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Top Ten Glastonbury Festival Gigs (2011-2016)

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Top Ten Glastonbury Festival Gigs (2011-2016)

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Joe

With five Glastonbury Festivals, from 2011 to 2016, under our belt we decided to have a look back at some of our favourite gigs over that time. Feel free to mention your favourite Glastonbury performance in the comment section below or let us know if you also saw any of these acts.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Pyramid Stage 2013

Cave and co were scheduled before trustafarian folksters Mumford and Sons on the Pyramid Stage. The Bad Seeds promptly took ownership of the iconic main stage and presented the waistcoat wearing fops with one of the festival’s greatest ever ‘follow that, arseholes’ sets.

Resplendent in silk black suit and paisley shirt Cave provided a master class in how to perform at a festival. Each soft moment perfectly placed among the dangerous, violent lyrics and tales of murder that Cave has excelled at throughout his career. The brooding epic Jubilee Street became an instant live favourite, as were older classics such as Mercy Seat and a spellbinding encore of Red Right Hand.

The real highpoint though was Stagger Lee, as Cave embarked on one of two attempts to crowd surf/schmooze. As he screamed at those he made contact with about all the things he was going to do to poor Billy Dilly in the song suddenly this pre-Raphaelite looking women appeared. She kept resolute eye contact with Cave throughout as he ended up singing directly to her. This kind of thing is cheesy when someone like Bono does it, but not when Cave gives it a go. As far as I’m aware the U2 singer has never looked into an audience member’s eyes, held her hands and screamed “I’m going to fuck Billy Dilly up his motherfucking ass.”

Billy Bragg

Leftfield Stage 2016

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg, Glastonbury 2016

I often go to Bragg’s regular Friday night set at this stage that he helps curate but this set, just hours after the shocking Brexit vote outcome was announced, was by far the best.

The crowd’s roar after hits like Milkman of Human Kindness and Sexuality was “just what I needed”, he said, after the day’s testing events. We needed it too. Even Bragg admitted towards the end that this had been one of his best ever gigs and certainly it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Leftfield in five years as a regular.

There Is A Power In A Union sing-a-long was intense with its added topicality and New England was dutifully rousing. Activism was duly recharged.

St Vincent

Park Stage, 2014

St Vincent

St Vincent, Glastonbury 2016

St Vincent provided one of the most astounding show of 2014’s event. Dressed in gold and black she moved around the stage like a android doll who has just discovered rebellion. Coordinated dancing, theatrics and two of the most insane crowd surfing moments I’ve witnessed were incredible on their own and that’s without mentioning the superb music and her sensational guitar playing.

Your Lips Are Red and a tender version of Prince Johnny were among many highlights of an incredible masterclass in performance and music.

John Grant

John Peel Stage 2016

John Grant

John Grant, Glastonbury 2016

Poor John had flu but this somehow made his performance at the John Peel stage better, with the crowd urged to sing-along and wave their arms around to keep him going. He has come along way as a performer since I last saw him at Glastonbury at the Park Stage in 2014 and he is now a proper diva, albeit one in a country and western shirt and a massive beard.

Queen of Denmark, Greatest Mother Fucker were highlights but Glacier blew the whole gig apart with its emotional brilliance.

Pentangle

Acoustic Stage 2011

Bert Jansch (centre) performing with Pentangle at Glastonbury 2011

Pentangle, Glastonbury 2011

Reformed for this special gig at the Acoustic stage, folk super group Pentangle excelled during a set that  featured the full original line up of guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, singer Jacqui McShee, drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson. For a folk fan like me this was a very special occasion.

Even though they’d barely rehearsed together the old magic was still there. Watching Renbourn weave his intricate guitar playing around Jansch’s riffs and Thompson and Cox’s jazz folk rhythms was one of my favourite musical moments at the 2011 festival. They seemed delighted to be there as they swept though tracks such as ‘Hunting Song’, ‘Bruton Town’, ‘House Carpenter’ and ‘Cruel Sister’. This was an experience to cherish.

Tragically it was also the last chance to see Jansch, who sadly passed away just two months later. Renbourne is also no longer with us and the loss of these two pioneers of British folk music makes this chance to have seen them even more special.

Ron Sexsmith

Acoustic Stage 2015

Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith, Glastonbury 2015

Ron Sexsmith appeared in 2015 to celebrate two decades of music, but up until his engaging set his music had completely evaded me somehow. Through a career spanning set, including Strawberry Blonde and There’s a Rhythm to the more recent Getaway Car, he had me hooked. For a week later I was still humming these tracks, that I had only heard once – that’s how good a song writer he is.

