Saturday at Glastonbury

Today I took a sauna with a load of naked hippies, ate yet more veggie burger breakfasts and went to watch Joan Armatrading, where I officially found my second Hive of the Leztival. This one was the preserve of lesbian mums and clapped out wrinkly old hippie Wah Wahs. Eye candy at every angle.

Yes, it’s been another Gay Day at Glastonbury:

Joan Armatrading sauntered onto the Jazz World Stage on a sunny Saturday afternoon to a warm reception from a loyal band of fans that were clinging to the barriers at the front.

Dressed entirely in black and brandishing an electric guitar like Bruce Springsteen, she launched into tracks from most recent album, Into The Blues, surprising anyone (like me) who was expecting retro pop romp. When I first found out that the singer behind the 80s classic ‘Drop The Pilot’ was a black bluesy-soul diva, better known for her lesbian love songs, I was pretty shocked.

I’m not an avid watcher of blues, soul or female singer-song writers, so I don’t have a reliable benchmark with which to compare Ms Armatrading. Let me be clear, she was good. And with a voice strong enough to reach the opposite side of Worthy Farm there was no way anyone could fail to pay attention.

She’s a lady with a list of hits as long as both of her arms, stretching back over a decade or three. In her hour and a bit long set she managed to skip through her recent blues-folk era (‘Into the Blues’), indulge the Springsteen (‘Me Myself I’) within and touch everyone’s hearts with her best love ballads – tales of traumatic transatlantic girlfriends (‘All The Way From America’) and lonely longing (‘Love and Affection’).

The guitar was dropped briefly, for a haunting almost-whispered rendition of ‘Willow’ which floated out and over the field full of people who were hanging on her every word. Every pause lasting more than two seconds was filled with bursts of rapturous applause from an audience who couldn’t resist the enormous grin and flashes of white teeth from a singer who clearly loved every minute of her Glastonbury experience.

After an hour Joan vanished, without having Drop(ped) The Pilot. She duly returned, like the encore diva that she is – swapping guitar for mic, to play her best piece of 80s pop, finishing one of the most eclectic and interesting performances I’ve seen at this year’s festival.

Copyright Glastonbury Festivals 2008


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