Mud, Slam Poetry and Beyoncé: Glastonbury 2011

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On Monday afternoon I returned home covered in mud, sunburnt, eye-droopingly tired, blistered and euphoric. I had just spent the best part of a week at Glastonbury festival, watching performances from some of the biggest names in music, exploring huge art installations and camping in the mud with friends.

Inevitably, all the talk before it started was about the weather and the conditions at the farm in Somerset where Glastonbury is held each year. It is clichéd but true that the British love talking about the weather, and no more so than at music festivals. As the 180,000 campers arrived on Wednesday and Thursday the site was covered in thick, sticky mud, making it difficult to walk anywhere. However, it wasn't long before people embraced the mud. I saw crowds gather at the slippiest parts to cheer whenever someone fell over, old wellington boots arranged in to ‘Welly Henge' (above), and people swimming/rolling in the deepest puddles.

Despite the best efforts of the weather though, the main focus of the weekend was of course the music. In three days I saw some of the most eclectic musical performers of pop, dubstep, folk, blues, house...the list is endless at Glastonbury. However, there were certainly some highlights.

On the Friday one of the most controversial of the acts on the main Pyramid stage, Wu-Tang Clan, rocked up in sunglasses and dressing gowns. The legendary hip-hop group had to work hard to get a wet crowd who knew few of the lyrics really jumping, but led by the ball of energy that is Method Man, they most definitely did by the end.

They were followed in the afternoon by another legendary figure, this time in the blues genre, in the form of B.B. King. The 85 year-old sat down throughout his set, but his fingers playing the guitar are certainly still working. His effortless charm and musical brilliance instantly got the crowd smiling for one of the more touching sets of the weekend.

For me the Saturday was dominated by electronic music of all kinds. I started the day relaxing to the experimental, atmospheric sounds of producer Nicolas Jaar, before heading over to join a packed crowd for DJ Yoda. His audio-visual set style is brilliantly unique, as he mixed the Star Wars score in to Tetris music in to hip-hop.

Saturday evening brought the highlight of the weekend for me with a performance by the Chemical Brothers. The stunning lights show and pounding music created huge energy in the crowd and had everyone jumping (including a five-year-old in front of me on her dad's shoulders). It was the perfect way to end the day and begin the night.

On Sunday afternoon I explored some of the more arty areas of the festival and ended up watching a Poetry Slam competition. Regular festival goers were encouraged to perform their own poetry with the chance to win a slot at next year's festival.

However, the day belonged to Beyoncé. Her performance headlining the Pyramid stage has already been added to the list of all time greats. Although I'm not a huge fan of her music, I felt I should go and see her for the show alone, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. A crowd of almost 100,000 watched the show open with fireworks, break dancers and a massive backing band, and that was all before Beyoncé had even risen from out of the stage. This level of intense performance was somehow kept up throughout her whole set and she seemed genuinely touched by the crowds deafening reaction.

Going from sitting in a tent with thirty other people watching a slam poetry competition, to seeing one of the biggest stars in the world perform in front of almost 100,000, really sums up what is so uniquely brilliant about Glastonbury. And I wouldn't change it for anything (mud and all).

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