Wednesday, February 20, 2002

YOU'RE DAMNED IF YOU DO...: You could almost feel sorry for Michael Eavis. No sooner had music fans, The Times and others been on his back about his deal with Mean Fiddler (Reading-Leeds owning London behemoth were to get twenty per cent of the festival, in return for providing structural assistance, rising to firty per cent and then, presumably, a total take over when Eavis finally hangs up his big hat), than Mendip Council starts to threaten to pull Glasto's licence if he doesn't let MF run the security and logistics. Here is a rock, here is a hard place.
Of course, MF would love to get its greasy mits on Glasto - that would pretty much give it if not a monopoly, then at least a seriously destabilsing share of the UK festival scene - England becoming a Virgin/Fiddler duopoly. Gig-goers in London who've watched the Mean Fiddler swallow and ruin a range of venues over the years - don't tell me you don't miss the Town & Country Club - will probably feel a but queasy at the thought of a direct choice between one of Power's or one of Branson's. The thought of an MF-run Glasto is probably more depressing than the recent Glasto-run Glastos - Reading/Leeds has always tasted of a supermarket festival (albeit with Harrods Food Hall prices), while even as Glastonbury has got more and more commercialised over the past few years (when the markets started to turn into some sort of Small Town High Street, and then into Big City Mall) it's still managed to keep a sense of being in touch with the land on which it stands. Offering space for people who want to camp, picnic and play rather than minibreak, shop and consume has been what's kept Glasto's identity, and it seems hard to imagine that a Vince Power controlled one would want to preserve the concept of people paying just for their tickets and nothing more.
Plus, of course - The Mean Fiddler hardly has much of a record in the sort of environmental issues traditionally supported from Glasto revenues. In 1998, they held a "legal rave" on a site of special scientific interest, ignoring and belittling the complaints of nearby residents. Is this really the people Mendip Council want to take over the Pilton Pops?

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