‘The Tory Glastonbury’: The Conservatives’ hilarious attempt at winning back the youth vote | The Friday Article

“Why is it just the left who have all the fun in politics?” whined Conservative MP George Freeman to the Financial Times last week. The politician, who represents the Mid Norfolk constituency, made headlines after he unveiled his plan for a right-wing ‘ideas festival’ to build up grassroots support – something which has rightly been dubbed ‘The Tory Glastonbury’.

Pyramid Stage with sunset
George Freeman’s plan for a right-wing festival has been dubbed as ‘The Tory Glastonbury’ by some commentators.

Labour supporters are already having a ball imagining what the Tory version of the internationally renowned music festival would look like. A giddy Boris Johnson walks onto the main stage as the Saturday headliner, juggling flaming torches to the tune of Shaggy’s 1995 hit, Bombastic to the crowd’s amusement. Arcadia, Worthy Farm’s fire-breathing spider, is replaced by a pissed off pig, and over at the politics tent Jeremy Hunt is giving a talk on how to dismantle the NHS. Attendees would be spoilt for choice until they realise that there isn’t anyone likeable left in the party to play the popular Sunday legends slot.

Then there’s the music that would be on offer. The Tories’ inaccurate perception of young people will probably lead to old 90s disco tracks being blasted around the festival site, in an attempt to ‘get down with the kids’. It’s a move which would be as disastrous as asking your grandma to buy a Kanye West album from HMV.

This whole idea is the latest way in which the Conservatives plan to ride off the success of Labour in June’s general election. As if asking your political opponents for policy ideas wasn’t embarrassing enough, setting up a festival because you’re jealous of the ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ chants once again shows the desperation and panic that has taken over the Conservative Party. Such an event will do little to combat the wave of Corbynism present in our young people, and the party’s backing in other age groups is faltering. Is the idea of a ‘Tory Glastonbury’ their way of finally acknowledging the power of millennials in general elections?

Perhaps not. If this really is an attempt by the Tories to win back some of the youth vote, then the fact that the one-day festival is rumoured to take place in September shows how nonsensical, fantasist and flawed the whole idea is. Student voters will be back at university and the Tories’ next best bet would be to hold a Freshers Tour – which would be quite fitting given the Etonian background of some of the party’s key figures.

George Osborne DJ set at Cambridge uni, anyone?

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Glastonbury Festival 2017: A year of discovery

Sometimes, not having a clue whom you’re going to see at a festival is the best way to enjoy it. Last year, seeing all three headliners (Coldplay, Adele and Muse) was a no-brainer. However, with Glastonbury 2017 offering a less exciting list of headliners (save for the Foo Fighters, whom I was excited about ever since they were announced) and the line-up offering a more wide-ranging mix of artists, this year was all about finding new bands to add to my Spotify library.

Pyramid Stage with sunset

Where else to start than Royal Blood? As someone who isn’t usually a fan of the hard-hitting rock genre, I was a little bit unsure (solely relying on my faint knowledge of Lights Out to judge how good I thought they were). Yet, the end response was one of awe. For those who have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a drummer. Well, Ben Thatcher (Royal Blood’s drummer) had me spellbound throughout the hour-long set.

Aside from music, there have been a few performances and stages I’ve never visited, purely for the fact that the long walk back to the next stage meant that I could miss a lot of the following artist’s act. This year, that wasn’t a problem.

This meant I finally got round to seeing Doc Brown live (and grab a selfie with him afterwards, which was cool), as well as attend debates on democracy and fake news – the latter proving very useful for my upcoming university dissertation. Cheers, Glastonbury!

Oh, and 2017 was the year that I finally got to see the fire-breathing spider. Yes, in one corner of the farm is a giant metallic spider which is home to electronic music, and a Metamorphosis Show. I won’t spoil the show for those planning to go to Worthy Farm in future years, but I hope the below picture gives you an idea.

Arcadia, the giant metal spider.
Arcadia – the giant metal spider where the absolutely bonkers Metamorphosis Show takes place.

I also felt that this year had a lot more TBA acts than usual, and when you have you no strict schedule to adhere to, you have nothing to lose. Stopping by the BBC Introducing Stage led to me hearing a quick set from Glass Animals and Blossoms – the latter dealing with a minor clash I had earlier that day.

At this point, I have to thank the @SecretGlasto account on Twitter for tipping us all off about who these TBA acts could be. It meant that I could watch The xx knowing that Elbow were playing The Park Stage and I wouldn’t miss much (sorry Elbow fans). However, what was far more exciting was their correct prediction for Sunday’s John Peel Stage performer – The Killers. All I need to say to prove how incredible their set was is this: imagine a large crowd of people singing Mr Brightside at the top of their lungs. That’s right, it was incredible.

The xx on the Pyramid Stage
The xx, with stunning visuals and a chilled sound for a Friday night.

Speaking of The xx and thank yous, I have to thank vlogger Grace Mandeville for recommending that – if you get the chance – you should see The xx live.

At first, I was a bit unsure about whether it would be my sort of music. Yet, with stunning visuals and a musical style which sounded like a mix between Of Monsters and Men and Porter Robinson, I was hooked. Thanks, Grace!

The whole weekend came to a close with Ed Sheeran’s headline slot on the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday night. In a bid to beat the traffic, we often leave before they finish their set. Plus, since the rest of my family weren’t too fussed about seeing Mr Sheeran, I was only able to listen to the first few songs.

That wasn’t a problem though, as I was interested in Ed’s set for a different reason. If you’ve read my review of his latest album, Divide, you’ll know that I’ve been quite sceptical of the Shape of You singer’s new material. This, combined with the fact that I found his 2014 V Festival performance fairly forgettable, repetitive and average, made me curious to see whether he would step up for the big spot at Glastonbury.

Long story short, with the soulful Castle on the Hill being the opening track and everyone getting their phone torches out for The A Team, there was something for the audience to do during the quieter song, whilst the more fast-paced songs kept everyone on their toes. With thousands of people huddled together on a field, one wonders if the intimate environment had a large part to play in that.

Now, one week on from the event, I still have a few songs and bands to look into. The XX’s entire song library is now in my Spotify, along with Lights Out by Royal Blood.

So, even when there are artists on the bill you may not have heard of, taking that risk at Glastonbury and trying something different is never a bad decision.

Artists/bands/speakers/panels watched: Biffy Clyro, Birdy, Blossoms, CassetteBoy vs. DJ Rubbish, Circa Waves, Clean Bandit, Craig David, Doc Brown, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Everything Everything, Faces of Disco, Fake News: Post-Truth Politics, Foo Fighters, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Gabrielle Aplin, Glass Animals, Is Democracy Broken?, Jeremy Corbyn, Katy Perry, Kirsty Newton, Major Lazer, Rag’n’Bone Man, Royal Blood, Silver, The Amazons, The Jacksons, The Killers, The Magic Gang, The xx.

Musical Discovery: ‘Say It Again’ by Frances

It was one of the songs I couldn’t get out of my head at this year’s Glastonbury. Ever since I heard Borrowed Time on BBC Radio 1 earlier this year, I continued to keep a close eye on BRITs Critics’ Choice Award nominee, Frances. Last week, the singer was back with Say It Again.

Sitting at a piano at the Pussy Parlure stage, her set offered acoustic versions of previous releases, plus an exclusive look at her latest single, Say It Again. Now, the complete studio version offers backing vocals and a driving drum beat amongst other instruments. On the whole, after the emotional track, Don’t Worry About Me, it’s great to see Frances alternate between heartfelt ballads and upbeat melodies. If this is something which continues in the tracklist for her debut album, then it’s definitely a release to look out for.

In terms of the track itself, I found the opening melody – which also appears at the end of each chorus – the most catchy and memorable aspect of the single along with the chant-like ‘Say it again’. As for the verses, the fluttering pace of the lyrics throughout the song really makes it an interesting track. From the lines: “Then there’s me / hopelessly” being rather staccato, to the faster line: “Of hearing three little words from your mouth“, the change in the rhythm throughout the track is unique and enticing.

Say It Again is another track from Frances which continues to showcase her warm and relaxing vocals, and how it can suit songs of different styles. As we wait for her debut album, Say It Again is the latest release adding to a large collection of successful singles.

What do you think of Say It Again? Comment below!

Liam

Glastonbury 2016: One of the best weekends of my life

One of the greatest music festivals took place last weekend. Aside from the amazing acts which get to grace the Pyramid Stage and the other stages, there’s the buzz, excitement and atmosphere attendees feel which really takes Glastonbury Festival to another level. I went to the festival last year, but the experience is never the same. This year, it was even better.

