Ah Glastonbury! Good to have you back after a fallow year. But Kylie in the Legends slot? Really? We pick more suitable, and yes, older candidates. Tom Waits is our headliner. It's a tricky area. Emily Eavis get your phone book out!
Ah Glastonbury! Good to have you back after a fallow year. If you’re like us, you will be casually surfing from stage to stage (VIP areas only), getting close up to the action. Drink in hand and with access to gourmet food trucks left and right, we’ll find something to enjoy in the line-up. Glastonbury is a such breeze thanks to the BBC and the garden.
The slot that has everybody intrigued these days, has now become known as the ‘Legends’ slot. It has become the ‘de facto’ 4th headliner. At dusk on the Sunday, the oldest with the mostest have made an appearance that, at worst, commands a modicum of respect where it is due. But at best, is in danger of stealing the whole darn weekend. Like a good blockbuster music film, but easier to achieve (possibly), the Legends slot has become notorious for reviving the careers of ageing, perhaps hitherto faded or forgotten stars. Look what it did for Dolly Parton, and more recently Lionel Richie.
This year it’s Kylie, which smacks at first like a real legend wasn’t available. Nothing against Kylie - indeed surely, she is still relevant enough to command one of the other slots. After all she has only recently had a very successful album and lease of life with her ‘country-pop’ phase. She should have been nominated for a Brit Award but wasn’t. She is not ready for this slot. She isn’t very old either for goodness sakes. There must be an explanation. Of course, Kylie was scheduled to headline back in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so it’s hugely significant that she’s there 14 years on. In the meantime, the Glastonbury team has worked a stroke of marketing genius by gradually positioning the ‘Legends’ slot as a 4th headliner - nicely in time to accommodate Kylie. But does this mean the Legends slot has therefore raised the stakes somehow in who can play it? We hope not, because it has acquired such a place in the Nations hearts that it would be a shame to big it up too much. Anyhow, it’s fun to think about who might do the slot in the future.
So come on, who would you pick? It’s not that easy. It has to be someone sort-of forgotten, but with enough recognition that when they appear from backstage, the crowd are like “oh, it’s them”! It has to be someone still making music, or capable of a comeback. But it shouldn’t really be anyone already on a roll – that wastes the regeneration powers of the slot. For example, you can’t say Bill Joel. Billy Joel is selling out Wembley Stadium right now. At one stage just a few years back, a helicopter would land in his garden in upstate New York – one Saturday evening each month - fly him to Madison Square Gardens, where he would play to a sell-out crowd for a cool $1m. Every month. So no, Bill Joel is not allowed. Kate Bush is not allowed. Aha are not allowed for goodness sake. Those people would be headline acts automatically.
It should be an artist that can dust themselves off, doll themselves up and then go do the business. Possibly after multiple counselling sessions and some very heavy doses of vitamins. And then they go and dive off the springboard right back into a career. Anyhow, in the name of fun, we’ve had a crack at our ‘Alternative Glastonbury Legends’ playlist – essentially a wish list / calling card for the next 20 or so years of Glastonbury. Long may they all continue! Emily Eavis get your phone book out!
Amazingly, many of these artists are still going. Still making albums and touring the world, or damn well trying. Take Leo Sayer. He’s back. Cliff, back (after controversial court case with BBC). Frankie Valli, back (recent UK tour a smash sensation). Gilbert O’Sullivan, never really went away, but nobody noticed it, so he qualifies. He even has new material to play that’s quite good but hasn’t been heard by anybody, so he’d be very grateful for the platform I’m sure.
Or take Neil Sedaka. Neil has surely spent the last ten years (except last year) sitting by the phone waiting for Emily to call. Elkie Brooks, waiting for Emily’s call. David Soul, wondering if Emily will call. David Essex. wondering if Emily will call. Can you imagine him opening the Legends slot with ‘Rock On’.
In all likelihood, Emily did call Chaka Khan, but Chaka wasn’t available. A shame, since again, she is back – with a great new album last year – and seems on trend somehow, with so many current pop divas like, in awe of her probably. Likewise Diana Ross, who was rumoured to take the slot in 2017, but had already been booked to play the Ziff Ballet Opera House (wherever the hell that is). Can you imagine Diana Ross coming out to open with ‘I’m Coming Out’. Oh my, that would really be a Glastonbury moment to outlast many other moments (well, the track is over five minutes long!). Perhaps Kylie will pay tribute with something like that. But what about Carole King, Rita Coolidge, Crystal Gayle or the 82 year-old Roberta Flack, doing the original version of ‘Killing Me Softly’.
If those women are all a little off radar for you look to the 80s and to the soul men occupying the airwaves and CD trays back then. Paul Young might open with ‘Come Back And Stay’ and remind us all what great songs he had. And what if Mick Hucknall could be persuaded to charm the pants off everyone one last time, walking out there as ‘Yo Simply’ to the opening bars of ‘Something Got Me Started’? Simply Red played Glasto back in ‘86, as did Level 42. Wow, imagine them playing ‘The Sun Goes Down’ just as it does.
What about something else from across the Atlantic, but left of field: Survivor. If they opened with ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, Glasto would rock! Or what about Toto. Back in vogue after 40 years with Africa everybody’s favourite cheesy anthem, they would be great. And once again, they are back. We’ve even chosen one of the band’s new tracks to open with, because they are still that good. And look out for more from Toto on something coming up on TSS that is rather special, we think. Keep going with US bands – Supertramp. The Doobie Brothers, or at least Michael McDonald – again right back in the zeitgeist thanks to yacht rock’s revival. And if it really needs to be from down under, Crowded House!
But, we ain’t calling any of them. Not for now. We’ve put everyone on hold as we’ve been trying Tom Wait’s number for the past 20 years with no luck. Now we know that Tom is on Emily’s hit list for potentially headlining Glasto, and as the Legends slot is gradually positioned as 4th Headliner, we think he would be perfect for the slot. And he might even say yes.
Whether you are lucky enough to be there, or lucky enough to be at home with iPlayer and decent broadband, Enjoy Glastonbury.
Playback notes: Oh what the hell, shuffle on…the line up is!