Leftfield, Live on The Other Stage, Glastonbury, 2000
I’m not a massive fan of festivals unless I’m performing. Never really was, although I used to grin and bear them in order to see my favourite acts all on one day. I’ve only been to Glastonbury once, in 2000, the year when they were carrying roughly double the number of people onsite as they were supposed to. And yes, I was one of the people who didn’t buy a legit ticket, instead paying some bunch of scousers to go through their gap in the wall.
Glastonbury has changed a lot in my lifetime. I’m not going to offer judgement on whether it’s for better or worse, as I don’t have the first-hand experience to back any claims up, but certainly most agree that it is a lot less anarchic and chaotic than it was 2 or 3 decades ago. I personally tend to feel that if you are organised enough to have everything in place to actually get a Glastonbury ticket through the appropriate channels (register 36 months in advance, fill these forms in triplicate, passport photos of every bodily orifice, blood sample of your first-born son, and, most ludicrously, be up at 10am on a Sunday to order the ticket) then you have no place going to Glastonbury, but that’s just me being a miserable bastard who resents the success of others really isn’t it?
Anyway, on to today’s mix. I bring you a recording of Leftfield‘s amazing set headlining The Other Stage on the Saturday of Glastonbury 2000. Looking back, it really does seem like another world. Mobile phones were a rarity still, camera phones were science-fiction, food trucks were not the luxuriously gourmet experiences we are so used to these days, and scouse gangs ruled over the muddy pathways of Glastonbury with an iron fist. You may think I’m joking – that year was a bit of a nightmare in many ways, I’m not surprised they took a year off and then erected the kind of wall that would make Donald Trump envious. I don’t have a single photo from the whole weekend. Imagine that. I just went to something, experienced it, and didn’t document every single moment for posterity/my Instagram followers.
I travelled down on the Friday night after finishing a shift at Brownes Bar in Nottingham, along with a group of friends who also worked there. We arrived onsite just as the Saturday sun was coming up, having parked in some field nearby and wandered around until spotting some scallies offering safe passage into the site for a tenner apiece. Carrying our tents and sleeping bags and copious amounts of booze, we walked, and walked, and walked, searching fruitlessly for a pitch in one of the allotted spaces. This was our first clue that this was going to be a slightly different Glastonbury to what we had anticipated. Eventually we found a space, roughly 50 yards from a giant blue tent that we learned a few hours later was the dance tent. By some absolute miracle I had accidentally brought a pair of foam earplugs; they were to prove exceptionally useful that weekend.
After a few hours sleep we rose to see that many more people had occupied the space between us and the dance tent. Walking around the site, as anyone who has been to Glastonbury will know, was a fascinating and eye-opening experience. For me, the people who get worked up about the headline acts are missing the point really, although given the price of the tickets these days, and the shift in the crowd over the years from hippy-traveller soundsystem weirdos to granola-munching Guardianistas wearing the latest festival couture (I’m generalising a bit maybe…), a few customer complaints are to be expected really. The real beauty of Glastonbury, certainly the memories that stayed with me best, was the oddities between the stages, the overall atmosphere – dare I say it, the “vibe”.
Of the Saturday, I only really remember 3 sections well. Coming up to my beloved Pet Shop Boys as they played Go West on the Pyramid Stage. Very late on at the Smith & Mighty tent, with my brother and his future wife who literally drove down from Derbyshire for a night’s raving, slept in their car, then drove back oop North (“ALL THE RAVERS TO THE FRONT”, Dan knows what I’m on about there, arguably his finest hour…), and sandwiched in the middle, an exceptional set by dance music legends Leftfield. I remember traipsing across Michael Eavis’s farm after the PSB’s set to get to The Other Stage, and taking our spot at what was the back of the crowd, a pretty considerable distance from the stage. After waiting for the crew to set up Leftfield’s stage, I remember glancing round and realising that we were no longer at the back of the crowd, but actually slap-bang in the middle now, as so many more people had arrived after us. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stranded in a crowd as I did at that moment.
Incredibly, the video footage in the version below has managed to capture exactly what my eyes felt like they were experiencing, in every wobbly, shaky, fucked-up technicolour detail. The rest of the night is an even blurrier memory, so the bit where one of my friends was attacked by one of the scouse gangs for absolutely no reason is only a memory because I’ve been told it happened, the journey from the Smith & Mighty Tent to some field where we’d been told there was a sound system is like a strange hallucinatory dream, and getting back to my tent in one piece was a minor miracle.
The Sunday was, for us anyway, basically a recovery session (we inexplicably ended up at The World Stage for most of the night), the Monday trying to exit the site in the blazing summer heat was a complete nightmare (turns out 200,000 people trying to get around tiny country lanes all at the same time is a recipe for disaster and gridlock), and the rest of the week was something of an emotional rollercoaster as our brains tried to get back on an even keel.