Wayne Coyle of Flaming Lips and me!
People were very excited when i told them I'd been asked to be the Greenpeace press officer at Glastonbury 2010 . "You jammy cow!" / "how did you pull that off?!?" / "you are about to have the time of your life," came the emails. I kept my cool. It was just a festival. I'd been to festivals before. How good could it possibly be?
In hindsight, i was naive, skeptical, standoffish. These people were right. Glastonbury is more than a festival, and it's definitely a once in a lifetime experience. It is also difficult to describe to anyone who hasn't been. Its sheer scale, magic, intensity, vibrancy and madness is almost impossible to encapsulate in stayed old English. For four days, 180,000 people congregate in this one tiny corner of South-West England to talk, dance, eat, drink, lose it, find it, whatever. There's music, dance, cabaret, burlesque, theatre, poetry and politics; anything goes, as long as you're nice to each other. Punters can rock up to a festival with as much alcohol as they like (provided it's not in glass), and yet in the six days i was there i saw no violence, no animosity, no vomit, and no bad behaviour. The only fighting i was privy to was between couples who couldn't agree on what to have for lunch. They say every Glastonbury is special, but this one perhaps more so than others, because a) it didn't rain; infact barely a cloud crossed the sky for the whole six days i was there and b) it was the 40th anniversary. So four decades since 1,500 people first paid £1 to get in; a steal once you factor in the free milk they were given (when it's not playing host to mad revelers, the festival site is actually a working dairy farm.
The festival is committed to being as green as possible, running several areas on solar and wind, discouraging transport by car, fastidiously recycling, and ensuring all cutlery on site is made from wood, and all cups and plates from compostable card. Greenpeace and Glastonbury go back a long way. We've been involved since 1992, and Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis gives us a generous chunk of the festival's profits each year.
The Greenpeace site itself is immense and masterful. This year's theme was rainforests, and the field had been designed and built accordingly. Hundreds of volunteers had been onsite for weeks prior to the festival, constructing rainforest-themed showers, skake-ramps, stages, stalls, cafes and other features. A focus this year was getting high profile people onboard to support our forests work, and the work we're doing to stop BP being such gross environmental bandits. Please find accompanying this blog images of some of these people helping fight the good fight.
Once again this year Greenpeace teamed up with Mi7 Records to put on live music in the Greenpeace field. We placed the "Earth Dome", a giant world globe stage, in the middle of the Greenpeace field, and it played host to four full days of live music - some of it really really good and drawing sizable audiences. Last year Mumford and Sons had cut their Glastonbury teeth on the Greenpeace stage, so it has quite a good reputation. This year, that same band played "the biggest gig of their lives"in the significantly larger John Peel tent, but did take a moment to acknowledge their Greenpeace Glasto roots.
We were also blessed with a visit by Prince Charlie. Meanwhile Florence and the Machine, Flaming Lips and others appear in our 2010 video, set to the Recycled Orchestra's take on Tears for Fears classic "Shout". The song is made using only instruments from recycled waste. That's my mouth...the second one in. The video played three times on the main Pyramid Stage on the last night, which is to say, it pretty much opened for Stevie Wonder. I am thinking of patenting my lips.
If you ever go to Glastonbury, you'll also see a lot of Greenpeace - on the wrist bands, in the program, and on giant banners at the front of all the main stages . The organisation really has become synonymous with the festival's ethos over the years.
So a true triumph of an event. To quote Sunday Times critic AA Gill from a past Glasto:
"I stood in a field with 150,000 chemically sandblasted, euphorically Botoxed, giroscopically unstable weekend hippies. It was a great big joyous cosmic bendy neon rainbow fruit-gum chum with medieval plumbing."
I'm not entirely sure what he's on about, but i think he's probably right.