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After months and months of anticipation for me, Glastonbury Festival, the unrivalled highlight of my festival & concert year, finally arrived wahey! Weather is always a major variable when it comes to Glasto, and while we were blessed with a warm & sunny festival in 2015 (bar only one day of rain), that was not the the case this year. Heavy rain in the week leading up to and during the festival made it a mud-fest, which isn’t a bad thing from a photography perspective.
I always like to do a thorough job of covering the festival, so checked into my Airbnb (hey, I’m working and need my sleep ok? 😉 on the Tuesday evening and was on-site at 6am on the wednesday to catch arrivals which had arrived overnight to queue ready for the 8am gates opening. There weren’t actually that many people queuing at the gate I arrived at, just a few very soggy but cheery souls some of whom were falling asleep on their feet.
Wednesday and Thursday saw me walking throughout the festival site to get a good assortment of festival atmosphere pictures. First stop, the Stone Circle where I met a group of scousers, and a nice couple.
I then headed up the famous Glastonbury sign, where I found the Waters family taking pictures of themselves doing star jumps in front of the sign, with which they had very nicely colour co-ordinated their t-shirts!
I worked my way to the Pyramid Field later that day where people were chilling out, enjoying some quiet time while they could on the empty field.
With the sad deaths of rock legends David Bowie and Lemmy over the last year, the Eavis’ & team had planned fitting tributes throughout the festival. Two of those came in the form of big and impressive looking sculptures adorning the top of the Pyramid and Other Stages, made by sculptor Joe Rush.
Wednesday saw a constant stream of festival goers begin to fill the campsites, where little communities had sprung up. By the afternoon the key spots were full, and festival goers started to occupy the farther flung corners of the festival campsites. I found the ladies below pitching their tent on what was a really steep patch of ground with the famous Glastonbury wall just behind us. What a great view though!
With intermittent but heavy rain, the mud wasn’t actually that bad and largely confined to the lower lying areas such as Silver Hayes & to the side of the Pyramid/Other stages.
One of the beauties of Glastonbury is its size, there is so much to explore and from a photography persepective its challanging/impossible to cover the full breadth of the festival each year. I knew I’d never explored the Kidz Field before, so this year I decided to give that a proper look on the Wednesday, Day 2.
What a cool place it is, its absolutely massive, and full of literally every entertainment a kid could hanker for. Inflatables, craft workshops, ziplines, climbing walls, facepainting. Very cool.
On Wednesday afternoon I headed up to the Park Stage where Billie Bragg led a tribute to Jo Cox, the British MP tragically murdered a few weeks before. Thousands of people packed out the field, before marching through the festival.
Next stop for me was the nearby Stonebridge Bar, where superstar snooker ex-World Champion Steve Davies, who since leaving snooker has build himself a career as techno DJ, was to do a block-rocking set. I loved it that fans of Davies had turned up in full snooker-player outfits to have their cues signed.
DJ Steve Davies with Madness’ Suggs
From the Stone Bridge bar near the Park stage, I quick-marched over to the Pyramid Stage to catch a tribute to David Bowie, where thousands of festival goers had congregated for a mass-singalong.
Despite the crappy weather, Wednesday evening gave us a nice sunset which I caught from the hill above the Tipi Village.
While the bands don’t start properly until the Friday, there is plenty of more low-keyish stuff happening on the Thursday night. So I ended up shooting my first band of the festival, cool dance producer Mura Masa at Silver Hayes. Here’s his guest vocalist Bonzai catching some selfies with front row fans.
Friday saw my focus shift from festival atmosphere, to the bands. This involved covering mainly Pyramid/Other Stage acts, but then running up to the likes of the Park and John Peel states for select choice up’n’coming artists. Covering on average 10 bands a day, with lots of marching from stage to stage between acts, as well head running back to the press tent between bands to edit and transmit my pictures to the news photo agency through whom I sell my pictures to the media for their breaking news coverage, it is a pretty relentless gruelling (but enjoyable!) few days.
First up, Damon Albarn who presented the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. Now given the nation was waking up to the news of the results of the EU Referendum vote in favour of Brexit, the timing for Damon and the Orchestra couldn’t have been better. Cue mighty rousing anti-brexit speech from Mr Albarn.
Next up with a quick trot to the Other Stage for rising indie rock starlets Blossoms…
…who are from Stockport (its near Manchester!)
Christine & the Queens are one of my favourite artists right now, I was pleased to have caught them at a small gig in London’s KOKO a few months ago, so great to see them playing one of the big stages at Glasto, very well deserved.
Back to the Pyramid Stage for Skepta (it’s now 1.45pm and I’ve already covered 4 bands)
Timings in the walking distance to The Park stage meant I wouldn’t be able to get their in time to shoot Nao, so I stayed at the main stages to get Jess Glynne on the Pyramid
I then had time to run to the John Peel stage for Jack Garratt – I’ve photographed him 4 times this year already, judging by the size of the crowds he’s pulling this is very much ‘his year’
Then back to the side of the Other Stage for Bring Me the Horizon, of Coldplay-NME-Awards-table-trashing fame…
Foals, Pyramid Stage
Savages, the Park Stage – respect to Jehnny Beth for rocking those heels…
Disclosure closed the friday night for me
Saturday early afternoon, after catching Shura on the Other Stage, saw me move my attentions away from the big stages to the John Peel stage, where I photographed a succession of up-and-comers that I’m sure you’ll be reading about more this year (if you haven’t already) – Lapsley, Dua Lipa and Alessia Cara
Late Saturday afternoon I headed back to the Other Stage for Tom Odell
Then to the Pyramid Stage for the Last Shadow Puppets
The 1975, another band who are going massive this year:
Adele, who I have to say while I’ve never been a fan, she absolutely converted me at Glasto. Awesome show, awesome talent, and walking through the crowd it was only then that I appreciated how & why everyone absolutely adores her.
So, Sunday – final day! First up for me was Laura Mvula
Jamie Lawson, The Other Stage
Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Pyramid Stage
Years & Years, The Other Stage
Ellie Goulding, The Pyramid Stage
Catfish and the Bottlemen, another indie rock band who are having a big year, and they’re welsh nice one boys!
Beck on the Pyramid Stage
PJ Harvey on the Other Stage
Coldplay closed the Sunday night on the Pyramid. They’ve got the confetti, the wristbands, and the massive songs, well if it isn’t broken don’t fix it!
So that was my Glastonbury. It was a wet, muddy one, but hey its part of the experience which is always great. Over the 5 days I worked, according my iPhone health app I trudged 90km… in wellies… through mud… I reckon that’s the equivalent of 3 marathons in effort, not bad going! Hope you had a blast if you went, and if not then hope to see you there in 2017…
If you like my pics look me up on Instagram @richardisaacmusicphoto, my Facebook music photography page, or Twitter to keep track of the gigs I’m shooting. My pictures are available for editorial usage syndication through Rex Shutterstock. Feel free to tweet/like/share etc this post – sharing’s caring – but unauthorised copying/pasting/using of my images in any way is a big no-no (and illegal!) so please don’t do it. Thanks!