But the message is rarely forgotten, throughout the festival. The call for a caring society comes across in the protest songs of Bragg, Phranc and the heavyweight folk of Christy Moore (memorably on Bobby Sands' Back Home In Derry). And for those of a more woolly, arcadian outlook there's John Martyn, reunited with Danny Thompson on a fine Solid Air opener, and finishing well with Somewhere Over The Rainbow.1
But dealing specifically in alternative aural chemistry and toe tinglers The Woodentops overcame sound setbacks to finish strongly with a furious Do It Anyway and Special Friend. I even grew to like the unwanted JAMC feedback that dominated the Plutonium Rock/ Cold Inside medley. Lethal stuff.
"We thought you'd all have long hair and beards and hate us," said Stan, "so thanks for shaving." The Housemartins, of all the Sunday traders, emerged as real high fliers. Obviously the single's a wee cracker in the Undertone mould, but their happy hour-long set revealed a striking versatility (from the acapella excellence of He Ain't Heavy and Heaven Help Us All to a stunning hip-hop percussive finale) and a poppy political awareness. "We don't like performing in front of Tories, they're a load of wankers," states Paul, bringing a cheer from the Great Unwashed. It ain t exactly E.P. Thompson but Christ... at last we could really "get up off our knees" and dance!
1 This one sentence review poses a number of problems. (I even doubt Len Brown witnessed the show.) John played the 1986 Glastonbury Festival alright but this was a band show well documented. Most tracks of BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert were recorded. The show was also broadcast and transcribed by BBC 1 in Pete Drummond's In Concert. None of these recordings mention Danny Thompson and the same goes for the song Solid Air.
On the other hand, there are three accounts of people having heard other material. In a Discogs footnote it reads "I was present at this gig & recorded it on my ghetto blaster. I remember it was on the main stage at Glastonbury. It was in the afternoon & it was really hot. I lost the tape a long time ago now. I definitely remember John playing Solid Air although it does not feature on the track list [of the CD]." Another person heard John and Danny play, too.
Bass player Alan Thomson confirms "My memory of this gig is that Danny and John played a short acoustic set (and possibly Arran) before the electric band played. It was a great gig and is still my favourite recording of that line-up."
This page is an excerpt of the account of the festival published in the NME of 28 June 1986. Christy Moore and The Housemartins played Stage 1 on the Sunday. The Woodentops were scheduled for Stage 2. But Danny Thompson is nowhere to be found in the advert.
Material provided by John Neil Munro.