Yesterday was one of those days where trying to walk from one area to the next was a pretty serious ordeal. I missed out seeing a lot of bands because of that, but made it to Billy Bragg, which is all I needed.
Protest was in the air at Glastonbury yesterday in different guises. There was a planned UK Uncut demonstration at the Pyramid Stage during U2 but as soon as the banner was hoisted it disappeared in a flicker of security jackets. Ironically, U2 paid tribute to people power during Where the Streets Have No Name, with a video montage of recent Arab Spring demonstrations. They also talked to an astronaut in an international space station during Beautiful Day, which was Admittedly Cool.
Morrissey slagged David Cameron off on the Other Stage, and Billy Bragg did the same to George Osborne on the Leftfield, concluding to the audience, "We are in this together. If you want change, you have to get organised." Billy played a true Glastonbury set of classics, and his old songs somehow feel more relevant than ever - songs like God Save the Youth of America, and Which Side are You On. Before launching into the stirring Battle of Dagenham, he talked about the BNP, "We defeated them in the 1980's, and we defeated them in Dagenham in 2010." He told the audience that every generation would have to rise up and fight them again, and that we would never let bigotry and injustice win, which made the song I Keep Faith In You - with its lyric 'It takes a lot of courage to go against the grain, you have to make great sacrifice for just a little gain' - all the more poignant.
Billy was hilarious in his set as well, ranting about the Spirit of '71 stage, which is behind the Leftfield, and its unbroken stream of uniform house music. "Is this the 1971 stage?" he mused, "Play some fucking James Taylor then." He was joined on guitar at times by Damon Gough by Badly Drawn Boy, and will be doing his Big Round Up every afternoon with other singer-songwriters.