La Femme

William’s Green Stage 2015

La Femme

La Femme, Glastonbury 2015

Another sensational performance at the 2015 event was Parisian eccentric surf-dance-you name it-pop act La Femme. At their William’s Green set there was crowd surfing, crazy dancing and wonderful banter. This is a fun party band who were on top form as they showcased tracks from their just released debut album Psycho Tropical Brazil.

Wilko Johnson

Acoustic Stage 2015

Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson, Glastonbury 2015

Like a crazed bird Johnson made a mockery of the cancer that the previous year threatened to take his life, as he weaved around stage, machine gun-chording the audience with his trademark Fender telecaster. He and his regular bassist Norman Watt-Roy are a sheer joy to watch.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks

John Peel Stage 2015

FFS

FFS, Glastonbury 2015

For my final act of Glastonbury 2015 I ventured over to the half full John Peel Stage to see Franz Ferdinand with Sparks, who were competing with the Chemical Brothers and The Who. This didn’t stop them putting on one of this year’s best sets as they ripped through each other’s hits and showcased their remarkable and fun joint album from 2015.

Highlights included Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael’s endearing acting during the splendidly ironic Collaborations Don’t Work. Top moment though was the surprise sight of Ron Mael emerging from behind his keyboard to laugh and dance for a quick 30 second mesmerising burst of pop history. Not bad dancing skills for a man for whom John Lennon once said “bloody hell, its Hitler on TV.

Ok Go

John Peel Stage 2011

Ok Go

Ok Go, Glastonbury 2011

I love a band that makes a bit of an effort and Ok Go certainly do that. Known for their inventive videos this US pop rock are equally impressive live. With each member dressed in a bright coloured suit,  I was left impressed with both their showmanship and song writing.

Squeeze are the nearest comparison as OK Go  as put in for me the performance of the 2011 festival, featuring great versions of ‘Here it Goes Again’ (the one with the treadmill video) as well as ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Sky Scrapers’ from their then most recent album Of The Blue Colour of the Sky. It was a masterclass in audience engagement too, with a member of the crowd joining them on guitar duty.

Words and photos by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2017 Finals

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2017 Finals

Posted on 25 April 2017 by Joe

Each year at the live finals for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition particular themes emerge, which give a good indicator into the current thinking of festival bookers and music journalists.

At last year’s event attitude proved the winning theme, with She Drew the Gun’s ability to speak to a generation of young people earning the top prize, of a £5,000 PRS Foundation talent development grant and a main stage slot.

The previous year it was melody that shone through, being delivered by teenager Declan McKenna, whose track Brazil has arguably never been bettered in the competition’s history for sheer pop savvyness. Within months he was signed by Columbia and will be appearing at this year’s festival, for the third time in his fledgling career.

This year it was all about singing talent with all eight acts showcasing top vocal gymnastics.

Josh Barry

Josh Barry

In the end the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition judges, including Michael and Emily Eavis, Glastonbury stage bookers and music business professionals, went for the act with the biggest voice of them all, Josh Barry, a soul singer from London who has been a stalwart of the underground dance scene for a number of years and once even auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

His was an incredibly passionate live performance and on a night of tonsil based excellence his victory was inevitable. He will own whichever main stage he is allocated and make good use of his £5,000 PRS prize.

Young Yizzy

Young Yizzy

In terms of unearthing original talent,  Young Yizzy and Flohio were worthy runners up. These London based young MCs are already gathering critical acclaim and the teenage Young Yizzy is one of the UK’s emerging grime stars. He was a close second to Barry in terms of working a crowd, with a stage invasion at the end of his two track set a highlight of the night.

Flohio oozed star appeal and like She Drew the Gun, took the mantle of spokesperson for a generation. As a website focused mainly on indie and alternative guitar music the charismatic Flohio took me out of my comfort zone and I loved every minute of it.

Flohio

Flohio

Both Flohio and Young Yizzy scooped £2,500 PRS Foundation grants to help further their careers, which on this evidence, will go from strength to strength.

It sounds patronising and clichéd to say that all eight finalists; also including Lucas & King, Lilith Ai, Silences, WOWH and TYNI, were winners. But as all gain a slot somewhere on the festival bill and have garnered some excellent publicity from reaching the last eight, they have in no way lost out.

