That's all for this year!
And that’s it from me, at the end of another Glastonbury that contained multitudes. I hope you heard something you loved over the last three days, and the rest of the year brings you more pleasures. And now the countdown to Fleetwood Mac next year (will they?) begins. Thanks for your company, even when you disagreed with me. There’ll be loads of Glastonbury in tomorrow’s G2, words and pictures, so give it a look. Goodnight!
The Cure reviewed
Our own Alexis Petridis weighs in on the festival-closer by these goth-pop veterans.
Well, I could go on for hours – although perhaps the biggest story of this year’s Glastonbury was how they really grasped the scale of the climate crisis. Hannah Jane Parkinson’s feature on it is well worth reading.
Other highlights? Slowthai’s attempt to deal with Saturday’s heat … in nothing but his pants.
So that’s it for the big performances, although the debauchery and dancing goes on at least until sunrise. Highlights? Kylie’s showmanship – and the hits! – proved she deserves a promotion from legend slot to headline. Here’s Laura Snapes’ review from earlier in the day.
Janelle Monáe closed out the West Holts stage in a typically inspired outfit, looking like a deconstructed piano.
Brief Cure story. Some time in the late 90s I saw them at the Astoria. Before they came on, I was chatting for quite a long time to a chap in a hat that cast his face in shadow. He was very pleasant: we were just talking about this and that. Eventually, I asked: “What do you do?” He looked up, and said: “I’m Martin Gore. I write the songs for Depeche Mode.” And then he stormed off. The Cure were very good.
Last one of these. I absolutely promise. But overall QPR rating: Adel Taarabt. Sublime at times. Great finishing. But I was frustrated.
Christine and the Queens reviewed
It’s three years since Christine and the Queens made her Glastonbury debut on the Other stage, performing in a downpour hours after the Brexit bore came through and offering a radiant blast of European cosmopolitanism to a field of damp and downtrodden Brits. Since then she’s released her second album, Chris, a more challenging record than her self-titled debut and one that didn’t quite reach its predecessor’s commercial peak. But just as it took an appearance on this very stage to mint her star, so does her headline performance tonight galvanise the field: there’s the saucy funk of Girlfriend with its outrageous body rolls, the flowing bodily undulations of The Walker, and a refresh of Paradis Perdu that swaps its original sample of Kanye West’s Heartless for Luniz’s I Got 5 on It; her clear lineage to pop history, made manifest in a brief sample of Janet Jackson’s Nasty and a stunning a cappella rendition of Bowie’s Heroes.
I can’t lie – I’ve seen her do this show enough times that I could do the choreography, and I can’t dance. But every time, it yields something new: the dances are of course choreographed, as in any high concept pop show, but the emotion always feels immediate – the pain on her face during What’s Her Face, a song about being exiled by mainstream culture, the vulnerability she exudes when she removes her shirt, faces the back of the stage and flexes her back muscles in a balletic display of strength. She’s in tune with the festival’s spirit, too – she aptly labels it “Glastonfreaky”, says she’s been craving a return ever since 2016, and clubby closer Intranquilité is the perfect bridge for those heading to the South East corner for one last night of debauchery.
Sorry, was just fetching the pictures below while they raced through Why Can’t I Be You? like they were the Ramones, and finish with Boy’s Don’t Cry. That’s why the Cure are what they are: they can play a run of hits that rival anything you will hear at any festival. It reminds me of seeing Madness here a few years ago, and you realise how tightly wound they are into the fabric of British pop music. But what makes them loved profoundly by many – and I’m in the camp that knows how can great they be but does not love them – is the stuff that left me chilly, and means they are the hugest cult band in Britain, possibly the world. It’s an amazing thing, to generate love like that, but it is wonderful when they let absolutely everyone in with those incredible hits.
Here’s some more of David Levene’s pictures.
And Close to Me. The most sceptical must be won over by this rush of songs.
And now everyone in front of the Pyramid stage is dancing and singing, and even watching on television it’s electrifying: to see the faces of the crowd and the happiness on them is like a rush of joy. The interlocking guitars of Friday I’m in Love simply blossom, and you can feel the serotonin levels shoot off the scale.
