An end-of-year chat with Emily

December 24, 2009

Hello Emily, how are things at the farm?
Great, thanks. We’re all geared up for Christmas!

Were you pleased with the reaction to the U2 headline announcement?
Yeah, it was a brilliant reaction. We normally let Christmas come and go before entering into the whole Who’s Playing Glastonbury? thing. But the early announcement of U2 was great, because it gave us a real reminder that everyone is really excited about next year. The feedback we had was fantastic. And we had a record amount of people paying the balance on their deposits immediately after it was announced. That really proved that people want to see them. But then obviously they do – they’re U2! When you think of those anthems in the context of Glastonbury – you know it’s going to be special.

They are, of course, a band who polarise opinions.
Yes. I think if you’re a band with a serious level of success over a long period of time, then you’re always going to have that, particularly in Britain. But U2’s songs are phenomenal. To see them singing With Or Without You or Where The Streets Have No Name will just be amazing. And I think U2 and Glastonbury have actually got real similarities, in terms of campaigning, positivity, and being very un-cynical. That’s why it’s really exciting. People get quite scared to be positive, because it’s such a cynical world. I think it’ll be a great coming together.

Was booking them a smooth process?
It was, actually. It was a really direct, very simple conversation. The deal was done very quickly and without any hoo-ha from their whole team. It’s amazing for a band that size to want to deal with us directly and keep it really simple. I really admire them for that. You get much smaller bands with a far more difficult system around them.

How are the other two headliners coming together?
Well, Saturday night is confirmed. And for Sunday night, we’re looking at three main options right now. That’s all being sorted out at the moment.

When do you think they’ll be announced?
I can’t give you a date yet, but probably early next year. We’d like to let people know. The great thing about next year is that there’s a lot of bands who’ve been a big part of the Festival who really want to get involved and not necessarily in the slot that they would normally have. A lot of them are much bigger than where they’re going to be playing. But there are some real Glastonbury heritage bands that mean a lot to us and mean a lot to the audience. I think people will be really, really excited about the line-up.

Sounds like it’s going to be hard to match it in 2011?
Well, you say that, but that’s actually coming along nicely too!

So, it’s looking like England will be playing a couple of World Cup games during the 2010 Festival. Will you be showing the matches?
Yes. The game on the Wednesday night will definitely be showing on the Pyramid Stage screens. The other game, which it looks like they’ll be playing on the Saturday or Sunday, obviously won’t be on the Pyramid. But it will be shown on site somewhere, we’re just not quite sure where yet. There was an England game on the Friday night at the Festival in 1998, and we showed that in the cinema field. It was during the Foo Fighters, and it was still absolutely packed at the Pyramid.

What else are you busy with?
This week, we’ve been working on the Shangri-la area. We’re opening that out a bit. It’s going to be expanded into a field called Clapps Ground which is behind it. The plan is that it’s going to be much easier to get into in 2010. There will be multiple entry points, but it will also be more spread out, so that more people can get down there and enjoy it.

So, do you look at problems from the previous Festival and try to address them?
Absolutely. The stuff that’s going on down there is really incredible and most people want to get over there, particularly after hours. I was caught in one of those jams on the railway line this year and it’s not great. It’s pretty uncomfortable and it’s not very nice having someone shouting, "Stick to the left!" So we’re hoping to avoid all of that by opening it out. And Shangri-la’s plans for the area itself are, once again, looking pretty incredible.

They’re already in full-swing with planning?
Yeah, we’ve been looking at plans and new ideas. And the Arcadia lot were down yesterday discussing all kinds of crazy plans. We’re going through a lot of that planning at this point. We’re also talking about doing something to mark the 40 years. There are lots of ideas flying around, but we want it to be something which everyone can access. So possibly something in the air.

Looking back on 2009, it’s been a pretty good year?
It was a brilliant year. 2008 was a really important year for us and, I think, enabled us to have such a good year in 2009. It was a really successful year with some amazing acts. Blur obviously had a phenomenal gig. That’s gone down as a little part of folk history. And Bruce and Neil were pretty phenomenal too. We really did have a great year.

And now you’re looking forward to 2010?
Exactly. Really looking forward to it. It’s incredibly exciting. The fact that the Festival’s been going for 40 years, with a lot of the original people still working on it, is fantastic. And I think the Glastonbury crowd is without doubt the best in the world, too. They’re a really generous, un-cynical crowd. People come here to enjoy themselves, whatever the weather or the conditions. The Festival just wouldn’t work without that commitment from the people who buy the tickets. So, yeah, I think the anniversary is giving everyone a chance to take stock. There’s a real feeling of pride and excitement and love for the Festival. It looks like 2010 is going to be a pretty special year for us.

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