Right – that’s yer lot. And what a lot it was! McCartney, Springsteen, Grohl – and that was just one Pyramid headline set. Amazingly there’s much more to come tomorrow. I assumed every band in existence had played here already, but apparently not. Expect Kendrick Lamar in the headline slot, Diana Ross in the afternoon legend’s corner and much, much more. Keep an eye out for Alexis’s review of Macca in the meantime. Good night!
West Holts, 10.15pm
Where Paul McCartney gives the people what they want on the Pyramid, Róisín Murphy makes us work for it. She starts with a wonderfully louche rendition of Moloko’s Fun for Me, and builds through a gentle Let Me Know and Incapable, when she starts to show the diva power in her formidable voice. She has an entirely self-possessed stage presence, high-kicking, spinning and gyrating with her foot perched on a monitor, and teases her prowess, waiting until the end of Moloko’s The Time Is Now to truly wail. Even when it comes, she has an enchantingly withholding presence, barely singing the chorus to The Time Is Now because she knows the non-McCartney faithful will do it for her.
Throughout her set, Murphy changes costumes about a dozen times, gradually disassembling from a fabulous red suit to a lime green and purple look, red ruffles and blue glitter and many iterations in between. It mirrors her glorious deconstruction of dance music: she is poised yet unpredictable, a live wire yet utterly calm, her music minimalist but furiously bodily. At the climax of Overpowered, she is bent backward as the static whirrs; on Murphy’s Law, her voice pixelates and yet Murphy – now in a fabulous padded cropped pinstripe blazer – is hoofing her chunky heels in the air. “Just look where we are!” she yells as the set concludes, and the band traipse off one by one – only to proceed back onstage for an acoustic rendition of Moloko’s Familiar Feeling, Murphy singing down the camera in typically, fantastically confrontational fashion.
The iPlayer’s coverage of Macca has just concluded – so, viewers at home, what did you make of it? Were you on board with the set list? What was missing? Was it Temporary Secretary? It was, wasn’t it? As ever, let us know in the comments.
It’s a mark of Glastonbury’s scale that, as vast as that McCartney crowd was – and it was truly huge – there were still quite a lot of people enjoying other things. There was a crowd spilling out of the tent for Jamie T over at the John Peel and Megan Thee Stallion pulled in good numbers over on the Other stage. I walked past people going wild in San Remo, Glastonbury’s mock-Mexican hotel dance venue. I even saw two lads dancing to some drum’n’bass being played out of an ice cream van. Truly something for everyone here.
Over on iPlayer with its curious tape delay, Macca is howling through Helter Skelter. I missed the last hour and a half of his set, as I was off watching a shirtless Jamie T, so all of this is new to me. Dave Grohl and The Boss, huh?
Jessie Ware reviewed
Park stage, 11pm
You’ve got to be committed to make the hike up to Park stage (leaving Macca, midway!) to catch Jessie Ware just before midnight on Saturday – but we’re well rewarded with a typically polished, sensual, energetic set. I saw her at Primavera in Barcelona earlier this month and it was among the best times I’ve ever had at a festival; why she’s not a national treasure, headlining the Pyramid stage, I don’t know – but there’s still time. Certainly this crowd knows every word she sings, and is a pleasure to be part of, whereas, where I was standing, the crew for Macca (just for example) seemed casually engaged at best.
Ware, regal in long-sleeved silver sequins and flowing trousers, is a consummate professional, a disco diva staging shows that will make your night, if not your festival. From opener Spotlight (from 2020’s What’s Your Pleasure?) on, her exchange with her dancers is easy and polished, her moves precise and considered – and her songs can’t fail to move your feet, even if you don’t know them. “This festival never gets old,” she tells us before Wildest Moments. “It is the greatest festival in the world, and you are here, a part of it.” If you are looking for a disco diva, as many Glasto-goers are, you can’t do better.
Hi Gwilym here, subbing in while we pop Ben into a cryo chamber to recover. Some furious liveblogging there! I can hear the Arcadia spider belching fire into the night sky. Calvin Harris will be playing over there at 1am. Just because the big five stages have wound down for the evening, doesn’t mean that Glastonbury is finished for the day.
Someone in the crowd told our Sophie: “The only thing that could follow that is if Jesus, Moses and Muhammad showed up now with three ukuleles.”
Jamie T reviewed
John Peel, 10.30pm
Jamie Treays and his band have only played one small gig in advance of his return to festival performance. “Unrehearsed, fat and old,” he warns of tonight’s set. I’m not sure that’s true on any of those counts: they sound pretty tight from where I’m stood and Treays is in reasonable nick, though when he takes off his jacket and accidentally shows a bit of midriff he sings “belly’s gonna get you” (ask your parents). As for the “old” charge, Treays has been around for 15 years now and about to release album number five but is still remarkably only 36.
His fans are younger still. In front of me a 10 or 11-year-old kid is perched on his dad’s shoulders, totally hopped up on the colour, noise and light, revelling in the late bedtime. There’s a nice whiff of juvenile delinquency in the air: the now ubiquitous pyro smoke filling the Peel tent, every song promoting a mosh pit. Someone has snuck a massive parasol in and is thrusting it back and forth because … why not ?
Treays does his bit, too, tinnie in hand, furiously spitting out every last lyric. He’s got a deep bench of foolproof festival bangers now, from his early, cheeky punk poet stuff to the snarling careworn recent material. Sticks’n’Stones, Back in the Game, Dragon Bones, and, of course, Sheila are all received exuberantly.
As he rounds things off with a pummelling Zombie, Treays whips his shirt off, spare tyre exposed to the world. “I don’t give a fuck,” he snarls. Older? Sure. Wiser? Hmm. But great all the same.
We’ll have a full review of Paul McCartney from Alexis Petridis shortly, plus reviews of some of the headliners of other stages around the site: Jamie T and Jessie Ware.
The crowd are getting to truly write off their vocal cords with Carry That Weight, another mass singalong. Springsteen and Grohl are back out, jamming together on an extended wigout. That has pretty massively raised the bar for Glasto’s star-guest tradition – McCartney has played live with each of them before (Springsteen earlier this month in the US, even) but never all together like this.
And then it’s all over, ending a set that had some really compelling curios amid the gigantic classics – possibly losing a few more casual fans at points, but uniting them again in the most euphoric way imaginable.
Now we’re into a really muscular-sounding Helter Skelter, with McCartney’s delivering some impressibly lusty hollers – and this is an 80-year-old now 90 minutes into a set in front of 100,000-odd people. There have been a couple of slight vocal wobbles during tonight by all accounts, but that sounded decidedly un-octogenarian.
Now there’s an airing of a moving bit of technological sleight of hand, allowing McCartney to duet with Lennon on I’ve Got a Feeling, the latter’s vocals having been isolated during the making of the Get Back documentary. This is the coup de grace in a set that has felt like a true encompassing of the breath of Macca history and lore. “That’s so special for me man,” McCartney says. “I know it’s virtual but come on – it’s John. We’re back together.”
Paul McCartney shows solidarity with Ukraine
After leaving the stage with the crowd singing Hey Jude over and over, McCartney is back out and waving a Ukraine flag: the most high profile show of support at a festival admirably full of it. His band hold a rainbow Pride flag and also a Union Jack.
As was absolutely inevitable, the Hey Jude singalong is the big moment of Glastonbury. Much like someone doing a club PA in your local Pryzm nighclub, he’s getting just the ladies to sing, now just the guys, all in a cappella. And now the horns have blasted back in. Dopamine levels are skyrocketing. “I wonder if this is how religious people feel in church,” says our Keza MacDonald. Here’s the view from the crowd:
Megan Thee Stallion reviewed
Other stage, 10.30pm
Arriving on stage in black fur, a studded leather corset-leotard and screams of “real hot girl shit!” amid airhorns, our patron saint of hot girl summer is here and she did not come to play. By third track Freak Nasty, Houston’s latest legendary rapper is flanked by her poised dancers, the fur is off and every time she clutches her crotch or shakes her bum for the camera the crowd screams. “Y’all making me to feel too good” she grins after a flawless rendition of Simon Says into Big Ole Freak.
The dancers leave and she starts writhing on the ground, tongue out, before the refrains of “eat it, eat it till I come” (a dancer comes and Meg puts her leg over him to simulate this). It’s a set that takes us from Tina Snow days to the present, interspersed with calls to the crowd to shout if they love themselves just the way they are (and it’s testament to her power that this isn’t cloying). By the time we get to WAP it’s a party, and it’s a barometer of how great a song it is that everyone can rap along with those ridiculously quick bars.
Next up, Body gets everyone into a frenzy. “This the biggest goddamn crowd I’ve seen in a long time,” she smiles. Later she’ll talk about what’s happening in the States with Roe v Wade: “You know I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say something about these stupid ass men. Texas really embarrassing me right now, y’all. The hot girls and hot boys do not support this shit. My body, my motherfucking choice!” She calls on everyone to chant this last line and stick their middle fingers in the air.
