Biggles Wartime Band have been around a long
time and are undoubtedly the leading exponents of jug band music in the UK.
Wartime Band astounded the passers by at the bandstand in the Green Fields last
summer so much so that I had loads of phone calls about them.
As a consequence
I then booked them to open the new working men's club building in our village
of Pilton and was equally amazed - they're such good fun"
- Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival Supremo
Mentioned in dispatches - Observer Magazine 15/06/08 page 64 - Interview
with Emily Eavis
Scene - a picture of the barn interior where the Glasto
lot have meetings and parties - there is a picture of John Peel with the caption
JOHN PEEL PRINT - "a local artist made this for my dad. John was
a big Glastonbury goer and he always did the right thing which is to check out
the peripheral stages and find obscure bands like Biggles Wartime Band.
The new music tent is now named after him."
"Biggles Wartime Band
- Thursday early birds must've thought that all of their Christmas' came at once
if they managed to catch these Glasto regulars on the Croissant Neuf stage. The
six-piece all donned Santa hats before performed a medley of festive tracks
ideal for the height of summer!" (Glastonbury Festival 2008)
was crying so much that I ran out of tissues and had to go and plunder the toilets"
(Glossop Golf Club)
"They take every
kind of music and slaughter it. None of it stands a chance"
skip through musical idioms like a Viking on acid skips through a girl school"
were Bands from Dylan to REM, but the band of the festival has got to be Biggles"
- Glastonbury Festival official on-site newspaper.
"Not only is your
band excellent, but its real good fun too. The way music should be."
a long time since I've seen a whole audience beaming with pleasure while a band
does it's thing."
"Biggles Wartime Band". The Guardian mini-Guide,
Other Highlights Section, Glastonbury Festival 2002.
Posted by HACK49
The problem with this year's line up is
that none of them is a worthy festival closer. They are all good bill toppers
for 'ordinary' events but Glasto should be something special and extraordinary.
problems have let Emily off the hook. Now's her chance to try to get in someone
who really could close the festival in true style.
Topping Glasto is a a
bit like being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it's an honour that
you earn by serving your time, by being an exceptionally good and talented musician
and a great performer.
Van Morrison meets the first three but his performances
are unpredictable and he'd be risky as a finisher.
In my dreams it would
be Springsteen or The Stones but realistically I'd settle for Cream, U2, The Who,
Pink Floyd or someone of that level.
If they can't manage that and I have
to choose somone from the present line up then Biggles
Wartime Band. Make it a festival end with a difference.
Other Festival 2006...
"Hold onto something and prepare yourself for
the hilarious onslaught of one of the funniest cabaret bands in the UK today!
regulars and complete maniacs, the Biggles Wartime Band will make your day!
Biggles Wartime band have at last been confirmed to appear at the festival.
unforgettable experience....no matter how hard you might try! These guys are exponents
of unavoidable laughs and pure entertainment, dlivered through the mediums of
musical musical mayhem, comedy and improvised madness, you are guaranteed a very
Using pipes, funnels, banjos, pianos, drums, kazoos
and anything else they can lay their hands on, these guys will reshape the music
you love in a way you will never forget!"
Away from the hustle
and bustle of the main drag, Sunday afternoon saw us suitably chilled up the Green
Fields. But Glastonbury, with its wonderful knack of never letting you forget
where you are (but never quite letting you know either), inevitably sprung an
insane surprise in the shape of Biggles.
Through the mellowness there
came a call to madness, in the shape of an enormously rotund figure dressed in
a kilt and "Dr Livingstone" style helmet, parping through a rubber tube and plastic
funnel. Biggles. Game on.
"Could everybody please take 5 steps forward?
People are getting crushed at the back" suggested the manically cheerful lead
singer (more manic than any Street Preacher, anyhow). He clearly took enormous
delight from the slick crapness of their act; a six piece band, including a vicar
on percussion (Father Green, or Pere Vert in French), a fellow dressed in lederhosen
on one of those big oompah poompah horns, himself dressed in Country and Western
attire and the aforementioned man-mountain on banjo. Poor chap. Apparently he
suffered from Bulemia Amnesia, eating loads and then forgetting to throw up.
what a set! They skipped through musical idioms like a Viking on acid skips through
a girl school, from a lyrical and moving rendition of "Gordon is a Moron" (complete
with tearful reference to life as a North Atlantic Whaler), through Elvis and
the Jungle Book, to name but a few highlights. "We are the Shake 'n' Vac on the
shag pile of life!" came the reassuring explanation.