And another of Christine …
A great Caterpillar and into The Walk. Like the Killers last night, the Cure are rolling out the big guns one after the other, and suddenly all the rest seems like the necessary preparation for the big release of joy.
And here’s a pic from Christine and the Queens’ set – the little bit of which I saw looked great.
“Ten minutes to put my pop head on,” says Robert Smith. Then after a pause says: “It’s difficult to translate what we do … But this is Glastonbury.” Suggesting half an hour of pop hits, beginning with the gorgeous Lullaby. Of course, what makes the Cure such a significant band is their ability to shuffle between songs that make a profound connection to the devoted and those the non-committed love. Smith’s remarks suggest maybe he found switching between the two tricky tonight.
The Streets reviewed
Sauntering on to the John Peel stage in an all-black tracksuit, Mike Skinner still exudes the excitable geezer vibe of his Original Pirate Material days – an everyman for the Carling-toting crowd. Launching into the UK garage-infused classics from that debut, Skinner sets the punishingly busy tent off into an immediate mosh pit, one that does not relent throughout their headline set.
Despite a supposed retirement in 2011, The Streets re-formed in 2018 and are on word-perfect form, Skinner’s now-gravelly voice shouting through numbers like his anti-mindfulness manifesto Geezers Need Excitement and Don’t Mug Yourself. The live band is a nice addition, embellishing sparse tracks like It’s Too Late and allowing Skinner the space to ad lib (mainly about said mosh pit) to the crowd and even have “the most chilled out crowdsurf” during sad-boy anthem Dry Your Eyes.
The momentum lags on the slower numbers though, especially the guitar-led balladry from 2011’s overly-introspective Computer and Blues. Instead, it’s the jumped-up energy of their breakout hit Fit But You Know It and dancefloor regular Has It Come To This which cements Skinner’s position as the pioneer of the lager-spraying school of UK hip-hop which has now spawned talents such as Slowthai. Skinner may be older and somewhat slower than his early-2000s heyday but it’s an aptly energetic close to the John Peel stage, providing enough enthusiasm for the punters to at least get through the gruelling journey home.
Shake Dog Shake sounding simply immense. Intoxicatingly good. I’m not going to retreat from saying it was a slow start, but this set is starting to fly for me now. Yes, I know it was flying for plenty of you earlier.
I’ve not seen any of Janelle Monáe’s set, but hearing great things about it. Looks like it was a bit of a spectacular, too.
And now the Cure are on to A Forest, which I would be happy to have last hours and hours, droning on brilliantly and moodily. I wonder if Wipers and the Cure were listening to each other, because A Forest sounds very much like what Greg Sage was doing several thousand miles away in Portland at the same time, this strange, haunted, arid music. QPR rating: Adel Taarabt.
South London rapper Flohio may be one of the most hyped by – ahem – metropolitan media types, but that doesn’t always translate into popularity. Up against other rap and hip-hop in the east side of the site, like Tion Wayne doing megahit Keisha and Becky about 50 metres away, and the Streets headlining the John Peel stage not too far beyond that, she’s got competition, and when I turn up there are about 12 people watching. She still gives it her all, throwing her expert club flow into a series of trap tracks underpinned with headnodding dub energy. By the time her track Bands comes round, she’s grown her crowd to 100 or so – still small beer, but the kind of performance whose word of mouth will keep her star rising.
Clearly, I’m in a minority among commenters (and Twitter people) in not thinking this is one of the great sets. *Shrugs* I can live with it. Again, I think it would be fantastic in an arena, surrounded by people who are really, really into it. I’m interested to see what the Guardian’s review will be like, whether it felt overwhelming in the crowd or not.
Dorian Lynskey interviewed Robert Smith for the Guardian when he curated Meltdown last year. Have a read if so you wish.
And now Just Like Heaven. The neutrals – yes, I am a neutral – are going to come back on board for this. The fact is that at festivals, hits buy you goodwill. Most of Disintegration doesn’t.
Back to the Cure for In Between Days, being taken at a brisk clip. And now there are flares alight in the crowd, and visible dancing a long way back. QPR rating: introduction of Bradley Allen as a late sub for Devon White.
