FEATIVALS / What's so great about the great outdoors?: Glastonbury, soul at Ally Pally, Jazz on a Summer's Day - last weekend, music took to the open air. Our reviewers breathed deeply

The second summer of grunge. The boys had their baggy shorts on, the girls their drop-waist floral prints, and both sexes sported more pairs of army boots than are seen at manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. But there was barely a fuzz-box riff or a wheedling slacker lyric in the air. The punters may have all looked the same, but the music at Glastonbury catered for many tastes: crusty white dub (Back to the Planet), squeaky clean soul (Jamiroquai), camp pop (Suede), even drab pub rock (the Kinks). And apart from the pub rock, it was great.

Glastonbury is a three-day camping holiday for 80,000. The city of tents stretched far up the hillsides, and the main thoroughfare heaved day and night with people browsing the hippy tat stores and food concessions, and raving at the individual sound systems. 'I thought this was an anthropological study,' chuckled the ex-Led Zep man Robert Plant during his amazingly soulful set on the Friday night. 'The remnants of Thatcher's Britain.' Certainly that fixture of British life, the Slum Family, were there - a group of swearing lads all- day drinking under a home-made awning, who had managed to incorporate a shopping trolley and an old settee into their camping furniture.

But if you want to be transported back to the glory days of festival rock when it was all happening for the first time, Lenny Kravitz is the quickest route. There is nothing contemporary about him. With his chunky dreads and beige clothes he looked like safari suit-era Bob Marley, and sounded his usual mixture of John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Prince and Jimi Hendrix. His act might well be renamed the Lenny Kravitz Experience, not in Jimi's memory, but because, like some kind of rock theme park, everything is simulated.

The retro-rocker kicked off with 'Fields of Joy' and never once looked back. He flashed through 'Stop Draggin' Around', a lyrically slight number from the Mama Said CD but the perfect excuse to shake one's head about, warming up an audience which was well-disposed to enjoy itself but not quite Kravitz-chord perfect on air guitar. True, he only has two types of song: the 'I love you' and the 'peace and love'. But his appeal lies in the way he pushes all the right buttons, executing the reassuring cliches of rock stylishly and effortlessly. So he toes a pedal at his feet and unleashes the clucking wah wah, he selects a Flying V from his rack of axes, he even talks to the people. 'Glastonberry, we've been the way of war and destruction . . . but are you gonna go my way?' Cue the hit from his latest album, and judging by the euphoria in every part of the swelling crowd, the point of maximum recognition. He topped that with 'Let Love Rule', in which the vainest man in showbusiness humbly abandoned his body to the crowd and was passed around by outstretched arms.

By the time the Kinks had launched into their Sixties hits and some drab songs of internecine strife from Phobia, the crowd was leaving in droves for pastures new. The Kinks' new wine in old skins proved nowhere near as palatable as Kravitz's old-in-new. In 1993 this retro business is a subtle art. Joseph Gallivan

The Jazz on a Summer's Day festival at Alexandra Palace was Glastonbury for hipsters. But if types of music were classed, like schoolchildren, as good or bad at games, then jazz would be less the hearty outdoor type with ruddy knees than a delicate flower, always pleading sickness or forgetting to bring its kit. The concept of jazz in the open air offers something of a challenge to the dominant stereotype of a dark music played in even darker surroundings, especially in Britain, where there is little tradition of outdoor jazz other than trad-bands playing country-pub gardens. This show compounded the offence of letting in daylight by setting the music in a huge green-field site more suited to Monsters of Rock.

Still, the festival was a great success - at least in everything but the music. Ten thousand people attended while hundreds more listened for free on the slopes of Ally Pally; for many lying on the grass reading the Sunday papers, eating lunch from the Cajun Kitchen or drinking lager from the beer tent, it was easy to forget about the music altogether. Unless you were near the stage, the sounds from the PA were no more distracting then a picnicker's radio, and without binoculars it was difficult to focus attention on the stick-figure musicians in the distance.

