all the Emerging Talent finalists

All eight finalists from this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent had their moments in the sun (or rain), but the real winner was Newcastle-based indie-pop heroes, Shields. An hour may still be a stretch for Shields, but once they hit their stride 15 minutes later, the band was sensational: a tighter, more honed proposition than the majority of what was on the menu. For Foo Fighters fans in the tent nursing broken hearts about broken legs, they covered “Everlong”, and clearly had an enormous amount of fun doing it. Their better-than-the-original cover of SBTKT’s “Pharoahs” was also included for good measure, but “A Good Day” really showed off both Shields’ gift for song craft and ability to thrill a live audience. It will take a stage far larger than this to contain them.

Winner: Shields

Mark Muldoon

Most Formidable Lungs

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari, Florence Welch, Samuel T. Herring, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes

With so much vocal prowess on offer, who really stood out? Focusing on lung power, it was not difficult to find some nominees. North of London four-piece Enter Shakari closed the John Peel Stage on Friday night with a heady mix of hardcore, post-rock, metal, and electronic. Frontman Rou Reynolds can mix quiet and loud, but when he’s loud, boy is there some power there. It was equally hard to resist the energy and verve of Florence Welch or the charismatic grunt and growl of Samuel T Herring of Future Islands, but the strongest pipes belong to Brittany Howard of roots rockers Alabama Shakes. She defied Friday afternoon’s rainstorm with a blistering performance of soul, sweat, and drive, topped off by a scintillating “Don’t Wanna Fight”.

Winner: Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes

–Tony Hardy

Fashion Victim Worthy

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Samuel T. Herring; Lionel Richie flash mob; all those girls with blonde hair, big shades, denim cut-offs, and wellies; all those girls with bindis; Lemmy; Paloma Faith

Let’s face it: The dreadlocked crusties of yore are increasingly supplanted by post-exam, nicely spoken girls who seem to think that the Glasto uniform of big shades, crop-tops, denim cut-offs, and wellies somehow spells individuality. Throw in the obligatory bindis and flower hairbands, and you’ve got pages of filler for those lazy national newspaper websites who think Glastonbury is all about fruity 18 year-olds. So it’s nice to see Samuel T. Herring sporting a look that suggests he might just be about to make you an offer you can’t refuse before boarding a plane to Hawaii.

The elaborate drag queens, flash mobs, and tea ladies all added to diversity in the face of homogeneity. Perhaps some of the performers should have made more effort, sartorially speaking, and that’s not just Pete Doherty. You couldn’t accuse the immensely popular and thoroughly nice Ms. Paloma Faith from shirking in that respect, though. Her audacious cat-goes-to-the opera stage look made her the most fashionable amongst many.

Winner: Paloma Faith

–Tony Hardy

The My Bloody Valentine Worthy for Permanent Hearing Damage

16 Williams-Green

Photo by Jason Bryant

Nominee: Jane Weaver in William’s Green tent on Sunday afternoon

Glastonbury usually has fairly strict sound limit controls. For some reason, that wasn’t close to being the case for Jane Weaver’s Sunday afternoon set, of which we could withstand all of five minutes before leaving and awarding Ms. Weaver the My Bloody Valentine Worthy for Permanent Hearing Damage. I’m sure the songwriter from Liverpool probably played “Don’t Take My Soul”. The sound could even have been more bearable by then, and the delightful quirkiness of the song therefore fully evident. We’ll never know, but it did also mean we got better spots in the crowd for Lionel Richie, so a good tactical decision all around, right?

Winner: You’re not listening, are you? Oh, right.

