Meanwhile, the world must look askance at the 170-odd thousand UK music fans who insist on spending three days a year in a flooded tent with drug hangovers. The States has Coachella (sunny, delightful), Spain has Benecassim (sunnier, more delightful still). Moreover, inconvenience-wise, this year topped them all - not because the weather was worse than ever (1997 and 2005 were - if you can believe it - wetter) but because the organisers' enthusiasm to sell 30,000 more tickets placed extra strains on infrastructure. Absorbable in good weather when attendees disperse around the 1000-acre site but beyond conspicuous when boggy terrain keeps people to well-trodden bottlenecks.
It was in an ill-disposed mood that I struck out on the second day of the Festival to find something of the old "Glasto" in this sea of mud and commerce. What struck me as ever was the good humour of the crowd. I watched strangers carrying a 250-pound dead weight of fainted rock fan out of a moshpit, and 200 yards through deep mud to a welfare tent, without a second thought. I saw muddy angels soothing a young red-headed lad who'd lost his pals, then his mind on magic mushrooms. I saw "new rave" guitars-and-sequencers act The Klaxons play an entertaining set whilst clearly out of their minds on disco biscuits. This was all good, but in the words of someone or other, I still hadn't found what I was looking for.
But it's at nightfall that Glastonbury comes alive. Even in wet years (let's be honest, they're more often than not wet years) it rematerialises as a crazy Brigadoon where normal rules don't apply. As if to prove the point we stumbled into a full-scale replica of a downtown New York nightclub - interior AND exterior - where the dress code was an adhesive handlebar moustache (provided) and sodden revellers bumped to funk and disco. It was in a happier frame that we rejoined our quest.
Eventually, we found ourselves as far south as it's possible to get without burrowing to freedom under the 8-mile security fence. Here, a familiar voice beckoned us to scale a 45-degree mud hill straight out of Platoon and descend into a small ampitheatrical space, where Terry Hall - the oft-troubled singer from The Specials - was singing A Message To You Rudy, with Blur/Gorillaz' Damon Albarn accompanying on piano. With less than 200 spectators in attendance, and the breeze whipping Tibetan prayer flags across the horizon, it was already a magical moment.
We had stumbled upon the Albarn-curated Africa Express, a multicultural jam session set as far away from the commercial heart of the festival as it could be, and for the next four hours we watched Tuareg tribesmen swap riffs, grooves and instruments with English psych-rock bands, dance Djs and Algerian raï singers, culminating in a mass roasting of The Clash's Rock The Casbah. As a vision of the possibilities of music, it will do just fine, and as a representation of The Spirit Of Glastonbury in tangible form... well, perhaps it was all that, too.
Roll on next year. The long-term weather forecast says sunshine, with the possibility of rain.
--Danny Eccleston, MOJO magazine
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