Monday, June 30, 2014

'Look At Dolly, She Did It Right'

Over the weekend we had a couple of great sets from what can only be best described as fitting into the categories of late 60's (not the decade) and being a diva. Yes, Elton. And no, not Elton.

Glastonbury has always been of those strangely all together type events. A rag tag mixed bag that are usually climate experts by the end of the weekend. Due to it's inherent attraction of rain over the years. I always try to catch bits of it on TV or radio over the three days, the benefits of onlining means that you can pick and mix the best bits without having to sit through the music version of the test card. All colour and nothing interesting happening soundwise. The World Cup has grabbed my attention soley recently so it was good to divert for a while.

The reason I'm conjuring up the mysticism of Glastonbury, because it is by all accounts a slightly kooky venue at the worst never mind the great times, is to make the case as to why Elton should be first on the list of Michael Eavis's (the organiser) list for next year. Whether it be headlining or doing the legends slot (careful) at tea time as is now the norm. During the last decade Elton had some not kind words for the event, hopefully that outburst didn't burn any bridges to the part of the countryside. He gave an interview over the weekend lamenting the fact he's never been asked to play it. I wonder why that is. Elton has certainly developed an appetite for the festival diet again. Bestival last year and Bonnaroo this year being the major appearances. Maybe he only plays those with a 'B' at the start of it is name. Whatever the reasons why or why not, it's gotta be on the bucket list (awful phrase). Lets see why there and not where he was over the last weekend...

Anybody who picked up any sort of news information device this morning won't have failed to notice how Dolly Parton shepherded in nearly a a quarter of a million souls and corralled them for an hour. She wouldn't be my cup of tea, all that fake bona mie stuff has to be act. Hasn't it? The music is a bit glam for my taste. But is that the cliche? The whole thing on paper kinda doesn't work. But work it did in practice. Check out the reviews if you haven't seen them. The deal with Glastonbury is the tickets are sold before the acts are announced. Because of that high degree of security etc. it's very unlikely the diehards will have infiltrated in large numbers. If at all. So the crowd is a tough one. But if you do your 'thing' without straying from the laid out script then you're on the way to winning the battle. Whether it be mimed or not. A predominately (though not exclusively) young crowd who won't take any messing. Daphne and Celeste made a fortune at the bottle bank, didn't they. Though here on this blog we can't condone such behaviour. Glass is very expensive in today's market. The surprise element for both parties is a terrific spark. More than fireworks ignited, for sure.

The crowd at Glastonbury always strike me as one who will probably have a good time even if the stages weren't there. But as they are there, they will want feeding from them occasionally. So you gotta do your weekend best or you're toast. Look at the run down of this years list and it's a veritable A-Z of the current, past and the future. There's no bracketing, no pigeon holing. If you're good, you're on. If not, you do something else for the weekend. It's a hardcore, back to the people type exercise. If Dolly can do it, then there's no reason why others of a similar persuasion can't.

Further east on the Saturday night Elton was doing his thing. This time in a solo setting. A rare type of show nowadays, a chance to show off the lesser cuts. Except not this time. What it did end up was an 18 song set that was devoid of The Diving Board songs. A type of show we were told by those who claim to be clued into this type of thing that was to be the very environment where these things would appear. Except they didn't. So any inference of it being some grandiose moment to perform songs from the album evaporated. The event at Stoke Park was a lavishly over priced occasion (for charity I believe, but that still doesn't mean rip offs can be allowed) that was the polar opposite of the above event. Posh nosh and champers were the order of the day. A luxury location that the prices reflected. Except it poured rain and a shorter set than normal was the ultimate reward for the hardy annuals. So rather than commanding a restless sea of humanity, it was Daniel (for the millionth time) being played with rain drops in the eyes. And slowly flattening champers.

As I alluded to earlier, at this stage of things everybody, anybody and a lot of nobodies have played Glastonbury over the years. The gaping omission at this stage is Elton. These upper echelon type events, where it's almost a dinner party on a large scale in the uncertain outdoors, are all fine and dandy in their place. But he should be pitching up his tent (naughty) in the west country and giving a stellar, possibly late live career defining moment. Hold on, I hear my readers say. We all know great he is live!! That's not the point. The point is, as Dolly showed, you turn up to an unsuspecting and unknowing crowd, catch them, tame them and then do with them what you please. I suspect all this could be done in the space of Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding. After that, they have been assumed. 

The solo show at Stoke Park was quite all right in it's own time and place. But when Elton mentioned Glastonbury in the aforementioned interview it said more to me than what it appeared to say. He turned up to play a venue that didn't sell out by any stretch of the imagination whereas he could have been commanding a whole legion of listeners. Rather than a comparatively small company. The clash of both these contrasting shows and the style that they emit couldn't be more harsh. An unlikely old timer basically stealing the show from a list of acts as long as your arm. Elton on the other hand does a shortened set at hugely inflated ticket prices. The event was for a worthwhile charity, but it's the contrast I mentioned earlier. What's wrong too is the location. It's alludes this air of exclusivity and disconnect from the average fan. The ticket prices confirm that. It all seems too safe and cosy on some levels. Promoters and advisers are badly directing and catching the mood all wrong. 

Elton at this stage won't stray from the setlist to any great degree. So why not take it to the biggest and most watched festival on Earth? And expose it to virtually a whole new audience. Elton has dipped the toe back into the festival pool, no matter how many he plays over the next few years none will touch Glastonbury. Both for prestige and plain old entertainment. He's obviously itching to do more dates of this type. I'd say the itch to do Glastonbury is one than frequently, especially at this time of the year, decides to boil up. If or when he plays it, then he will sweep all the old cliches and stereotypes that the man in the street who works 9 to 5 has become accustomed to over the years to one side. Whatever time he comes on stage at, it will have a massive television audience supplemented by those online. Come on Elton, see what Dolly did. She did it right!!

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