As another Glastonbury festival rolls round, hazy memories of five years of great bands and trudging through mud come temporarily back into focus.

Seeing teenagers with boxes of Carling and kooky wellies at Victoria coach station makes me thoroughly opinionated - "how are you going to keep that beer cold?" I ask myself, as I make an assessment on their waterproof gear, and anticipate how arsed off they will be with their gazebo by the time they get to the less fashionable edges of Pennards Hill.

I was initially duped into going, back in 2002, when many of my friends and long time festival veterans told me I'd love the music and the atmosphere. I remember wanting to go on a city break to Bilbao instead, this being the brief window of super cheap European flights on Ryanair.

Little did I know then that the visit in 2002 would spark another 5 trips down to Somerset with an increasing amount of higher quality rain gear*...


  Drop Acid Not Bombs

Glastonbury Highlights: 2005 The White Stripes

How 2 band members could make such an enormous and captivating sound is still beyond me. This set in 2005 marked a brilliant convergence of right band, right year, right day, right stage, right time and cemented the skill of scheduling that Michael Eavis has shown over the years. Following the release of "Get behind me Satan", Meg and mainly Jack White had me caught on a series of simple but super clever hooks. I'm still thinking about the doorbell. By the end, a couple of hundred thousand delighted fans sang the rallying guitar line from seven nation army begging for an encore. They got exactly what they wanted. Top class.

meg white white stripes

Glastonbury Highlights: 2003 The Polyphonic Spree

Long time glastonbury enthusiast friends mike and Esther insisted that this band was something. A scorching Saturday afternoon brought the 22 strong Texan collective on stage. Within minutes I was in the cult. The robes, the big sound and the euphoric preaching and enthusiasm of Tom de laughter made for a joyful hour of hypnotic magic.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2003 Lemon Jelly

I was ready to hate this. A year earlier I went to this same crappy new band tent to see Cornershop, who were late and meant that I didn't get to see the white stripes for another few years. Lemon jelly were late, the tent was crowded and getting busier as new jerks kept on pushing in. The beers were practically empty. Everybody else in my group was somewhere else apart from the future mrs Lepki. Once lemon jelly, just 2 guys, came onstage and got going, the sound made up for the delay. This was a high-end production. If a show was ever well put together, it was this. Each song was textured with digital beats which seemed to be tweaked and iterated within each song to complete perfection. Custom animations combined semi familiar cartoon motifs and contemporary flash advertising tricks. You felt the lemon jelly brand and could clearly see that these two guys were at the top of their game and enjoying every second of it. When you thought they had it all put together, one of them ran over to an electric cello and played the closing outro riff for the beautifully crafted cherry on top.
lemon jelly

Glastonbury Highlights: 2008 Leonard Cohen

This was a lesson in songwriting and performance. As teenagers ran around stages with enthusiasm and entitlement, Leonard Cohen oozed class and grew a set of songs into a world class career retrospective. His backing band was full of consummate pros, and provided the backdrop to let the beautiful gravel seep through. Milk and honey, and impossible to top.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2004 James Brown

The Sunday afternoon slot has given me the chance to see Roger Waters play Dogs to a festival crowd, Brian Wilson wheeled on stage to pretend he's playing pet sounds and James brown bring vegas to somerset a year or so before the great gig in the sky. The godfather of soul still had the moves in his 70s and he rolled through a funk powered set of classics with the hardest working house band in showbusiness.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2003 Flaming Lips

How do you follow polyphonic spree? Quite easy if you are the flaming lips, at possibly their most mainstream moment in a long and fairly mad career. More euphoria, great stage presence and a performance of pink floyds breathe which came blissfully out of the blue as the sun was setting on quite possibly the best day of glastonbury and certainly one of the top 3 days in life. Radiohead were next on the bill too...

Glastonbury Highlights: 2008 Manu Chao

How best to get in the mood for a honeymoon in south America? Infectious enthusiasm and energy from Manu Chao.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2009 Neil Young

Grumpy old bastard, but captivating nontheless.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2005 Primal Scream

Ditched REM midway through their show, and moved on up to Primal Scream where they were half way through an uncharacteristically crowd friendly set. A precursor of their Screamadelica tour, they played some of their greatest hits, and ensured Loaded was the most spontansoulsly sung song of the weekend.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2008 CSS

Catchy, infectious and fun. As more and mroe acts tended towards piano rock, CSS delivered a chirpy, perky and sexy hour.

Glastonbury Highlights: 2009 Blur

The last band I saw in my 5 years at Glastonbury.

Damon and co put on a great show, though it felt like it was a little bit too late into the festival to give it the defining moment, as it was saved for the Sunday night. By this point, the scheduling had made me a little bit mad, many of the most intriguing bands were programmed for 10pm Saturday night, but I waited for The Boss to ignite.

Anyway, the final musical memory of the festival was the whole crowd singing the chorus from Tender... "Come on come on, get through it..."

And then we had to pack up our tent and get back to civilisation.



Pear Cider. Loopy juice. Made my 5 years at the festival go by in a snap.



Wolves flags...

People moan about the flags, but there is an element of character about them, and they do serve as a stupidly unreliable marker.

"I'm behind a Spaceman on a stick..."

Sunny Sundays, settling into some classics as the hard work of the festival has been done, and now you can have an afternoon singalong to someone you'd never see elsewhere.

Silent Disco
The big event
Everybody is watching, and if they are not there, they wish there were, unless it is raining, in which case they think its quite funny. Unless they are your parents.

The Pros from Dover...(or Oxford)

There will always be a bunch of stalwarts on the bill - Supergrass, Manu Chao, Radiohead, Elbow, Coldplay etc etc...

Can always be replied upon to put in a decent shift.


The way there is always space by the Water Aid part by the Pyramid Stage
The liberal policing

The Jazzworld Stage...

and the inevitable bunch of photos taken.

Bonkers little locations...

like the HMS Pinafore tent, which was a gem back in 2008. Right next to a bar, and with eclectic music playing til the wee small hours, this was a perfect place to regroup with friends after a tough days festivalling!




Lowlights! Rain and Mud

Certainly takes the edge of the atmosphere...

"Who are these guys again?"



Teenage Boys

The Comedy Tent

"If there's one band you have to see..."

Bruce Springsteen, the return of the Verve, Oasis, Glas bloody Vegas...

The hype draws you in to see the big headliners and then you are kind of trapped mid show, not wanting to gamble on something at the Other Stage which could be equally underwhelming, especially as The Boss is surely going to crank out the hits in the second half of his show!

"This one's off our new album..."

Mobile phone charging
Your tent being at the furthermost point from where you currently are
The misery of watching England
Drug procurement - so people tell me
Too many budding photographers :)