If you want to read what Robert Smith’s week was like back when he was younger, try this diary piece he did for the late, lamented Flexipop.
Pictures of you
The Guardian’s David Levene was in the pit at the start of the Cure’s show.
Christine and the Queens on the iPlayer
I’ll be honest with you. I wanted something that sounded a little less like living in a damp bedroom in a shared house. Christine sounds sharp and tight. Pop that is seductive and disruptive, and lets you in even if you’re not a superfan. The cheers from the Other Stage are louder on the iPlayer than the ones from the Pyramid are on the telly.
I lost track of the set, because I was tying, but we’re back with a single, Fascination Street. Guess which album it’s from. Go on, guess.
OK, so here’s the question. What should bands do at festival headline sets? Should they do whatever they please, or should they play the hits, given the crowd is largely made up of the curious rather than the devoted. I used to think the former. More unpredictable, more exciting. I changed my mind at Glastonbury in 2016, standing in the mud, watching New Order, when they played a set that eschewed the hits until the end. Indoors, at a New Order show, I would have loved it. Outdoors, in a big crowd, I wanted to feel part of something bigger. And a set that delivers to the committed fans does not make you feel part of something bigger. I felt the same away when Springsteen played here – he shouldn’t have played a Boss set; he should have gone outright for everything that neutrals know, whether or not he wanted to – he should have given them Born in the USA and I’m on Fire and so on. Something can be brilliant and unsuited to its environment at the same time.
It’s back to Disintegration for Lovesong. I suppose it’s not surprising they’re leaning heavily on that album so far: they’ve been playing it in full in various places around the world. It’s a fan favourite, and it was their highest charting record. But this is shaping up to be a set that devotees hail as a masterpiece, while neutrals shrug. And Lovesong is followed by Last Dance from … Disintegration.
High gets a QPR rating of Jan Stejskal. Solid performer. Now on to A Night Like This, from The Head on the Door, which sounds fantastic. I bet the fans are in raptures: this isn’t a greatest hits set, but it’s creating a solid mood – not of euphoria, but a kind of relaxed intensity. Bet it sounds amazing just a bit stoned. This is swelling and flowing like an ocean. Giving it a QPR rating of Shaun Derry: deserves more recognition.
It all sounds lovely, but as Jeff observes: “They’re not giving it the full Kylie, are they?” Still, they’ve left Disintegration behind. High is from 1992’s Wish.
Behold Jeff Goldblum and his trousers and shirt. It will not surprise you to learn this man consults a stylist every day.
It’s a one-two from Disintegration, with Pictures of You. I was joking yesterday when I said I hoped he played two hours of the gloomy stuff.
I’m giving this opening duo a QPR rating of Simon Barker and Ian Holloway: solid, and they very much do a job, but the neutrals don’t come out for them.
Plainsong – the QPR rating:
Toni Leistner – solid, but lacking in pace.
Dave is a gifted storyteller. His set on the Other Stage kicks off with flames and bombast, but some of the most spine-tingling moments are when he’s at his most stripped-back – whether performing his profound, politically charged single Black against a monochrome backdrop, or delivering an impromptu motivational speech and a capella verse detailing his journey from selling mixtapes at school, to making his number one album, Psychodrama. A calm and crisp performer, his poignant lyricism can easily command the stage. But the set crescendoes with a run of three warm, melodic summer singles, perfect for the final night of this sweltering Glastonbury: Location, No Words, and his biggest hit to date, Funky Friday, featuring Fredo.
Unexpectedly, the set also turns in one of the best surprise guests of Glastonbury. Before performing his AJ Tracey collaboration Thiago Silva, Dave calls up to the stage a member of the crowd named Alex, who is wearing a Thiago Silva shirt and a bucket hat. Alex gets mic’ed up by the crew, and – improbably, as these stunts almost always end in secondhand embarrassment – knows every single word to the song, and performs it like a champ. The crowd is roaring, and it’s one of the most feel-good moments of the festival so far, to see a superfan performing side by side with his favourite artist. Props to Alex, who is definitely absolutely buzzing right now.
Obviously, I’ll be flipping between things, but in honour of Robert Smith’s support for QPR, I shall be rating each song I see as QPR player. Stan Bowles will be the highest rating, Shaun Wright-Phillips will be the lowest. As for the others, you’ll have to work out what I think from the name of the player concerned.
