Welcome To Worthy Farm: The Pilton Party

That the Pilton Party – like its elder, larger sibling Glastonbury (held on the same site) – was infused with a different vibe than almost every other festival, was confirmed soon after we strolled through the gates onto Worthy Farm, the huge site about six miles from Glastonbury in the arse end of nowhere. Mist had descended upon the remote site, and cows could be seen eying the guests suspiciously from neighbouring fields.

Strolling along the track we bump into Michael Eavis, a cider in eachhand, the broadly-spoken maverick who runs the festival. “Head on in and enjoy yourselves,” he beams, gesturing to the wine-filled, 2 litreRobinsons’ plastic-bottle-decantering operation I’d been trying to hide after posing for a photo with us. It’s hard to imagine the C.E.O of MeanFiddler doing the same at Reading or Leeds.

Eavis throws the party each year as a sort of thankyou to local people forputting up and helping out with Glastonbury; each year they get a treat. The site had previously played host to Coldplay, the Doves and countless others and this year’s line up looked as strong as ever.

The evening opened with a performance by local competition winners MajorMajor, followed by The Travelling Band, an outfit from Manchester who appeared at Glastonbury earlier in the summer having won the ‘New TalentCompetition.’ Their tranquil, folksy tones were the perfect warm up to anevening that, despite the chilly, misty weather, would culminate with Franz Ferdinand and the Ting Tings playing to an enthused crowd.

This sort of spirit held-up as we heard that Franz were no longer toheadline; the drummer’s wife was having a baby as we drank, so they were on immediately, with the Tings being shunted into the headline spot. The band began with three acoustic numbers, which, though beautifully played, lacked the aggressive punchiness which makes most people go wild when theycome on; however, it was a treat both for band and audience, with lead-singer enthusing: ‘I feel like a singer-songwriter!” Perfectly chosen for this intro were the songs, ‘The Darkness of the Matinee,’ ‘Walk Away,’ and by far the highlight, ‘Jacqueline.’

The evening stepped up a notch when Franz were joined by Nick Dewey (of ‘The Fall‘), blasting out ‘Michael’ and ‘Take Me Out’ with the audience chanting themselves hoarse. Later they were also joined by a further drummer and hammered out their normal array of songs as if nothing wasamiss.

By this point everyone was charged and the Ting Tings, despite finding outjust hours before that they’d be headlining, didn’t disappoint, thrashing out songs from their new album We Started Nothing, to a crowd now hugely enthusiastic and heavily inebriated. Reminiscent of the Go-Team!, particularly punchy were their songs ‘Shut up and Let me Go’ and ‘FruitMachine.‘ The Tings closed with ‘That’s Not my Name’, closing a cobbled-together but fantastically fun and spirited evening with a bang, and we trudged our way home through stinging nettles and pothole-lined fields.

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