Twelve months ago Glastonbury cowered beneath the dark cloud of Brexit, waking up on a Friday morning in 2016 – the day after the referendum vote – feeling cut off and dislocated from the selfish, isolationist mood of the nation. Today the sun beats down on a Glastonbury bristling with hope, on the brink of the country coming round to its way of thinking. And all thanks to the against-the-odds ascent of another aging man with a white beard and the Avalonian principles of peace, unity and social justice at heart.
“Ohhhh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” chanted the queuing crowds at the gates on Wednesday morning, to the tune of the riff from ‘Seven Nation Army’. Crew members in the back of a van onto the site picked up the same refrain. As some overprivileged Daily Mail dickwad was fwaffing and bwaffing the same old Tory guff about magic money trees on Question Time, Glastonbury’s silent disco was erupting with the chant of the summer, the new rallying cry of young British optimism. Let May’s punctured life-raft go down flapping out their meaningless, by-rote barbs and soundbites in the mainstream media, Glastonbury – as Britain’s five-day cultural epicentre – is once again taking the racing, Jack White-inspired pulse of the nation.
No matter how long Dave Grohl rocks, how anguished Thom Yorke gets or how well Ed Sheeran does whatever it is people think is good about him, there is already a pre-ordained hero of Glastonbury 2017 in the gloriously goofy form of Jeremy Corbyn. Dolly Parton will spit envious blood over his devoted main stage crowd when he introduces Run The Jewels this afternoon and his presence will define the festival as much – if not more – than that of the Dalai Lama in 2015. Not because he’s this year’s token high-profile peacenik, but because he represents a real chance to get Glastonbury’s core ideals into actual government. And no, we don’t mean turning the House Of Lords into one big shitting ditch and Number 10 into a psychedelic cider bar manned by wizards with filthy fingernails.
Like Corbyn, for decades Glastonbury has existed on the righteous sidelines of popular culture, campaigning for great social and environmental causes, protesting wars and injustices, dreaming of a more peaceful, considerate and caring world. Hemmed in by Leave signs in the surrounding hedgerows in 2016 it had never felt more than a loud, loving but anachronistic and unrealistic voice shouting at itself. But with the staggering turnaround in Corbyn’s fortunes it suddenly feels at the forefront of real-life British politics, the head of steam of a tangible movement. For the first time in living memory Glastonbury’s principles look destined for power, it’s values, quite possibly, set to be written into law. So don’t begrudge Glastonbury 2017 its celebratory Corb-worship; it’s finally going mainstream.