As a long list judge for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition, and regular attendee at these finals, I’m looking forward to the next emerging theme. Although I’ll have to wait two years, as the festival takes a year’s break next year to let the grass at Worthy Farm recover.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

For more information about the competition and live final click here.

Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures from the live final.

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Glastonbury Festival 2016 – Small Stages Highlights

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Glastonbury Festival 2016 – Small Stages Highlights

Posted on 27 June 2016 by Joe

Even festival organiser Michael Eavis, a man well used to the unpredictable Somerset summer weather, says this year was the muddiest Glastonbury ever. He wasn’t wrong. Getting about in ankle deep sludge for most of the weekend was indeed tough going as the weather and Friday’s shock Brexit vote conspired to give this year’s event a distinct vibe.

mud

For the acts the political developments fueled a sense of rage that gave their sets some extra steel. Meanwhile, the mud made audiences seem even more grateful than usual. They’d fought through mud to reach a band and by gum they were going to enjoy themselves once they got there.

Meanwhile, the Leftfield tent became a Mecca for the confused, as young and old alike looked for answers across its line up of politicians, activists and bands.

Here’s our look across some of the highlights on the smaller stages. Were you at any of these gigs? If so let us know what you thought.

Dan Stuart

Dan Stuart

Opening the John Peel stage on Friday a few hundred hardy souls gathered where the mud was less porridge-like to see a rare UK performance from Green on Red’s Dan Stuart. He didn’t disappoint, having flown in from his home in Mexico together with his be-suited and excellent band Twin Tones.

Brexit naturally was mentioned, so too were tracks from Stuart’s  latest album as well as Green on Red standards, all delivered with a wry grin and plenty of passion. Solo track Last Blue Day was dedicated to us poor post-Brexit vote Brits, while Death and Angels more than satisfied those that remember Green on Red’s heyday.

Michelle Stodart

Michelle Stodart

Over at the Acoustic stage the weather was the main protagonist to help along Michelle Stodart’s fine country folk set, accompanied by a backing group that included her brother and fellow Magic Number, Romeo. For artists playing in a tent on a Friday afternoon bad weather is a godsend. Her set was perfectly timed with a month’s worth of rain descending and the crowd soon swelled looking for warmth and comfort. Ain’t No Woman from her forthcoming album as well as Invitation to the Blues were two of many highlights for this packed Acoustic tent.

William’s Green is often our favourite venue at the festival, always showcasing new and innovative bands who know how to please a crowd. Friday afternoon provided two excellent examples of their stellar booking policy with Yak, and then Vant.

Yak

Yak

London based trio Yak are slowly building up a strong reputation for their incendiary live shows, with frontman Oliver Burslem the catalyst, full of Jim Morrison freak outs on their single Use Somebody in particular. If you ever despair of the future of British rock music go and see this band.

Vant

Vant

Vant are more polished, a little Nirvana like in places, but cut from the same indie rock cloth as Yak. Live they are intense. Brexit again gets mentioned, with frontman Mattie Vant ordering any leave voters in ‘his tent’ to do just that. He was genuinely pissed at the vote, summing up what so many young people feel. It was another example of politics fueling a performance with this proving to be one of the best sets I’ve seen at William’s Green. Bigger tents and stages beckon for them.

With the soup of mud threatening to become knee height I waded through to the nearby Leftfield stage to station myself for the night. I wasn’t the only one. Plenty more were there to escape the mud and find some answers to the political malaise, from tonight’s headliner Billy Bragg.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

I often go to Bragg’s regular Friday night set here but this was by far the best with the aftermath of the electorate’s decision firmly on his mind. The crowd’s roar after hits like Milkman of Human Kindness and Sexuality was “just what I needed”, he said. Even Bragg admitted towards the end that this had been one of his best ever gigs and certainly it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Leftfield in five years as a regular. There Is A Power In A Union sing-a-long was intense with its added topicality and New England was rousing. Bragg kept urging the crowd to pick up their guitars and get out there and be the protest singers of the future. Over at William’s Green Mattie Vant was doing just that a few hours before.

Man and the Echo

Man and the Echo

Supporting Bragg were Warrington’s Man and the Echo, a curious highly polished indie pop act that somehow emerged straight out of the early 1990s, via the 1960s for a stop over, for our 2016 delectation and delight. Smart, fun and in their own words the favourite band of ten people, ten very wise people that is. Here’s a clip of Vile As You Want, by the band.

