DJ Mag Archives: Glastonbury '98

DJ Mag Archives: Glastonbury '98

Copy from this article is taken from DJ Mag July 1998. Words by Thomas H Green and photos by Antonio Pagano and Jason Williams

Glastonbury 1998 was a muddy one; the Dance Tent was famously closed due to flooding (with human sewage) and it rained steadily from Friday morning until Saturday morning. However, a bit of bad weather wasn't enough to stop the bucket-hatted indie kids and ravers — and the shouty England fans — from harmoniously tearing it up together in "the butterscotch goo" on Worthy Farm.

In this saucer-eyed review taken from the DJ Mag archives, DJCoin winds back the clock to Glastonbury '98 with The Chemical Brothers, Primal Scream, Red Snapper, Tony Bennett, Morcheeba, Freddy Fresh, recent DJCoin interviewee DJ Rap, and a 16-piece scrap metal drum orchestra called Weapons of Sound.

First the mud, then came the flood. Despite the conviction that after '97's slime fiasco "it won't happen twice", this year saw water-logging that made religious souls wonder if Glastonbury 1999 might be overrun by locusts. Yet while terminal sensibles took a Friday night train back to a hot bath'n'Ovaltine, heartier souls embraced the butterscotch goo and partied until their minds fizzled to a few strands of deep-fried DNA. Everyone's experience of this sprawling, annual, artistic enclave in the Vale of Avalon is equally worthwhile and none are definitive. This is one version.

Arrived in shorts and sandals yesterday evening with Elton and Big Jay, but the sky's been rendered asunder by torrents of water ever since. Wellington-booted and full of roast pork and tatties, head for Purple Penguin on Jazz Stage due to an affection for their 'Memphis' EP. Sadly, they prove pleasant but slightly characterless in the live arena and it's left to Red Snapper, reinforced by the presence of MC Det, to kickstart proceedings with stylish jazz-beatz and drum & bass. Across to the Dance Tent, we find a red-haired Mrs Wood teaching techno to much whooping, preparing the way for Fluke. Haven't really heard much from this lot to shout about since 'Techno Rose of Blighty' years ago, but their pounding drums, wild vocal exhortations and version of Happy Mondays' 'Wrote For Luck' tore the roof off.

Afternoon wanderings take in cabaret, Paul Merton improv, and then it's time for the football. Anyone who watched England vs. Colombia at Glastonbury will never forget it — the rain sheeting it down like a monsoon while Anderton and Beckham make it all worthwhile. With the final whistle, sodden to the bone, the biggest single audience in Britain howls with joy and for five minutes the ridiculous 'Vindaloo' makes as much sense as Joe Smooth's 'Promised Land' on yer first eccy.

It takes a while in my leaking tent, now that all my waterproofs are drenched, to design a Jean-Paul Gaultier-style skirt, top and scarf out of binbags'n'string. Big Jay has vanished to the medical tent to grab a thermal blanket and some valium while Elton's rushed cape-clad to Moby and The Chemical Brothers. My mind is set on the delights of Primal Scream but they're in mogadon mood and turn all their masterpieces into Spacemen 3 playing sloth-funk, so wander to lan Brown — Syd Barrett on a jaunty-funk trip, quite good too. Then the skies open again, viciously, and there's no choice but to return tentwards.


Big Jay, fully rested, starts the day with a couple of equities, while I settle for bangers'n'mash and Gaultier into the showery mud-fields. At the Jazz Stage, James Hardway (a band, not a man) move the encrusted to drum, bass & sax-laden grooves. Afterwards, in far-flung fields full of freaks selling 'Alien' acid, the ecstasy-testing stall is as fascinating as the Permaculture Garden is idyllic.

Back at the Dance Tent, closed most of the day due to flooding (with human sewage), Coldcut start well but run into rhythmical difficulties as a result of their complicated four-deck-two-powerbook set. As Freddy Fresh begins DJing we walk to the Jazz Stage, where Morcheeba's sweet, smokers' melodies have drawn the biggest crowd so far. But it's getting tiring standing up all the time so Cabaret Tent and Alien's are our next port of call. Limbs resting and brains beginning to fizz, two female comedians provide bawdy entertainment when suddenly the red curtain pulls back to reveal a 16-piece drum orchestra called Weapons of Sound using scrap metal and god knows what to create a head-detonating racket. Insanity.

Returning to our tents, we find Big Jay impeccably dressed in the front flaps of his tent. From here on in it's all a whirl of donuts, chou-chou nuts and bellowing crowds for Norman Cook until my faculties reawaken staring at Damon Albarn bouncing up'n'down on the main stage. Quickly push through the prodigious crowd, past a field where Underworld are laying down solid 909s, into Plastikman's tent. Techno heaven. The night is young, the stone circle beckons, Big Jay keeps on popping, my lungs are like coalmines, don't ever wanna go home.

Awaken, ruined, in the afternoon. Big Jay is still awake. Didn't think I was gonna manage today but hadn't counted on Somerset scrumpy and a steak sandwich with amyl nitrate mustard. On the stage, the last of the crooners, Tony Bennett, who left his heart in San Francisco, appears to a hero's welcome. From cheery Billie Holiday numbers to 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', he's greeted ecstatically, a football chant of "TONY! TONY!" breaks out, crusties waltz, hippies cheer, and punks turn to their their clay-covered partners for a cuddle. Even the atheists believe now — God is a 70-year-old New Yorker called Anthony Dominick Bendetto. Immediately afterwards, we leap about to Kenny Ken and DJ Rap at the Dance Tent only to return for Bob Dylan's rather dull and incomprehensible final minutes (apart from a moving crowd-swaying version of 'Blowing in the Wind' as his encore).

Big Jay is finally asleep. As the sun goes down, I watch the surreal musical comedy of Bill Bailey, all '70s TV jokes and cockney heavy metal pastiches. Three litres of strawberry-pear cider, a dash of Herbie Hancock and it's time for Circus Croissant Neuf where the Egg are playing. Despite initial technical difficulties, they jam out tuneful funk from their impeccable 'Albumen' and 'Travelator' LPs blistering the last remaining unmarked trench-feet and breaking out serotonin all round. The gradually drying ground has turned to treacle, and another attempt to raise beached Big Jay is met with failure, but we've 'ad it large, met cats with rare ideas, heard points of view discouraged by Murdoch's dull media, and learnt that when speed garage has long wiped out originality on planet dance, there will still be Plastikman and Tony Bennett to contend with. See ya next year.

Want more? Hop back on board the Myspace bus for Creamfields' 10th birthday bash in this vintage review, also taken from the DJ Mag archives.

Read our interview with DJ Rap here.

Meanwhile, we're giving all DJCoiners £10 off DJ Mag's essential new dance music compendium, 100 of the World's Best DJs. Find out more here.

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