And then, in this spirit of women loving their bodies. we are back to hot girl summer (“It’s about motherfucking ladies doing what they want to do!”), her recent collab with Dua Lipa gets a nod, as does the Beyoncé remix of Savage. She ends on a brief but glorious version of Eazy-E-interpolating Girls in the Hood, before saying: “I’m Megan Thee Motherfucking Stallion … and if you still don’t know me, ask your boo.” Outstanding.
Seemingly Somerset’s entire stock of pyro is being detonated for Live and Let Die – and then it’s Hey Jude. This isn’t so much crowdpleasing as it is crowdlovebombing.
And now time, Spingsteen having departed, for one of the greatest songs ever written and on some days my favourite in the entire Beatles catalogue: Let It Be, whose simple melodic and lyrical logic is like a consoling hand on one’s arm from a friend. It gets a very showy and widdly guitar solo which I think is gilding the lily a bit, but that chorus is sounding so sumptuous. There will be so many tears falling on that Pyramid stage grass.
Please note that there is a Glastonbury-date-shaped hole in Springsteen’s touring schedule next year, when he’s doing a European tour. Is this the world’s most ballsy warm-up? Now they’re duetting on a version of 1963’s I Wanna Be Your Man. Boomers are actually exploding right now.
And now Bruce Springsteen has come on!
This rumour actually came good! Ye gods! This is Pyramid history – and a delighted squeal goes up. They’re doing Springsteen’s own Glory Days, and the Boss’s weatherbeaten voice sounds so good being fired into the night sky.
To clarify, this is Springsteen solo, with Macca and Dave having left the stage presumably for a restorative cup of Bovril.
Dave Grohl has stuck around and is now doing Band on the Run with McCartney. “Just the right amount of breeze for his hair to be flowing,” says Sophie. Grohl says he had a nightmare getting here what with flights getting cancelled everywhere.
Meanwhile on the Other stage, Megan Thee Stallion has joined the ranks of artist decrying the Roe v Wade decision in the US.
You know I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say something about these stupid-ass men. Texas really embarrassing me right now, y’all. The hot girls and hot boys do not support this shit. My body, my motherfucking choice!
More on all the anger here.
Dave Grohl makes a guest appearance with Paul McCartney
Dave Grohl has come on to sing and play guitar for I Saw Her Standing There!
This is a great bit of nerd service: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, which McCartney says “we’ve never done before”. Then it’s Get Back, again with real punch to that insistent bass drum, accompanied by footage from the Peter Jackson documentary of the same name.
Our Josh Halliday is a bit further back in the crowd and says: “It went off for Ob-La-Di. Has to be said it’s felt quite flat where I am until that song – lots of polite appreciation but not many hands in the air singalong moments since he opened with Can’t Buy Me Love.”
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da now, which has a positively disco-fied arrangement with a punchy bassline. That “life goes on” chorus is sounding so good at this first post-Covid Glastonbury. This sounds like one of the most purely happy moments at the Pyramid stage, ever: a blast of concentrated optimism.
Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite now gets an airing, and then it’s on to a rendition of Something, played on a ukulele gifted to McCartney by the track’s songwriter, George Harrison. Note that this becomes a really big and hearty production with one of the most uplifting audience singalongs yet. Lovely to have all these heartfelt nods to departed friends and historical moments.
McCartney says: “The best thing is when you’re out there doing a quiet song and you can hear all the other stages. It’s a mashup!” Indeed – I’m sonically sandwiched between Paul McCartney on one side and Megan Thee Stallion on the other. The definitive vibe clash.
He’s now doing Fuh You, one of the strongest and poppiest songs from Egypt Station, written with Ryan Tedder who did Beyoncé’s Halo among many other bangers.
The honky tonk piano of Lady Madonna has filled the air, as has a gigantic holler of “see how they run!” Terrifically uplifting sax solo, too.
I quite like this whiskery look of his, too.
He’s just played Here Today, the song he wrote in 1982 in tribute to John Lennon after his murder. A very emotional performance, says our Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill, who reports that McCartney told the crowd: “If you want to tell someone you love them, don’t wait.”
Park stage, 9.15pm
Ahh, Mitski, imperious empress of art-pop. It’s a small but passionate crowd at the Park stage to see her tonight – unsurprisingly, as she’s competing with Macca – and she floats on stage in a navy dress that flutters with her deliberate, choreographed movements. Mitski’s live act is precise, elaborate mime and interpretive dance, as taut and disciplined as her voice. She opens with Love Me More – one of my pop songs of the year so far – in a breathier rendition than the driving, irresistible album version.
She’s really something to watch. Mitski wields the mic like a swordswoman, runs it over her body, prances, drops dramatically to the floor at the end of The Only Heartbreaker. It’s all absolutely precise: the whole show unfolds like clockwork theatre. This creates mystique, but also distance: when she finally breaks character to say hello to us, the audience is so surprised that the response is a kind of collective, delighted yelp. Expecting warmth from Mitski is folly, though: she won’t even let us see when she takes sips of water between songs, slinking off into the fog at the back of the stage each time lest we witness her do anything so human as hydrate. The illusion must be maintained.
I love these songs. Washing Machine Heart and Nobody get the biggest reaction, but my favourite is Should’ve Been Me, a fascinating pop song with jazzy sax, unexpected xylophone and an irresistible beat behind her evocative lyrics. Mitski is a perfectionist: she breaks character just once, for her angriest song Townie, running up and down the stage and telling us we’re beautiful. She might not be effusing about the honour of playing Glastonbury, but I’m so pleased she’s here. Mostly because I’m scared she might do a Kate Bush one day and disappear from the live stage.
The timebending aspect of this McCartney set is enhanced by the fact that there’s been an hour delay in screening it on the BBC, so if you’re watching the BBC at home, I’m speaking from the future of this performance with tons of spoilers.
He’s just gone into the crowd to do an acoustic version of Blackbird, which sounds like a very special moment.
Back on the Pyramid stage, Paul McCartney has just played In Spite of All the Danger by the Quarrymen, his pre-Beatles band with Lennon and Harrison plus John Lowe and Colin Hanton – originally recorded in 1958. It’s just extraordinary to consider the span McCartney has had – from well before the pop music he helped to invent, to the point where Megan Thee Stallion is playing one field over from him.
Then it’s a romp through Love Me Do. Time is folding in on itself.
Burna Boy reviewed
Other stage, 8.30pm
Warm flourishes of punchy Afrobeat brass, a glorious, sweet backing choir dressed all in white, and literal towering flames engulfing the front of the stage, smoke and golden fireworks: the self-anointed African Giant Burna Boy knows how to put on a hell of a party.
The sunset is making everything apricot and Burna’s vocals are incredibly rich and infectiously happy. Dressed in a black boiler suit – plus some excellent black leather gloves – he vibes around the stage with a buoyant energy over that decadently good percussion (yes; there are multiple drummers). He takes a minute to talk to the crowd, confessing he’s been going through an emotional time lately, before paying his respects to recently deceased friends Virgil Abloh and Sidhu Moose Wala, reflecting on the passing of time.
In some ways, it seems to have added a particular carpe diem flair to his show – he is beaming throughout, showing off his moves, and even running over to the keyboard to play a little run. He knows his British audience, too, doing a little nod to his and Dave’s collaboration Location. Confetti floats through the air as he launches into closing song Ye, a track which gets the whole crowd in surprisingly good harmony with him – and maybe I’m overtired at this point, but I’m welling up at how special it has been. Truly, Burna Boy is a superstar.
Now there’s Maybe I’m Amazed, against some rather more sweet footage of Stella McCartney as a wee baby. “That baby in my jacket has now got four kids of her own,” he swoons.
McCartney plays in front of footage of Johnny Depp
He’s just played My Valentine, a love song for his wife Nancy, and as he has been doing for a number of years, plays it against a backdrop of its music video. This video features Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp, and Macca has – some would say unethically – still been using this footage during his recent tour, while Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard has been going on. It was seen by many as a show of support for Depp in recent weeks, and it certainly will be again here. I can’t help but feel the tactful and respectful thing, given the ugliness of the defamation trial, would have been to retire this footage from the tour – quite apart from the eventual result in Depp’s favour.
There’s also been a run through of Let ’Em In, with plenty of fat brass.
The first pics from Macca’s performance are coming in.
With his band, giving him that full-bodied sound.
Someone’s evidently just seen Megan Thee Stallion heading to her headline set.
“Yeah mine’s just a half mate. Yeah just lager mate. Yeah I’ve been on the box wine all day, need a bit of a break.”
Now it’s on to Getting Better – surely one of the loveliest tempos in pop? I can never tire of those gently nagging chords, like a heart beating a bit happier than it was before.
