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Home > Music

Glastonbury 2003: the year that Moby jumped the shark

"oh lordy..."

- Moby

4 July 2003

Poor old bald little Moby. He's a lovely chap and has made some funny little tunes that have made many a car journey zip by all the quicker. But plonk him on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in front of 100,000 people and he seems to shrink to the size of hamster, and his music shrinks right along with him.

Like any self-respecting hamster, Moby trotted about the stage, his bright shiny eyes all eager and excited - he even made little squeaks of protest against nasty President Bush - but the overall effect of the concert was just that: a squeak. He couldn't cut it. His music can fill a living room or the interior of a Saab, but it spreads mighty thinly across a huge Somerset field.

Some would argue that Moby was already scrabbling up the side of the shark with his last album - 18 - but that's not fair. His song We Are All Made of Stars was (arguably) one of the best pop tunes of last few years, and did enough to keep the hamster at a safe distance from that horrid shark. You would have thought that when he played We Are All Made Of Stars at Glastonbury it would have been huge, anthemic, layered and loud. It wasn't. It was tweety. If you're going to play a big stage, you've got to play big music. And Moby can't play big. He can play nice, he can play clever, but he can't play big.

A band who know how to play big is Yes, the great-uncles of prog-rock, who played the One World Stage on a beautiful sunny afternoon and blew everyone's heads off. The band had returned to the classic line-up of little Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, with wizardy Wakeman back behind his stack of 38 synthesizers. Like Remonstrance (their natural heirs) Yes is a band who simply don't know how to play songs shorter than fifteen minutes. They know how to soar. Jon Anderson - who gives away a good six inches to Moby (not to mention about 20 years) - was just as spry as the bald Connecticutian, but seemed relaxed, happy, inspired - and had none of Moby's sweaty desperation.

It's a fact of life: some bands can rock out, some canít. Royksopp rocked out. They were *amazing*. Sigur Ros rocked out. Yes rocked out so hugely that it may have effected the revolution of the moon. Moby didn't rock out. He peeped. He skittered. He stank.

Poor old Moby. We love you really. Say hello to David Bowie on the far side of shark.


On a related note: someone who has never jumped the shark is Paul McCartney. No matter what shit he produces, the shark simply refuses to let him over - respecting him far too much as a musician to let him join the likes of Moby, Bowie and Spears. No other artist has this relationship with the shark. Even John Lennon (mainly thanks to his poetry) eventually managed to clamber over the shark - admittedly getting a leg-up from Yoko.

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