'I owe so much to this place': Blur's Damon Albarn prepares to play for Glastonbury's cows

ITV News West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn explains just how the virtual festival will work this year

Given that Damon Albarn’s Glastonbury set this year will be heard mostly by the cows on Worthy Farm it wasn’t entirely unreasonable to talk about them.

Cows, according to the Blur and Gorillaz frontman, are a “sympathetic audience” and if it benefits the milk yields then it was probably a positive.

We met on the Somerset farm this week shortly before he recorded his set for the one-off online event on Saturday. He had no hesitation of joining in when invited back to Glastonbury. “I jumped for joy, I love this place,” Albarn admits.

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Having played in one field or another countless times since 1990 he’s glad to be back. “I owe so much to this place,” he says.

Albarn feels fortunate to be performing, if only to the crew and the cows, but set against the backdrop of the pandemic and Brexit he’s concerned for all those in the industry who don’t share his privileged position.

"It’s catastrophic for the arts,” he says, adding, “[when] everyone wakes up out of this they’re going to realise they can’t actually travel in the way they’re used to.

"We’re suffocating culturally because of this sort of spell we were all put under.”

As much a feature of the Glastonbury landscape as the Pyramid Stage, he’s has had an uninterrupted career since 1988 that he says has exceeded his “wildest dreams”.  

Blur frontman Damon Albarn on playing to the cows rather than the crowds at Glastonbury this year

The musician worries for those in the arts who have been forced by Covid rules and regulations to put their livelihoods on hold.

“Realistically it’s not going to start kicking in again until next year and that’s a longtime for some people to wait.”

Concerns about how streaming services reward artists recently led Albarn and a host of musicians to urge the government to fix inequalities in the system.

He told ITV News “we’ve always had a bad deal,” before adding “it’s just become very acute” and with touring on hold income for many has “evaporated”.

Of course he and everyone else on this Somerset farm want to play in front of crowds again but for now it’s cows, and a hope that the full scale temporary town that is Glastonbury Festival will return in 2022.