So day one of Glastonbury is – with the exception of the festival’s many, many bacchanalian late night dance areas – pretty much over. What’s in store for day two? Paul McCartney you already know about (and what an event that will be), but there’s a barrel-load of other great stuff to mark in your ledgers.
In a classic piece of counter-programming, Megan Thee Stallion is headlining the Other stage at the same time that Macca is on at the Pyramid, while Róisín Murphy tops the West Holts, Jessie Ware does the Park and Jamie T’s on over at John Peel.
There are some juicy sets further down the lineup too: the brilliant Big Thief at the Park at 6.15, Self Esteem and Pa Salieu at the John Peel, and the bonkers Black Midi at West Holts. We’ll have reviews of many of these and plenty of others, and of course you can catch all the action over on the iPlayer.
For now though we’re going to wind the liveblog down and head off into the night in search of adventure. Thanks for joining us, and see you tomorrow!
Billie Eilish reviewed
Alexis Petridis has delivered his verdict on tonight’s headliner, and he was suitably impressed: “Her performance doesn’t just seem like a musical shift for Glastonbury, but a triumph as well,” he writes in his four-star verdict.
You can read the full review here:
Just following on from Keza’s comment about the bass at Little Simz, it does seem to be a remarkably bassy festival this year. There were points during Billie Eilish’s set where the windows of the Guardian cabin were rattling, and last night at the festival’s new dance venue Lonely Hearts Club, I encountered bass so forbidding that I could practically feel the fillings in my teeth loosening. What’s going on? Have sound systems gotten even more boomingly bassy? Or have we lost our tolerance for bass during the largely bass-less pandemic years?
Little Simz reviewed
“Allow me to pick up where I left off,” snarls Little Simz at the beginning of her menacing, enlivening banger Offence – but she has come far since she first played Glastonbury. Her latest album, Sometimes I Might be Introvert, from which much of this set is drawn, was a giant pandemic hit. She comes out swinging, with several of her most energetic and swaggersome tunes upfront, striding across the West Holts stage in a hat and sunglasses, treating us to some of the bassiest sound I’ve heard so far at this festival. She is killer on Rollin Stone. Give her her cheques, give her her plaques.
The turning point of the set comes during the brilliant Standing Ovation when Simz takes off her sunglasses and talks right to us about “The motivational speakers and the honest Black leaders, the divine healers, the every day low-paid believers, the overachievers in the shadow of the gatekeepers.” It gave me goosebumps. She started the set with all her best rap braggadocio but from here on in we’re brought closer to her, deeper inside her head, on her more confessional and intimate tracks. She even shares a new one: the product of a “period of transition”, as she puts it. All of which gives the show a strange flow, getting slower as it goes along, and some of the interludes feel a bit laboured in this setting. But she’s such a compelling, idiosyncratic rapper that it’s impossible to stop paying attention to her.
Self-belief anthem How Did You Get Here feels especially poignant here, as Simz tells us between tracks that she’d been anxious about this gig for days. As in her music, in her banter she alternates between boldness and vulnerability, expressing pride and disbelief that she’s headlining West Holts tonight. “I stepped out here and felt so welcome,” she says, calling out her family in the crowd. She chats to us a lot, though she won’t take any backtalk.
Despite the presence of her five-piece band, Little Simz looks quite alone up there, strutting that giant stage (except when she invites Cleo Sol up there for Woman and Selfish, both of which get the crowd swaying. But she commands that stage, finishing on the brilliantly acerbic track Venom, getting the crowd bouncing to her rhythm. “I’ll see you next time at the Pyramid,” she says, before stepping off – but this is one of our finest rappers, made up of the same stars that she wished upon, and she has nothing left to prove.
In all the excitement around Billie, I forgot to mention that the Eiffel 65-covering Spanish guitarist (see 21:59) went on to play a host of reworked 90s Euro-cheese, including a mournful, flamenco-tinged cover of The Vengabus Is Coming that I never knew I needed.
With their current album, Foals set out to exorcise and indeed exercise the torpor of the last couple of years through highly aerobic dance-rock workouts, and they admirably purge the horrors of two years without Glasto at this Other stage headline slot.
They do undeniably lack dynamic range. The sliver of daylight between 2am and My Number, played one after another, is as thin as the precision lasers being fired around the site: they’re both similarly taut and white-funky, fussing around with pretty little circular guitar riffs. Their other mode is brawny rockers, and some of these, such as Black Bull, are pretty forgettable too.
But when they’re good, they’re very, very good. 2001, the highlight from Life Is Yours, is like a wedding band trying to come up with a new version of Duran Duran’s Notorious – and as lame as that sounds it’s actually very endearing, with frontman Yannis Philippakis finding a little-used but lovely upper-middle register of his voice. 2001 also showcases a Foals strength, which is properly understanding the propulsion of dance music: In Degrees, while sung out of tune in its early section, really gets at the relentlessness of techno. Meanwhile the thin, pealing guitar notes that were their early signature have gone from neurotic to purely gorgeous, as on recent single 2am.
And their intended farewell to Covid (actual case numbers notwithstanding) really has finality at two key moments. Spanish Sahara’s “leave the horror here ... it’s future rust, it’s future dust” is suitably elegiac and its slow build matches the valedictory mood. Their best song, Inhaler, remains an epic ode to wide open space and again, its patient build-up doubles the gigantic pay-off. “Impossible: possible”, asserts Philippakis to the smell of burnt flares, glorying in how fields of tens of thousands of people have become possible again.
While Billie was conquering the Pyramid, tomorrow’s headliner was opting for something a little more intimate. Here’s our news write up of Paul McCartney’s surprise show in Frome:
Time to psych out on the Park, where Khruangbin are prowling the stage like extras from a Robert Rodriguez film, matching black wigs and outfits gleaming. Their rise from indie crate-diggers to Very Big Deal seems to have gone quicker than you can say “the Alamo”, and now the sun is setting behind them, poised to provide the globetrotting soundtrack to ease everyone into Friday night’s festivities. This is the new hipster chillout music: largely instrumentals, save for some gentle cooing, Khruangbin’s delirious grooves draw on everything from 1970s Thai funk that sounds like it’s been found in a glove compartment (known as luk thung) to, if you can be so broad, Middle Eastern soul, via Mexican cumbia, African boogie and beyond.
It could be tricky to make such floaty, wallpapery music stick, sounding as it does like it’s on mushrooms. It might well float into the ether if it wasn’t underpinned by such deliciously elastic bass – Laura Leezy, plucker of said instrument, has allegedly never changed the strings on it, which is why it sounds so, for want of a better word, vintage – alongside outrageously talented guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson, completing the trio.
They’ve turned their gentle bops into a hypnotic show, though: great lighting, great looks and great twists and turns. Just when you thought you were on a hazy road trip, they double-drop into a disco-fied section, heavier on the dance than on the noodle. Fellow Texan Leon Bridges, with whom they’ve collaborated most recently – adding some respite (ie gorgeous soul vocals) to their music – joins them on stage in a white bolero jacket. “It’s a match made in heaven,” one dude in the crowd can heard saying to his friend as they play the upbeat Texas Sun and transport us briefly to a dusty dive bar.
Back at Glasto, the ’Bin’s set is not without some tongue-in-cheek action. They’ve always seemed to blur the line between ice cool and pastich, and none more so tonight than when they break into a medley of Miserlou by Dick Dale and Apache by Incredible Bongo Band, like the Pulp Fiction band they were born to be. Or covers of Snap’s 90s vocal house anthems Rhythm Is a Dancer and Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless), playing to their huge crowd with a knowing wink. After all, this is a band without limits, who could go anywhere, do anything; a fantasy film soundtrack rendered in glorious Technicolour. Tarantino, are you listening?
For a slightly more considered take than my on-the-whistle ramblings, keep your eyes peeled for Alexis Petridis’s Billie Eilish review, coming later this evening.
Billie Eilish: snap verdict
That was a superstar-cementing performance from Glastonbury’s youngest ever festival headliner. Billie Eilish’s command of the stage is pretty remarkable – for so much of tonight it was just her out there alone, demanding the limelight. I’m not sure she quite has the back catalogue to match her ambition and status just yet: with only two albums worth of material to pick from, there were a few lulls tonight. But the highs – Bad Guy, Therefore I Am, Happier Than Ever – were very high indeed, and her star-wattage is undeniable. You suspect this won’t be her last time topping the Pyramid.