Via our reporter Nadia Khomami, Paul has been reminiscing about hanging out with Hendrix in the 60s when he came to London.
“He was a lovely man,” McCartney said. “One of the greatest tributes he ever paid us was we released Sgt Pepper as a tribute to him and he opened his show with it, he played it really well as a solo … he was really working it, giving it a lot of welly.”
The Nehru jacket is off: “That’s the only wardrobe change of the whole evening,” he quips. He’s now rolled into Let Me Roll It, from Wings’ Band on the Run. While I’m a couple of hundred metres away, it’s sounding really punchy and full – and with a decent amount of extemporisation and impressively un-cosy guitar playing. He just explained that the latter was a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
Olivia Rodrigo’s set has been reviewed by Laura Snapes: “The Drivers License singer seems at pains to stress the intimate, homespun craft of her songs – but it’s in the raucously communal moments that her set really comes alive.”
McCartney greeted the crowd by saying: “Oh man, it’s so good to be here. We were supposed to be doing this three years ago.”
And then later: “We’re right here on the magnetic ley lines of Glastonbury. We’re right here. I thought I’d just throw that in.” No doubt he’ll soon be offering to realign your chakras in the healing fields and all.
He’s now doing Come on to Me, another very jaunty number, this time from 2018’s Egypt Station (his engagement with relatively contemporary pop).
Now there’s an extremely jaunty-sounding Got to Get You Into My Life with neat horn parts offset by some gnarlier squalls of electric guitar. Here’s the first glimpse of our man, too!
Possibly to preserve the mystery, or possibly to erase a passionate stream of F-bombs that he’s planning, the BBC coverage isn’t starting until 10.30pm – it’s not even streamed on their dedicated live Pyramid stage feed. But we’ll give you a running commentary here from our team at the Pyramid.
Paul McCartney turned 80 last weekend – and apparently spontaneous singalongs of Happy Birthday have already broken out in the crowd. Awwww. “He seems completely unmoved by it / a little bit thrown,” says one of our number down the front.
Paul McCartney begins!
Macca has started, tearing into Can’t Buy Me Love at a riproaring tempo! The audience singalong is already filling up our little portacabin backstage at a joyous volume.
Yungblud is conducting the Gen Z hordes on the John Peel stage and while I don’t massively care for his underwritten oeuvre, it’s moving to see him close to tears at the vast crowd.
Meanwhile on the Park, Mitski is doing First Love / Last Spring complete with actorly plucking of a peach from a tree – her theatricality on stage really sets her apart and if you’ve not seen her on tour, do!
Some of the rumours we’ve heard batted around the site about Paul McCartney’s set:
- That Bruce Springsteen shared a plane with Wolf Alice after they got stuck in the US and he’s going to appear
- That Elton John is going to turn up because he’s in Bristol tomorrow night
- That Harry Styles is going to turn up because there’s a gap in his tour schedule
- Taylor Swift because she was meant to headline in 2020 and she sometimes lives in London, she wrote that song about London boys and everything
Even one of those being true would be amazing.
Here’s a look back at some of today’s action while we wait for Macca to go on stage.
John Peel, 7.30pm
Ghetts is one of the OG grime forefathers, once part of Nasty Crew and a rapper who seemed a bit sidelined when Skepta, Stormzy and Dave broke through to the mainstream and strode ahead. But his 2021 album Conflict of Interest was a sonic step up, his first on a major label, and more vulnerable, earnest and ambitious, with big string and brass arrangements and guest features (Dizzee Rascal, Ed Sheeran, Giggs, and the aforementioned three).
Speaking of a conflict of interest, some hardcore fans seem dismayed when Ghetts spends a large portion of his set sat on a stool like a member of Another Level, to sing his new more soulful repertoire like 10,000 Tears and Proud Family, backed by a line drummer, keyboardist and DJ Rude Kid. They shouldn’t have walked off; he’s not gone fully Usher just yet. Love songs out of the way, one of the UK’s most talented MCs breaks into the half of his set that evokes the old school grime raves of old, with pull ups for huge tracks like Know My Ting, You Dun Know Already and 2010 track (old skool!) Artillery.
Ghetts hurls words at the mic with unbridled fury, and flexes his biceps at the audience, which signals that it’s time for a laddy mosh pit down the front, before South African singer Moonchild Sanelly joins him for their shadowy track Mozambique and Pa Salieu for their Ghetts track together, No Mercy. These are welcome surprises, though the lack of interplay and chemistry between Ghetts and his guests feels like a missed opportunity. Alone on the stage, however, the main attraction takes up space – the younger UK rappers who have given lacklustre performances on awards shows of late could learn a lot from him, as Ghetts commands the stage with hard-boiled confidence.
His place in the UK rap stratosphere more than confirmed, perhaps it’ll be the Pyramid stage for him next year, like AJ Tracey and Stormzy.
Olivia Rodrigo’s castigation of the Supreme Court justices – by individual name – was such a powerful political moment at this year’s festival, following a number of other similarly forthright opinions about the overturning of Roe v Wade. Full story here:
Billy Nomates reviewed
Left Field, 7.30pm
On record, the music made by Billy Nomates – Leicestershire musician Tor Maries – is post-punk: programmed drums and live wire guitar lines providing the bedding for Maries’s plainspoken missives about the quotidian disappointments of life under late-capitalism.
But if her Saturday night set at Glastonbury’s Left Field stage proves one thing, it’s just how much of broader pop culture Maries’s songwriting is actually in conversation with. Watching her bounce around the hazy stage, her steely gaze fixed intently on the audience members in the front row, it’s easy to hear echoes of other bands in her songs. Sometimes, she recalls a cynical, mulleted Brandon Flowers, while other songs almost possess the velveteen shimmer of R&B. When performed live, songs like Emergency Telephone and Supermarket Sweep feel like successors to the smart, intellectual pop songs Róisín Murphy – also playing Glastonbury tonight, headlining the West Holts stage – made in the 90s and 2000s with her band Moloko and on her own.
Maries’s backing band is little more than a laptop during this set, but you get the sense that she could drum up some excitement backed by nothing at all. Throwing herself around the stage during nearly every song, she is a magnetic presence, her frenzied performance style even warranting the use of a small desktop fan perched next to her gear. The performance is visceral and intense, but you get the sense that the audience is right there with her. At one point, she yells “men should not be making noise about women’s bodies,” dragging the final word out into a tense, ear-splitting scream. The crowd can’t get enough – without missing a beat, they begin to scream along, too.
Lonely Hearts Club, 7.45pm
There is a small child on someone’s shoulders putting up gun-fingers, and I’m having an existential crisis. This is 19-year-old Brighton drill-pop rapper ArrDee’s moment, and he is seizing it with boundless energy, sprinting up and down the stage grinning as he yells typically cheeky lines like “so let’s ‘ave it!” and “she lookin’ pretty pretty, jiggy jiggy jiggy”, and comparing his girl to Fruitella sweets. The beats are hefty, his live rapping is technically quite slick – though lines like “she wanna suck it cos I’m sweet like I’m Smarties” beg the question: who sucks Smarties!? – but this is not the time for such cynical analysis. It’s a pretty endearing sight watching the crowd raising their hands in the air for him and yelling his lyrics back for tracks like Oliver Twist. He gets emotional ahead of Come and Go; this is his first ever Glastonbury. Then his shirt’s off and he’s screaming for his mosh pit crew. I have to run to Burna Boy, but will concede that this is an exuberant Glastonbury debut.
Don’t Look Back in Anger is what’s emanating from Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds’ set at the Pyramid stage now, sung so lustily by the crowd that it almost feels like we’re part of it. He’s giving the people what they want.
Big Thief reviewed
Park stage, 6.15pm
If any band is capable of probing you where you feel delicate on a Saturday afternoon, it’s Big Thief. Miserablist music is having a moment at Glastonbury 2022 – is it sad girl summer, perhaps? – and the royal court is presided over by this excellent Brooklyn four-piece. The Park stage is an ideal setting for their grungy, dusky alt-rock, which is as tender as a ripe pear and cuts like a knife.
Over two albums, they’ve established themselves as high priests of crushing sadness, jostling for pole position with Phoebe Bridgers. Grown women are crying and having religious experiences in the burning hot sun, as the Thief build their set gently, from Shoulders to Masterpiece, their soupy Americana cut through by Adrianne Lenker’s gorgeous trembling mewl. It’s not unlike Elliott Smith’s stark whisper, until the songs where she lets out an almighty yowl and the band let rip with crunching riffs and distortion.