I did actually manage
to catch quite a few acts this year, but when I was asked at work this morning
who I saw my mind went blank for a few seconds, I smiled and replied rhetorically
"Don't 'spose you've heard of Biggles have you?". Edward Feil.
Green Roadshow Bandstand / Croissant-Neuf Stage
a night of guarding a back gate, I was wandering round the Green Fields in a daze
when I heard this crazy version of Salty Dog coming from the bandstand. I wandered
over to be greeted by the bizarre spectacle of the Biggles Band.
take a bunch of acid heads from the home for deranged bit part actors, dress them
up from the shelves of an 'Age Concern' charity shop, give them instruments and
let them loose at Glastonbury sort of gives the first impression.
quickly stood out, one was that was actually some decent music underneath the
outfits and fooling around, and secondly, there was quite a crowd forming, who
really seemed to be enjoying the act.
The band worked their way through
some jolly numbers like 'Jollity Farm' and a punk masterpiece, 'I Like My Auntie
May.' Things turned a bit surreal when by chance half way through a very uncomplimentary
version of 'The Laughing Policeman,' three, nine foot tall policemen on stilts
walked up to the bandstand, and joined in.
Several more numbers followed,
including what must be the world's worst cajun song. The music was in the vein
of Bonzo Dog, but it seemed a lot more light-hearted and inspired.
finished the set to hearty applause from a good-sized crowd that had gathered.
Despite a modest PA system and a lot of noise, Biggles had put on a good show,
proving themselves masters of the corny gag, and that they were half decent musicians
On Sunday, a friend and I arrived early at the Croissant Neuf
tent to get a good seat for the Biggles Band, only to find it empty. A few people
wandered in as the band finished getting ready, and then it started.
first we knew of it was the sight and sound of a madman playing a sort of tune
on a hose pipe followed by an enormous guy wearing a kilt and pith hat clashing
cymbals while they walked round the Greenfield outside the tent. This sort of
set the scene for the rest of the act.
I had seen them on the bandstand
the day before and enjoyed the act, but on a proper stage with decent sound gear,
they were superb.
Nothing was sacred. Every type of music that I revered
from my long gone teenage past was duly slaughtered by them. Ones that stood out
were 'The Whaling Song, an OTT version of the Jilted John type folk song that
made my eyes sting with laughing, and two unbelievable punk numbers about Auntie
May and multiple substance sniffing. Elvis got the bullet, along with Tom Jones,
The Ronettes and many others.
Between the numbers, if you can call them
that, were some offerings of pure philosophical introspection/outright twaddle.
Even more impressive than the humour was the fact that they kept it up for well
over an hour. During the show, the tent had rapidly filled up, mostly from passer-bys
who heard the laughter.
It is a long time since I have seen a crowd enjoy
themselves as much as that mob. All too soon the show was over, and the good mood
they had created lasted me through another six hours of gate guarding. This year
I enjoyed many of the bands, and most of all, I will remember the Biggles Warband
with affection. If they are on next year, do go and see them. Bruce Johnstone-Lowe.
You know how it
gets at Glastonbury. You sit about smoking and drinking in cafes, or visiting
and jamming with friends, and what with one thing and another, somehow you just
can't be bothered to actually go and see bands.
This year, over four
days, I saw just three: Al Green, Patti Smith, - and Biggles Wartime Band.
An astute critic at The Guardians "Essential Guide to Glastonbury" had picked
out Biggles as one of the best acts to be seen on the smaller stages, so I made
my way up to the Croissant-Neuf tent in the Green Fields for a delightful hour
Biggles are a comedy skiffle jug band, and are quite simply one
of the most entertaining acts around. Their version of "Jollity Farm" signposts
where they are coming from: We are in Bonzo's / Spike Jones country, and what
a pleasure it is to be back there.
The line up of sousaphone, banjo,
washboard (ably handled by Father Green, or Pere Verte, as he is known in Louisiana),
guitar, fiddle, trombones, kazoos, swannee whistles and zob stick, swings along
to great effect, keeping the audience both laughing and dancing, which is no mean
achievement. Their Whaling Song has to be heard to be believed. Their version
of the Laughing Policeman hit just the right note for the Glastonbury crowd, their
Cajun numbere redefined "Franglais", and the punk classic "I Like My Auntie May"
sent the audience packed into the big top into pongoing frenzy.
numbers, the jokes and the banter meant that Biggles would be at home on the stand-up
circuit if ever they tired of music, which I hope they never do.
a long time since I've seen a whole audience beaming with pleasure while a band
does it's thing. The Biggles Wartime Band turned out to be the best way to spend
a Sunday afternoon that I've found in ages. Oh, and Al Green and Patti Smith were
quite good too. Ian Marchant.
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