And they’re opening dark, with Plainsong, from Disintegration. One for the purists, rather than the people who want to hear the it (ie me).
Here’s a picture of Years and Years for you.
Those of you said it was Channel 4 in 1994 are right. But none of you got the right band. Let me hand you over to Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley: “We played Glastonbury. I didn’t go. It was the first one that was on telly, and we were the first band that appeared on telly from Glastonbury. That was a minor claim to fame. They were pretty good. Better than Marion. Marion went to introduce a new song with a long, rambling introduction. And they cut to an ad break, so you never heard the song. That was Marion doomed. You knew it wasn’t going to happen to them at that point.”
Vampire Weekend reviewed
The geeks will inherit the earth. A decade on from when many assumed their natural sell by date would be, Vampire Weekend are the last blog rock band standing. Second down on the Pyramid stage seems a unlikely space for a band whose brand of studied naffness bears no relation to much of the rest of this year’s line up – and yet here we are. The further they shift away from current trends – latest album Father of the Bride is their uncoolest yet – the more popular they become.
Of course, it helps that they’re a pretty formidable live band – precise and buzzing with energy. A-Punk and Cousins are irrepressibly busy bounce-alongs and the new tracks – Harmony Hall in particular – slot in seamlessly. Even their lamest indulgence – a duelling guitar solo – makes a strange amount of sense.
Kamasi Washington reviewed
Much has rightly been said this festival of the new British jazz scene, but unquestionably the hottest star in jazz right now is Kamasi Washington. Two years ago, he played a mid-afternoon slot on West Holts, now he’s been elevated to second on the bill, and as the sun sets the LA saxophonist and his band provide a perfect scene – storming to a close with a Fists of Fury that is a funky as any blaxploitation cut, politically charged and as all-round magnificent as any big band could hope to sound in 2019. Roll on a headline slot next time round.
Friendly Fires reviewed
Glasto 2019 has been a vintage year for mid-2000s indie bands: The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Foals and Interpol have all played to the masses, and now it’s the turn of Friendly Fires, another band who have managed to transcend that era of indie student discos, hanging around Camden, and poring over NME. Their tropical pop-euphoria is just the kind of sundown set that’s needed after a weekend of having it in the dank South East Corner.
There are flavours of Chic by way of George Michael (there’s a lot of George Michael) with plenty of sexy sax and congas. New track Heaven Let Me In – from their just-announced album, Inflorescent – is another blissful homage to uplifting house, like the riff on Jamie Principle’s Your Love that made their name. And their old emo-Balearic hits like Jump in the Pool and Paris still sound suitably epic and as bright as their Hawaiian shirts.
Ed Macfarlane, meanwhile, is an underrated frontman – he’s got crystal-clear pipes and excellent trouser-snake moves, as during Jump in the Pool when he wiggles his hips to fanatical screams. It does make you wish more people threw shapes like that on stage and looked as if they were truly in the moment.
They end on Kiss of Life, another glorious reminder that Friendly Fires are the party band you almost forgot you needed in your life. But they’re back, and more brilliant than ever.
So, BBC Two has now gone live, with highlights from earlier, as we wait for the Cure. And here are some top Cure facts:
1: Robert Smith doubles up as the artists Bob and Roberta Smith.
2: Simon Gallup’s dad set up the Gallup polling company, and for several years the Cure chose their singles based on private polling from the Gallup organisation.
3: Boris Johnson started calling himself Boris, rather than Alexander, in tribute to 80s Cure drummer Boris Williams.
I’m now in Jeff’s kitchen. That’s how seamless this operation is. You didn’t even notice I’d gone, did you?
Little Simz reviewed
With the release of her third album, Grey Area, this year at the age of only 25, Little Simz has marked herself out as a prodigiously talented rapper and storyteller, specialising in verbally dexterous, introspective verses that take in everything from mental health to gender politics.
It is testament to the broad musical span of her releases – including the likes of trap-influenced bass to soulful melodies and dancefloor-focused rhythms – that her crowd at the Park stage is one of the most pleasingly diverse of the festival.
