Glastonbury 2011 diary: a chat with BBC 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveny

Crowd-pleasing sets, earworms, poetry, U2 and a Menswear reunion were on the agenda

Yesterday, I had the chance to talk to the brilliant, deadpan 6 Music DJ Shaun Keaveny. Usually the weekday breakfast show presenter, Shaun has been co-helming the 8-10pm slot from Glastonbury this year with his “new radio wife” Cerys Matthews.

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In the past, he has felt criminally overlooked for inclusion in the 6 Music Glastonbury schedule, and aside from the fact he’s missing most of the headliners (and he doesn’t appear in the 6 Music trailer), he says he’s overjoyed to be here.

One band Shaun’s gutted to have missed is Radiohead, although on learning that they had played no crowd-pleasers, he revealed that one of his fantasies is to get down the front of one of their concerts and shout “CREEP!” at them for the whole set. It must gall them deep down, he said, that even the fans that really go with them are perhaps thinking, “I wish they’d come back with a rock record, just once.” Saying that, he admires the fact that they’re still pushing the boundaries of music and people are allowing them to do it.

He was slightly disappointed by U2’s Friday-night set, which he thought had a strong start but lost its way in the middle, after which they played too much new material. He was also massively confused by the huge number of hecklers (he estimates 60%) in the crowd, laying into Bono. “What the hell are you doing here?!” he wondered, But he admitted that despite the naysayers they are massive for a reason: they can turn it on in front of a crowd.

Next we talked about the poetic genius of Keaveny show contributor Murray Lachlan Young, who is performing here all three days. Shaun first saw him at a “local” gig and his 6 Music producer was so impressed that they took him on board. Ironically, as Shaun noted, neither of us could describe his poetry in words, but if you get the chance he’s well worth checking out, even if you think you don’t like poetry.

He noticeably perked up when I mentioned his alt-rock beat combo, Mosque, of which Shaun is the lead singer and guitarist. Although there are no imminent plans for a tour, aside from a one-off gig last February, he expects to talk with Michael Eavis about a future appearance, and we wish him the best of luck. As a side note I asked him about his 6 Music collaborator Matt Everitt’s return to the stage with his mid-table Britpop act Menswear. Apparently most of the band are keen apart from the lead singer, but Shaun believes that it’s what the people want. Come back on, Menswear, and play some more music.

Finally, touching on one of his breakfast show features “earworms” (where listeners are invited to request a song that’s stuck in their head), I asked if he currently had one. Thankfully the answer was yes: James Blake’s The Wilhelm Scream, which was presumably based on film-makers’ in-joke sound effect (look it up, it’s in nearly every action movie).

So, that’s Shaun Keaveny’s top tip; and my top tip is to listen to the Shaun Keaveny Breakfast Show.

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