Lenker says thank you, twice, meekly; the emotion comes out much more in their bristling shred – especially Not, which has a wonderfully intense rawk instrumental at the end. Swiftly after showing how hard they can rock out, Lenker has picked up her acoustic guitar, channeling 70s Laurel Canyon for the stripped-back Change. And then it’s into the honky-think bluegrass stomp of self-love anthem Spud Infinity, featuring possibly the best solo of the festival – on a jaw harp. It’s easy to see why this band have risen and risen. Long may their soft power slay.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are on stage at the Pyramid now – inevitably, I’ve just heard Wonderwall reverberating through the Guardian cabin. An experience that every British person should have once, says Laura Snapes.
Pa Salieu reviewed
John Peel stage, 6pm
Fresh from AJ Tracey’s foray into rock-god theatrics on the Pyramid comes Coventry rapper Pa Salieu, whose opening brace of tracks – including a brutally heavy Block Boy – come jacked up by rap-rock guitars, gigantic live drums and somersaulting dancers dressed in African costume – a nod to the Gambian heritage he also wears proudly in his beautifully accented flow. But rather than cleave to a Body Count-style metal version of his back catalogue, he shows off his versatility.
The band retire for a stretch of drill and trap material, and Salieu’s throaty emphasis gives stark drama to nihilist lines like “I don’t need love / I don’t need trust” on Active. He has one of the best barks in the game: his “ey!” feels millimetres from your face.
But his winning smile and positivity mean that it’s actually the softer, danceable material that’s the most enjoyable here. The undulating, lipsmacking Betty pre-empts a run at Afro-swing beats, fringed by a pair of dancers who twerk upside down. Obongjayar guests for a run through Style & Fashion, an anthem in the amapiano style of deep house, and the whole room is dancing for Blessing Me, his dancehall track with Mura Masa. The most electrifying moment comes when Slowthai bounds out for another Afro-swing number, Glidin, delivering his verse mostly standing on the front barrier, held vertical by security and punters; the way Slowthai always heads straight for chaos is inspiring.
“Took a couple of Ls [losses]... coming from the belly of the beast,” Pa Salieu rapped earlier, and he took a major loss when he brandished a broken bottle in a brawl in which a man was killed – Salieu was eventually cleared of engaging in violent disorder. He acknowledges that year of limbo as he introduces Energy, an ode to self-determination where he raps with emphasis and feeling: “I came and I shall conquer”. With another blast of that kindly smile, it feels like he’s closed a dark chapter of his life.
Here’s what Trisha would do to celebrate Paul McCartney’s birthday with him at the festival site:
“I’d do two things: go to the Park stage, it’s my favourite, and I’d take him for a camping experience at John Peel. I’ve been camping there since 1979, when I was 16. Who camps there? Usually people who love music, party, and get friendly with each other – there’s a sense of trust with your neighbours. We actually used to camp so close you’d open your tents and your feet would be in the John Peel tent itself! It’s my 16th or 17th Glastonbury, I think. I’m short, so I dress like this here so people can find me!”
The Supreme Court v Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen
Laura Snapes tells me that Lily Allen has just come on-stage with Olivia Rodrigo, sticking it to the Supreme Court Justices with a duet of Allen’s mega-hit Fuck You.
“This is actually my first Glastonbury and I’m sharing this stage with Lily, this is the biggest dream come true ever,” said Rodrigo. “But I’m also equally as heartbroken about what happened in America yesterday... I’m devastated and terrified. So many women and so many girls are going to die because of this. I wanted to dedicate this next song to the five members of the Supreme Court who have showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t give a shit about freedom. The song is for the justices: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you! We hate you.”
Pyramid Stage, 17.45
As a result of Greta Thunberg’s inspiring drop-in on the Pyramid stage this afternoon, sisterly Los Angeles trio Haim have to push their set back by 15 minutes, and as a result only play for 45 minutes of their allocated hour. Still, they absolutely make it count, bounding on stage in matching black bikini tops to the driving thrum of their 2019 single Now I’m In It. Rhythmic and racing, it’s a perfect way for the sisters – Danielle, Este and Alana, who trade vocal and instrumental duties throughout – to start their their fourth Glastonbury set in the past decade.
It’s easy to see why Haim have so quickly become Glasto mainstays. They’re cheeky and endearing on stage, cracking jokes with each other as they deftly run through songs from their three albums (the most recent being 2020’s Women in Music Part III). They’re visibly stoked to be returning to the festival: “I cannot believe we are here,” Alana yells at one point. “Last year we were lucky enough to do the livestream, and it was fun. But this is a lot fucking better!”
The band’s older material shines in this environment. Forever and The Wire, early radio hits featured on the band’s 2013 debut album, are clearly crowd favourites, and their booming, rhythmic backbones translate well when broadcast to a gargantuan field. The Women in Music Part III material is more hit and miss, though. 3am, sung entirely by Este (as opposed to Danielle, who sings on the album), is an early-set highlight that sees her running into the crowd and comically attempting to pick up festivalgoers. Gasoline, on the other hand, loses all its dazed, windswept beauty when played to this crowd, the warmth and nuance of the song totally obliterated by the (understandable) need to play to the cheap seats.
Although Haim’s energy level is rarely at anything less than eleven, there’s this particular set isn’t quite as punchy or triumphant as it probably should be. Danielle’s voice, likely worn down by a long touring schedule, sounds hoarse at times, and struggles to hit higher notes in songs like Don’t Save Me. And diehards in the audience will notice the absence of the dance breaks that have become a mainstay of the band’s latest tour – a potential casualty of the 15-minute reduction in set time. Nevertheless, there are still awe-inspiring pleasures to be found in Haim’s set. Even at the worst of times, these sisters are some of the most talented musicians currently working in indie rock. Watching the band absolutely tear through The Steps – one of the best rock songs released in the past few years, to my ears – and seeing Danielle switch from drums to guitar mid-song, is nothing short of a magic trick.
I just met Guillermo, AKA “the Beardy Juggler”, a performer walking around the site asking people to put spaghetti in his beard because, as he puts it: “Why not?” I cannot argue with this logic.
Glass Animals reviewed
This is supposed to be something of a victory lap for Glass Animals, topping off a mind-bogglingly successful year to date: their inescapable (believe me, I’ve tried) track Heat Waves climbed to the top of pretty much every chart going, including the Billboard Hot 100, a record-breaking 59 weeks after its debut. They hoovered up a clutch of Grammys and have a legitimate claim to being the biggest British band in the world right now.
It’s strange, then, that the crowd on the Other Stage is so spotty and disengaged, nowhere near as busy as you might expect for a band of their size. On the fringes people are barely paying attention, nattering away or consulting phones for their next move on this long, lazy Saturday. Was the lure of Greta Thunberg too great? Did everyone opt for the platinum-toothed charms of Tony Christie on the Avalon stage instead?
Then again, perhaps it’s more of a surprise that Glass Animals could be considered massive in the first place. They split audiences right down the middle: either you’re invigorated by their relentlessly sugary dance-pop or you regard it as akin to being waterboarded with Sunny Delight. (Heat Waves is a bit of an outlier in this regard. Less laden with E-numbers than the rest of their output, it’s inoffensive enough to appeal to just about anyone.)
Regardless of which camp you’re in, it’s hard not to at least credit them for their ability to remain endlessly Pollyannaish in the face of hardship. Here, as well as an apathetic crowd, they have to contend with some technical horrors: right from the off, as they are about to launch into Life Itself, their sound packs in. They simply exit the stage for a few minutes, pop back on, and vocalist Dave Bayley repeats his cheery intro, word for word. Nothing will deter them from delivering their starchy white-boy funk to the slightly disinterested masses.
But then right at the end they launch into those spindly opening chords to Heat Waves and everything turns in an instant. The same apathetic punters are suddenly on their feet, swaying along, revelling in that drowsy, tipsy chorus. Maybe Glass Animals are destined to be one of those festival bands that drag reluctant audiences along for 45 minutes with the promise of an arms-aloft banger at the very end. To be fair, there are worse fates.
Here’s a thing that I entirely fail to understand: why are so many people FaceTiming friends and family from the Glastonbury crowds, mid-set? To be fair, the last time I was here was pre-5G, so this is perhaps not a new phenomenon, but I keep seeing the tiny bemused/enraptured faces of random family members peering out from glowing rectangles held aloft to the stages. Surely nobody on either end of that conversation can actually see or hear anything that’s going on? My colleague Shaad enlightens me: “it’s just kind of a vibe”.
Nilüfer Yanya reviewed
William’s Green, 5.30pm
A growl of guitar announces the beginning of Londoner Nilüfer Yanya’s set – though there are then several false starts as she and her band work out some sound issues. Still, it’s not long until we’re into the billowing alt-rock she does so well (replete with smooth flourishes of sax that occasionally feel amusingly over-atmospheric, especially in combination with the relentless smoke machine). Yanya is dressed in a gorgeous scrappy emerald green dress that makes her look like a rockstar Tinkerbell, something her liquid, woozy vocals embody too.