Backed by a full band and dressed in white, Simz’s set is polished and muscular, featuring most of the tracks from Grey Area. Highlights come on the gunshot verbal scatter of Venom, the sweetly melodic Selfish and early cut God Bless Mary, dedicated to Simz’s nextdoor neighbour who tolerated her loud, late-night early bedroom productions.
The show takes an incongruous turn when Simz takes up a bass to play along to her DJ’s selections of Erykah Badu’s Bag Lady and the Notorious BIG’s Juicy, dissipating the crowd’s energy. Yet, things soon pick up with the gospel-backed Flowers and here Simz demonstrates the wide-ranging talent of today’s British rap. It is a field that has space and, crucially, an audience for everything from Stefflon Don’s tongue-in-cheek sauciness to Slowthai’s hedonism and Simz’s pensive lyricism.
I don’t think there’s any great secret to Dave’s success: he’s smart, raps well, he’s approachable and relatable, and he’s got some great hooks. He maybe doesn’t have the same level of charisma as Stormzy, but I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to see him top of the bill on one of the big stages next year.
OK, here’s a quiz question. Who were the first band ever to be shown live from Glastonbury on television?
Tweet me your answers, to @michaelahann
In case you wanted to read more about Dave, here’s an interview with him from earlier this year, by Miranda Sawyer.
It was really good of Miley Cyrus to get Fields of the Nephilim up on stage with her (ask your granddad, or anyone who worked for Melody Maker in the 1980s).
Really pleased to see overwhelmingly positive thoughts about Billie Eilish in the comments. I think she’s great.
Turned over to Dave, just in time for 100 Ms, which – pop fans – had a video filmed in the streets around my house, and extensive segments filmed in Phoenicia, the excellent Middle Eastern deli on Kentish Town. I commend to you their whole roasted chickens, their baklava, their spinach flatbreads, their excellent range of pastas, and much more besides. I don’t know if Dave tried the chicken when they filmed the video.
That’s the end for Vampire Weekend, so I’ve popped over for a look at Kamasi Washington. Honestly, I’m unlikely to be hanging around long. I can see he’s brilliant, but it doesn’t really float my boat. I went to see him earlier this year, and was slightly horrified that we got a six-hour drum battle in the middle of the set. Not least because talk of drum battles reminded me of my horrific experience interviewing Ginger Baker on stage, when he replied to my first attempt at conversation with: “That’s a fucking stupid question.”
More of my wife's encounters with the stars
Yesterday I gave you the story of Chris Martin and the KP crisps at London Zoo. Today, the tale of Miley Cyrus’s first gig in London. She was appearing at Koko, in a filmed Hannah Montana special, and I procured two tickets for my wife and daughter (I must have been watching some tawdry indie band in a pub), and along they went. When they got home, my wife reported that they had been ushered to the VIP area, where she spent the evening chatting some old fella who seemed to have brought along his granddaughter. He must have been famous, she said, because people kept coming up to him and being very respectful. She described him, and I Googled some photos and showed her. “Yes, that’s him.” “That’s PETE BLOODY TOWNSHEND! How can you have spent the evening talking to PETE BLOODY TOWNSHEND without recognising him?”
Here’s someone famous watching Billie Eilish.
Billie Eilish reviewed
There’s an knowing wink in the Stella McCartney outfit that Billie Eilish wears to take to the Other stage, with the Beatles’ logo emblazoned on her back. Greeted by a crowd of fizzing, enraptured teenage girls, she wastes no time launching into one of her most snarling singles right out of the gate: Bad Guy is an incongruous goth-pop rager, which partway through flips into a chopped and screwed coda. The moment she embodies the transition, fixing the crowd with intense eye contact, is magnetic. And that’s just the first song.
Eilish was bumped up to the Other stage in recognition of the fact that the last two years have been explosive for her, going from the viral Soundcloud hit Ocean Eyes to her massive 2019 debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go. Her strange allure is the way she can flip seamlessly from maximal rage to quiet intimacy. She’s captivating when she lies motionless on the ground, singing the distorted and sleepy When I Was Older, just as she is when she’s leaping around and kicking the air to the drop in Bellyache. And, after a set full of gnarly moshing, it’s surreal to watch her play the song that started it all, Ocean Eyes – a gentle whisper of a ballad.
