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Last Updated: Monday, 28 June, 2004, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Glastonbury spirit defies the rain
By Tom Bishop
BBC News Online at the Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury in the mud
Always a warm festival welcome at Worthy Farm
With good feeling overcoming rain, mud and a football failure, this will be remembered as the defiant Glastonbury.

No wonder - those 112,000 revellers who made it inside had already proved their fighting spirit by spending up to 24 hours ordering their tickets.

They weren't about to let a couple of days of grim weather and a few average performances ruin their weekend.

How could they, with the delights of PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, Goldfrapp, the Scissor Sisters and the curiously fascinating She-Pee waiting to be discovered?

Festival veterans who arrived early won the respect of us Glastonbury virgins by dancing through the mud not once but twice, as Wednesday's rain made an unwelcome return on Saturday.

Organisers did football fans a huge favour by screening England's Euro 2004 match against Portugal on the main Pyramid stage on Thursday. But as England fell out of the contest, it was an event best forgotten.

Alison Goldfrapp
Friday highlight: Alison Goldfrapp
Thankfully the sun came to the rescue on Friday, along with a smattering of fine performers and more Somerset cider than you could drown in.

Unremarkable Oasis

The Walkmen and The Concretes popped their cherries on the New stage while Badly Drawn Boy took everyone's mind off cashpoint queues moving more slowly than the eye could see.

Friday headliners Oasis churned out an unremarkable hits set to a crowd still reeling from the brilliance of PJ Harvey and tail-wagging glam queen Alison Goldfrapp.

Afterwards secluded dance area The Glade was filled with hundreds of revellers hot on the trail of one Fatboy Slim.

Once again Glastonbury blended the old with the new, as old hands mixed with newcomers attracted by the festival's falling crime rate.

As twentysomethings waded their way from one performance stage to another, families frequented the surreal circus area and Kidz Field.

Scissor Sisters
The Scissor Sisters won over new fans
Male dance troupe Double Take rolled around and flipped over each in the gothic Theatre Marquee for no apparent reason, while a massive Dungeons and Dragons game filled the Stone Circle.

Meanwhile comedian Jenny Eclair held court on the Cabaret stage, her routine as filthy as the revellers who skidded down mud slides to see her.

Filthy habits were being kept in check as Green Police pollution wardens patrolled festival grounds to stop people urinating in hedges and streams.

They could have posted themselves outside the innovative She-Pee female urinal, which baffled as many festival goers as it delighted.

My friend's claim that she approached the contraption from the wrong angle and sprayed people in the queue has yet to be verified.

Broad music mix

The 1970s came back in a big way on Saturday as the Scissor Sisters and Sister Sledge shimmied off the Pyramid stage to put in extra duties at the Dance Tent.

Ben Harper, Jamie Cullum and happy camper Joss Stone ensured the music mix remained broad and soulful.

Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher played with Oasis, but got a mixed reception
Party people Basement Jaxx conquered the Other stage while headliner Sir Paul McCartney waded through a few decades' worth of hits during a mammoth two-and-a-half hour set.

Promises of a return to the blistering heat of Friday were scuppered by unsettled weather on Sunday.

Nevertheless those lingering clouds provided the perfect backdrop to the English National Opera's stirring extract from Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

Later stages would be occupied by folk icon Christy Moore, soul star James Brown, Morrissey, the all-conquering Muse and one of Orbital's final performances, pushing Glastonbury's commitment to diversity to the limit.

Supergrass endured all kinds of weather as their set celebrated a decade in the business - first sunshine, then a downpour, then bright sunshine once again.

Glastonbury from the air
You are rarely alone at Glastonbury
As 2004's festival approached its close, there were calls for organiser Michael Eavis to allow another 30,000 people onto the site next year - not least from the Mean Fiddler company's Melvin Benn, in charge of site security.

But it is hard to imagine anyone else could fit into the camping areas, or join the queues for a shower, without threatening the event's friendly atmosphere.

If you do take the plunge, be warned - getting to see everything you want to, surviving on as little sleep as possible and finding your friends in the dance tent is not as easy as it looks.

But it's worth a try.




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