Eilish rounds things off with Happier than Ever. It’s another huge singalong – and accompanied by a huge barrage of fireworks too. The entire floor is shaking here, it’s a monumental finale, and Eilish ends it by sprinting furiously around the Pyramid stage before collapsing to the floor. Finneas and Eilish’s drummer follow suit. Eilish lingers for a while, soaking up the applause. She’s deserved it, having thrown everything into this performance.
Two songs left, Eilish sadly announces, and the first one of those is Bad Guy – probably Eilish’s biggest banger, the track that made her a superstar. Everyone in the crowd loses their minds and dignity when that wobbly synth line hits, and quite rightly too.
This is more like it. The thumping All the Good Girls Go To Hell with Finneas on axe-wielding duties. Eilish has been at her best here with the uptempo numbers, when that punishing bass hits and the stark strobe lighting starts flickering.
For When the Party’s Over, another brooding ballad, Eilish pulls up a stool. She’s been bouncing up and down the stage so much, a quick sit down seems advisable.
Billie’s getting the crowd to do breathing exercises now. Come for the minimalist pop, stay for the stress relief.
Getting Older, a musically lovely but lyrically pretty bleak song about trauma, is next up. We could maybe do with a bit of a change of pace here, to be honest.
Finneas carries on strumming for Bellyache, another mid-paced number. We’re in the sad bangers portion of the set.
“Youngest headliner in Glasto history – whaaattt” Eilish boasts. Fair enough, really!
There is no better description for this set than pure joy. The stage choice is dubious – Avalon is a tent with no screens, so unless you’re right in there you can barely see the original-li neup Sugababes (Mutya, Keisha, Siobhan) – but actually it hardly matters. This was always going to be a singalong where you could barely hear the gals anyway (though to be fair, when they do an acoustic version of Caught in a Moment, they really do show off those immaculate vocal harmonies). With punctuations of electric guitar solos, the crowd chanting along to melodies as much as lyrics, this is just banger after banger: the opening sequence is Push the Button, into Overload, into Hole in the Head. They do a couple more obscure tracks for the heads, then make the inspired choice of revisiting their cover of the UK garage classic Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers. And when they finish on the polish of Round Round, into the sugary pop of About You Now, into the head-banging chaos of Freak Like Me? They remind us exactly why they remain among British pop’s finest.
Other kids my age dreamt of getting a Hogwarts letter but my hope was getting the call to one day become a Sugababe. Tonight that dream dies, but I’m okay with it: this show cements that the original formation of the once ever-changing group is innately the final, most wonderful one. Tara Joshi
I too would like to know more about the shin tape!
Eilish responds to Roe v Wade decision
Eilish addresses the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade in introducing Your Power, which she plays acoustically with Finneas:
“Today is a really dark day for women in the US and in just gonna say that cos I can’t bear to think about it any longer in this moment. This song is dedicated to that I guess”.
Eilish is a real pro at the lost art of crowd interaction, something that feels a bit unfashionable in pop’s stern-faced current moment. Lots of call and response, asking the audience to get low, playing different sections of the crowd off against each other.
Billie Bossa Nova and Goldwing next: the former is a bit of a palette cleanser after the intensity that came before, the latter a proper big singalong.
Five stars for Sam Fender
Away from Billie Eilish for a moment – Ben Beaumont-Thomas has reviewed Sam Fender’s Pyramid set and it’s a bit of a rave.
“This was the big-hearted post-Covid performance everyone was craving, and had so sorely missed,” he says in his 5-star review.
Next up the deeply beefy You Should See Me in a Crown – the bass is absolutely brutal. It’s so loud that it’s shaking the Guardian cabin, making typing a bit of a challenge. Any chance you turn it down a shade, Billie?
“There are so many of you guys. Jesus fuck!” Not half, Billie – it looks absolutely rammo-ed.
A bit of a change of pace here with the swooning My Strange Addiction and wistful ballad idontwannabeyouanymore. Eilish’s brother Finneas O’Connell, on keys and guitars, is getting a fair bit of screen time. He’s a pretty massive name in his own right these days.
Eilish lollops down her custom Glastonbury catwalk for Therefore I Am. And, four tracks in, finally has a chance to take a breath and say hello to the crowd. What a pulsating opening!
NDA next – it’s pretty striking just how up for it the crowd are here, belting back every last lyric.
Next up I Didn’t Change My Number, Billie now bathed in a pulsing strobe. This might be the literally darkest Glastonbury set ever – it looks stylish as heck though.
Bathed in a moody red light, Eilish bounces around the stage, prompting wild screams from the audience. She arches her back in a manner that would absolutely end me if I ever attempted it.
Billie Eilish takes to the stage
Here we go then: Billie Eilish becomes the youngest ever Pyramid stage headliner, arriving to the minimalist whomps of Bury a Friend!
Billie Eilish not your thing? There are some very decent alternative headliners to watch instead. Over on the Other stage at 10.30pm you’ve got the muscular math of Foals, West Holts (10.15pm) has the brilliant Little Simz, there’s Four Tet over at The Park (11pm) and John Peel has Primal Scream (10.30pm).
St Vincent reviewed
The Other stage
St Vincent – the NYC-based musician Annie Clark – is undeniably one of the biggest stars working in indie rock today. She’s been papped in the tabloids with her friends and girlfriends, and wrote and starred in The Nowhere Inn, a psychological horror film she made with Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein. And ye on Friday night, minutes before she’s set to take the stage at Glastonbury’s Other Stage, a comparatively small crowd is waiting to see her. Where Blossoms, who played on the stage a few hours earlier, practically filled the field, Clark’s fans leave a gaping space behind them.
Still, Clark’s charisma is undeniable as she saunters into the centre of the stage after her band: clad in a custom version of a jumpsuit from the recent Adidas x Gucci collaboration, she is an imperious, magnetic presence. After a slightly soulless, funkified version of 2014’s Digital Witness, she finds her groove, running through a slick version of Down before launching right into Birth in Reverse. It’s always remarkable to see Clark shred and this show is no exception: my colleague Elle Hunt says Clark is one of the few performers who has ever made her want to learn guitar.
On her Masseduction tour, Clark often performed solo. Here she is backed by a seven-piece band, and at times this new formation offers transcendent variations on her catalogue. New York, a spare piano ballad on record, is turned into a rousing, full-band affair, and is all the better for it. Similarly the story of moral bankruptcy and emotional corruption Clark tells on Los Ageless hits harder when backed by a loud, emphatic live band. And towards the set’s end, when she launches into the devastating ballad Cheerleader, the new chorus of voices behind her evoke a new sense of pathos.
By the time Clark kicks into Fast Slow Disco, a Robyn-ified version of her song Slow Disco, it’s clear that she’s in crowd-pleasing mode. Despite the thin crowd she is in fine form, dancing with and embracing her band and strutting back and forth across stage. By the time she gets to Pay Your Way in Pain – the lead single from her latest album, Daddy’s Home, and the first portion of her set closer – it’s clear she’s fully in her element, mugging and twirling for the crowd. For us, it’s nothing but pleasure. Shaad D’Souza
Phoebe Bridgers reviewed
John Peel stage
It is the unlikeliest of sounds. During the brassy, breezy refrain of Phoebe Bridgers’ song Kyoto, the crowd sings along as if it were Seven Nation Army or a football terrace anthem. The moment reflects the strange journey of the 27-year-old songwriter’s second album, Punisher. An intensely insular and hermetic record, it was released in June 2020 and became a gigantic lockdown hit, Bridgers’ songs about social anxiety and depression resonating with the pandemic mindset. Two years on, she is finally getting to tour the record in the UK – next week, she does four sold-out nights at London’s Brixton Academy – and meeting its massive faithful in person, first of all in Glastonbury’s John Peel tent.
While there’s a specific pleasure in the deeply personal experience of loving a record in this way, so is there in finally getting to share in it with strangers, to feel the difference in the music as it hits a room and thousands of ears. The stage set is subtly beautiful, with different illustrated backdrops for each song and small mountain formations lit up around Bridgers and her band, who are clad in skeleton outfits. By the end of Bridgers’ first song, Motion Sickness, the crowd is roaring “Phoebe! Phoebe!” Her voice is richer than the gorgeous silvery wisp on record, and although she is known for the dissonance between her sad songs and goofy persona, she evidently remains quite deeply connected to her lyrics, looking quite possessed by songs such as Punisher, with its lovely slumping arrangement and lightly fizzing drums.