Rhoda Dakar

Rhoda Dakar

Also on the Friday night bill was ska legend Rhoda Daka, whose engaging banter with the crowd and with her band, who incidentally were as good as a ska band gets, providing the most fun gig of the weekend. Easy Life and Let’s Do Rock Steady from her Body Snatchers days got the biggest cheer and rightly so.

Sam Lee

Sam Lee

Among Saturday’s small stage highlights was a mesmerising performance from former Mercury Music Prize nominee Sam Lee and his band at the acoustic tent. In recent years Lee has made it his mission to collect and record ancient songs from across Britain, particularly among the traveller communities. This gives Lee’s  gigs an extra dimension as he details the various travellers he has met and sung with, including Freda Black an octogenarian Romany singer from Kent who provided him with the Napoleonic epic Bonny Bunch of Roses. He’s developed a great relationship with those communities he meets and as a modern day Cecil Sharp now provides one of modern music’s most interesting and ancient sets.

William’s Green’s excellent Saturday line up included Boxed In, a band we’d touted before. They didn’t disappoint with their take on keyboard driven pop and the track Mystery proving a particular highlight.

Meilyr Jones

Meilyr Jones

New favourite artist alarms rang immediately during another intense set, this time from former Race Horses singer now solo artist Meilyr Jones. Stage diving can get a little tiresome but I’ll let Jones off as he took the strategy to new lengths with the aid of an extra long mic lead. Somehow during the meander he ended up atop a nearby bar with his mud covered bare feet gleaming by the pumps. Billed as chamber pop, his band rocked far too much to warrant that fey tag. Incredible performance.

John Grant

John Grant

Our final look around the smaller stages was to see John Grant. Poor John had flu but this somehow made his performance at the John Peel stage better, with the crowd urged to sing-along and wave their arms around to keep him going. He has come along way as a performer since I last saw him at Glastonbury two years ago and he is now a proper diva, albeit one in a country and western shirt and a massive beard. Queen of Denmark, Greatest Mother Fucker were highlights but Glacier blew the whole gig apart with its emotional brilliance.

glastclouds

The mud may have meant many gigs were missed, and many were stumbled upon by accident but the weather along with the shock Brexit vote ensured this year’s Glastonbury had an edge that the acts on the smaller stages in particular met head on to put in some career high performances.

By Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury 2016 – Best of the Smaller Stages

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Glastonbury 2016 – Best of the Smaller Stages

Posted on 02 June 2016 by Joe

With dozens of venues and hundreds of acts there is certainly more to the Glastonbury Festival than the big names appearing on its Pyramid and Other stages. Outside of these two largest stages there is the festival within a festival of the Park, the John Peel tent and a raft of smaller venues, including William’s Green, BBC Introducing and Leftfield tents.

After scanning through the line up we have selected our Glastonbury 2016 – Best of the Smaller Stages list.

She Drew The Gun

Rabbit Hole – 4pm, Thursday 23 June
John Peel – 11am, Sunday 26 June

She Drew The Gun at the Glastonbury 2016 ETC finals

She Drew The Gun at the Glastonbury 2016 ETC finals (pic by Joe Lepper)

This year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition winners appear twice, bringing their unique blend of dream pop and clever, bittersweet lyrics to the event for the first time. In their track Poem, they have one of the best songs of the year.

Yak

William’s Green – 4pm, Friday 24 June

This excellent venue continues to be one of our favourites on site due to its strong focus on showcasing emerging acts, with Yak from Wolverhampton among the pick of its 2016 line up. This exciting trio have just finished support slots with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard as well as The Last Shadow Puppets and will be promoting their latest album Alas Salvation.

Boxed In

William’s Green – 4pm, Saturday 25 June

Boxed in is the moniker for London based producer Oli Bayston, who has worked with a diverse range of musicians from Steve Mason to Lily Allen. Here he will be showcasing his distinct brand of piano powered alternative pop, with his track Mystery set to be among many highlights.

Michele Stodart

Acoustic Stage – 2:30pm, Friday 24 June

The Magic Numbers bassist has also carved out a fine career as a solo artist, with a penchant for beautiful, low-key country folk. She will be appearing with a full band at the Acoustic Stage. As an aside, for those partial to proper beer its worth noting that the Acoustic Stage’s beer tent is one of the best places to get a drink on site.

