Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Glastonbury Festival 2013

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Three festival goers sit and look at the view at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts site
GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Three festival goers sit and look at the view at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts site

There are many reasons to hate Glastonbury, but I don't detest the festival just because it's a betrayal of the original hippie ethic.

No, what I really hate about 'Glasto' is this myth that somehow it's still some kind of anti-authoritarian manifestation of non-conformism. It isn't – and never has been.

Farmer Michael Eavis, far from being some kind of saintly philanthropist, has simply turned his land to alternative use.

Eavis symbolises the confused, wishy-washy ideology underpinning most non- committed ruritarians.

A public schoolboy, who inherited his old man's plot, he is a man of many paradoxes.

He's a Labour supporter and a Green, who accepted a CBE and supports hunting.

He considers himself some kind of maverick, yet presides over a vast corporate enterprise that raked in £22.5m in 2011.

You can't blame him, I suppose. But let's not crack on that Eavis is a philanthropist, who is doing it for the kids.

Ticket prices start at £205, plus a £5 booking fee – plus £6 p&p. Six quid to post a ticket?

Far from being a fun-loving, spiritual free-for-all, the money men need to protect their core punter and so, down the years, the festival has become increasingly white, middle-class and safe.

Let's look at this year's line-up. Yes, there are three stages devoted to dance music, but the main Pyramid stage is whiter than a snowman in a Real Madrid kit.

What about Dizzee Rascal? Rita Ora? Er, yeah, token urban artists who will no doubt end up with OBEs and other baubles if they play the game.

The Rolling Stones are also on the Pyramid stage this year and, in spite of their incredible back catalogue, they have become peddlers of exactly the kind of raised-eyebrow, sing-a-long cabaret tack that Glastonbury loves to wallow in.

This year it's also Kenny Rogers' turn: Islands in the Stream, Ruby, Coward of the County.

I can see those girls on shoulders, desperately looking for the camera, singing along to Ruby right now.

So forgive me if I don't join in with the Glasto hype. I've never been into tents and waving flags, while nodding along to posh boy hillbillies.

Leave that to those who need to assert their identity by visiting spurious sites of Anglo Saxon/Celtic mythology to hold their 400 quid iPhones in the air and wave them like they just don't care.

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