Although it transpires there may be another reason for her preoccupation. Recently, in response to the leaked news that the US Supreme Court planned to overturn Roe v Wade, Bridgers shared that she had had an abortion on tour last year; a situation she detailed in a new interview with the Guardian’s Saturday magazine. Today, the news broke that the court had officially overturned federal constitutional protection of abortion rights. “This is my first time here,” Bridgers tells the crowd of her Glastonbury debut. “It’s super surreal. But in all honesty, I’ve been having the shittiest time. Are there any Americans here?” The crowd boos. “Who wants to say, ‘Fuck the supreme court’? One, two, three…” Everyone howls it back. “Fuck that shit. Fuck America and all these irrelevant old motherfuckers trying to tell us what to do with our fucking bodies. Fuck it.”
That communal feeling suddenly starts to feel fiercer, and resonates with a shift in the setlist towards songs in which Bridgers admits to her reliance on other people. “This one’s about taking stuff for granted,” she says before I See You, a love song as rousing as the best of early Arcade Fire. She holds her arms over her head in a pose of defeat and vulnerability at the start of Sidelines, a song about letting down your guard, which she introduces via a chat with her drummer and the song’s co-writer, Marshall Vore: “I think it’s about not trusting people who like you,” she says. He responds ironically: “It’s when someone criticises criticises you and you’re like, ‘Damn, this is a straight shooter.’” Then she dedicates it to her partner, actor Paul Mescal.
As lovely as the intentions are, the somewhat static song is a little bit tepid compared to the highs of the set, which are yet to come: Bridgers brings out Arlo Parks to sing on Graceland Too – which she introduces as “a love song – happy pride!” – and their wonderful harmonies elicit another fierce cheer. Parks sticks around, and before the Punisher closer The End Is Here, Bridgers returns to the day’s news. “It’s definitely not the darkest day in American history but it’s definitely up there, so fuck you, Supreme Court,” she says, before listing organisations – the Mariposa Fund, Lilith Fund, Planned Parenthood – for people to donate to if they’re “feeling hopeless”. The apocalyptic song has never felt so resonant: the crowd starts clapping along as soon as the drums double down, Bridgers goes ham on her guitar, her backdrop suddenly turns into burning flames, the mountain formations light up red and furious and Bridgers clings to Parks. If the end is coming, at least we’re going down together.
In the Guardian cabin, we’re currently being treated to a lilting and surprisingly pretty Spanish guitar rendition of Blue by Eiffel 65.
SPOTTED (by the Guardian’s Josh Halliday): Jarvis Cocker at Khruangbin in a green velvet blazer and a nice scarf.
Back to Billie Eilish, who is taking to the Pyramid at 10.15pm: I think we can safely expect her to follow Phoebe Bridgers’ lead and say something about the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, given that when she played Austin City Limits last year she took aim at Texas legislators for their stringent abortion laws: “I’m sick and tired of old men. Shut the fuck up about our bodies.”
Expect a similarly forthright statement tonight – and what a huge platform to air it.
Posted without comment:
Phoebe Bridgers watch: she’s just rocked up onstage at John Peel with the Jesus and Mary Chain!
Fashion news: Shaad D’Souza has the skinny on St Vincent’s get-up. Apparently she’s wearing a custom Gucci x Adidas playsuit. It reminds me a tiny bit of Norma Jennings, the waitress from Twin Peaks.
Dorian Lynskey, who’s covering Glasto for the Observer, reckons this St Vincent set is one of the best things he’s ever seen. “It’s outrageous,” were his exact words. I’d strongly advise flicking over to it on the iPlayer right now if you haven’t already.
Right now Sam Fender, king of all Geordies, is wrapping a pretty spectacular Pyramid set. I just strolled past and the crowd was preposterously large. You suspect he might be headlining the whole shebang in the coming years.
And over on the Other stage, the never-less-than-ace St Vincent is furiously hacking away at her guitar, backed by an extremely up-for-it choir of soul singers. She’s evolved into a proper festival crowdpleaser in recent years.
Evening all! Gwilym here, taking the baton for the final leg of our mammoth Friday Glastonbury liveblog. All eyes will be on the Pyramid stage in just over an hour as Billie Eilish makes her headlining bow. It’s likely to be a bit of a moment, a coronation for one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Expect fireworks.
It’s not just about Billie though: our roving mob of reporters will be reviewing headline sets from some of Glasto’s many, many other stages (there’s over 90 of them!). And there will be lots of other assorted bits and bobs – pics, vox pops, nonsensical musings from a quite tired liveblogger (me).
A few minutes into TLC’s set, Chilli yells: “We have wanted to play here for years!” The feeling, it seems, is mutual: less than 10 minutes into the iconic trio-turned-duo’s set, the crowd at the West Holts has already swollen to take over much of the road at the back of the area, the audience clearly more than ready to relive some of the most iconic hits of the 90s.
T-Boz and Chilli are, even without their gone-too-soon bandmate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, up to the challenge: their band includes dancers, a DJ and a full brass section. This is how you mount a 90s comeback set: the entire show sounds great, is incredibly sophisticated, and honours TLC’s legacy without feeling gimmicky or cash-grabby.
West Holts, unfortunately, can’t handle the sheer demand for TLC. The stage’s sound system just can’t reach far enough into the absolutely gargantuan crowd, and the atmosphere at the back is tense: there are a lot of people here wanting to see their one of the most iconic R&B acts of all time, and all they can see or hear is each other. Still, Chilli and T-Boz are in fine form – although T-Boz’s voice can’t quite handle the notes she used to hit back in the day, she’s still a consummate performer, as is Chilli, and when the pair falter, their first-rate band and insanely hyped-up DJ manage to fill in the gaps.
Although TLC’s set closers – the immortal No Scrubs and Waterfalls – go down an absolute treat, the entire set still feels like a missed opportunity. TLC’s crowd outnumbers many of the day’s Pyramid stage sets thus far, and they are, undeniably, as important a “legacy” act as anyone playing on the Pyramid this weekend. (Their audience, too, contains the most diverse array of Glastonbury punters I’ve seen.) The demand for TLC’s set, in contrast with their programming, raises many questions about what the industry at large considers worthy of a main-stage showcase. Even so, everyone who packed in for this gig was rewarded with a sublime, wonderfully showy set from two of the 90s’ most talented performers.
It’s still a good while until the after-hours fun begins at this festival, but I am already rubbing my hands in anticipation of the coming madness in the south east corner of the festival (otherwise known as the naughty corner): Block9, IICON and Shangri-La. Honestly some of this set design is up there with the best at any festival in the world, and a lot of it is hidden in far-flung parts of the Glastonbury site that many people never even visit. Here’s the sight that greeted me at the IICON stage at about 1am last night:
Annoyed as I always am by massive flags obscuring my view of various Glastonbury stages over the years, it’s much easier to forgive if they are at least a bit clever, rather than just banners bearing banal nonsense, eg BANTS BANTS BANTS. Here are a couple of highlights:
Avert your eyes if you’re not into vulgarity: Phoebe Bridgers, queen of DGAF, just got the crowd at the John Peel tent to shout “Fuck the Supreme Court!” loudly enough that I could hear it from here. “This is my first time here. It’s been really surreal,” she said. “But in all honesty, I’ve been having the shittiest day. Are there any Americans here? Can we say fuck the Supreme Court? Fuck that shit, fuck America and these irrelevant old motherfuckers ... yeah, I dunno. Fuck it.”
She went on to list various charities providing access to abortion in the US, including Planned Parenthood and the Mariposa Fund, urging people to donate if they feel helpless. “It’s definitely not the darkest day in US history but it’s definitely up there ...”
Have you read Laura Snapes’ interview with Phoebe for the Saturday magazine, by the way? If not, you should.
The rain fashions are starting to come out as today’s reluctant drizzle threatens to become to Actual Rain (still no sign of the thunderstorms that were promised in yesterday’s forecast, but we all know that Glastonbury has its own infuriating, wildly unpredictable microclimate). Here’s Idles’ Joe Talbot showing us how to rock the plastic poncho:
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss reviewed
The light drizzle that’s been threatening all afternoon finally starts to fall intermittently during Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s set, accompanied by gusting wind. There’s a certain irony to the climactic conditions: no one on the Pyramid stage today is playing music more redolent of baking hot weather. Their take on country blues is a parched and spooky one – it sounds like it’s emanating from a small town on the edge of a desert, rather than a stage in the middle of a damp Somerset farm.
