Revellers watch an act perform on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England, on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
The festival season has started in earnest and as the sun gave us that most precious of things – a Glastonbury with a feel good factor – we look back at some of the performances people are still talking about..
Photo Credit: Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty
Stormzy took to the Worthy Farm Pyramid stage on Friday night in a highly emotional and political performance. As the first black British solo artist to headline Glastonbury, his performance was a pivotal moment in Grime and UK music history. The performance highlighted a number of issues surrounding systematic and racial inequality and was a thrilling performance to watch, even for those not too keen on Grime.
Elaborating on that point, no matter what your thoughts on the man himself or his music, it cannot be denied how refreshing it was to see an artist tipping their cap at length to the previous artists that paved the way for they themselves to take their shared struggle and endeavours to that next level of recognition.
Even more so, to then also pay homage to the up and coming artists behind him and give them an early name check on this, his own big moment AND to the extent that he did so was very humbling… especially when you think of the arrogance and ladder pulling up attitude of many rock and indie bands in comparison. Most of whom could not care a toss who or what is underneath or behind them once they get a whiff of the recognition they so desperately crave. All hail Stormzy.
But if Stormzy’s headline pyramid set wasn’t for you personally then The Other stage had its own unmissable slot. Australia’s Tame Impala have already headlined coachella and sold out the O2 in London, but tonight’s billing is their most pivotal and they didn’t disappoint. Known just as much for their hypnotising visuals as their music, it seems as though they stepped up a level with lazers, lights and confetti, creating an almost psychedelic rave.
The first confetti cannon moment came in the anthemic disco influenced opener ‘Let it happen’, The set drawing mainly from global breakthrough ‘Currents’ and 2012’s ‘Lonerism’ but still found a place for newly released ‘Patience’ and ‘Borderline’. Finishing on ‘New Person, Same old mistakes’ with more multi coloured confetti raining down, surely this just a warm up for these future pyramid headliners.
Michael Kiwanuka was a sweet soul sensation on the Park stage, taking us back to a time when soul music drifted effortlessly through your very core and took you somewhere so delicious that you never wanted to come back. From his huge ‘Cold little heart’ – that many will know from the opening credits of the brilliant HBO ‘Big Little Lies’ series – he moved effortlessly through ‘Black man in a white’ world from the same 2016 ‘Love and Hate’ album, before announcing some new music and treating us to the vocal layered loveliness of ‘Money’ his latest offering alongside Tom Misch.. a track that actually sounded more lush live than the recorded offering, excellent though that is.
Robert Smith’s voice was particularly impressive as The Cure headlined the Pyramid stage on Sunday night. At 60, his vocal chords seem to have matured like a fine whisky, whilst his trusty side-kick bassist Simon Gallup must be the only man in music that can wear a bass guitar slung lower than ex New Order 4 stringer Peter Hook. Legendary for their elongated live sets, their 2 hour one at Worthy dipped into all era’s of their extensive 40+ year catalogue. They treated the faithful to everything from live favourite ‘A Forest’ though ‘Shake Dog Shake’ from ‘The Top’ before coasting through the ‘Disintegration’ period and the Goth-Pop classics of ‘Inbetween days’ and ‘Just like heaven’ before Smith asked for 2 minutes to ‘Put his pop head back on’. What followed said head change were sublime versions of ‘Lullaby’ (with obligatory spiderweb visuals)and a more energetic version of ‘The Caterpillar’ before launching straight into the brilliant tom tom laden stand alone single ‘The Walk’.
Just when you are wondering how a band can write a catchier alt-pop tune than the likes of ‘In Between Days’ and ‘Just like heaven’ you get ‘Friday I’m in Love’ thrown in, which Smith playfully announces as ‘Sunday I’m in Love’ before following with the second single from 1984’s ‘Head On The Door’ album, the inimitable ‘Close To Me’.
After shedding his guitar ‘Why Can’t I be You?’ sees the Edward Scissorhands-like figure of Smith whooping and screaming in trademark playful style and having all sorts of fun.. well, as much as a king of Goth-pop can with a Glastonbury crowd.. before ending on the iconic debut single ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ which for a minute he indeed seemed to do in an emotional farewell to the Pyramid stage audience. You can’t help but notice thereis something wonderfully childlike and playful about Smith’s particular brand of alternative pop, incredibly original and unique – he’s a true national treasure and one that perfectly illustrates the great British penchant for quirkiness and originality – far more so than Gary Barlow, the ‘obvious winner in waiting’ of that particular award ever will.
Sheryl Crow played mainstage on the Friday and seemed to be showing no hangover from the recent Universal fire that tragically destroyed all her master tapes. She ripped through the hits from her catalogue including tracks from the humongous selling 1993 debut album ‘Tuesday Night Music Club’.