Not that there was much to look at. True, David Sanborn occasionally moved his leg and the guitarist with the Brecker Brothers spanked his plank in authentic Heavy Metal fashion, but it was hardly theatre. At least Courtney Pine tried to put on a show, playing with the venue's echo by making the notes of his soprano sax bounce off Muswell Hill and back. Pine also played the most affecting tune of the day, a rich version of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song', which brought a brief sense of intimacy to the wide open spaces.

Top of the bill, Al Jarreau managed to combine both musical and visual dynamics into an act that could reach out over the acres of the site, but, for all his vocal tricks, he is really a smooth soul singer. The overall impression was of a brilliant summer's day but with the jazz mostly absent, probably hidlng out in a darkened room somewhere, waiting for the night. Phil Johnson

Alexander O'Neal in a field? On one of the longest days of the year? This is a man best known for suspect but excitingly sweaty sexual politics and nightclub sophistication, intrinsically opposed to anything as wholesome as fresh air and real live grass. O'Neal's current album features the brittle, deliberately studio-bound music that was never intended to go anywhere without artificial light. Also, it was going to be broad daylight for most of his set, so exactly how daft would his on-stage brass bed look as the sun glinted off its rumpled silk sheets?

Thankfully the freely-perspiring love hippo left his bed in the boudoir and Alex al fresco was an altogether enjoyable affair. But that it worked so well was more down to what was going on on the grass than anything happening on stage. This was a crowd determined to enjoy themselves in the way that only people who will pay pounds 22.50 ( pounds 25 on the gate) for a concert ticket know how to: to get comfortable and to drink, to dance and to do nothing in the sunshine.

There was shrewd understanding on the part of the promoters that nobody was about to rough it. After all, this was the In-Car Entertainment end of the festival spectrum; what Woodstock might have looked like if it had worn white socks. The bouncy castle had genuine children on it; having 'your own space' was a matter of spreading your travel rug to its limit; and 'release' was all about wheel clamps. There were even people going round with black plastic bags picking up litter throughout the afternoon. And fuelled by San Miguel (the bars were well stocked with all manner of bottled lager) and double quarter pounders with cheese, with a soundtrack of upmarket, largely uptempo soul music, the overall effect was of a 6,000-strong, five-years-later Club 18-30 reunion.

Indeed, much of the clothing on display looked like it had seen active service in the Mediterranean for anything up to a decade, and really shouldn't see the light of day anywhere else. With the exception of half a dozen poor unfortunates who only read 'Alexander O'Neal' and not 'Alexandra Park' on the tickets and turned up in tights, miniskirts and high heels, the crowd wore big, frighteningly unstructured shorts - O'Neal's core fans have just reached the point where even Lycra can no longer interfere with gravity - and roomy, faded tops. A Frankie Says T- shirt would not have been out of place.

O'Neal's songs are anthemic among recently-superannuated soul boys and girls - people displaced by newer dance music - and nobody seemed to think them unsuitable in this setting. Dina Carroll was a clever inclusion on the bill, even though her tendency towards big balladeering might not indicate so: with 600,000 albums sold and five hit singles in the UK this year, she was preaching to the converted, who - in between bopping along to the fast stuff - responded admirably by stretching out on the grass and singing along. The house / gospel group Nu Colours made a lot of friends too, by sheer force of personality - their joyous, five-part harmonies, honed and strengthened by regularly rocking London's Baptist churches, wouldn't let the party spirit lie.

Only Monie Love diasappointed and that was because her increasingly po-faced, earth mother stance - the Linda McCartney of rap? - was completely out of step with the occasion. The last thing this relaxed and refreshed Alexander O'Neal audience wanted was to be hectored. It was enough to make you wish for a big brass bed, if for no reason other than to hide under it. Lloyd Bradley

Glastonbury Fashion, page 25.

(Photographs omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee