Saturday, June 25, 2011

Glastonbury 2011: View from the sofa - Various bands

This year's BBC coverage from Glastonbury seems a little flat this year - the first slew of bands shown on BBC Three seemed to floating away, over the heads of the audience.

Two Door Cinema Club plugged away bravely but ineffectively, like a Public School headmaster trying to stop a fight in a borstal; Fleet Foxes could have been trapped in the old Whistle Test studio for all the sense of a live audience there was. Biffy Clyro at least worked up a bit of a sweat and a bit of audience reaction, but even then it was clear you'd have been much better off being there, and everyone would have been better off in a smaller venue with a back wall.

The stage that's working best on TV is the Introducing stage, mainly thanks to the cameras being right up the band's noses. Noah And The Whale have never looked more like two 11th Doctor cosplayers flanked by a pair of Jarvis Cockers, but they sounded great.

The BBC coverage is a mixed bag. First - at least so far - there's very little of the tedious films of "this is Jocasta's first Glastonbury, we gave her a camera" variety. That's a good thing.

Secondly, 6Music is doing brilliant work - although did I really hear it right that they're burning performances to CD and running them across the to the makeshift studio in order to play them out on air? Can that really be the case? Let's hope the CD burner keeps going, or else by the end of the weekend Shaun Keavney's going to have to stand in the front row with a Dictaphone in his outstretched arm.

The trouble with the swathes of 6Music coverage is that most of the presenters who you'd like to see on TV are busy or knackered - it was well past midnight before I spotted Lauren Laverne and Mark Radcliffe on-screen, for example. Which means BBC Three is being anchored by Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates.

Now, it's possible to argue into the face of the Daily Mail that the number of BBC staff sent to Glastonbury is justified by it being one of the UK's premier cultural events. It's a bit harder to make that case when Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates are given the job of anchoring the thing.

The studio - certainly for BBC Three - feels a bit distant from events, too. We've come a long way from the time when, by law, any coverage of Glastonbury had to be anchored from a studio containing hay bales, but it might have been nice if there'd been at least some sense of connection with the events being anchored.

Still, for all these quibbles, it's lovely to able to dip in and out of the festival. Thank you, BBC.