Plant and Krauss play music that tends to either sinuously unfurl – as on Please Read the Letter and their cover of Bert Jansch’s It Don’t Bother Me – or glower darkly at you, which makes it an odd fit for this moment at the festival, when energy is building in preparation for the night. Perhaps that accounts for the noticeably smaller and quieter audience than Wolf Alice drew just before them, although that’s no reflection on the quality of what they do. Said quality is most obvious when Plant delves into his back catalogue. Rock and Roll, reconfigured with an acoustic bass and and electric fiddle carrying the riffs and solos that were once the province of Jimmy Page, sounds noticeably closer to the 50s music it hymns than Led Zeppelin’s original ever did. You can imagine it being performed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, albeit to a horrified response.
When the Levee Breaks and The Battle of Evermore, meanwhile, are reworked as ominous drones, the latter led by a mandolin. They really work. Clapping his hands to his chest and grinning wildly at the conclusion, Plant looks like a man in a state of grace, which is entirely understandable: rather than dutifully cranking out one of the most famous ouevres in rock history, he’s dismantling and reassembling it, with powerful results.
Yard Act reviewed
Yard Act are the most-booked new act at UK festivals this summer – and the taut energy of this set goes some way to showing why. Vocalist James Smith starts the show with a line about how Sugababes are playing later, conceding their song Overload is better than Yard Act’s own track, The Overload. He’s not wrong, but there’s still plenty to enjoy about the Leeds four-piece’s performance.
There’s a frantic swagger to this post-punk group – as on the scrappy yelps of Fixer Upper, which finds Smith in such a quick bout of sprechgesang he’s basically rapping. He’s equal parts blase and earnest, as he is when he says the crowd only has 40 minutes left to show how much they love each other. Payday is rapturous with its stupidly catchy chorus of “take the money and run!” – before ending on Land of the Blind, where a brief sound fault leads to a pause, with Smith filling time by asking the crowd for money (“No I don’t need free drinks, I get those wherever I go now!”). It’s not groundbreaking but Glastonbury loves a leftist rock band they can yell along to, so Yard Act feel an apt and pretty enjoyable fit.
Idles frontman Joe Talbot is one of several acts to reference today’s galling news from America, as he introduces their song Mother: “They just reversed the laws back to the Middle Ages in America, where they’re just deciding whether it should be illegal to have an abortion or not.
“Long live the open minded. Long live my mother and long live every single one of you.”
Evening, everyone! I’m Keza MacDonald, taking over from Ben for the next three hours of live Glastonbury coverage. This is my fifth Glasto – my first time was way back in 2009, when the Prodigy exploded my tiny mind live – but it’s also my first one in seven years. Happily, despite getting massively over-excited to be here yesterday, I managed not to peak too early and entirely ruin my weekend.
I’ve spent the day bombing around the site covering Nova Twins, Wet Leg and Dry Cleaning; later I’m looking forward to Bonobo, Four Tet and Little Simz, once I’m done bringing you our team’s reviews and observations from out in the field(s). I think my highlight of the festival so far, though, might have been when the brain-meltingly banging DJ Manara managed to mix two verses of the Backstreet Boys into a set at about 11pm last night. It went OFF, people.
Crowded House brought New Zealand and Australia’s expats together at the Pyramid stage
It was a full house for Crowded House at the Pyramid stage on Friday afternoon, the crowd’s broad vowels betraying a strong antipodean contingent as they sang along. My colleague Shaad D’Souza (Melbourne) and I (Wellington) have been engaged in a lively debate over whether New Zealand or Australia can claim Crowded House, with me pointing to the central importance of the undeniably Kiwi Finn brothers, and Shaad saying that Four Seasons in One Day is about Melbourne, actually.
But regardless of which side of the Tasman Strait you fall upon, it was an emotional set for those who have left some piece of our hearts in the southern hemisphere. For the 1m New Zealanders approximated to be living overseas, the pandemic brought about a sudden end to their OE, or “overseas experience”; coming together to see Aotearoa’s premiere songwriters at Glastonbury felt like a reunion.
It’s been reported that the exodus of people leaving New Zealand since travel restrictions lifted earlier this year, after over a year of closed borders, is the most significant since the second world war. George Fenwick, a 26-year-old New Zealander based in London – who I of course know personally, because, like Scots, all New Zealanders know each other personally – said the set was surreal and emotional: “Those are songs that my dad used to play when I was growing up, as a tiny child – so it’s surreal to be grown up and on the other side of the world. During the pandemic, I felt like the New Zealand community in London was lost because a lot of people left, so to be here with a lot of New Zealanders was extra emotional.”
Neil Finn was also struck by the poignancy of the moment, shouting out the Laser Kiwi flag in the crowd. (For the uniniated, that was a crude design floated as a crowdsourced replacement for our Union Jack-bearing ensign during the failed flag referendum of 2016, and now a knowing symbol among Kiwis overseas.)
Dry Cleaning reviewed
Surreal mumble-rock band Dry Cleaning are one of those acts that doesn’t necessarily sound like it would be brilliant live – but as a crowd at the Park stage just discovered as the rain started coming down on Friday evening, it absolutely does. Even if you know these songs well, the inimitably unpredictable lyrics still catch you off-guard – lines like “I just wanted to tell you I’ve got scabs on my head” and “I always thought of nature as something grim and uninviting ... Wet, empty trees” always seem to arrive from nowhere.
The thing about this band is that there’s something fascinating about every one of the band members. You can get lost for an entire song watching any one of them perform. There’s deadpan vocalist Florence Shaw, of course, a combination of the ghost from The Ring and the impossibly cool goth girl at school that you were always too scared to talk to, staring out over the heads of the crowd with an expression of extreme consternation as she recites what sounds like the inner monologues of several people at once. Astonishingly talented guitarist Tom Dowse is on particularly good form tonight, gurning and writhing around his instrument with crazy eyes. Bassist Lewis Maynard regularly gets lost for minutes in his insistent riffs and curtains of hair, looking up occasionally out across the audience like he’s just remembered where he is. And drummer Nick Buxton holds the whole disparate thing together with perfect, disciplined rhythm.
The band relax into the set a few songs in, when they break out Her Hippo. Shaw appears like she’s been possessed by a banal demon who likes to talk about oven chips and buses, rolling her eyes back now and then as she mutters into the mic. For some songs she fiddles disconsolately with a tape player; on others she holds a maraca like Hamlet with a skull.
On Magic of Meghan – the song that first got them noticed – Dowse pogoes around with his lips pursed the entire time. Tony Speaks! is an especially incongruous live hit, packed with non-sequiturs and lines that make you grin to complement Dowse’s complex riffs. By the time they reach their biggest hit at the end of the set, Scratchcard Lanyard – the only thing that made me happy for a good week in the depths of lockdown, by the way – they have the crowd enraptured, pinging around like a Tokyo bouncy ball (or an Oslo bouncy ball, or a Rio de Janeiro bouncy ball), despite the turning weather. “Do everything and feel nothing,” Shaw drones – but their unselfconscious grins and cheerful banter between songs suggests that they’re genuinely delighted to be here.
Sinead O'Brien reviewed
The summer of sprechgesang is upon us. You can’t move at Glastonbury this year for bands that half-sing, half-talk, preferably with some brooding post-punk as backing. The William’s Green stage is particularly sprechgesang-ed up, serving as a finishing school for wannabe Mark E Smiths. Joining Yard Act, Folly Group, Sprints and co is Sinead O’Brien, former Vivienne Westwood model turned punk poet and someone for whom the sing bit of sing-speak is very much an alien concept.
Live, O’Brien a magnetic presence, stomping about the stage in a billowing translucent floor length dress. There’s more than a little PJ Harvey about her intense stage presence – Horses-era Patti Smith is another touchstone, too. Yet while many of the current sing-speak pack wear their influences very visibly, O’Brien deserves credit for veering off the well-trodden track and doing her own thing: there are disco stompers and techno bangers amongst the post-punk staples.
The problem for many will be that delivery. Pitched somewhere between friendly flight attendant and carnival barker, it is very much an acquired taste, and there’s very little respite from it. You long for a sunburst of melody to occasionally poke through the relentless chatter. But when it clicks and O’Brien’s chewy lyrics give way to something more direct and primal, things get very exciting indeed.