This is the Kit

Avalon Stage – 5:15pm, Saturday 25 June
William’s Green – 4pm, Sunday 26 June

Among the best west country bands at the event is Kate Stables and her folk pop band This is the Kit. Appearing twice at the event they count the likes of Lauren Laverne and Mark Radcliffe among their fans and for good reason.

Dan Stuart & Twin Tones

John Peel – 11am, Friday 24 June

The former Green on Red man turned his back on the music industry for more than a decade but has returned in recent years with an excellent solo career. Now teamed up with Mexican act Twin Tones, this icon of the 1980s alternative US music scene has chosen this year’s Glastonbury for a rare UK performance.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition finals – Pilton (April 9, 2016)

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition finals – Pilton (April 9, 2016)

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Joe

Of the four Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition finals I’ve attended this was perhaps the most surprising, with bands far exceeding the promise they showed from their submitted audio and video clips.

In most years the best sounding act from their submissions goes on to impress live at the competition’s annual  finals at Pilton Working Men’s Club.

This year was different with all the acts deciding to offer something far more than the simple promise on offer in their submissions.

Of course each year the quality is high. An act has to be excellent to make the finals from an initial entry of thousands and a long list of 120 acts,  picked by 40 music journalists and bloggers including myself.

She Drew the Gun with Michael Eavis

She Drew the Gun with Michael Eavis

Based on this year’s final eight submissions,  it was only really Bossy Love, with the sensational pop of Tell You What, that stood out for me.  The rest though certainly proved me wrong, all stepping up a gear, especially eventual winner Wirral’s She Drew The Gun.

Here is a band that demands to be seen live with singer songwriter Louisa Roach’s delivery and stage presence offering some real hairs standing up on the back of your neck moments.

She Drew The Gun's Louise Roach

She Drew The Gun’s Louisa Roach

As with their clip, their billing as dreamy psych-pop band on their Facebook stage also proved to be a masterclass in under selling. Live they are so much more, with Roach’s generation defining lyrics on the track Poem shining brightest. They were definitely my favourite on the night and thankfully also of the ETC judges, who include Festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.

She Drew the Gun also win £5,000 talent development cash from PRS for Music Foundation as well as a main stage slot.

Bossy Love

Bossy Love

Glasgow’s R&B Bossy Love  impressed, as I expected, and marched into second place on the night. They have a “we are going to be famous and there is nothing you can do to stop our relentless juggernaut” vibe about them as they took to the stage. I can’t see many standing in their way.

In third was another surprise – London folk singer Hattie Whitehead. As with She Drew The Gun, her Soundcloud clip offered promise but not much more. Live, with a full band and electric rather than acoustic guitar, it was a different story. The songs had depth and shine and she emerged as a genuine contender to win the first place prize. She and Bossy Love also grab £2,500 PRS for Music Foundation prizes as well as festival slots this year.

Hattie Whitehead

Hattie Whitehead

Also performing on the night were rapper Lady Sanity, 13th Floor Elevators-esque Early Ghost, south west of England singer/song-writer Henry Green, Marcus McCoan and London’s Gillbanks. All have also been awarded slots at the festival after their impressive performances on the night.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

To see more pictures from the night click here.

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Swampgrass – One Eye Open

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Swampgrass – One Eye Open

Posted on 01 March 2016 by Joe

Somerset gig audiences like to dance. It’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation, but there does seem to be more of a foot stomping feel to gigs in the small venues spread out across its levels and small towns than in many other parts of the country.

swampgrass-one-eye-open-album-cover

Granted a chin-strokingly-good acoustic set will go down well at a Glastonbury or Frome open mic set or at a small tent at the Godney Gathering festival. But the ability to help an audience discover their dancing feet gets the real plaudits around here.

It is therefore no surprise to hear that the brand of blues from Somerset based Swampgrass is not the slow mooching melancholy of a tortured soul but instead is of the fast paced, balls out, dirty rock blues variety.

Here on their debut they aim to recreate as much as possible their live persona and bring that festival set to record and in Sharon Honeywell they have one hell of a brassy lead singer, with Etta James and Aretha Franklin among her influences. From opener Roadside Soul she takes control and her vocals are especially good on the album’s standouts Hell No and Heart Attack.

For those in the Glastonbury area on March 5 Swampgrass will be performing tracks from One Eye Open at Glastonbury URC. Doors 7pm.

By Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2016 Competition Launches

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2016 Competition Launches

Posted on 14 January 2016 by Joe

Details of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition, which offers UK and Ireland based acts a chance to play on one of the iconic event’s main stages, have been announced.

As well as a main stage slot, the winner will receive a £5,000 talent development prize from PRS for Music Foundation. There are also £2,500 PRS development prizes for two runners up.

etcjudgebutton2016

We are also delighted to announce that Neonfiller.com’s editor Joe Lepper will once again be among a panel of 40 music writers, who will be helping to compile a long list of 120 acts.

This long list will then be whittled down to an eight-strong shortlist by judges including festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis. All eight will then compete at a live finals at Pilton Working Men’s Club, near to the festival site, in April, when the winner will be announced.

The competition is free to enter and open to any musical genre. But you need to get a move on as it is only open for entries for one week only, from 9am Monday 18th January until 5pm Monday 25th January 2016 via glastonburyfestivals.co.uk.

When entering acts need to supply an original song on Soundcloud plus a link to a video of themselves performing live.

For the last two years the quality of the eight finalists has been so high that all were offered slots at that year’s festival.

Declan McKenna performing at Glastonbury last year

Declan McKenna performing at Glastonbury last year. Photo by Joe Lepper

The 2015 winner Declan McKenna, who was aged just 16 when he won, has since been signed by management company QPrime, which also handles Metallica, Muse and Foals.

Last year also proved a breakthrough year for Nadine Shah, one of Neonfiller.com’s three long list entrants in 2013. As well as the release of her critically acclaimed album Fast Food, Nadine also featured on two tracks on Ghost Poet’s album Shedding Skin.

Commenting on the launch of this year’s competition Emily Eavis said: “New music has always been a huge part of what we do at Glastonbury, and the Emerging Talent Competition has become an incredible way for us to discover and help draw attention to the very latest talent.”

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Glastonbury 2015 – Best of the Small Stages

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Glastonbury 2015 – Best of the Small Stages

Posted on 02 June 2015 by Joe

Shock revelation of the day – Glastonbury is so much more than the BBC coverage and the main Pyramid stage line up. So for all you Kanye West haters with tickets in your hand why not pop over to some of the event’s many and varied small stages.

We’ve had a scan through the full line up, which was released this week, and  have come up with our pick of the small stage acts. As with last year William’s Green continues to impress, especially as it hosts this year’s 25th anniversary of Heavenly Records. We also have some old punks, the best of Somerset’s local bands and one of the best indie bands around at the Leftfield.

Stealing Sheep

William’s Green, 4:30pm Friday

We first saw this Liverpool trio supporting Field Music in Bristol three years ago. They play as part of the Heavenly Records contingent, at what has become one of our favourite small venues at the Festival, and are one of the best live acts we have seen. Blending folk, indie and 1960s surf music they are not to be missed.

Declan McKenna

William’s Green, 10:45am Friday

The deserved winner of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition opens proceedings at the William’s Green stage. Be sure to get up early to see why this teenager won the world’s toughest Battle of the Bands competition.

La Femme

William’s Green, 5:30pm Saturday

From France, via California, this stunning live act blend electro-pop and are another in our list to borrow from 1960s surf culture. Their 2013 album Psycho Tropical Berlin was one of our albums of the year for good reason.

The Phantom Band

William’s Green, 6pm Sunday

Their 2014 album Strange Friend was their best to date and proved why they are one of Scotland’s best bands as they merge rock and electronica effortlessly. Get there early at 5pm to see legendary prog rockers The Bevis Frond beforehand. Both great bookings for William’s Green.

Martha

Leftfeld, 6pm Friday

At Indietracks a couple of years ago Martha was the most talked about band there and for good reason. They are injecting some much needed energy into an increasingly introspective UK indie scene. Billy Bragg and co, who curate this stage, certainly know their indie music. An impressive booking.

Buzzcocks

Leftfield, 9pm Sunday

Leftfield again impresses and has bagged the legendary punk act Buzzcocks. With guitarist Steve Diggle still playing like a 17-year-old on stage and Pete Shelley’s timeless lyrics of love this looks like one not to be missed.

Nick Parker & the False Alarms and Flipron

Nick Parker and the False Alarms Avalon Café, 7:30pm Friday

Flipron, Avalon Cafe 1:30am Saturday and Bandstand 7:30pm Sunday

Nick Parker and the False Alarms

Nick Parker and the False Alarms

Two of Somerset’s best live acts are back again at Glastonbury, which once again is showing a strong commitment to promoting local talent. While Parker and crew focus on bittersweet folk rock  tales of love and life, Flipron will be showcasing their trademark brand of whirly-gig hipster new wave (note: actual genre may not exist).