What was obvious watching Crow was the absolute ease and professionalism of performance of herself and her band, its obvious they have earned their stripes the old school way on the live circuit and that’s not something to be sniffed at. The quality of the Californian’s vocal delivery whilst putting on a performance that was as visual as it was listenable was a masterclass in what American artists seem to do very well.
With more the feeling of an Oasis set than a solo Gallagher brother gig, Liam Gallagher emerged onto the stage as did his former band to ‘Fuckin’ in the bushes’ before lauching into ‘Rock ‘N’ Star’ and ‘Morning Glory’ with customary flares immediately filling the crowd. Tracks from his debut solo album ‘As You Were’ mixed in with Oasis anthems and new tracks ‘Shockwave’ and ‘The River’. Taking a swipe at Noel, Liam proclaimed “Apparently this is shit as well” before playing the now classic ‘Wonderwall’ then dedicating set closer ‘Champagne Supernova’ to the late Prodigy frontman Keith Flint and hinting he’ll be back in 2020 by stating “next year will be my hat-trick”.
The best and worst kept secret of the weekend went to Foals after someone tweeted from their official band account hours before they took the stage. The tweets worked, with thousands descending on the park stage and organisers having to shut the area. Those lucky enough to get in were treated to an eleven song set (they could have easily have done double) starting with the blistering ‘Mountain at my gates’. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis thanking Micheal and Emily Eavis for the chance to play but also the reduction of single use plastics at this years festival. Mosh pits started towards the end of the set with the heavier guitar riffs of ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What went down’ before finishing on ‘Two steps, Twice’ from debut ‘Antidotes’. With a second album of this year ready to drop hopefully next year the Oxford band will return and it won’t be kept a secret.
After releasing the highly acclaimed ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ and playing sold out shows on the supporting tour, Idles had their first place on the Glastonbury lineup and had waited 12 years to play here. “It is the greatest place on earth” Talbot exclaims. His sense of huge euphoria is heartfelt. As if he is only now realising his band has made it. Before a lot of the songs Talbot gives an insight into their meaning and influence and reveals ‘Danny Nedelko’ was inspired by a poem PJ harvey read (at a previous Glastonbury performance). He is outspoken about immigration, mental health and sexuality as usual, yet he seems more confident about it now he’s on a bigger stage.
The audience shout the lyrics at Talbot before he has time to catch up with them and eventually this leads him into tears. As breaks down his wife runs on for a heartfelt embrace, a very talked about moment on social media following. Whilst the set was impressive, the band embarrass themselves somewhat promoting Harry Styles songs between a post punk set. This could leave one scratching their head, wondering is this a mockery? and is it really relevant? That being the only nitpick, the audiences love for Idles prove they are only going to get bigger, and will have a wider reception as they release more music.
Meanwhile, arriving onstage in possibly the loudest trousers of the weekend, Jeff Goldbumb and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra (named after a 103 year old relative) take Glastonbury on a Jazzy detour during their smooth set. Goldblumb is as comfortable onstage as he is on camera, while his band provided some top level Jazz backing. You’ve not heard everything til you’ve heard a field full of festival goers screaming along to a lounge rendition of the Jurassic Park theme. Life finds a way, Jeff absolutely nailed it.
Personally we don’t think Glastonbury was ready for the sweaty carnage of Northhampton’s very own Slowthai. The 24 year old controlled the crowd so well that headliners would be impressed by the sheer size of the mosh pits. Slowthai’s energy is on the same level as a mad genius, combining raw punk delivery and Rap, his Glastonbury set is defiantly one that will be remembered for a long time. If you haven’t done so we recommend having a gander on the iplayer as soon as possible.
Meanwhile with incredible presence and confidence American singer/rapper Lizzo blew Glastonbury away and caused one of the most frenzied reactions whilst sporting a mesmerising holographic body-suit. During ‘Truth Hurts’ she captivated with her traditional flute solo in the interlude and seamlessly went back to belting out riffs whilst maintaining the audience’s attention indefinitely and almost at will.
Multi-instrumentalist Mac DeMarco, played in the blistering heat at “The Other Stage’ on Friday and despite suffering with the ‘flu’ his performance was energetic and humorous, which is exactly what you would expect to hear from Mac and his band.
Country? Rock? Soul? Blues? If you liked a bit of everything then look no further as Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real have you covered. A lot of artists can play around with different musical styles to create something new close to their sound, but these guys take it to a whole new level. The charismatic frontman, son of a legendary American Outlaw Willie Nelson wowed the Glastonbury crowd on Friday with his laid back and raw performance, creating a truly serene atmosphere for festival goers. If you wanted to switch off from your hectic lifestyle enjoy a bit of sunshine, maybe share a joint or some beers with your friends then this is who you want playing in the background. In an era of overly processed everything – from food to music, it was refreshing to see someone keeping it raw and real.