Wolf Alice reviewed
Pyramid stage, 16.45
It’s fitting that Nirvana should be thundering over the sound system not long before Wolf Alice take the stage: frontwoman Ellie Rowsell looks every inch the grunge queen as she strides onstage and yells “Glastonbury!” in a white silk slip and combat boots, eyes kohl-ed, echoing the babydoll look of Gen-Xers Hole and Babes in Toyland. “You have no idea,” she says, trailing off but referencing the lengths her band has gone to to get to the festival on time, after getting stranded in Los Angeles, unsure if they would make it. Coming after winning a Brit and topping the charts with their last album, 2021’s Blue Weekend, this was not a performance for them to miss.
But make it they did. That stress and adrenaline – not to mention what must be impending jetlag – imbues the snarling rock songs at the start of their set with a thrilling urgency. Rowsell gives it the best she’s got, taunting the crowd with her seductive sing-speak one minute and howling like a rock god the next, especially during Formidable Cool. Then it’s into diamond-sharp falsetto on songs like Lipstick on the Glass, reaching notes that echo Kate Bush by way of Stevie Nicks. Surely, she has to be one of greatest vocalists in this country at the moment.
This is a rare rock band that has real range. Not sooner are they tearing it up but they’re into soft ballads with triple-pronged harmonies (Safe from Heartbreak, a proper fairytale moment). When the stage goes sepia-toned for their Lana Del Rey-ish (and given their recent travel delays somewhat ironic) ode to LA, Delicious Things, complete with string section, it promises to be a big festival moment. But instead it’s Bros, with its emphatic build ups and candid visuals of band life – and friendship – behind the scenes that has couples swooning. Their sad Sex on Fire, perhaps.
Occasionally you’re left wanting for a proper screech-along festival chorus – despite lots of intimate moments, like when Ellie sits at the front of the stage to deliver an emotional The Last Man on Earth, wind in her hair, they don’t yet have the big-welly singalong that stretches to the edges of the audience, a song that has truly cut through and become anthemic. Occasionally the band seem like separate entities, staying in their zones and lacking interaction; you wish they’d say something between songs that hinted at their personality.
Give them time. Finally, they settle into it and look like they’re genuinely having fun – a smile shared between Ellie and bassist Theo Ellis, drummer Joel Amey putting his stick theatrically up in the air, guitarist Joff Oddie getting a chance to crank up the rock riffage of one of their earliest songs, Giant Peach. They end with Don’t Delete the Kisses – a song that’s “about telling your crush that you fancy them,” says Ellie. You can only imagine that they’re going to have one hell of a celebration tonight.
Some more picture highlights from today’s action.
Potter Payper reviewed
Lonely Heart Club, 17.30pm
Before Potter Payper arrives on stage, DJ and presenter Kenny Allstar is on stage hyping up the crowd in spite of the rain, shouting out the exquisite health that UK rap is in right now – and Potter Payper’s set ends up a decent testament to that.
She arrives in an orange and white co-ord, and there’s a contented ease to how the East London MC works the stage, like he could do this in his sleep (though maybe that is in part due to the zoot he briefly appears to light up, before being asked not to do that on stage). The bass is so hard it vibrates through the sizeable crowd (largely comprised of young men in bucket hats), and his voice gets hoarse as he weaves the slickly told rap tales he’s best known for. He’s not reinventing the wheel but there’s something especially compelling about his delivery style that makes you listen to every bar. There are warm, soulful pianos and a big singalong for fan favourite Gangsteritus which he claims is an exclusive – as in, he didn’t perform it at his Glastonbury set yesterday. He makes it feel like a moment all the same, nicely rounding off a solid set. Tara Joshi
The tactical power nap is what will get you through Glasto unscathed and psychologically in order. Credit to all those pictured here.
Macca’s here! Well, he’s in Somerset at least, doing a warmup gig tonight at the Cheese and Grain arts venue in the nearby town of Frome. “What an amazing treat… we are told this won’t be his normal set either so should be an afternoon full of wonderful surprises,” the 800-capacity venue said yesterday. The £25 tickets unsurprisingly sold out in less than an hour.
Fans are now gathering outside the venue too.
The couple that swaps jumpsuits together, stays together. More great looks from out in the field, with Will and Cally speaking to Laura Snapes.
Cally: I bought this [jumpsuit] for myself but we decided it looked better on him. These are part of my Abba outfit – I went to a night in Hackney that was Abba-themed, I think it’s vintage. We really like the 70s anyway and we dress like this quite a lot.
Will: I’m wearing my wife’s clothes! I’m very happy in this outfit. I’ve never worn a jumpsuit before and going to the bathroom is a fucking nightmare.
Cally: You’re now learning the ways of women. Or men!
Sleaford Mods giving good pose here, as ever.
In case you missed them earlier, here are the highlights from my on-stage interview with them this morning.
While the strains of Supergrass’s Mansize Rooster waft over from the Other stage, Wolf Alice are playing the Pyramid triumphantly against the odds.
Denise Chaila reviewed
BBC Introducing, 16.15
Denise Chaila walks on to the BBC Introducing stage and raises an eyebrow. “There are mic stands?! You know what, I don’t do that,” she says, picking it up and taking it to the side. “But shout out to whoever did that for me, that was amazing.”
The idea that the Irish rapper would keep still for long enough to use it quickly becomes ludicrous: for the entirety of her 25-minute set, she pings around the stage in a fabulous glittery lilac two-piece, bringing the drama of her songs to life with two hype men who act as foils playing crooner, shy boys and pinball flippers to the 27-year-old artist. She’s pure charisma, all withering looks at weak men, playful braggadocio and endearing gratitude to be here. “Hi,” she says cutely early on. “Welcome to a dream of mine coming true.”
In just shy of half an hour, she leaves us in no uncertain terms about who she is: fiercely proud of her hometown; the “Black James Bond”; a young woman whose parents didn’t let her go to festivals, “but we have to break the mould, don’t we”. She makes us spell her name on Chaila, and cocks a snook at stereotypes. “You ain’t ever seen a man like me / Big girl ting make a little man cry!” she raps joyfully while swinging a sunflower around. “It’s not ’cos I’m a man but because gender is a construct!” she explains. Her sound is thick and bassy, a catalyst for her exuberant delivery, which brings to mind Stormzy at his most playful.
After leading us in various call-and-responses over her set, the last song, she explains, is just for her. “You came to the 061!” she exclaims, shouting out her neighbourhood. “We’ll show you how to have some fun / We’ll show you how to get things done.” At this point, absolutely no one in the boisterous, utterly charmed crowd is left standing on ceremony.
Crowded House reviewed
Pyramid stage, 15.15
Three generations of the Finn family grace Glastonbury this afternoon, when New Zealand rockers Crowded House take to the Pyramid stage for a short, hit-packed afternoon set.
Opening with 1993’s Distant Sun and running through a set that includes Fall at Your Feet, Don’t Dream It’s Over and Weather With You, the band – featuring Neil Finn as well as his sons Liam and Elroy on guitar and drums, respectively – are in fine form, displaying their self-effacing Antipodean sense of humour. At one point the elder Finn, clad in a crisp cream suit, bemoans the fact that he can’t run further towards the crowd along the ego ramp because his microphone lead isn’t long enough. (He gets there eventually.) It seems that every New Zealander and Australian present at Glastonbury has congregated for the set: “Laser Kiwi” flags abound, and Neil spends the early portion of the set namechecking the Antipodean locations he sees represented in the crowd.
Around three-quarters of the way through the band’s set, another Finn emerges: Buddy, Liam’s young son. Clad in a purple Amoeba Music T-shirt and wearing gigantic earmuffs to protect his ears, he proceeds to steal the show from his father and grandfather, dancing with the band throughout the set and, during closer I Got You (a hit by Neil’s earlier band, Split Enz), screaming at random intervals. It’s a sweet, funny moment in a set full of them, including at one point a mass singalong of Happy Birthday to send to Neil’s brother, former Crowded House member Tim Finn.
Best of all, though, is seeing the even more multi-generational crowd enraptured, as Finn, Finn, Finn, Finn and company perform their timeless catalogue. Shaad D’Souza
John and Catia from Brighton, enjoying Blossoms on the Other stage, opine on where to take Macca for his 80th birthday.