There’s not much in the way of crowd interaction, but it kind of works given the immersive nature of those scuzzy guitars. She smiles to herself as she plays a set that includes Belong With You, a number that I’m pretty sure is a cover of PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me, and finishes on a stomping, soaring version of my personal favourite, Crash. It’s a short but sweet performance that culminates in the crowd chanting for another song, but she just smiles and waves her goodbye.
Glastonbury is in absolutely no way a cheap festival - on top of the £285 ticket price, pints cost £6 minimum, most food will set you back £10 (making each meal an anxiety-inducing gamble - nobody wants to waste their precious food budget on a substandard burrito), and you could easily bankrupt yourself temporarily on silly hats, or permanently on a tipi or other glamping setup. Everyone here bought their tickets years ago, before the cost-of-living crisis escalated - and some are feeling the pinch while others would rather forget about it while they’re here, the Observer reports.
There are ways to do Glastonbury on a budget. Since 2015, the festival has run “food for a fiver”, where traders sell smoothies, tea and cakes and even a mini Sunday roast for £5. Three-quarters of the site’s 400 food stalls take part in the scheme.
“It is noticeably more expensive than it has been in previous years,” said Victoria McBride, sipping a coffee in the sun outside the political Left Field stage.
“We look out for the food-for-a-fiver stickers. The portions are often not as big as the more expensive options, but I suppose it means we can try more!”
You can tell a lot about an artist and what’s on their mind right now from their song dedications: Self Esteem dedicated one to legendary gig-goer Big Jeff earlier, and to “our sisters in America” in the wake of Roe v Wade’s overturning. Phoebe Bridgers dedicated one to her boyfriend Paul Mescal. I’ve got a lot of time for Skunk Anansie’s frontwoman Skin, though, who earlier dedicated My Ugly Boy to “absolutely nobody. None of you motherfuckers!”
Good afternoon, campers - this is Keza back again for the early evening, as the sun warms our backs and festivalgoers get warmed up before tonight’s headline acts. Can we take a moment to appreciate whoever decided to put Paul McCartney and Megan Thee Stallion opposite each other on the bill tonight? I will be FASCINATED to see what those two audiences look like later. I will be choosing Macca, personally, once I’ve hoofed it back from the Park Stage after seeing alt-pop genius Mitski.
Here’s what’s going on at the moment: Haim are just finishing up on the Pyramid Stage, and endearing popstar Olivia Rodrigo will soon be gracing the Other. Meanwhile, indie guitar hero Adrianne Lenker’s band Big Thief are currently playing up at the Park Stage.
Self Esteem reviewed
John Peel stage, 3.15pm
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, AKA Self Esteem, arrives on the John Peel stage heralded by heavy bass and percussion, and the mission statement of her 2021 album, Prioritise Pleasure projected on the screen behind her: “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged.” She herself is poised and imperial in a silver-threaded cape and a sheer black shirt, open to reveal a glittering bustier: its design inspired by the roof of her local shopping centre in Sheffield. But as we quickly clock from her cheeky over-the-shoulder grin as she sheds her cape to face us bra-first, this is no untouchable queen to rule over us from on high: Taylor stands alongside us in the trenches, keeping up morale and sharing her hard-won wisdom.
By the end of her defiant, triumphant curtain-raiser I’m Fine, Taylor has the crowd barking like dogs, hungry for her brand of idiosyncratic pop that manages to be at once funny and profound, conversational and operatic, energetic and serene. She concludes Fucking Wizardry in an angelic assembly with her trio of backing singer-dancers, their hands held in prayer and their faces sombre. But then the winking holier-than-thou facade drops to reveal the down-to-earth Yorkshire lass the audience knows and clearly loves, with “Prioritise Pleasure” reflected back at her on the crowd’s T-shirts and flags: “I feel like Robbie Williams!” she tells them.
Taylor’s certainly not short of swagger but it is of the essentially feminine kind, with a sisterly dynamic on stage (bar Taylor’s “token male” on drums) elevating her dancers from more than mere backup to real, nourishing support. She concludes the title track being cradled in their arms, singing “I thought that you would be kind to me.” It’s one of many beautiful moments in a set that celebrates female friendship, wisdom and power in earnest, without being cloying or trite.
In among the hackneyed therapy speak of pop stars beseeching us to love ourselves there is something genuinely, quietly empowering about Taylor’s sanguine shrug in The 345 which, in the shadow of Roe repealed, she dedicates to “our sisters in America, fucking hell”: “The thing is, you just gotta keep going, I suppose.”
More than girl power, Taylor’s approach to feminism is one that centres and celebrates community and inclusiveness. She dedicates a song to Big Jeff, a titan of the Bristol indie scene currently in hospital: “I want to see you back out in the crowd soon.” This one is by no means a melon party, or whatever one might call the female version of sausage-fest, and her life lessons are something that everyone can benefit from.
As my colleague Laura Snapes observes, drawing a comparison with Jessie Ware (who similarly set her stage alight at the recent Primavera festival in Barcelona and headlines the Park stage tonight), Taylor makes a compelling case for a moratorium on all pop stars until they are into their 30s, when they have experiences to draw from and something to say that isn’t about the punishments of celebrity (as is the case with stars too young to have known anything else). Taylor’s lyrics are raw and sometimes confronting on the page, but you can see in her face how heartfelt they are.
“Never have I just enjoyed the moment,” she sings in Prioritise Pleasure, her expression sombre, full of the sadness of that realisation. But as she launches into the triumphant chorus of “I’m free”, doing high kicks with the biggest grin on her face, you believe she is enjoying this one. In fact, as she takes in the thunderous applause, she misses her cue for her next song. She restarts, apologetically: “I was taking it in, guys. That’s what Robyn would do!”
By the end of Taylor’s set, her crowd extends beyond the tent and is shedding many happy tears, echoing back her manifesto in I Do This All the Time: “Don’t be embarrassed that all you’ve had is fun.” This is more than fun; this is euphoria.
Down in Shangri-La, London Trans Pride are taking over the Nomad stage with the Chateau. During the day that means workshops such as banner and sign-making for the forthcoming London Trans Pride march (on 9 July), making DIY packers and breastformers (gender-affirming items that are often prohibitively expensive to buy), and inviting people to make collages of their gender expression. Against a backdrop of rampant transphobia in the UK, it all feels very nourishing.
Speaking to a few of the committee members from London Trans Pride (who didn’t wish to be named individually), they talk about the importance of trans visibility and advocacy for trans youth, notably in a country often referred to as “terf island” (not least after the recent decision to ban gay conversion therapy, but not trans conversion therapy). As they say, trans rights are human rights.
Statistically, one of them adds, most people don’t know a trans person, and media depictions aren’t always accurate – so having this space in the daytime is a good way for people to have conversations, and build solidarity and community outside of nightlife. But rest assured there will be some dancing too, with DJ sets from the likes of Shivum Sharma later on. Catch you down there!
AJ Tracey reviewed
Pyramid stage, 4pm
I missed the first half of this trekking across the site – but even from afar the West London rapper’s easy command of the stage is apparent. Strutting around in his sunglasses, he looks nonchalant surveying the absolutely massive crowd – and with the live band behind him replete with roaring guitars, it honestly feels more like a rock show. Although it’s a gig weighted (towards the end at least) with tracks from his most recent album, Flu Game, he does treat us to a rare performance of Thiago Silva, his infamous duet with Dave (though mercifully he does not attempt another “Alex from Glasto” moment). He brings out rap’s prince of the north, a grinning Aitch, so they can do a joyful rendition of Rain (before Aitch gets booed for trying to shout out Manchester United). Then AJ finishes, of course, by asking people to say where he’s from – the chants of Ladbroke Grove lead us into the euphoric final track of the same name.
We have been reliably informed that Sam Fender and his band are roaming the site wearing multicoloured wigs as a disguise.
And Catie, 33, is taking him to “Maceos to get him in the photo booth and then I’d sneak him in the back of NYC Downlow so he can dance in the stage in his undies. And then Stone Circle where we’ll share a balloon and watch the sun rise. I hope he doesn’t forget his acoustic guitar.”
Greta Thunberg on the Pyramid stage!
“We have been lied to and deprived of our rights as democratic citizens, and left unaware. But there is hope. Because when we understand the full extent of the crisis, we can act. There are no limits to what we can do. We need the full story. There is still time to choose a new path and step back from the cliff. A sustainable path. A just path. Right now we are in desperate need of hope. But hope for who? Hope is not about pretending everything will be fine or listening to fairytales about non-existent technologies. Hope has to be earned. Hope is taking action, stepping outside your comfort zone. Imagine what we can do if we really try. We are standing at the precipice. All those who have not been greenwashed need to stand their ground. Right here and right now is where we stand our ground. This story must be told in news articles, at dining tables, in schools, board rooms and marketplaces, football games, hospitals, old people’s homes, social media, at music festivals, everywhere, all the time. The time has come for us to retell the story and perhaps even change the ending.”
