Glastonbury 1999

If you were going to do one festival that year it was going to be this one…Glastonbury.

At the time one for the bucket list.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be at this festival.  Looking back now 20 years ago it seemed easier to get tickets.  A mere snip at £83 back then.   No need for a photo id like you do now!

Glasto line up 99

The headline acts were announced well in advance so you would know who you were going to see.  Over the three days, the main headliners were REM (Friday), Manic Street Preachers (Saturday) and Skunk Anansie (Sunday).

So tickets are purchased and flights booked.  I and my friend David made our way to Glastonbury from London with his girlfriend at the time.  Felt like the spare wheel that weekend! We made our way down on Thursday, checked in with tickets and got the all-important gig timetable. Glastonbury 99 (2).JPG

The next step is the tricky bit.  Trying to find a decent spot to pitch your tent.  We actually did find a decent spot not that far from the Pyramid stage.  So we settled in for the night so far, so good.

The next morning it was time for the festival to start.  The first port of call was the Pyramid stage. In fact, most of the weekend was spent between that and the other stage.  The place was so huge it was nearly impossible to take in all the bands you wanted to see so we decided to stick to the two stages which were within a decent walking distance.

One thing that stuck with me about Glastonbury was it wasn’t your average rock festival.  It seemed very family-orientated and it had a very laid-back vibe as well.

It all started at 11am.  The first act was ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again.  This was followed by sets by Ian Dury and then Bare Naked Ladies.

By the afternoon Blondie came on stage.  I actually made it all the way to the front for Bush.  When I returned to David and his girlfriend, we met up with a group from Glasgow who we hung about for a while.  Whilst I don’t mind meeting up with people I don’t like missing any bands!  Got to hear Hole from the distance while we hung out with our Glasgow friends.

As REM was the headline act it was going to get busy so a quick trip to the other stage allowed me to get to see Pavement.  Took in a bit of Gomez before bolting back to the Pyramid stage.  By then it was getting really busy as REM was about to hit the stage.

An amazing performance, I think just as good as Slane a few years earlier.  Check out footage of REM live from Glastonbury.  It’s The End of The World As We Know It

Following this amazing performance, we all stayed up for a while.  No idea what time to but was a good opportunity to wander around the site and take in everything.

So having survived day 1 it was now time for day 2.  A bit of controversy surrounding the Manics’ debut headline slot.  Nicky Wire once recalled in an interview that he wanted to bulldoze the place and build a by-pass through it (1994) to the practical joke about having a private toilet.  Check out the article from the Guardian newspaper at the time Red rockers wage battle of portaloo

Billy Bragg was not impressed!

We saw Billy Bragg live for the first time and then the legend that is Joe Strummer.  I had just got into appreciating how good The Clash was and being too young at the time wouldn’t have got to see them.

I made my way down to the front again to see Ash.  It was pretty wild as everyone was bouncing around like crazy.  The atmosphere was great.  Nearly lost my hat at one stage.

Following that it was back round to the other stage to catch The Cardigans and Super Furry Animals.  The Furries were amazing.  After this, it was round to the Pyramid stage to see the Manics.  By this stage the crowd was huge.  It was near impossible to get anywhere near the front.

Six songs in and there was crowd trouble.  The band were playing Yes from The Holy Bible and nobody around me knew what the song was.  I was bouncing around like mad and nearly got thumped as somebody objected to me having a good time!  David stood between me and the guy who seemed to be annoyed.  Anyway, it became apparent that the crowd trouble at the front was due to the crowd surging forward.  The band stopped playing appealing for everyone to move back.

Survived day 2 only one more day to go!

Sunday started off with the London Community Gospel Choir followed by Christian rockers Delirious?  We got a bit of Al Green in the afternoon before switching over to the other stage to catch Feeder, then back to the main stage for a bit of Fun Lovin’ Criminals before nipping back to the other stage to see Mercury Rev.

By this stage, the festival was coming to a climax or rather an anti-climax.  This brings me to the band that closed the main stage on Sunday night…Skunk Anansie.  Didn’t think it would be a headline slot but hey Michael Eavis picks the headliners.  Were they the worst headliners? I don’t think they were the worst but considering what was out at the time why shouldn’t they have had a shot at it.

So that closed Glastonbury.  Only a matter of trying to get home after a sleepless last night.  Getting in was easy, getting out harder.  Every bus leaving was going everywhere but London.  By the time the London bus came, it was like the fall of Saigon as everyone threw their bags onto the bus trying to get on board.  We finally hit the road but by the time we got to the airport, we missed our flight to Dublin.  Ryanair managed to put us on the next available flight that night which meant we needed somewhere to stay in Dublin on Monday night before going home.

Funny enough on the second flight we shared the same plane as the President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann) Mary McAleese and her husband.  So even the President flew economy class back then!

Looking back on my first and only Glastonbury some great bands, great weather and a bit of drama getting home.  Think I will stick to watching it on BBC in future!
















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