John: I’ve been carrying this sign for six years. It’s been in NME, Time Out, now it’s in the Guardian! I’d take Macca to the naked sauna at Lost Horizons. I think it would be his vibe. He’s tried everything but he hasn’t tried a naked sauna.
Catia: I think he has.
John: OK, fine, I’d slip him something fun and take him to see Fatboy Slim.
The first strains of Wolf Alice are filtering across from the Pyramid stage – a great moment given they were stranded in the US half a day ago.
More fabulous fashions from Dean, 36, from Cornwall; Adjua, 32, Devon; and BBC 6Music presenter Afrodeutsche, 41, Manchester.
Dean: This outfit makes me like a G. It instils me with a sense of inner joy and confidence. They’re made by our friend, Ashanti Empress.
Adjua: How do I feel in this? Like I have arrived. It’s nice to wrap myself in some Ghana fashion for Glasto.
Afrodeutsche: This is a traditional tabard from Ghana. I’ve got one in black for tomorrow. And I’ve got a dress that I had made for my set on Sunday night – I’m going to be wearing an African wax-print ballgown in the Arcadia spider. I just want to represent my heritage this weekend.
Here’s some more of today’s performers so far. We’re building towards a terrific evening on the Pyramid: Wolf Alice, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Sam Fender and Billie Eilish.
We’re asking people where they’d take Macca for his 80th birthday party, after he reached the milestone last weekend. Here’s Naomi, who has two gin-in-a-tins on the go just as the Glasto gods intended:
Arcadia, it’s such a unique space. The spider is such an iconic piece of architecture, it brings a lot of people together for some world famous DJ sets. Or the Rabbit Hole – another iconic venue and it’s quite secret so I think he would have a pretty good time in there. He’s lived through it all – he’s probably had some rabbit hole adventures over the years so it would align with all those experiences he’s had.
And here’s Niall:
Maybe Strummerville. I feel like it’s more secluded so you could have more of a private chill. I assume he’s probably a fan of the Clash!
More great lewks, this time from Crae Wolf who just played the Lonely Heart Club stage:
It’s part of my look, my stage wear. Leather always, fishnets a must, it has to be black and red, they’re my favourite colours. The knee wrap, I always have one, I don’t know why – it’s very festive. Punk boots. Basically as an artist I like to express my music in my fashion. I consider myself a supervillain so these are my villain colours. It’s part of my music, my brand. The villain is always the bad guy but they’re misunderstood – they’re usually good until something happens in life that changes their perspective. I’m harnessing the dark energy!
Rachel Chinouriri reviewed
It’s this Surrey-born, Croydon-raised singer-songwriter’s debut Glastonbury performance and she gives her crowd a warning: “I sing a lot about heartbreak so get ready: we’re going to get through it together.”
Indeed, Rachel Chinouriri’s brand of sweet and folksie strumming and sombre vocals – she’s performing as a duo with a lone guitarist and backing track today – is as low-key and downbeat as it gets. Her songs, many of which share the delicacy of Lianne La Havas’s Paper Thin, positively vibrate with loneliness and are often spoken about in the same breath as “nurturing” and “healing”.
Not that all the sadness puts the crowd off. After a shaky start, with the title track from her latest EP Better Off Without, she limbers up for the Phoebe Bridgers-ish Falling Out of Love and Thank You for Nothing, a song she says is about growing up around alcohol abuse. It’s not all doom and gloom, either: her big one, All I Asked, a perky poppier song with chiming guitar, is where her falsetto truly shines.
Also shining is the stage patter. Chinouriri speaks to her young audience like she’s sharing secrets in her bedroom, dishing out empowering advice, explaining the stories behind her songs and generally beaming out warmth. “You want people to look back at you and think, they shared so much love,” she says at one point. Macca would approve.
We’re situated between Crowded House on the Pyramid stage and a drum’n’bass DJ set, which is weirdly syncing up as a junglist re-edit of Weather With You. Here’s Neil Finn:
Here’s our reviewer Tara Joshi: “Just met a man called Huw Joseph, he’s dressed as a piñata – if you hit him he throws you sweets. Lots to unpack.”
Wet Leg reviewed
The Park stage, 14.00
At the time Wet Leg were booked for Glasto, 2pm at the Park Stage probably seemed a perfectly appropriate slot – but this fun rock band have blown up so massively that half the site was crammed into the field, trying to catch a glimpse of Rhian and Hester playing in their flowing cottagecore dresses. The crowd easily rivals that for the Libertines on the Other Stage earlier today, which is not bad for a band with just one album.
Opener Feels Like Being in Love gets everyone going despite the fact that half the crowd can barely hear what’s going on, and they follow it up with Wet Dream, which has thousands yelling along cheerfully to its bouncy, mildly obscene chorus hook.
The most endearing thing about this band is that they genuinely seem to be doing all this for a laugh. If anything, they seem mildly perplexed by the fact that so many people have turned up to see them play at one of the world’s biggest music festivals. “This is so funny,” says Rhian at one point, before dissolving into silent giggles as the crowd noisily responds. Ur Mum – a greatly entertaining stream of musical insults punctuated by the band’s longest, loudest scream – gets a great live reaction, as does Too Late Now, whose peevish speeded-up middle verse hits perfectly: “I don’t need no dating app / To tell me if I look like crap / To tell me if I’m thin or fat / To tell me should I shave my rat.”
They run through pretty much the entire album and it’s pretty incredible how many of these songs are just instant indie hits. They save their breakthrough song for last: Chaise Longue, a mildly surreal banger that perfectly captures the band’s singalong cheeky, playfulness: “Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” Cries of “Excuse me? WHAT” reverberate back and forth across the Park for ages afterwards.
Rhian and Hester keep a tight set – even when they briefly forget the words to Angelica – and seem surprised and amused to be playing their silly stoner songs for such an enormous audience. They could have filled a much bigger stage here, and after another album, I have no doubt they will.
We’ll periodically be checking in with Glastonbury’s best/wildest dressed – here’s Marta who has one cardinal fashion rule: “I don’t wear black”. She says that festival fashion should always be “colourful and fun”; her jacket comes from Poland but she says she has “no idea what the letters mean”.
Other stage, 14.15
Just wandered from Blossoms which I couldn’t see all of, but they had a wonderfully full sound and there was a vast crowd (possibly with some spillover from people who couldn’t get to Wet Leg). It’s sort of remarkable how they, Harry Styles, George Ezra, Declan McKenna and so many more nice boys of pop trade in a type of 1970s AOR that a previous generation of young people found utterly naff – but the crowd was full of kids in limited edition streetwear. It’s actually a rather refreshing demonstration of how concepts of youth cultural cool have all melted into today’s anything-goes attitude.
Oh, and Mel C turned up in full Sporty Spice mode to do Spice Up Your Life!
In an “only at Glastonbury” moment I stumbled across probably three hundred people dressed in pink and waving pink umbrellas, up by the tree at the back end of the Pyramid stage. Turns out they’re a drinking society called TWFTPU who meet up every year. They had their own pink vodka, wristbands, stickers, hand stamps and everything.
This is Sam who says: “We used to meet at the cider bar about eight years ago, and someone said: next year bring a pink umbrella so you know who’s in the party. It’s an icebreaker. All weekend you stand about drinking on your tod, don’t you, but you can go up and say: random stranger, do you want to do this? It seems to be working. We sell these wristbands and then all the money we give to Festival Medics – we’ve raised £20,000 over the years.”
A horrifying image sent in by Gwilym Mumford, who says: “A bloke on the Gateway stage in the theatre fields wrapped himself in clingfilm and then escaped from it in 20 seconds – strangely impressive.”
Right, I am signing off and leaving you in the capable hands of Ben Beaumont-Thomas. Time to hydrate and enjoy some Denise Chaila!
Going by their Instagram, it looks as though Wolf Alice will make their Pyramid stage performance...
Sounds like it was a bit scary getting out of the Park stage after Wet Leg – hope everyone is OK.
Here's a look at Thursday night
Last night we were all having a very nice dance in the vicinity of the Silver Hayes area, from Four Tet’s secret set at the BBC Introducing tent, to Piri and Tommy on Lonely Hearts Club and I Jordan on the Wow stage. Incredibly, nobody ended up as an over-enthusiastic Thursday night casualty, which is what usually happens and seemed even more likely given everyone’s rabid enthusiasm to be back at Glastonbury after three years. The only disappointment was not being able to get anywhere near William’s Green for Mel C’s secret set!