We’ve been out and about meeting more of Glastonbury’s most stylish people.
Jazz, 31, and Owen, 35
Jazz: This outfit was made by one of my best friends: the dress was a bridesmaid’s dress for her wedding and the headdress was for my hen weekend – we’re getting married on Pennard Hill in the summer and you’ll be able to see the Pyramid stage from our wedding ceremony. This place obviously means a lot to us.
Owen: I used to go as a kid, so I feel like I’ve grown up here. It does mean a lot. But my look is just what I wear every day. I’ve not made any effort at all: I just rolled out of bed and put on what I normally put on. I’m seeing Gong later, that’ll be good.
Jazz: I’m really interested in seeing the Ukrainian Eurovision acts, some comedy and cabaret, a little bit of everything…
The face stripe is for TLC, and inspired by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The Hole T-shirt is because they played here on the Friday many years ago. It’s a mix of references, a weird combination of influences, but that’s Glastonbury. I’m going to see Wolf Alice, Diana Ross, Megan Thee Stallion. But to be honest I would come here even if there were no bands playing: just for the stalls, the activities, the gathering together of people. It’s just a vibe. Everyone here is so nice and chill. The first year I came, in 2003, I was a bit of a clean freak and was so horrified of the toilets I held in my poo for three days and was in serious discomfort. But you’ve just got to get over that, get into the vibe and the way things are, and go with the flow.
I’ve just joined the RSPB to get this new owl badge that looks like my recently deceased cat Pricilla so that she’s here with us in spirit. The rest of the top has a Mr Spock vibe I think – my wife made it, she’s a professional. This is a significant Glastonbury for me: my 20th anniversary. I got lost and accidentally joined the Hare Krishnas at my first one in 2002.
I don’t know what started it, but every year I come here now, I get my face or beard painted. I don’t have a regular face-painter to do it, but you’re always guaranteed to find one. I work here, on the recycling team, and there’s great craic on the team. So I’m here for the vibe, the music, the atmosphere: you can just let Glastonbury come to you.
I turned 50 this year and it’s Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, so me and our group thought we’d all mark the golden anniversary. There’s a gang of us all wearing bits and pieces of sparkle: all the gold we could get our hands on, basically. We go to a lot of festivals but there’s nothing like this. Now we’re 50 though, we come in vans so we can take it easy up in the camper van fields.
Emily Eavis is introducing Greta Thunberg on the main stage, and calling this year’s Glastonbury the best festival ever, Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill says.
Yves Tumor reviewed
West Holts stage, 4pm
Yves Tumor walks on stage – or rather sashays with the withering contempt of a supermodel giving a paparazzo the slip – in the weekend’s most powerful look: studded leather underpants and a matching waistcoat with 69 on the back. If the message wasn’t clear, the latter is soon removed to reveal a waistband studded with the word SEX. They later thrust their crotch into the video camera, spit on the lens and rub it with their fingers.
Yes, you rather think Tumor probably wouldn’t stay the night, much less buy the coffees in the morning, but the West Holts audience are seduced nonetheless with this display of dream pop and punk chaos. Gospel for a New Century is anchored with an almost hip-hop beat, but for the most part these songs sound at risk of splitting apart: a gorgeous, dangerous sound.
The sublime madness is heightened by Tumor’s guitarist who almost steals the show. Looking like the kind of 70s street punk who might threaten old ladies on the subway in a public information film, he does Van Halen tapping, plays behind his head, and on Kerosene delivers an un-toppable solo of the weekend, unlocking new echelons of the sky with every piercing note.
But Tumor’s show it is, and he ends it by strutting up and down the front row, intimidatingly flirting with the security and jumping in the crowd. “Be aggressive! Be be aggressive!” he’d made us chant earlier - and this was a blast of necessary aggression to make the festival truly come alive.
To celebrate Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday last week, Shane from Clapton tells our Kate Hutchinson that he would take him to “NYC Downlow, I’d get him a pink moustache on the door and show him a good time. I think he’d love the music and the people – I think he’s a bit of an untapped queer icon.”
Just in from Ben Beaumont-Thomas: “Yves Tumor was sick af!!!!!!”
While I recover from that emotionally obliterating Self Esteem set, let’s have a look at what else has been going on today.
Self Esteem interviewed
All weekend, we’re hosting morning interviews with musicians up on the William’s Green stage. Yesterday we had Sleaford Mods with music editor Ben Beaumont-Thomas, and today Alexis Petridis spoke to the frankly fantastic – I’m already saying queen of Glastonbury – Self Esteem, AKA Rebecca Lucy Taylor. Read it here!
Other stage, 1pm
Fast-rising Nigerian singer Tems means business: until a few days ago, it was touch and go whether she’d be able to perform at Glasto all. “It’s special that I’m able to make this because for the last two weeks I’ve had vocal issues,” she tells the sizeable crowd, having already had to cancel a run of live dates. But now, she says, “I’m back.” No backing tracks here - she brings with her a slick full live band, who pack a punch and plump out her tales of heartache and empowerment, and performs in a figure-hugging red outfit and matching red eyeshadow. You wouldn’t know that she’d had setbacks – her voice is sublime and powerful, low in the register but capable of fluttering falsetto, as she rips into her emotional pop songs.
Tems is one of the many acts – but a rare woman – who is big in her home country and now gaining recognition worldwide, via co-signs from Justin Bieber, Adele and Drake, as the umbrella genre known as Afrobeats continues to dominate. You can see why Adele is a fan: Tems’s delivery is similarly from the gut, her style strong yet refined. Unlike many of her male peers (Davido, Wizkid – sorry lads), she can really sing. And while she might get lumped in with Afrobeats, her style is far broader, pulling in jazz, rock and even a bit of gospel amid the syncopated beat and trill of highlife guitars.
Truthfully, I was half expecting shimmering bedroom intimacy but from a few minutes in it’s clear that as much as Tems has become celebrated for her heart-on-sleeve rawness, she can bring the party, too. The suns out, bums are twirling and the geezers in the crowd – one of the most diverse of the festival so far – are pulling their smoothest moves. Screaming fans know every word to her breakthrough track with Wizkid, Essence, which she follows with her own song in a similarly classy style, Crazy Tings, where the guitarist comes to the front to shred. She is an elegant, waist-winding breath of fresh air and surely a huge star in the making. Rihanna had better watch her throne.
90s legends unite!
All weekend we’ve been asking festival-goers to tell us where at Glastonbury they’d take Paul McCartney to if they had the chance (he’s quite elusive, it turns out!). Here are Macca super-fans Lorraine, Ruth and Jo:
Ruth: It would have to be something fitting for a sir!
Lorraine: I’d take him for a nice cream tea, so I could chat to him about the early days – I would love that! I would even take him for two cream teas, that would make my day.
Black Midi reviewed
John Peel, 2.30pm
Black Midi’s ascent has been nothing short of astounding: here’s a band who’ve come out of playing tiny, grotty Brixton venues, whose unholy noise flies its freak flag high, whose freeform songs follow their own bananas set of no rules, always with a propensity to ping into a prog-metal breakdown, and who, with the exception of their masked brass player, dress like accountants on their lunch break.
And yet the quintet are Mercury nominated, three albums in (new one, Hellfire, is out next month) and playing to their biggest audience yet on West Holts this afternoon. The weirdos have won. They’ve grown since 2017 from trio into five-man skronk-off, a sound rooted in free jazz but which flips genre more quickly than you say “sprechgesang” (the slurring sing-speak so beloved by bands like Dry Cleaning and Midi’s Gen-Z Mark R Smith vocalist, Geordie Greep).
Even if you don’t understand Black Midi’s sonic maelstrom, funk-metal one minute, honky-tonk country-rock the next; even if it’s like looking the fridge alphabet upside down and back to front, their musicianship is so alarmingly impressive that it transcends oddball inaccessibility – you just sort of have to strap in and go where it takes you. And it will always take you somewhere, even if it’s to get another beer.
Their music might sound at first like it may fall apart but it’s densely orchestrated and even when they’re knowingly bolshy aren’t out of sync. Still, you get the impression that minds are being fried across the field: one track with a deranged brass freak out is so blistering that it elicits a “farking hell” from the dads nearby. You’ve got to hand it to them: they’ve totally created their own lane.
The closest they get to what you might call songs seems to be their newer material. There’s one where bassist Cameron Picton takes centre stage, acoustic guitar in hand, to sing a rollicking country number that sounds a bit like the Maccabees off their rockers. Or at the end when the endlessly charismatic Greep (guitarist), despite never taking his shades off, goes for a proper 70s Elvis-y belter on another new track, The Defence. They can do it, you see – they’re just better than that. “It’s the sort of music I expect to hear when I go through the gates of hell,” one onlooker whispers to another. And that’s exactly the way Black Midi want it.
