Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

Glastonbury Festival 2005 - reviews

published: Fri 8th Jul 2005

Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June 2005
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£125 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 150000
last updated: Wed 7th Aug 2013

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel – Acoustic Stage, Saturday

Saturday night at the lovely Acoustic tent; the sun is just setting over Glastonbury and the extreme heat of the day is subsiding and a gentle breeze wafts over the hillside. Inside and a crowd of all ages are eagerly awaiting the arrival on stage of Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. The tent lights dim and there they are upon the stage. The big drums thump, the crowd are clapping as they launch into the opening number ‘Here Comes The Sun’. Harley is orchestrating, the drums and cymbals crash and the smiles are returning to the mud weary faces.

‘Best Years of Our Lives’ follows with the beautiful violin leading into the opening lines and a knowledgeable crowd sing along, the bass guitar framing the song as the violin soars after each refrain. Steve Harley is in total control of the stage and the crowd. You can see why he says he enjoys his job so much and the joy he gives out in playing and singing is there to see on the faces of the absorbed audience. The cheers and applause draw in yet more people and they launch into ‘Mr Soft’ and the crowd are bopping along with the rhythmic guitars and slapping percussion; a stunning guitar solo from Robbie Gladwell is followed by a stupendous exhibition in virtuoso violin by Barry Wickens (so good he does it twice at Harley’s bidding).

The mood is slowed down during ‘The Last Time I Saw You’ and for the first time the beautiful vocals of Victoria Beebee ring out with Steve echoing; the tinkling keyboards set the tone before the changes are rung yet again and the howling, haunting and lyrically psychadellic ‘Ritz’ deals us tales of Roualt’s white insanity and the world of Pablo Fanque in indigo. A veritable feast of words with a booming bass, sliding from note into note as the violin chirps and warbles and Harley delivers the testing and unique vocals as only he can; the applause and cheers are well deserved.

‘When The Halo Slips’ and ‘I Can’t Even Touch You’ follow with their full on keyboards and the applause is deafening. Soon we are having a party and singing along with ‘Mr Raffles’ oooh, oooh, we’re having a party! A 70’s party with Steve smiling and reminiscing about those heady days – what a time!

Time for some Psychomodo tunes and Steve launches into ‘Bed In The Corner’ and ‘Sling It!’ I look around me at the smiling faces and watch the crowd singing along – exciting stuff! The band switch to five-four as the frenzy of sound builds and in turn they demonstrate their amazing skill with individual solos from drums and bass before the whole band join in the crescendo builds and crashes to the final note. ‘A Friend For Life’ soothes the night air before Steve explains how the following song was sung back to him last time he was here and wherever he has been ever since ‘Don’t let down the effing side!’ he grins wickedly, before commencing ‘Riding The Waves’ many of the lyrics of which have (Harley would freely admit) been ‘borrowed’ from Virginia Wolfe. The crowd are putty in his hand and the echoes of ‘We’ve got the feeling’ ring around inside and outside the acoustic tent mingled with shouts of ‘Harley’ as the man himself lets his voice carry out across the gathered and clapping assembly. Victoria lets rip, the drums and cymbals crash, the keyboards jangle and we got the feeling indeed!

Whoops and whistles of expectation greet the opening notes of ‘Sebastian’. A classic piece of epic proportions, that twists and turns it’s way through Harley’s kaleidoscope imagination, whilst building, pausing, keyboards playing a simple line and then recommencing as we try to decipher his beam of light, the rock bass and drums together as the violin laughs, swoops and darts and Harley hurls out the long notes, his face a picture of concentration and thoughts until it breaks as he sings the Russian/Yiddish refrains that build and build into Victoria’s wailing and then the rhythmic change and the slow burn and increasing intensity of the ending and seemingly never ending applause that greets the finale.

Finally, THAT song, the one that some of the crowd have been baying for since the very beginning, a thirty year old song that sounds as fresh today as it ever did, no wonder its’ re-release has just re-entered the charts this week.

As the first notes of ‘Make Me Smile’ sound the crowd is clapping and cheering and singing along ooooh la, la la! The guitar solo is greeted with huge cheers and we all sing along and along and along – the band stop and, to just the beat of the drum and Steve Harley’s encouragement (not that much is needed), the crowd sing ‘come up and see me, make me smile, I’ll do what you want, running wild’ Steve is handed a video camera and films the crowd as they sing for him. Finally the band re-join and the audience is singing and dancing as one, smiles on the faces – Anytime Steve Harley, Anytime!

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel are: Steve Harley (vocals, guitar), Robbie Gladwell (guitar, vocals), Barry Wickens (violin, guitar, vocals), Lincoln Anderson (bass guitar), Adam Houghton (drums), James Lascelles (keyboards, percussion), Victoria Beebee (vocals, percussion)

review by: Karen Morrison


Friday 24th to Sunday 26th June 2005
Worthy Farm, Pilton, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 4AZ, England MAP
£125 - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 150000
last updated: Wed 7th Aug 2013


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