SOMERSET music-lovers enjoyed the return of the Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza concerts held by festival organisers to thank the local community.

This year's Extravaganza was held on Saturday, August 6 and featured performances from Paloma Faith, Seasick Steve and Black Dyke Band.

Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis and his daughter and co-organiser Emily were in attendance at the sun-soaked landmark throughout an uplifting evening. 

The concerts began with Black Dyke Band, whose 13 European Championships make it one of the world’s most successful and best-known brass bands. 

Black Dyke’s pedigree meant they rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s biggest artists on Glastonbury Festival's Pyramid Stage in June.  

The band began its one-hour set with the Star Wars theme tune, setting the tone for a concert that flitted between pop culture favourites and more traditional brass arrangements. 

Professor Nicholas Childs, the band’s musical director and conductor, was a warm and funny host throughout the set, particularly when introducing a well-received James Bond medley.

This segment featured ‘Live and Let Die’ by Sir Paul McCartney and Wings, which the former Beatle played during his Saturday night headline slot at Worthy Farm.  

“Did you know, the band that followed Sir Paul McCartney on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival was Black Dyke Band?”, asked Professor Childs.

“It was on the Sunday morning, but that’s just a technicality.”

‘Black Dyke at the Movies’ was soon followed by ‘Strictly Black Dyke’.

This featured the BBC dance programme’s iconic theme tune and ‘Bolero’, the soundtrack to Torvill and Dean’s gold medal performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

A performance of ‘Breezin Down Broadway’ brought enthusiastic clapping along from the audience and an excellent catch from a percussionist after his sheet music got caught in the Somerset breeze, as captured on the big screens to either side of the stage.

Black Dyke’s solo performers were also given a chance to flourish, with a special mention given to Richard Marshall, the band’s longest-serving principal cornet player.

The excellent set ended with Bill Whelan’s ‘Riverdance’, a former Eurovision Song Contest interval act that included a fleeting but popular Irish dance from one of the band’s members.

The brass band’s performance was followed by a break that lasted for around an hour, giving Extravaganza attendees the chance to take in their surroundings.

The concerts bring a lot of Glastonbury Festival’s charm to the historic abbey site, from an excellent range of food stalls to the same painted bins and toilet signs.

A higher proportion of Extravaganza attendees are families – presumably of the reduced need to camp – but larger groups, including several hen dos, were seen enjoying themselves, too.

Once most people had returned to their deckchairs or blankets (or the bare grass for the less prepared, including me), Seasick Steve was introduced by the evening’s compère.

The American blues-rock singer brought a typically charismatic performance filled with humour and cobbled-together guitars.

Looking out over the largely seated audience before opening his set with ‘Don’t Know Why She Love Me But She Do’, he said: “It looks like y’all are having a picnic. We don’t really do picnics, but we’ll do our best.”

Somerset County Gazette: Seasick Steve and his drummer Dan Magnusson perform at Glastonbury Abbey. Picture: Tom LeamanSeasick Steve and his drummer Dan Magnusson perform at Glastonbury Abbey. Picture: Tom Leaman

Moments later, Steve,  who was clad in a checkered shirt, faded and torn jeans, and a John Deere cap, asked: “Are you guys at the back out there alright? Are you still alive?”

He was joined throughout by drummer Dan Magnusson. There is a sense of simplicity about their music that, combined with its powerful, reverberating noise, helps make them such a captivating watch.

Steve's rich vocals were most welcomed during crowd-pleasers ‘You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’ and ‘Summertime Boy’, while the catchy riff of ‘Bring It On’ helped get people moving.

A standout moment from the set was ‘Soul Food’, a song from his new album Only On Vinyl (which, as the name suggests, was only made available on black or limited-edition blue vinyl).

“No Spotify, no telephones, no iPhones,” said Steve.

“Like the old times. They say, ‘Steve, you’re committing commercial suicide!’ I know, I love it.”

‘Soul Food’ evokes a longing for the traditional southern restaurants of Steve’s past – many of which, he says, have been displaced by fast food franchises.

His aversion to modern technology seems to extend to his guitars, resulting in him playing one that consists of two hubcaps, a garden hoe, a barbecue spatula, and a beer can that has “no use”.

Somerset County Gazette: Bride-to-be Jade (pictured wearing a white sash) and her friends shortly before Seasick Steve took to the stage. Picture: Tom LeamanBride-to-be Jade (pictured wearing a white sash) and her friends shortly before Seasick Steve took to the stage. Picture: Tom Leaman

In between songs, as a stage assistant passed him another of his creations, he said: “That guy’s got the worst job – bringing me these pieces of crap.”

Shortly before he left, he thanked Michael Eavis and the Extravaganza organisers for inviting him to perform but revealed another motivation for his appearance.

“The main reason I’m playing here is that my soul sister Paloma’s playing tonight,” he said.

“I haven’t seen her in a long time, and I say, ‘Bring it on, baby!’.”

Paloma Faith later excelled in her headline slot following her withdrawal from the same event in 2018 due to a bout of acute laryngitis.

The night ended with a spectacular firework display that lasted for around 10 minutes but surely left many sparing thoughts for Mendip pets and their owners.

The next event in the Glastonbury Festival calendar is the Pilton Party, a Worthy Farm-based event that will feature Pyramid Stage performers Elbow and Easy Life next month. 

Read more: Paloma Faith brings Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza concerts to stunning end 

Read more: Glastonbury's Pilton Party confirms line-up as tickets go on general sale