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by Dom Watson 2 months ago in festivals · updated 2 months ago


Photo by Robinson Recalde on Unsplash

I'm not going to lie. A week prior I was practically shitting myself with anxiety. What if I get Covid, again. It wasn't pretty. I have just had the one jab, thus far. Will it be enough? Can I rough it at my age? I do have a bad back! And a great many other ailments a good massage won't relieve. Not to mention the mood of a honey-badger with an itchy arse.

The older I get the more people tend to bother me.



You need this. You have earned this. Suck it in. It's time to party. God knows we all need it. I have probably cancelled and been refunded half a dozen gigs this last year. Don't lose the horizon. Don't lock yourself away and scroll through Twitter. There has been enough of that. But that is now my comfort zone. Away from germs and idiots and Trump.

Best foot forward lad.

For eighteen months we have been bereft. Segregated from live music and the arts. Everything we took for granted over two years ago, is happening, again, in a field in Henham, Suffolk. Bugger the expense. I'd sell a leg.

For practically five days I am going to live in exile from the world, and let the pandemic wash over me like the refreshing surf of the ocean. I need this. The collective consciousness of the minority needs this. It is make or break. Thank fuck we have some great music for company.

No masks. Just a truck load of sanitizer and a roll of Andrex Shea Butter. I have to have some creature comforts. I am 44. Don't forget the Sudocrem, Dom.

The vibe is great, the sun is shining and the people are smiling. It's great to be out, being quintessentially British and bitching about the heat, even though we have forgot to apply the factor 30. We want to burn, overdose on Vitamin D and party like it's 1999.

I spend the Friday wandering aimlessly, doing a quick recce of the various stages around the open plain and canopied amphitheatres of greenery. I check my app - yes, Latitude has an app, to see my itinerary. Squid are playing at 20:30 on the BBC Sound Stage. I'm running 5 minutes late but I catch the crowd in awe of this new and interesting band. They look on in sheer ravenous delight. Squid are here to stay. Well they are for me - I have their album currently on repeat. The drummer is giving it some welly, more so than your run-of-the-mill percussionist. He's the vocalist to boot. Post-Punk, on the euphonious highway to funk with a stop-off in a Gomez lay-by. They have the attention of the crowd. Vitriol incarnate as lockdown has cracked and these Bristol boys are seething through the cracks - magicians casting their wares to people who need to be enraptured. I'm raptured. I haven't walked away from a set for years where the hairs on the back of my neck are still standing on end - no doubt due to the orchestral lungs of guest vocalist Martha Skye Murphy. They are the narrators of our night, and I'm happy to listen.

Wolf Alice dovetail beautifully with the ending of Squid, and a short hop over the way to the Obelisk stage, people are whizzing pass like frenzied salmon. The uphill incline not deterring them from their thirst for long sought after normality.

We are home.

Ellie Rowsell has Friday night within her palm. And the people love her for it. The night has created a comfortable balm for the burnt skin of us festival goers and Ellie, tonight, is our tincture.

I've lost everyone. But it doesn't matter. I know everyone here. I am not alone. Us, of the petri dish have come together and the outside world be damned. This weekend Great Britain could have fell into the sea and we wouldn't have noticed.

Bill Bailey is here to remind us that life can be fun. On a scorching Sunday morning I am standing at the Obelisk stage waiting for the bar to open. It's 11:35. A young woman asks me what the hell is going on. She was supping a G&T at half 8 this morning. Open the bar for goodness sake, we're on holiday. We all enjoy the wait. Bill delighting us on a Sunday lunch time more than any traditional roast dinner ever could. His jovial, talented in his jokes and japes. A consummate professional in full charge of life. We need him more than ever to teach us music can be great and fun. Don't die.

Rick Astley is a vision in pink and he doesn't give two shits. The Sunday afternoon crowd lap him up, my thoughts turning to cold autumn nights in the 80's and BBC1 on a Thursday night, and Top of the Pops. Why? I don't know, I have flights of fancy, but this Rick, this pink Rick is the antithesis of the eighties. Care-free, successful, here to show you a good time. He'll never give you up to the Tories.

Shame are here to light your way. With a full artillery of woe and angst to arm you with. Charlie Steen is an audible Olympian, paving your way back into the construct of Monday morning and the grind of the wage once again. He's angry ( all the children are angry Boris ) and this weekend is going to educate and enlighten a new order which will break the pandemic's back and hopefully number 10. People have found voice, taken their masks off and grinded them into the dirt. Shame have energy and art on their side and now they bestow it to you, the glorious people. Josh Finerty has joie de vivre to spare, his excitement to play his bass and scale the diameter of the stage on heels of inertia a pleasure to see. Charlie Steen will see you now, literally, the outside world doesn't exist, and Covid-19 can do one. Crowd surfing has never been so poignant. No more, no more, no more questions. Shame have your answers.

A multi-layered cake of loveliness. Kaiser Chiefs, Griff, Rudimental can give you the familiar, but the torch for the future has been lit by Squid, Working Men's Club and Shame.


40,000 happy guinea pigs.


Dom Watson

Dom is the author of the fantasy novel The Boy Who Walked Too Far. He is currently writing his next novel, Smoker on the Porch while constantly dragging himself through the molasses of life

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