Breakout Brit rapper AJ Tracey is getting underway on the Pyramid, backed by a very chunky-sounding live band.
Skunk Anansie reviewed
Other stage, 2pm
Walking out onto the Other stage in a stunning luminous neon suit with CLIT ROCK emblazoned across the back, wearing a black club kid inflatable spiked headdress and elaborate Disney-villain emerald green eye makeup, Skunk Anansie’s legendary frontwoman Skin resurrects a tired Saturday afternoon crowd with her presence. After opening with Stoosh’s furious opener Yes It’ s Fucking Political, by the second song she has already climbed over the barrier and into the crowd. This is a much more welcome 90s throwback than the regrettable fluffy bucket hats that are now everywhere again.
We’re watching veteran performers here, who famously headlined the Pyramid in 1999, but they don’t look remotely tired. “We like to write brand new songs, otherwise we’d just be a 90s band trawling around the planet,” jokes Skin, before launching into their fresh track Can’t Take You Anywhere. “In this new world order we have people that we love who have opposing views to us, but at the same time you have to get over it, keep your views and love them anyway,” opines Skin, before clarifying: “If they’re anti abortion on the other hand, they can fuck off.”
These are songs with huge riffs and huge emotions, and Skin can still seemingly effortlessly carry them all with her soaring, powerful voice. The band don’t falter once, and though it’s Weak that predictably gets the crowd singing along enthusiastically as Skin holds her mic aloft, this set doesn’t lean too heavily on past hits. This is a band that has taken its rightful place in British rock history, but they still have something to say, and an inimitable voice to say it with. And once again: that OUTFIT. Candidate for best lewk of the fest, for sure.
Self Esteem becomes the latest artist to touch on Roe v Wade:
“This is a song called Three Four Five, for our sisters in America ... fucking hell!” she says.
Laura Snapes reports that Self Esteem has just dedicated a song to Big Jeff Johns, renowned Bristol gig-goer and artist, who was recently hospitalised following a house fire. “I want to see you back out in the crowd soon,” she says.
Read more about Jeff here:
I’ve just flicked over to Self Esteem on the iPlayer and can confirm that the outfit is quite something. What a performance, too: she’s just had a massive ovation from the audience – after a pulsating performance of How Can I Help You – and it’s only midway through the set!
Shaad D’Souza is over at the Park stage where rapper Sampa the Great is performing and history is being made. “I’m standing on this stage with the first Zambian band to perform at Coachella,” she says. “The first Zambian band to perform at the Sydney Opera House … and the first Zambian band ever to perform at Glastonbury!”
Shangri-La, Glastonbury’s notorious late-night area, is a very strange place to be in the daytime. Someone in a blue wig just came up to me and asked if I had considered becoming a hologram.
The Park stage, 2pm
A sunny early Saturday afternoon proves the perfect slot for Gabriels. Their breakthrough debut single, 2021’s Love and Hate in a Different Time, might lead you to the assumption that their sound is rooted firmly in 60s soul, an impression bolstered by the synchronised movements of their three backing singers and the dapper attire of lead singer Jacob Lusk, who removes a sky-blue robe to reveal evening dress, complete with bow tie. But the reality is more wide-ranging than that: they variously evoke disco, gospel – Lusk is a choir director – and jazz-inflected pre-rock’n’roll pop.
Their songs sound beautiful, but they’re often slow paced and opaque: rather than grabbing you by the throat, they require attention from an audience, which the crowd assembled at the Park stage seems happy to give them. Lusk has a genuinely spine-tingling voice – a former American Idol contestant, his falsetto can sound by turns tender and eerie – and he’s a natural performer, addressing the audience as the Glastonbury Missionary Baptist Church, encouraging them to turn to whoever’s standing next to them and tell them they love them at some length. When he performs an unexpected and beautifully delicate cover of Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were to a wave of applause that takes an age to die down, it’s clear they’re entirely won over.
Over at West Holts, Black Midi are having a ball with their frenetic jazz racket. Geordie Greep (surely the greatest name in indie) keeps shouting “Cassanova, Cassanova” in a cod-Italian accent in between songs. They’re currently playing a sort of funk-metal track that sounds like Red Hot Chilli Peppers with a head concussion. Musically it’s about as self-indulgent as it gets, but great freakish fun, too.
Per Laura Snapes, Self Esteem is wearing a quite preposterous outfit: “Sort of a cross between Madonna’s cone bra and a satellite?? With nipples?” Pics to come!
Self Esteem, Guardian 2021 album of the year winner and one of the big must-watch sets of the weekend for many here, is just getting going over at the John Peel. Half of our cabin has headed over to watch her: she puts on a hell of a show.
Time for another fashion vox pop. Here’s the spectacular-looking group of Carly, 28; Nigel, 28; Rory, 27; Rian-Louise, 27 and Tara Davina, 26.
“The theme is Inter-gay-lactic, which is intergalactic with a gay spin: metallic space cadet sexiness. A lot of planning has gone into this, considering we got the tickets three years ago. It’s been a long time coming, this weekend. The other themes are Euphoria Fairy (after the TV show); then 1970s for Diana Ross – she deserves it. Give the queen her crown. We’re all Glastonbury virgins, it’s our first one. We’ve been taking our vitamins religiously so we stay smiling through the weekend. It’s way bigger than we expected. It’s crazy. It’s another world!”
Black Midi’s drummer Morgan Simpson has some serious chops. They just rattled off Welcome to Hell, the lead single from their upcoming album, Hellfire. It’s deeply strange – think King Crimson meets Cardiacs with a detour into thrash metal midway through – but deeply ace, too. You can watch on the iPlayer, FYI.
Black Midi, the hugely divisive – though to my mind, brilliant – avant garde art-rock band are tearing through a set on the West Holts stage. They sound heavy as hell, opening with the riff-fest 953 from their debut Schlagenheim.
Guardian fashion update: along with the obligatory bucket hat, this year’s must-have item is a 90s football kit, preferably of a lower league or European club. So far I’ve already seen Coventry City, Grimsby Town, Bradford City, Plymouth Argyle, this belter of a Sunderland away kit, Margate FC (sponsored by the Libertines, no less), Lazio, Borussia Mönchengladbach, at least three Benfica tops and a gorgeous Real Betis away kit. (For my part, I’m sporting the 1991 Wales away kit today.)
The football shirt dominance feels like a fairly recent development: there was a time, back when football fans felt from a very different world to festivalgoers, when rocking a football shirt at Glastonbury would have made you stick out like a sore thumb. But now there’s a bit more of a hipsterish credibility to rocking a slightly obscure kit – it’s replaced the band T-shirt. One problem though: those 90s ones are quite heavy on the polyester, about as unbreathable a fabric as you can get, so things are likely to get very sticky for the football hipsters in the dance tents this evening.
Skunk Anansie have just torn through Weak, prompting a big, big festival singalong. From the cabin I can report that Skin very much still has the range. Oof!
Wafting into our Guardian cabin right now is the ferocious sound of Skunk Anansie’s Other stage set. We’ll have a review later but for now please enjoy this picture of lead singer Skin’s magnificent get-up.
Time for a bit of Glasto fashion. Here’s Phil, 74, and quite a character:
“I have a tendency to be a bit flamboyant sometimes. I have a big bag of wigs. Tomorrow I’ll be dressed as Keith Flint. This outfit is for pulling women: they come up laughing and smiling and I show them the policeman’s hat and tell them: ‘Look ladies, this is serious now … I’m going to have to take down your particulars.’ You’ve got to have an edge. You’ve got to be a peacock, otherwise the birds fly away!”
Sad news: the BBC’s Lauren Laverne has pulled out of this year’s festival following the death of her mother. Laverne has always been a huge part of the Beeb’s Glastonbury coverage and will be much missed this year.
In case you missed it, here’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s review of another of Friday’s big hitters – Geordie troubadour powerhouse Sam Fender, who received the full 5 stars.
The Guardian’s David Levene was on the side of the stage to take pictures and was given this rather sharp Access All Areas pass, styled up like the home kit of Fender’s beloved Newcastle United.
Tara, our industrious voxpopper, is back at the front of the Pyramid stage asking the early birds who they’re here for.
“I’m here for Joy Crookes, she’s the person I’ve been most excited about on the line-up. I’m Bengali and she’s Bengali, I’m just so excited she’s on this stage! I’m not caffeinated yet, but I’ve got my spot here now – I’ll sort out the caffeine after.”
Sarah and Jane
Sarah: “This is always my favourite spot, I always stay here! But we’re not sticking around for Paul, we’re just waiting for Joy Crookes. We’ve got a busy schedule today. We want to dance tonight so we’ll be at Róisín Murphy.”
Erica and Mike
Mike: “I’ve never come to Glastonbury before, but it’s a very friendly place. I’m here to see Paul McCartney - he’s been the soundtrack to my life.”