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton Working Men’s Club (April 11, 2015)

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Finals – Pilton Working Men’s Club (April 11, 2015)

Posted on 12 April 2015 by Joe

It was the closest Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Contest finals I’ve seen in three years as one of 40 music writers, who help sift through thousands of entries in the early judging stages.

Last year as soon as innovative electro pop act M+A had completed the first of their allotted two songs the audience at Pilton Working Men’s Club near the festival site, knew they had watched the winner. The same happened the year before with the beautiful folk of Bridie Jackson and the Arbour.

K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade

K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade

But this year was different. At least half of the eight acts tonight put forward a great case for being chosen as the winner by the judging panel, that included the festival’s stage bookers and organisers Michael and Emily Eavis.

In the end it was 16-year-old singer songwriter Declan McKenna who won.

Why did he win in this closely fought competition? The power of a song helped. In Brazil, the first track of his two song set, this bandana clad kid had the best song of the night, an immediately catchy track with a great melody all from him, alone on stage with his guitar, synth and box of tricks for company.

Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna

Also the focus of the contest, to uncover original emerging talent, shone through. His precocious talent was hard to ignore. If the 16-year-old McKenna can create music like Brazil now then what can he do in five, ten, 15 years time? This boy will go far and the judging panel knew it.

If second placed Shields had won there still would have been a worthy winner. Their powerful rhythm section elevating them above the usual indie pop fare. So too with third placed K.O.G. and the Zongo Brigade, who started proceedings with an energetic set combining African music, funk and rap.

Shields

Shields

But there was far more than these three. MoD was sensational with his hip-hop jazz fusion. And Princess Slayer, with their stadium friendly set were another valid contender for the top prize

While the rest of the acts may have lacked the eventual winners’ originality they all were worthy finalists, from the folk of Lucy Kitchen to the well-worked vocal arrangements of Isaac Lee-Kronick.

Declan McKenna receiving his prize from Michael Eavis

Declan McKenna receiving his prize from Michael Eavis

Shortly before presenting McKenna with his prize of £5,000 and a main stage slot Michael Eavis announced that all the acts would be appearing at the festival. It was a fitting end to a contest that continues to impress.

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition – Three Acts To Impress So Far

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition – Three Acts To Impress So Far

Posted on 02 February 2015 by Joe

For the third year running I’m spending February helping the Glastonbury Festival organisers unearth some new talent as one of 40 music writer judges involved in the event’s Emerging Talent Competition.

emerging

Over this month I’ll be sifting through around 150 tracks and video clips of UK and Irish acts to find three to put through to the next stage in the competition – a place on a 120 strong long list. This will then be whittled down further to a short list of eight acts who will compete at a live final at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to win the top prize of a main stage slot at this year’s festival.

The winner also receives a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize to help develop their career and two runners up will receive £2,500 from PRS.

As with the previous two years I like to focus on some of the acts that have caught my ear so far during judging and are in contention to become one of my three.

For the final three acts I’ll put through I’m looking for a strong live performance in their clip and being able to offer something different. Here are some that have grabbed my attention so far. I’ll post again over the next week or so with another batch of bands to impress.

New Opera Hero

New Opera Hero look like they could be incredible live, combining indie rock with 3D holographic effects and dance. If they were to make an appearance at the live finals it would test the Pilton Working Men’s Club’s lighting and sound engineers to their very limits.

Miss Halliwell

The second act to spark my interest so far is Miss Halliwell from Birmingham. According to their Wikipedia page, so it has been taken with a punch of salt, this act have been going on and off and in various guises since 2007. Now sounding something like a cross between The Fall and that Phil Daniels bit on Parklife they have a ramshackle feel and stand apart from other indie rock acts I’ve heard so far.  At this stage I can’t tell whether they are the best band ever or the worst, another trait that reminded me of The Fall. To make us work hard they don’t appear in this clip until just after the one minute mark.

Moonlands

The final act to grab my attention during the first 40 or songs I’ve listened to so far is Moonlands who combine 1950s guitar twang, with songs about proms and moody indie-chic. Reminiscent of Beach House and Frankie Rose they show real promise.

 by Joe Lepper

 

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