Here’s a look at what else went on yesterday.
I guess you can’t get more ethical fashion than nudity.
Seeing as I’m manning the liveblog, please let me expose you to my very worst Glastonbury story, as told in the second of our collections of stars and staff’s most memorable moments of the festival. It involves a long drop toilet. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (Here’s part one.)
Down in the Guardian cabin we can hear the lavish tones of Rufus Wainwright singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow floating through the window. But up at the Park stage, Wet Leg are making their Glastonbury debut.
They didn’t even exist as a band last time Glastonbury happened and now – going by a quick squizz at iPlayer – they have absolutely rammed the Park. I can’t remember seeing it that busy since Pulp’s secret set in 2011. And they’re proving that cottagecore’s not dead in a pair of flouncy white dresses that almost certainly won’t be that colour after a few hours in the Glasto drizzle/dust.
While we await Keza MacDonald’s verdict on their set, revisit Zoe Williams’ very entertaining interview with the buzzy Isle of Wight band from earlier this year.
Chemical Brothers have cancelled their set at Arcadia tonight because Tom has Covid. Bonobo and Groove Armada are stepping in instead.
Arooj Aftab reviewed!
West Holts, 1pm
The sun is (briefly) out and the crowd at West Holts are making the most of it, basking in the soft and intoxicating beauty of Pakistani-by-way-of-Brooklyn artist Arooj Aftab.
“We’re here to make sad sexy again,” she announces with a laugh, and this minimalist but rich set makes it look easy, buoyed by her effortless charisma. Glowing from her album Vulture Prince’s recent Grammy win (for best global music performance), Aftab draws heavily from that record today, pouring out formidably powerful, smoky, sumptuous, neo-Sufi vocals over her band’s deft and sensual instrumentation – a violin that glides and pizzicatos, dreamlike guitar that ebbs and flows. She’s also wearing an incredible shiny, double-breasted silver blazer (her attempt, she quips, at embodying the vulture prince of her album title).
Largely her lyrics are in poetic Urdu, though there are occasional English refrains like “last night my beloved was like the moon”. As her set continues, clouds are forming and she laughs that the moody weather is more befitting for her. Certainly, it’s the kind of arresting, atmospheric performance that washes over you. She finishes on the gently rollicking Mohabbat, and makes an attempt to fling roses over the security run to the crowd amid cheers.
There are cosmic solos from her two accompanying musicians, but it’s Aftab’s voice that stays with you: melismatic, full of mood, solemnity and longing.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew reviewed!
John Peel stage, 12.45pm
With their huge hooks, walloping beats and extremely unhinged stage presence, Bradford’s Bad Boy Chiller Crew – the three-piece bassline collective made up of GK, Kane and Clive – seem to be the platonic ideal of a festival act. No wonder, then, that they’re a near-constant presence not just at this summer’s festivals, but at Glastonbury itself: not content to just pack out the John Peel stage, as they have this early Friday afternoon, they also played a set at the Rabbit Hole on Thursday night and will perform again on Saturday.
As soon as BBCC’s DJ walks on stage, clad in a white balaclava, you begin to understand why so many young, bucket hat-wearing punters have made the trek out so early in the day. Operating here as a five-piece – the three MCs, the aforementioned DJ, and one guy in a vest just standing on stage and sinking tins – the BBCC seem to possess boundless energy and an insatiable will to get their crowd as hyped as possible.
It’s not a hard task, though. Everyone here seems to be a total BBCC devotee, with even the unreleased track I’ll Be on My Way, an early highlight, receiving a sizeable singalong. Although the crew rarely let up on their blustery, almost camp, machismo, they clearly adore the audience as much as the audience loves them: at multiple points during the set, Clive singles out an older woman standing at the barrier wearing a BBCC shirt, and all three MCs are visibly ecstatic when their set closer, a one-two punch of hits 450 and Don’t You Worry About Me, receives an uproarious response.
At its core, the BBCC’s music is about loving life: about loving your boys and your beers and your BMW, and everything in between. Watching Clive, GK and Kane bounce around on stage provides that same sense of simple pleasure that they rap about – the feeling that all the life force you could possibly need can be found in a booming bassline and some brash lyrics to scream along to. It’s hard to ask for anything more.
The view from the front
Kate Hutchinson has also been out quizzing the people lining the barrier at the Pyramid stage.
Jade, 30, Claire, 47, Sally, 53
Sally: We’ve just met here today, and we have a plan – we were going to go off and do stuff but now we’ve got a good spot, we’re going to take it in turns to go and get drinks. We loved Ziggy Marley – it was nice to sing along to tunes that we know. We are super excited to see Billie Eilish. I saw her last week. We know it’s going to be a long slog and we didn’t bring any food but we’ll sort it. We thought, it’s going to be too good not to get to the front.
Mandy, 54, Lindy, 52, Shannon, 49
Shannon: Lindy was supposed to be here for her 50th two years ago so now I can pretend I’m still the same age. We’re here for Rufus Wainwright – Mandy has his signature tattooed on her forearm – and Crowded House, because we’re Australian. We’re going to be here all day – unless the youngsters come and push us out of the way for Billie Eilish. Glasto is for all ages!
Kate, 29, Jess, 26
Kate: This is my unicorn fairy goth look. This isn’t a TikTok thing, it’s a Kate thing.
Jess: She’d dress like this to Sainsbury’s if she could.
Kate: We’ve been here since 10.30am. We’re committed, we’re not going to the toilet. We’re just not gonna drink. We’ll just clench.
Jess: It’s a moment in music history because Billie Eilish is going to be youngest music headliner, and if we can be part of that on the front row then that’s great.
Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill has been meeting the crew behind Notting Hill carnival, who are at Glasto this year.
Ziggy Marley reviewed!
Pyramid stage, 12.15pm
If anyone can blow the grey sky away for the opening set of the Pyramid stage, it’s Ziggy Marley and his sun-beckoning positive vibrations. The flags are out in force – the Welsh are here, “Sally from the Co-Op” is making herself known, a lone Jamaican flag with Marley’s father, Bob, is representing. There’s also a cosmic image of him projected behind his eldest son, who plays a classy set that’s heavy on hits from the reggae legend. The spirit of his dad’s songs remain undimmed as Ziggy delivers impassioned renditions of protest anthems like Burnin’ and Lootin’ – eyes closed, fist raised. These songs haven’t lost any of their bite, the messages of unity, freedom and harmony still relevant. There’s a revolutionary spirit in the air, albeit it with a bit of a hangover.
The stage is unfussy, Ziggy in a waistcoat and suit trousers, two backing vocalists bringing a splash of yellow, red, black and green crochet – but the focus here is very much on the musicianship, which you can tell from the buns-tight rhythm section and the wailing guitar solos that break out every song or two and give Ziggy’s style a distinctive bluesy-rock twist. Skanking breaks out in full force for I Shot the Sheriff and the energy picks up from there, into Get Up, Stand Up, Jamming, Coming in from the Cold and Is This Love – a beautiful moment, truly, when the sun does indeed come out to shine.
Ziggy isn’t a Bob clone by any stretch: he’s released eight solo albums with the accolades to match. He returned to the theme of family on his last studio release, 2020’s More Family Time, where, during the pandemic, he turned inward and surveyed his domestic life, and brought aboard starry guests like Alanis Morissette and Busta Rhymes. But before that, he led the family band until 2002 and he knows exactly how to do these songs, seared as they are into the lifeblood of pop culture, justice. He lets them speak for themselves, only addressing the crowd once to proclaim: “The racists don’t want people to unite … Humanity wants people to unite.” It’s the perfect way to kick off this year’s Glasto. And it’s blue skies, hopefully, from here.
Nova Twins reviewed!
Fresh from winning best British newcomer at last night’s Kerrang awards, new-nu-metal duo Nova Twins played a short but blistering set at the Greenpeace stage.
I’m not sure what was more unexpected: a full-on mosh pit kicking off at at 12.41pm on a Glastonbury Friday, or the moment when a couple in the audience held their baby aloft – named Nova, after the band – to enthusiastic cheers. Dressed in what can only be described as red-and-white punk ninja outfits, the duo brought a brilliant energy, influenced by the rap-flavoured rock of the early 00s but with twice the positivity and none of the cringe factor.