–Mark Muldoon

The Health and Safety Worthy

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -28 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

Nominees: Samuel T. Herring, Stuart Murdoch, Carl Barat, Pete Townsend, Deadmau5

Rock stars seldom put their own safety ahead of putting on a show. Even at a festival that takes its social responsibilities very seriously, you’re going to get spills as well as thrills. As we reported above, Stuart Murdoch risked life and limb astride the barrier to coax fans onstage, while Libertines guitarist Carl Barat invent a new form of harmonizing — smoke-singing — holding a lighted cigarette and the microphone. Pete Townsend was back windmilling for dear life, and Deadmau5 looked like his stage set might explode at one point, or maybe that was just the Close Encounters lighting effects. Then there was the belly dancer back at the Rabbit Hole with flames rising from both hands.

But there can be only one winner of our Health and Safety Worthy. Step forward Bill Murray’s younger brother, Samuel T Herring, who managed to fall over a monitor not once but twice and make it look like part of the act. High kicking, twerking, vocal eruptions, chest-beating … the man had it all. And what a fantastic set by Future Islands to boot.

Winner: Samuel T. Herring

–Tony Hardy

Lifetime Higher Consciousness Achievement Award

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: The Dalai Lama, Lemmy, The Moody Blues

Before the festival, Motorhead’s legend of a bass player Lemmy seemed to be a shoe-in for this particular Worthy. He’s alive, high, and conscious, after all, while veteran proggers The Moody Blues, the act that inspired Michael Eavis to stage a festival on his land, still contemplate “A Question of Balance”. But the appearance of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on the Pyramid Stage confessing admiration for Patti Smith’s dance moves sealed it. “I very much appreciate those singers and musicians, most of you with white hair,” he said. “That voice and physical action looks very beautiful. That gives me encouragement. Myself, now 80 years old, I should be more like you.” The Pyramid crowd duly sang Happy Birthday to the great man.

Winner: The Dalai Lama

 –Tony Hardy

The Sunday Standout Worthy

 Glastonbury 2015 Festival Review: 20 Worthy Awards + Photos

Photo by Nathan Dainty/VeryCreative

Nominees: Alvvays, Lucy Kitchen, Lianne La Havas

Say “John Peel Stage’”to Glastonbury regulars and they’d normally reply “guitar bands,” “indie rock,” or “Gandalf” (the latter after stage curator Jim Fox). Sunday this year, though, was ladies day, with at least three female-led stand-out acts. Glastonbury Emerging Talent finalist Lucy Kitchen had the seemingly unenviable task of kicking off the John Peel stage at 11:00. With just an acoustic guitar, a voice with tones of Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell, and memorable songs, she drew in an admirably sized crowd by sheer talent. In the afternoon, Molly Rankin and Alvvays played a perfect, pure pop set, culminating in the ultra catchy “Archie, Marry Me”. In the evening, the dazzling Lianne La Havas mixed songs from her forthcoming album, inspired by her Jamaican travels, with tracks from her debut record. Her stage set decorated with Birds of Paradise was a delight to behold. We can’t wait for that album now.

Winner: Lianne La Havas

–Tony Hardy

Greatest Living Rock Star on the Planet

Glastonbury Festival 2015, Somerset, Britain -25 June 2015

Photo by Maja Smiejkowska

Nominees: Kanye West, Lemmy, Van McCann, Roger Daltrey, Elvis (who some think is still on the planet)

At the end of a headline set variously described as a triumph to a car crash, Kanye just couldn’t resist that greatest rock star jibe. Naturally, he can’t be right, as it should be Noel Gallagher. Then again, The Who had a say with Roger Daltrey reminding us that Elvis is still king, while Catfish and the Bottlemen is the most shared act on the BBC Glastonbury website with The Who at fourth. That’s young people for you. Let’s face it: This argument is not going to be won, so the Worthy for Greatest Living Rock Star on the Planet goes to … Glastonbury itself. It’s surely great, always full of life, there is a stone circle, stars are on the ground and in the sky, and it’s definitely on the planet. There.

Winner: You and you and you and you … ahem, Glastonbury.

–Tony Hardy

Gallery

Photographer: Maja Smiejowska, Nathan Dainty

Advertisement