James Delingpole

Fringe benefits

2 July 2016

9:00 AM

2 July 2016

9:00 AM

‘How do we feel about leaving the EU today? Who doesn’t give a fook?’ yelled Oli Sykes of Sheffield’s Bring Me The Horizon — instantly becoming my favourite act of this year’s Glastonbury Festival.

Sorry, I’m just not buying the line put out by the Guardian, the BBC, Damon Albarn and the rest of the wankerati that the crowds were bummed out by the referendum going the wrong way. Most of the 160,000 revellers had more pressing matters to consider like: Adele or New Order; long queue for the shower or not bother; samosa or falafel; cider or reefer or both; and — of course — how to negotiate the Passchendaele-like vista of endless, wellie-slurping, soul-sapping mud without losing the will to live.

I found one solution, as so often, in the Circus fields where a cheerful woman on one of the smaller stages was teaching an impromptu gathering how to do a silly dance routine she’d choreographed to accompany David Bowie’s ‘Starman’. ‘Look to the right. You’re looking for Dave. Now look to the right. Then back to the left. That’s good, you’re doing well.’ You stop to watch, half curious, half embarrassed, then find yourself sucked in, joining in the communal fun and having just the best time of your life.

No, really. It’s what Michael Eavis always says about the festival he founded all those years ago. Never mind what’s going on on the big stages — Muse, Coldplay, ZZ Top and the rest — the real magic of Glasto is to be found on the more bucolic fringes such as the Stone Circle, or the hippy-dippy Healing Fields or the shack with the cushions and rugs in the Permaculture garden where the money for your chai goes to a drugs rehabilitation charity and you can have the most unexpected encounters…

…Like the chat I had with some random bloke who was not only pleased with the Brexit result but was happy to exchange notes about the buying opportunities for gold and UK equities. Or the one who, it turned out, had only gone and co-written the biggest number one hit of 2011, ‘Read All About It’, with Professor Green and Emeli Sandé.

I’ve been coming to Glastonbury for 26 years now and this is my favourite thing about it: that elusive quality they call ‘the vibe’. It’s that wonderful feeling that everyone’s in this one together — especially when it rains and you need to keep one another’s spirits up — and that wherever you are, whether it’s in the thick of a pumped-up crowd of aging ravers listening to New Order do ‘Blue Monday’ or chatting to your neighbours in the long queue for breakfast, what you’re really here for is to accumulate a series of life-affirming special moments.

Adele was quite fantastic, by the way: apart from being a superb live performer at the top of her game she totally wins you over with her sweary, self-deprecating chatter. She’d been coming to Glastonbury for years, never imagining she’d one day headline here, she told us: this, quite simply, was the best day of her life. Because of the mud — which makes journeys twice as long as they should be — I didn’t get to see nearly as much as I do when it’s sunny. Skepta and Stormzy, for example: I would have loved to catch them just to watch all the urban lads in bucket hats doing whatever you do to the grime sounds of the moment. I did enjoy Aphrodite’s drum-and-bass set in the Temple on Saturday, though. At least I think it was Aphrodite. Unfortunately, my neighbours were too monged off their faces to give me a definitive answer.

Other highlights: Glaswegian synth-poppers Chvrches fronted by the coolly beautiful Lauren Mayberry; Tame Impala; the self-parodic Meat Market gay nightclub with the dancers dressed like Tom of Finland characters, where the pretty doorman copped a good feel of my tackle as part of the entrance procedure; a dubby collective at the ever-reliable Glade Stage, who I think were called Gentleman’s Dope Club; and, yes, Bring Me The Horizon, not just because of their epic, shouty, synth-metal with attitude but because they understand that the real point of youth isn’t dreary, earnest political conformity, but joyous middle-finger-to-the-man rebellion.

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