Jamie and Rupert
Jamie: “It might be one of the greatest chances, seeing Paul McCartney in front of 200,000 people. Whether you’re seven or 70 it’s going to be an amazing show. We’re happy to wait literally 10 hours for him.”
Paul McCartney turned 80 last week, so Tara Joshi has been out asking the punters where they’d take him in Glastonbury to celebrate.
Alex Santos: “I would just bow to him! I would take him to the Park, the Stonebridge Bar, so he can relax.”
This just in from Tara Joshi: “Joy Crookes is crying on Pyramid Stage because she says it’s such a milestone for her career 🥺”
Yasmin Williams reviewed
Park stage, 11.30am
There’s tons of great bookings at this year’s Glastonbury, but special kudos to whoever booked Yasmin Williams to open the Park stage on Saturday lunchtime. She may not be a huge name (yet) but anyone who’s feeling a bit fragile can’t fail to be soothed by the Virginia guitarist’s magical and innovative style – not to mention her extremely good vibes as she sports a bandanna, a funky purple shirt and a huge grin. She lays her modified acoustic instrument across her lap and plays with an unusually percussive approach that sees her hammering the body and skittering her fingers up and down the neck. The result is so fluid and sparkling, it just pulses with life.
She creates acres of space, then fills it with busy refrains that reach ever skyward. Or she crafts sparkling, fraught, kaleidoscopic helixes of sound. Mostly it’s just Williams and her guitar, though she wields a hammer (a guitar-specific hammer, she assures us, having made the mistake of using an actual hammer in the past) for High Five, beating a gorgeous, reassuring swing out of her instrument. Restless Heart races and sprints, sped along with a cello bow. “This is the dopest festival I’ve ever been to!” she says at the end, addressing what’s hopefully a crowd of new converts feeling thoroughly restored by her blissful sound.
Andy Burnham at the Left Field
At a panel discussion entitled State of the Nation: Politics in Crisis in Glastonbury’s Left Field tent on Saturday, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called for a total rewiring of Britain’s political system. Burnham was met with rapturous applause from the biggest audience the tent has seen so far in 2022. He demanded: “Britain needs to gets rid of the old ways, get around a table and agree a programme for political change, a collaborative spirit. Then we’ll have a progressive government at the next general election.”
He added: “Good, safe housing should be a general rule in this country. Social care should be provided on NHS terms. And we need to renationalise rail and buses.” He also referenced the “silent mental health crisis - brought about by the nature of life now where people are worrying themselves to sleep”. Concluding, he said: “As our crises have got bigger, our politics has got smaller. If our political system was a computer, we’d have taken steps to stop it being hacked. We need to make power flow differently throughout the land.”
Hello, it’s Laura taking over from Gwilym for a bit. I’ve had some mezze and a small cry while watching the clouds go by on the Park stage, so you’re in ... semi-capable hands.
Les Amazones d'Afrique reviewed
Powerhouse West African supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique open day two of Glastonbury with a set that combines striking political activism with desert blues, dub, and crunchy, glitched-out electronics. These four women, who sing about the harsh realities of gender inequality and are vocal anti-female genital mutilation activists, are the perfect group to open the Pyramid Stage today, as is made clear early on in the set, when Fafa Ruffino issues a call to all the women in the audience. “You’ve got the power to change your life. You are strong, you are powerful … you are your own rock. It’s time to stand for your rights,” she tells the crowd. “We have been taught that we are roses, that we need protection. We don’t need anyone — you don’t need anyone’s protection!” Ruffino’s words have an emphatic, galvanising quality to them; standing, statuesque, in a flowing white jumpsuit, it’s almost as if she’s some kind of angel, here to bestow words of strength upon the audience.
Although they place an emphasis on the politics behind their songs, Les Amazones du Afriques are here to have a good time, too: Watching them dance together, cheer each other on, and compliment each others’ outfits is a blast, a little like watching four friends gas each other up before a night out. Shaking the early crowd from their bleary-eyed stupor, it’s a remarkable mix of sweetness, seriousness and technical skill.
Ukraine has of course been a recurrent topic at this year’s festival: you can’t go very far across the festival site without seeing a blue and yellow flag billowing in the wind. Before the Libertines’ Other stage-opening set yesterday, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy appeared on screen, asking festivalgoers for their support. Read all about it here:
John Peel stage
Opening the John Peel to a roar of solidarity and a sea of Ukrainian flags, Go_A arrive having blown away Eurovision in 2021 – they placed fifth with their track Shum and came in second place in the public vote. It was utterly brilliant and unlike anything else at the contest: a slow, keening vocal with flute pirouetting around it, it builds and builds in pace until it’s the kind of happy hardcore that kids jump around in car parks to.
They open with it here, but have bags of other strong material to follow up with. Resembling the proprietor of an exclusive Berlin sex dungeon and her security detail, Kateryna Pavlenko is dressed in an elaborate outfit that’s about 50% chainmail, 50% PVC. Her voice is really powerful: lilting but hard, with dextrous little trills between the beautifully hectoring long notes. Burly guitarist Ivan Hryhoriak plays enormous chords and chugging lines through a mainframe’s worth of electronic processing, giving a cyberpunk-hacker fury to their industrial dance tracks, while stupendously handsome flautist Ihor Didenchuk (also in Eurovision winners and Glastonbury giggers Kalush Orchestra) adds mystical melodies.
There’s plenty of audience participation: call and response, some HIIT-worthy bouncing dance moves led by Didenchuk, and then for their final song – in one of the best moments of the festival so far – we’re led in what Pavlenko calls a “Ukrainian ritual” and what British people call a circle pit. The vast John Peel tent fills with giant circles of hand-holding punters, dancing in rings until we are commanded to rave by Pavlenko. It’s a symbol of solidarity and communion, but also just euphoric – this was the kind of welcome that Glastonbury does at a temperature higher than any other festival.
Artists respond to Roe v Wade
Midway through an otherwise jolly first day of the festival, news broke that the US Supreme Court had overturned the constitutional right to abortion in the states. It was seismic news, and cast a bit of a pall over proceedings. Understandably there was a chorus of condemnation from artists, with Billie Eilish, Phoebe Bridgers and Idles all speaking out. You can read our news story about it all here:
SPOTTED: Pete Doherty, still wearing that strange druidic cape of his, has popped up at Hak Baker’s set on the Other stage, Laura Snapes reports. He’s rattled through a “fantastically shambolic” cover of A Message to You, Rudy. “He’s alive and kicking I’m telling ya!” Hak said of Pete.
Some Glastonbury-adjacent content: to celebrate the return of festivals after a couple of pandemic-disrupted years, the Guardian’s Saturday Magazine sent Rhik Samadder to sample six events in one long bank holiday weekend, taking in mosh pits, face-painting booths, massage parlours and the wild delights of Creamfields. I commissioned this one and can confirm that by the end of his jaunt he was a very broken man indeed!
Primal Scream reviewed
We’ll have some early reviews from today in a short while, but here’s one last review from Friday - Primal Scream’s headline set over at the John Peel ...
Thousands of 90s ravers, Glaswegians in kilts, indie lovers and Britpop officionados - Jarvis Cocker included - watched enthralled as Bobby Gillespie blew the roof off the John Peel stage on Friday night. Frontman Gillespie left his position as drummer of The Jesus and Mary Chain (who performed on the same stage an hour earlier) to form Primal Scream, a band that became a key part of the indie dance scene. In homage to their seminal 1991 album Screamadelica, he wore a suit, shirt and trousers featuring the cover design.
And proving his credentials as an iconic frontman of the genre (as if it were ever in doubt), Gillespie, backed by footage from classic movies including Clockwork Orange and Easy Rider, led his transfixed audience through a back catalogue of bangers. Upon reaching 1991 ballad Come Together, he declared “This song feels really relevant right now”, brought on a full gospel choir, and got the whole crowd singing along. We were then treated to a barnstorming rendition of Rocks Off, Loaded and finally Country Girl. Not a bad way to top off an unforgettable Day One.
Last night’s festivities culminated in a whopping great Pyramid set from Billie Eilish. The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis was there, and here’s his write up:
We’ve already had a pretty spectacular opening day at Worthy Farm. You can revisit it via our liveblog here, or if words aren’t your bag, here’s a rather lovely picture essay of the day:
Good morning, good morning and welcome back to the Guardian’s Glastonbury liveblog. Today’s a big one: Macca-day. Paul McCartney will be on the Pyramid stage at 9.30pm, flanked presumably by some massive guest stars. But that’s not all: there’s a host of other massive names, from Noel Gallagher to Olivia Rodrigo, also playing. Oh and Greta Thunberg is making an appearance on the Pyramid stage later this arvo! Stand by for news, reviews, pics, vox pops and much much more