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In 2015, I listed all the acts I saw over the three days, but since this turned into a rather lengthy post – and I cannot remember or write a lengthy comment on each act I watched – I shall instead talk about key moments for me during this year’s festival.

The first being how two out of three headliners (Adele and Coldplay) used technology to heighten the audience experience. During Make You Feel My Love, Adele asked fans to put their phone flashlights on and to wave them in the air, and honestly, that was a moment I will never forget. Something similar to this happened with Coldplay, where free LED wristbands were being handed out to festival goers, and were synced with the band’s performance. I don’t know whether this has been done on this scale and at Glastonbury before, but hopefully this is something headliners continue to do – it really does add to the festival experience.

Audience members during Adele's performance, holding their phones in the air for 'Make You Feel My Love'.
Audience members during Adele’s performance, holding their phones in the air for ‘Make You Feel My Love’.

Also, I finally got the chance to go up the Ribbon Tower this year. At the top of the hill near the Glastonbury sign and the Park Stage, you can go up the top of the tower and see out across the whole of Worthy Farm. It really is breathtaking and worth the wait if you ever plan on going. Another great thing about Glastonbury is Left Field, which I’ll admit, I did overlook last year. This year, I went to watch a debate on the Junior Doctors’ contract, and took a selfie with SNP Member of Parliament, Mhairi Black – who was so kind and friendly when I went to say hello.

Finally, I must turn to the music – of course. As soon as the lineup was announced, I was desperate to see Two Door Cinema Club’s name appear. I had recently rediscovered their music and fell in love with it again. When I saw that they were to play at Glastonbury this year, I couldn’t wait, and they certainly delivered. They’ve certainly cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands, and for those wondering what their third album – Gameshow – will sound like, they teased us to a few songs. Whilst it definitely is different, the traditional TDCC is completely lost, and I love their new sound – if Are We Ready? is anything to go by.

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Frances’ performance was intimate, and she has a personality as warm as her voice.

One of the things I love about my passion for music is that I can often stumble across bands that are on the brink of making it big. They then become one of those bands that only a select few know and when they do debut, you can proudly say: “I knew them before they made it”. It’s already happened with Capital Cities (famous for Safe and Sound, but their debut album is worth a listen) and Chlöe Howl (who was a runner-up for the BRITS Critics Choice Award in the same year as Sam Smith and Ella Eyre). My latest discovery is a singer by the name of Frances, and I was so glad to finally see her at Glastonbury. Her new single, Say It Again – out on Friday – is something to look forward to, as well.

I suppose another great thing about this is that because only a small amount of people know about them, the audience sizes are – sadly – not too big, but this means I can get right up to the front of the stage. This was also the same for Fishermen’s Friends, a small group of singers from Port Isaac in Cornwall, who I’ve always missed when I went down there.

I should also mention a rapper who I was so pleased to finally see live. The name Abandoman stuck with me from childhood, as he is a freestyle rapper who can make up raps on the spot – he’s that good. I still remember one song he performed, entitled What’s In Your Pocket?, where audience members took out what they had in their pockets, and he would rap about them on the spot. It was unbelievable.

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I’ve already talked about how phenomenal Adele and Coldplay were, but I should also add that Muse were also impressive. At the end of almost every song, Matt Bellamy would show off his amazing skills with the guitar, and I do take my hat off to him. After seeing all three headliners, I decided that this year’s Glastonbury was better than last year’s, in my opinion. In particular, when it comes to the headliners, they are all – mostly – pop or chart-based, which is very similar to my music taste. This was different to last year, where Kanye West certainly isn’t my cup of tea, and I didn’t know many of the Foo Fighters’ tracks either – even when they didn’t end up playing on the Pyramid Stage in the end.

Now, in the world of music, I’ve seen everyone I want to see live (The 1975 were also incredible). I’m a happy man, and after the phenomenal weekend I had last week, I need a lie down.

Acts I saw: Abandoman, Adele, Bastille, Blonde, Bring Me The Horizon, Coldplay, Example & DJ Wire, Fatboy Slim, Fishermen’s Friends, Frances, Gabrielle Aplin, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Madness, Muse, Of Monsters and Men, The 1975, Tom Odell and Two Door Cinema Club.

Did you watch any of the Glastonbury coverage on the BBC? What did you think? Have you ever been to Glastonbury? Comment below!

Liam

Top hacks to survive this summer’s music festivals | Sponsored Post

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of music festivals. I went to Glastonbury last year and have been to V Festival for the past two years as well. It’s fair to say that I love my music and my festivals, so when Maximise contacted me about writing a post sharing my top festival tips, I had to get involved. So, without further ado, here are my top tips for surviving a music festival.

Festival
Photo source: Richard Turner on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

1. Ponchos can not only protect you from rain, but also from mysterious brown liquids…  

We all hope for sun and blue skies when we go to festivals, but we all know that there’s always rain at Glastonbury at least. Therefore, a poncho is always useful to protect us from the rain, but also from those at the front that like to throw their drink – or urine – up in the air. Always keep a poncho to hand if you can, otherwise, invest in a good quality hat. In my case, a straw hat helps shield me from water and the sun, whilst also making me look like a Paolo Nutini wannabe.

2. Invest in a one-pole tent and expedition rucksack

Basically, imagine that you’re an ambitious student about to climb Ben Nevis for their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. In my case, I’ve kept on to my one-pole tent and expedition rucksack, and it’s amazing how convenient they both are. Of course, it may just be a five-day festival, but still…

3. Cling film, trolleys and wheelbarrows

This is something I learnt after being to a few festivals, and that is to bring clingfilm and either a trolley or a wheelbarrow. The last thing you want on a hot day, when you’re dashing to bag a place to pitch your tent, is to have to dash back to your car to grab more stuff.

So grab a wheelbarrow or trolley, dump all your bags, drinks and tents in it, secure them with cling film and then carry it to where you intend to stay. It’s much better than carrying it all on your back, that’s for sure.

4. How to get rid of those annoying wristbands

We’ve all been there – by trying to yank the annoying wristbands off our arms they turn into sandpaper and start scratching at our wrists? So how do we get the blasted things off our wrists without having to reach for the scissors? Well, there is a way for you to remove them whilst also keeping them intact as a souvenir.

However, it depends on whether you can adjust your wristband in the first place. If a member of staff has to place them on you, then you’re in a spot of bother. The best way to do it is to adjust it so that there’s enough space for you to fit your thumb in-between the wristband if you wanted to.

It’s a lot of work, but you then have you shuffle the wristband up to the bottom of your hand, and tuck your thumb in. At that point, your hand should become a ‘runway’ for you to slide the wristband off. Then, voila – both your hand and wristband are intact and you can keep it as another free souvenir.

5. Apps are where it’s at!

If it’s not the messaging apps which you can use to ask your mate for a burger, then it’s the official festival apps, which have really upped their game over the past few years. Whilst it’s a shame that V Festival’s app no longer exists, Glastonbury’s official app comes with a map and planner – so you can plan which acts to see way in advance!

6. If all else fails, return to your tent or get help from staff

It’s highly unlikely that your battery pack will run out and your phone will die suddenly, but if you can’t make that last-minute emergency call or text to your friends or family (and let’s be honest, the reception in the middle of the countryside isn’t the best), then just continue to rock out.

When my phone died at V Festival in 2014, going to the predetermined meeting point worked. If not that, the perfect ‘meeting point’ is your tent. If not that, then an obvious choice is to contact a member of staff.

 

So these are just a selection of my top festival tips, but if you have any, Maximise want to hear from you! Tweet your hacks with the hashtag, #UltimateFestHacks to get involved and share your festival survival advice.

What festivals have you been to? Comment below!

Liam

P.S. Thanks to Maximise for sponsoring this post. Whilst this post is sponsored, the opinions expressed here are solely mine.

Thoughts on the Glastonbury 2016 Line-Up Announcement

The main line-up for this year’s Glastonbury Festival was announced yesterday – with acts such as Jess Glynne, Disclosure and Bastille making an appearance at Worthy Farm in June.

Glastonbury Line-Up 2016
The full line-up poster was shared on social media yesterday. Photo: @GlastoFest on Twitter.
I couldn’t be happier about the line-up. First of all, the headliners are perfect for everyone. If you don’t like traditional, upbeat pop of Coldplay, then you might like Muse’s hardcore rock. Alternatively, if you want something a bit more mellow, Adele’s relaxing soul may be right up your street.

Aside from that, it’s great to see a line-up full of new artists, with the odd old act thrown in. For example, it’s great to see Gregory Porter on the list again after he performed a phenomenal set at Glastonbury last year. On the other hand, I did find last year’s sets by Annie Mac and Years and Years rather disappointing. The good news is that there is so much choice this year.

