We got home yesterday and I really don't know if I can adequately put into words my thoughts on the festival, but I'll give it a go.
Firstly I have to say that we had the VIP package. I'm not trying to show off, but I think that this had a big influence on my enjoyment. The front of stage access was brilliant, although I'm sure it was damn annoying for those who could see an empty area of the pit while they were packed in like sardines.
The VIP pass also allowed you to walk straight in and bypass the entry queues, which I heard were really bad, especially on the first day.
The VIP area itself was very good. Unless the headliner had just finished it was pretty easy to get a drink and the staff were friendly and helpful. The viewing platform upstairs was lovely as you could see across the whole site and it was beautiful at night.
We never had a problem getting between stages. Yes, it was crowded at times, but I've been in much worse. There are places and times at Glastonbury that have had me more concerned.
Getting back to our hotel was fairly easy once you worked out not to wait in line at the taxi rank. We just walked up the road for a while and hailed a passing taxi. It probably took no more than 15 minutes to find a taxi and cost 12 Euros.
The weather played a big part, especially on the first day. Yeah the screens didn't work, but you surely have to have some sympathy for the organisers who cannot possible have imagined the almost biblical downpours experienced. I think I saw some bloke leading animals two by two at one point. We were amazingly lucky that the evenings were mostly dry and we got to see some wonderful bands.
The food situation could certainly have been better. As far as I understand they didn't have all the food stalls in one area last year. I guess the thinking was to allow more space in the arena for toilets and bars. I've never seen so many places to get a drink! We quickly discovered not to bother trying to eat after the headliner finished - you couldn't get close. We ate on the way in or the way out (sometimes both!) and it was very manageable.
Yes, we experienced some poor behaviour from all nationalities, nothing to get too upset about, but the chatting and taking of selfies is a particular annoyance for me. At Wilco it was really pissing me off. Luckily there was plenty of space in the pit and I moved off to stand on my own and enjoy a great set in peace. On the plus side, we spoke to some lovely Spanish people who commented on how nice to was to see a family together enjoying themselves.
Finally, the big negative.
We walked past the area where Pedro was getting ready for his show as we were heading for the VIP area to get a drink and use the loos before going in to watch Green Day. We saw him inside the glass cage psyching himself up for his performance. We got into the VIP area and were in the queues for the loos when they started playing Purple Rain and the glass cage was lifted into the air. I assume the idea was for the glass floor to fall away and for him to perform at the end of a safety harness 100 feet in the air. Personally I just caught him falling out of the corner of my eye, but my wife and two daughters were looking straight at it. Thank God that there was a 10 foot solid wall around the area, so they saw him fall, but didn't see him hit the ground. They were really shook up and crying as we were held in the VIP area while the emergency services dealt with the situation. I can't start to imagine how some people who saw the whole thing would have felt. The previous evening we had watched a similar aerial show from the pit, I'm so thankful that we weren't in there to see the tragic event.
About half an hour late Green Day came on stage. We went in to watch, but the evening obviously felt very strange after that. I think my wife was in shock as she felt cold and had to keep adding layers even though it was a mild evening. Should we have stayed? I don't know. As one of my daughters said - what else would we have done? Gone back to the hotel and dwelt on it? I'm sure many of the crowd (and the band) had no idea what had happened.
The next evening my eldest daughter was still feeling ill at ease until they did the tribute to Pedro. We were in the pit waiting for Kings of Leon and they put up something on the big screens in memorium and played Purple Rain. Jesus, that was emotional, but somehow cathartic.
Kings of Leon were just amazing. I'm not a big fan, but just something about that night - the emotion, the need to just party - I don't know what it was, but we just let go and had a wild time.
I understand the criticisms being levelled at the festival and Green Day, but please go and read their official statements on the events that took place before rushing to judgement.
Would I go to Mad Cool again? Yes, if the line up was good enough, but I think the VIP access is a huge positive and I'd think twice if I couldn't get that. By the way, I think the price of this package was 340 Euros? So, not cheap, but not too bad considering what you pay to see just one major band in a stadium.
Anyway, whatever festivals you are doing over the next few months - stay safe and have a great time. I know I'll never be able to listen to Purple Rain again without remembering.