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A (Live from) Worthy Farm, Summer 2021

When is a farm not a farm? Well, in the case of Worthy Farm in Somerset, it’s the biggest greenfield festival site in Europe, hosting, as it has for 50 years now, the singularly unique monster that is Glastonbury Festival.

Everybody knows about Glastonbury, it’s become a by-word for festivals in the same way as Hoover has for vacuum cleaners (or should that be Dyson now?), and following the cancellation of festivals in 2020 and 2021, the team behind the epic event wanted to deliver something positive for the hundreds of thousands of dedicated festival-goers and a wider global audience – a beacon of light and hope in a muddy quagmire of Covid-riddled unpleasantness.

And so it was that “Live From Worthy Farm” was born. The idea was to present an event that was both familiar and new – the best music from the farm but set apart from the annual broadcast of the festival by the BBC, staged in a way that showed both the environment and the artists off to their best. This event would be recorded and then streamed, available to all, anywhere in the world.

RG Jones, as the favoured supplier of all things audio to Pyramid Stage, were asked by Glastonbury Head of Production Emma Reynolds-Taylor to provide a package of mobile audio systems to deliver stage and monitor systems and broadcast splits for several choice sites across the unusually verdant pastures of the farm. These included The Stone Circle (Haim, Wolf Alice and Damon Albarn), Idles in apocalyptic sculptor Joe Rush’s onsite yard, Michael Kiwanuka somewhere in the woods, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s new adventure The Smile in Wolfgang Buttress’ Beehive and various others dotted around the site.

Coldplay, in true Coldplay fashion, took up residence on The Pyramid field on front of the skeletal stage structure so familiar as the focal point of this iconic festival. The show they produced was self-contained, and the result was evident for all to see when the recording finally went out. This was a state-of-the-art show brought together under very difficult circumstances, and the entire team must be congratulated in pulling it off to such great effect. The fact that the band played through a full-on rainstorm was testament to their professionalism and commitment.

The solution to having a mobile monitor system, splits and comms was devised by Ben Milton and Mark Isbister and consisted of a custom fitted-out trailer split into two halves. In one half was a Digico equipped monitor mixing studio, and the other a pre-rigged signal management system where broadcast could pick up their feeds quickly and efficiently. This enabled rapid deployment of a comprehensive set of equipment that would service the needs of all the artists in different locations around the farm, whilst keeping the camera shots clean of all technical detritus. Other areas were serviced by a conventional system rigged for Kiwanuka and then moved for Idles.

To spend time on this beautiful piece of Somerset without 250,000 others felt like a real privilege, if a little unsettling. Wondering around the totally untouched fields, unencumbered by having to negotiate hordes of people and the all too ubiquitous mud, trying to identify landmarks that are so familiar when the festival is buzzing all around you was an uplifting experience. It’s all too easy to ignore the landscape when it’s covered with infrastructure and throbbing with music, and here was an opportunity to see what a massive undertaking the festival is, and just how vital it is to minimise its impact on the environment in which it sits.

The events’ green credentials were high on the list of priorities, and this was made evident by the large array of solar panels placed outside the production village. The nature of the event made this possible as only a very small amount of real estate was taken up by this production when compared to the festival.

The culture of Glastonbury has become a phenomenon. The ethics of the festival, its determination to be seen to be promoting green issues, freedom of expression and speech, the total lack of any corporate sponsorship and the commitment to booking the very best artists has placed this once grubby hippie-fest amongst the great annual events of the cultural calendar. In the shadow of Covid-19, Live From Worthy Farm only stood to strengthen this set of values that in the light of world events are a beacon of hope.

Long live Glastonbury Festival and everything it stands for.

“Being able to work alongside some of our longstanding suppliers was amazing. I have to praise the increasable positivity of everyone, from the audio team to the local crew and beyond. The atmosphere on site was amazing, even when it rained!”

Head of Production for the Pyramid and Other Stage at Glastonbury

 

Category: General News

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