Last summer for the festivals of Britain must have felt a little brighter and warmer as the shadow left by Glastonbury subsided for a year spreading the limelight to all. But the monolith that is Glastonbury has lurched back into life following its sabbatical. Glastonbury is one of the largest, most eclectic, and best festivals around. A crowd of 177,000 will descend on the festival which runs Wednesday to Sunday but hits its stride for the weekend.
The line-up was announced at the end of March but the festival was well sold out by then. In fact it was sold out the same day tickets were released in October. These tickets were bought in faith, that the line-up would be as excellent as earlier years. Of course a requirement of faith is uncertainty and there was never any doubt Glastonbury would deliver. Those with tickets knew satisfaction would be guaranteed.
But while they drooled in anticipation at the general release, tough decisions have to be made when looking at specific days. In one way it is an unenviable task going through each stage on each day to pick which acts to see and when, and, inevitably, which ones to miss. But in nearly every other way it’s the best way to spend an afternoon. I took on the challenge though I will never get to experience the acts (at Glastonbury anyway).
Jake Bugg: A fast rising star, playing the Pyramid stage can only be one of many highlights in store this summer for the young man as he globe trots around the world playing at some of the most distinguished festivals and venues.
Foals: Their current album success is still on an upward trend as they go from strength to strength. They’ve ambitions to be the best and it seems the know-how of doing it.
The Lumineers: They’re début single made you think Mumford and Sons, they’re début album makes you love them. A fine addition to the folk/indie rock scene
The Hives: The energetic rock band is rated among the best in the world for their live performances. Glastonbury promises to bring out the best in them although I’m sure they would prefer the main stage.
West Holts Stage
Chic: Nile Rodger’s came back to the music world’s attention again through his collaboration with Daft Punk but this band has never lost the funk. Expect the best in funky tunes.
The Park Stage
Solange: A very famous sister and brother-law has not stopped Solange from making her own mark on music. The talented song-writer and DJ has forged her own path and style which has earned her a dedicated following.
John Peel Stage
Kodaline: A good year for the Irish band keeps getting better. Their first studio album will be out just in time to celebrate at Glastonbury. The guys have delayed release twice to add a few tweaks but what we’ve heard already makes it sound like a very promising début.
Bastille: Another debutante at Glastonbury, they come into the festival in very good shape with a number one single and album to their name.
Glen Hansard: Most Irish people will have seen Glen Hansard live, most likely on one of Dublin’s main street. This man is a tour de force who throws everything into his performances and will be well suited to the festival.
SBTRKT: Fronted by Aaron Jerome with frequent collaborator Sampha, SBTRKT has garnered together a reputation for stellar live performances.
Black Roots: Reggae with a British twist and a 1970’s throwback, fans will be jammin’ all night with this recently rejuvenated ensemble.
Genosys (Block 9)
Greg Wilson: Funk has never been this funky!
The Downlow Radio (Block 9)
The bear like men offer up a poppy, hip-hoppy, house music which makes sure to get the crowd moving.
The Rolling Stones: Living legends need no introduction. The Pyramid Stage will be packed for the awesome return of The Rolling Stones.
Two Door Cinema Club: The Northern Irish trio are doing more festivals this year than the village bike popping up at Sonar, Cochella, among many others. Their fast paced indie rock and repetition of words make them a festival fans favourite.
Azelia Banks: From Harlem in New York she had one of the hits of last year with 212. Her debut album was released earlier in the year and she has been well received on the music scene. Her controversial style, edgy lyrics and banging beats means she could put on one hell of a show.
Noah and the Whale: And there was sun, sun, sun all down your bodies!
West Holts Stage
Maverick Sabre: The Anglo-Irish singer has hits designed for the grandeur of Glastonbury and the ability to blow crowds away.
The Park Stage
Haim: Everywhere at the moment, it seemed silly if Glastonbury missed them and as BBCs Sound of 2013 it be silly for anyone else to either.
John Peel Stage
The Strypes: Another band having a very good year, Glastonbury promises to be an extraordinary opportunity for them which they will take full advantage of.
Newton Faulkner: His mellow and upbeat music will be a nice refresher during a long weekend of mayhem.
Spirit of ’71 Stage/Glade
Boyz Noize: Boyz Noize heavy beats shall attract the most dedicated of dancers ready to put in a long shift of dancing.
Rudimental: Their number one hit last year, Feel the Love, brought the British quartet to prominence and will attract a large crowd ready for a feel good music session.
DJ A-Skillz: A mash up artist mixing rock, R’nB, hip-hop, rap and pop to make sure the crowd never gets an opportunity to stop.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: Brass is essential for any festival and few do it as well. These veterans of the festival circuit know what the people want.
Mumford and Sons: Their first album paved the way for folk rock on the music scene and their second album is the cementing of it. The performance is likely to be a combination of lively rock and DMS (deep meaningful songs).
The XX: The minimalist electro band fronted by Jamie XX has had profound success breaking into the mainstream. They have plenty from two albums to give a truly memorable set.
Smashing Pumpkins: Nostalgia will be on the mind while watching this band and die-hard fans will undoubtedly treated to Billy Corgan’s sampling of the best of the back catalogue.
Of Monsters and Men: Of Monster’s and Men must have learned success is all part of hard work as they embark on another festival tour. They’ve earned their stripes so expect exciting things from the Icelandic band.
John Peel Stage
Phoenix: Phoenix were good enough to record two live albums of their hits and might be good enough to another one for those who miss them in Glastonbury. Another veteran festival band, these guys know what they’re doing.
Villagers: Conor O’Brien will probably have mixed feelings about the past six months. His follow up to the his debut album Becoming the Jackal, received lukewarm review. Awayland was O’Brien’s attempt at cheer or positivity but didn’t quite hit that note. But this does not detract from the beauty he can infuse into his poetic lyrics performed live. There could be a few wet eyes in the house.
James Blake: James Blake’s second visit to Glastonbury promises to be as good as the first. The supremely talented electronic producer received glowing praise for his first studio album, James Blake. Outstanding remixes and original tracks will pepper a brilliant performance.
London Community Gospel Choir: Every festival needs a gospel choir like they need a brass ensemble, Glastonbury has both.
These acts represent a tiny proportion of all the musicians playing Glastonbury. And it is a festival that moves beyond music with big name comedy stars and academics performing or giving talks. It tries to entice as many people with as many tastes into one area to create a completely different vibe. Its blueprint is broken down into sections to give inspiration for other festivals. It has cracked the market and continues to take advantage. It is small comfort the bulk of these acts will be accessible to Irish festival goers throughout our own brilliant festival and concert season.