Glastonbury diary: Mike Skinner takes up the Jackson challenge
Rob Sharp is a freelance journalist specialising in arts and culture. He was on staff at The Independent from July 2007 to December 2011, first as a features writer, and then as the paper’s arts correspondent. He has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines. For more information visit his website, www.robsharp.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday 28 June 2009
* While Neil Young belted out hits from his 30-year songbook on Friday night, bemused punters were treated to the sight of an oil painter with a canvas and easel at the side of the stage. The artist in question is one Eric Johnson, a Seattle-born painter who gets through some 11 paintings a set, as requested by Young. But why is the Canadian songsmith asking for them? Are they simply a more lasting alternative to the thousands of Twitpics of the singer that will be uploaded this weekend? The jury is still out.
* While Lady Gaga was apparently hysterical at the news of Michael Jackson's death, others were less moved, with the likes of The Rakes' lead singer, Alan Donohoe, fumbling through the avalanche of Glastonbury interviews by admitting, "We don't have time to learn any Michael Jackson covers, so we're just going to stick with our set." (You can't find the musicians these days.) That left the way clear in the race to perform a King of Pop cover version. Ultimately the duty fell to straight-talking Mike Skinner of The Streets, who rattled out an impromptu version of "Billie Jean" mid-way through his Friday set on the Jazz/World Stage. It resulted in one of the biggest singalongs of the day.
* Lily Allen did her bit with a solitary white glove in an apparent tribute during her set on Friday. Taking to the Pyramid stage in the early evening she could hardly hide her joy at the good weather. Unfortunately, her summery attire almost led to a wardrobe malfunction. "My tit tape's fallen off," she declared.
* Ah, these Americans, they just don't know how things are done in Somerset, do they? Bruce Springsteen, who performed for the first time at Glasto last night, filled the headline slot. But according to festival staff, The Boss got a bit shirty when told he couldn't stay on stage for a drawn-out three-hour concert, instead of the requisite two hours that everyone else makes do with. Thankfully, Michael Eavis, ever the diplomat, stepped in to allow Springsteen two and a half hours of rock-out time.
* Shame on those who thought that last year's Saturday night headliner Jay-Z was the first hip-hop artist to grace the Pyramid Stage. The honour went to Bow boy Dizzee Rascal. "I got up there in 2007 with Arctic Monkeys," he said on Friday. "People think Jay-Z was the first rapper to headline, but it was me!" Unfortunately for the Mercury Prize-winning artist, his show did not go without a hitch. "Yeah, my mic cut off," he continued. "People could see me but they couldn't hear me. Never mind, it was amazing seeing 80,000 people in front of me."
Coming up today: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bat for Lashes, Roots Manuva, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, then, finally, Blur on the Pyramid Stage. It looks set to be one of the all-time great headlining performances at Glastonbury.
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