Vocalist Amy Love alternates mesmerisingly between spitting bullet-quick verses, almost bluesy singing, and raw screeches. For a couple of songs she frees herself from her guitar entirely, leaving nothing but Georgia South’s heavily distorted bass guitar, driving drums and guttural screaming as the pair bounce and air-kick around on stage. The crowd was loving it, headbanging along to songs about unity in the wake of BLM, killing your boyfriend (“this sounds murderous but it’s all in the mind, promise,” prefaces Love) and, as is necessary for such a loud, raw-sounding rock band, revenge against one’s enemies (“I’m gonna take your crown! I’m gonna bleed you out!”)
Love leaped into the audience for the closing song from last week’s new album, Supernova, getting the kind of rapturous reception you’d expect from a much more established act. The energy didn’t let up for a second, and this wasn’t even their first set of the festival. They’re playing again at BBC Introducing tonight. Definitely try and catch them, especially if you have any Linkin Park or Korn on your throwback playlist.
This morning was very enjoyably spent in the company of Sleaford Mods, who I interviewed on the William’s Green stage – they were in typically funny and frank form, reflecting on their path from Nottingham’s sub-underground to chart mainstay, through trauma, sobriety and a lot of Twitter beefs. Here’s a report on what was said.
If you’re on site, join us for the next in our conversation series, with Self Esteem at 10.20am on the William’s Green stage.
Some top flag action
The Libertines reviewed!
Other stage, 11.30am
If you had Sleaford Mods followed by TLC (playing back to back on the West Holts later this afternoon) as ”strangest Glastonbury juxtaposition of the day”, it’s time to update your bingo cards: the Libertines Other stage-opening set is preceded by a message from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, imploring festival-goers to support his country in its attempt to rebuff Russia’s invasion. It’s stirring, rapturously received stuff, and a bit of a hard act to follow: Pete Doherty and Carl Barât look almost sheepish as they shuffle on stage.
The Libertines last played Glastonbury in 2015, long enough for everyone to forget just what a shambling prospect they can be: the noodling, unfinished guitar solos; Gary Powell’s splattery drum fills; Barât and Doherty harmonising with each other like two cats over a garden fence. And yet, there’s a skewed logic to them opening the Other stage, their ramshackle mid-00s indie serving the perfect soundtrack to festival-goers blearily crawling out of their tents. There are sloppy, hungover singalongs galore here: Can’t Stand Me Now accompanied by a fog of pyro smoke, a barrelling What Became of the Likely Lads (answer: they ditched the heroin and took up cheese and hotel proprietorship), and a triumphant Don’t Look Back Into the Sun as set closer.
Less successful is Doherty’s attempts to get a chant of Ooh Volodymyr Zelenskiy going – it’s quite a lot of syllables to shoehorn into Seven Nation Army – but generally Doherty is on surprisingly good form here: dressed in a oversized hooded robe like some sort of Camden Sith lord, delivering dad-joke zingers (“I’ve got a message here from Michael Eavis: get orfff my land”) and bouncing playfully into his old frenemy Barât. The largest cheer of the afternoon – Zelenskiy aside – is when the pair attempt a fumbled hug mid set. Like the rest of their performance, it’s messy but endearing.
David Levene has been up at the Block9 area (AKA the naughty corner) photographing drag troupe Maude Adams and All Those Children rehearsing for tonight’s extravaganza at NYC Downlow, Glastonbury’s meatpacking district-style queer club.
They’re performing there every night, and tonight’s theme is The Love Ball, “taking inspiration from Susanne Bartsch’s legendary NYC event and New York’s ball scene”. It’s always the best night (and early morning) out at the festival: team Guardian will almost certainly be up there tonight, though I can’t make any promises for our moves.
A new Banksy artwork has popped up on the perimeter fence, depicting one hippie clobbering another with a protest sign. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
'Ukrainians are a very strong nation': Ukranian band Go_A
Kateryna Pavlenko, the frontman of Ukranian band Go_A, told the Guardian performing at Glastonbury was the group’s “biggest dream come true” and a “great honour”.
“I dreamed of getting to this festival as a spectator. And I didn’t even think that we would ever be invited to perform there,” she said. “Have you seen this year’s lineup? This is impressive! It is a new level for us. We are already anticipating how this will change our lives and our priorities.”
The group hope to spark an interest in Ukrainian culture amongst the crowd at Glastonbury. “Our band is known for the fact that we are experimenting with Ukrainian folk songs,” Pavlenko said.
“We combine ancient eastern European folklore technique of white voice, which is based on an open throat and free volume, with modern electronic dance beats and African drums. Our songs are not about the war. They are about light that is sure to overcome darkness. And about the spring that will definitely come to Ukraine,” she said.
The singer also spoke about the importance of representation at a festival like Glastonbury. “As President Zelenskiy said during his Grammy speech, ‘fill the silence with music’. Everybody should support Ukraine in any way way they can, but not silence.”
Just raising the Ukrainian flag on stage during a performance in another country is already an important manifesto, Pavlenko added. “In this way, we do not allow people in the world to forget about Ukraine and the fact that the war is still going on here.
“Also with our concerts we draw attention to our unique Ukrainian culture and language. We are doing everything to break the Russian information blockade of Europe and declare that Ukraine is not Russia and the Ukrainian people with its ancient national culture have the right to a separate cultural and political existence.”
She added: “Ukrainians are a very strong nation. We sing even when we really want to cry. The realities of war are horrifying and incredibly painful, but our music will resound despite everything, because we are fighting for our freedom to live, love and sound in our homeland.”
The group said they “appreciate the fact” that Glastonbury is playing host to a number of Ukrainian acts this year. “This is a huge support for all of us now,” they said.
Ziggy Marley opening the Pyramid stage
Here's Zelenskiy's speech
The Libertines on the Other stage
As a devout teenage Libs fan (I used to draw their tattoos on my arms for school every day) the sight of Pete’n’Carl still singing into each other’s faces warms my heart.
It's all kicking off at Nova Twins
Keza MacDonald says it’s the “earliest Glastonbury mosh pit I’ve ever seen” over on the Greenpeace stage this lunchtime. May it be the first of many: the London duo are playing three times this weekend!
Read Alexis’s four-star review of Nova Twins’ second album, Supernova.
Our Shaad D’Souza has been down the front of the Pyramid stage, quizzing the early birds about who they’re waiting for and why.
Lauren, 17, and Sarah, 40
Sarah: I’m here for all of them to be fair, but specifically Sam Fender. I think he’s brilliant, love his music. This is our third time here, but our first time up the front. We usually come with people who are claustrophobic, so we’re usually up on the hill, but [Lauren] is at an age now where we can stand up close.
Lauren: I have already seen Billie, but I love her so much. I love Wolf Alice too, so I’m really excited to see them.
Ash, 26, and Joe, 28
Ash: I’m excited to see pretty much everyone, but especially Billie – we saw her once before and ever since then, it’s our tradition. We’re gonna survive being here all day with alcohol – drink all day, sleep all night.
Joe: I’m most excited to see Crowded House. They’re quite 70s, 80s, and it’s just good music.
Pete Doherty just started a chant of “Volodymyr Zelenskiy” which the crowd joined in with and cheered for, reports Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill.
We’ve got our fingers crossed that Wolf Alice make it for their 16.45 slot at the Pyramid stage – they got stranded in the US and are cobbling together flights to make it to the festival in time.
'Russia has stolen our peace': Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has addressed the crowds at Glastonbury, speaking via a video link before the Libertines opened the Other stage.
The pandemic has put on hold the lives of a million people around the world. We in Ukraine would also like to live the life we enjoy in freedom. We cannot do that because the most terrible thing has happened. Russia has stolen our peace. But we will not let Russia’s terrible war break us…
That is why I turn to you for support. Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom – and I ask you to share this feeling with everyone whose freedom is under attack. Spread the truth. Help Ukrainians who are forced to flee their homes because of this war. Find our United24 charity platform and put pressure on all the politicians you know to help restore peace in Ukraine. Time is precious and every day is measured in human lives. The more people who join us in defending freedom and truth, the sooner Russia’s war against Ukraine will end. Prove that freedom always wins. Thank you.
Welcome to the Guardian's Glastonbury liveblog!
It’s been three long years since we were last on Worthy Farm, but Glastonbury is finally back and the Guardian is here to document the entire weekend. We’ll be liveblogging each day from noon until midnight, bringing you reviews of all the biggest and best acts, plus tons of photography, chat with Glasto punters and more. Join us!