Glastonbury isn’t Glastonbury without pints of warm spicy apple cider, accidentally losing one of your mates and – most importantly – Michael Eavis’s legendary karaoke session.
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The defacto official start of every festival, the festival’s founding farmer has made a tradition of belting out a couple of classics with a live band as a way of welcoming the masses to Worthy Farm. This year in the rammed Croissant Neuf tent next door to the Green Futures field, his backing band – a jazzily dressed group called The Vodka Jellies – drum up excitement for the main event with a woman called Grace who belts out the Amy Winehouse version of ‘Valerie’, a guy called Greg sings ‘Rebel Rebel’ while Bruce storms through Blur’s ‘Boys and Girls’. And then, without further ado, the compere takes to the mic.
“Next up we have a milk farmer from Pilton,” he announces, to huge cheers, the kind of cheers we can imagine would herald the site of Adele casually deciding to slip on her wellies and go for a stroll in the fringes of Shangri-La. “Are you ready for our spiritual leader, godfather of the festival, top cow herder, main milk supplier… Mr Michael Eavis!” After yet more cheers it would seem that people are very ready indeed. Chanting “Eavis! Eavis! Eavis!” over and over again, the 80-year-old (80!), swaggers to the microphone stand and breaks into a beautiful baritone.
Elvis’s ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ is his first tune – a golden oldie, just like Eavis himself. The singalong is magnificent and the vibes major. Eavis breezes through the tune like a rural king, staying cool and calm in the face of a rowdy as anything crowd. When it ends, the people start baying for more. “One more song! One more song!” they chant. Eavis, the consumate professional that he is, acknowledges them with a simple raise of his band, and then kicks straight into Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’.
As starts to festivals go, it’s classy and confident. All hail Michael Eavis. Same time next year, yeah?