For example, Madness, Earth Wind and Fire, and Jeff Lynne’s ELO are all classic acts that I’ll definitely go and see – provided there are no clashes. From a young age I’ve always been surrounded by Madness as well as Earth, Wind and Fire on a regular basis. Then, with regards to the Electric Light Orchestra, who doesn’t want to dance to Mr Blue Sky on a bright Summer’s day in Somerset?

In terms of current artists, I was thrilled to see Two Door Cinema Club on the list. If you read this Musical Discovery post, then you’ll know that I recently re-discovered their music last month. Since then, they’ve soon become one of my favourite bands because of their upbeat summery music. At the moment, they are yet to release any new music and I really doubted that they would appear at Glastonbury. They are and I cannot wait!

Another convenient artist on the line-up is Jess Glynne. I have seen her at 2014’s V Festival, but that was before she released her debut album, I Cry When I When I Laugh. I did have the option of watching her last year, but when Pendulum performed a one-off gig, I knew I wouldn’t have that chance again. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing her perform music from her album at this year’s Glastonbury.

There’s also the fact that I will be able to see acts I’ve seen before. I was blown away by Gregory Porter’s performance at Glastonbury last year so I’ll probably see him again. I also remember Bastille being a great band to see, so as long as there’s no clashes, I shall definitely go and see them for the second time. Then Of Monsters and Men were phenomenal when I saw them in Lincoln in November.

Other acts I am looking forward to include The 1975 (Chocolate, Girls, Settle Down and The Sound are personal favourites of mine), Disclosure, Jake Bugg, The Lumineers and M83 (I’m a big fan of Midnight City).

What do you think of the line-up? Will you be going to Glastonbury this year? Comment below!

Liam

Weekly Update: Thoughts and Opportunities

It’s nearing the end of March, but before that, I am off uni for Easter. As another term draws to a close, it’s always a time to reflect on not only the past week, but how the last term at university has been. So in this week’s Weekly Update, it’s time to reflect and look ahead to some exciting opportunities coming up.

First of all, I attended a Radio Symposium at the University of Lincoln on Wednesday, which was brilliant and inspiring. Throughout the day there were talks from numerous university professors, radio experts and the Head of Programmes from BBC Radio 1! Throughout the day there were opportunities to network and it’s fair to say that a few exciting opportunities have popped up since attending.

One of the things I’ve loved about being at university is how it opens doors. In the past, sending off interview requests to bands as nothing more than a ‘blogger’ could sometimes get you somewhere, but now I have my work with Siren FM under my belt – and the university resources – to help me get unique opportunities. It’s brilliant!

Another fun thing which happened this week was that I took part in a photoshoot! My good friend Frances was looking for someone to give her a hand with her assignments and I was happy to help. If you look at the blog header, that photo was taken by Frances – so she’s pretty amazing when it comes to taking photos!

Below is just one of the few photos which Frances took of me on Thursday. How awesome is this?! There’s a couple more on Frances’ Facebook page, so please do have a look and give the page a like while you’re at it.

Photo by the excellent Frances Amelia Photography.
Photo by the excellent Frances Amelia Photography.

After a busy few weeks at university, I’m now back home for two weeks. During that time I have a few things planned, but for the most of it I have time to relax and get some work done. Whilst on the train home I was able to get back into reading – which I’ve missed so much – and I am thinking about getting back into writing now that I have time. As always, I shall keep you posted.

In more miscellaneous news, I could not be any more excited to go to this year’s Glastonbury. Earlier this week, Adele was finally confirmed as the last headliner to join Coldplay and Muse at Worthy Farm – and the headliners are simply perfect.

I’ve said this in a previous post, but I never understood why people were so disappointed with Coldplay headlining Glastonbury on the Sunday. Their latest album, A Head Full of Dreams, also received its fair share of criticism. However, I really do think it’s a great album and the light at the end of Ghost Stories’ tunnel. AHFOD is such a euphoric album, so why not have Coldplay perform at one of the biggest UK festivals in the summer?

Then, when you combine Coldplay with Muse and Adele for the final lineup, there is something for everyone: you have a legendary pop group, an epic rock band and a powerful soul superstar. What more could you want?

Finally, Facebook Messenger updated its iPhone app to include a basketball mini game, and that’s not how I’ve been spending most of my weekend, honest! (My high score is 30 – can you beat it?)

Catch up on the latest episode of Brunchtime (which will return in April!)

How was your week? Comment below!

Liam