The mood is momentarily sad when she expresses a moment of jealousy of the crowd, saying: “This looks fun to go to – I would love to go to this shit, my God.” Still only 17, she’s coming of age under scrutiny, and will possibly never get to experience what it’s like to attend a festival like Glastonbury as anything other than a celebrity. But throughout the rest of the set, it’s heartwarming to see the obvious joy she takes performing with her brother, Finneas O’Connell (who writes and produces all of the music with her). She wields her mic like a rock icon, styles herself like an emo SoundCloud rapper, and sings like an angelic indie songwriter – but unmistakably, performs with the pull and charisma of a pop star.
My kids often tell me, a ginger man, “Gingers have no soul.” Vile little sods. Well, if you don’t love Diane Young, YOU HAVE NO SOUL.
Glastonbury's best outfits: Fran
“Our outfit co-ordination started a few months ago. We all live in south London, we were going to Glastonbury, we knew Kylie would have the best dancing, so we had a fight over who got to be Kylie. Part of me thought it was because I was the short girl but I like to think it was because I was the fiercest. My costume was easy, the Internet sells this shit. The hardest was the backing dancers – guys were trying to borrow red dresses they couldn’t fit into, a teacher taped acetate sheets to her head. We tried to plan a dance routine and we settled on Steps’ Tragedy but a bit more wavy. We were about 10 rows back. I claimed that Especially for You was dedicated to me. My friends said it really fucking wasn’t. Pushing to the front is so much easier in costumes – people are like, you dick! Then they see your costume and welcome you through. The only other people wearing it I’ve seen have been very camp men.”
Vampire Weekend are doing my favourite song of the year so far, Harmony Hall, the only song that crosses early Fairport Convention with Italo House. Can I be honest with you? This song makes me cry. It really does, every time. I have tears in my eyes right now.
Sadly, Vampire Weekend are ignoring my sage advice and have gone into New Dorp. New York. NO JAMMING!
Laura Snapes reports that the Other stage is “insanely busy” for Billie Eilish. While we’re on the subject of teenage pop, readers last night might recall my mention of my son’s “drill crew”, Dartmouth Spartanz. He wanted me to mention his “OG Spartan” Hugo – this is not a crew who are going to strike fear into the gangs of north London – and makes this baffling observation: “DARTMOUTH SPARTANZ C TOWN HOLD IT DOWN BABY RUNNING SHIT IN THE NORTHWEST NO CAP 6 2”. Evs, sonny.
Stefflon Don reviewed
Rapper Stefflon Don, whose song titles include Tight Nooki and Lil Bitch, is maybe not who you’d expect to be following the mum-friendly singer-songwriter Tom Walker, but such is the near-random nature of the programming on the John Peel stage. With the Walker fans far from the vicinity, Don starts her set to a criminally small crowd – one of the sparsest I’ve seen on a main stage all weekend. No matter though as she shells the front rows with venomous lines taken from her two mix tapes and last year’s debut EP, Hurtin’ Me.
The sub-rattling French Montana-featuring title track of that EP is a highlight of the set – Don’s most recognisable tune and one which she performs accompanied by a slick dance routine in front of the gargantuan mirrored lettering of her name. The only setback is that since so many of her tracks are guest verses on other artists’ releases – Shot and Wine with Sean Paul, Bum Bum Tam Tam with J Balvin and Future – her otherwise smooth flow lags as she waits for her bars to come along.
As she closes her set, though, the tent is three-quarters full, the bemused crowd hanging off her every word on the dick-pic-inspired Ding-a-Ling. Don can scatter through grime, wile out to dancehall and put on a dance routine to rival tonight’s Other stage headliners Christine and the Queens. She is one of British rap’s most captivating new talents.
Here’s a picture of Billie Eilish at the Other stage.
I’m just praying the constraints of a festival set mean Vampire Weekend decide to drop the Horchata/New Dorp. New York medley they’ve been doing for the last year or so, because – to be honest – it’s bloody endless, testament to the eternal desire of American bands to unleash their inner Grateful Dead. I suspect now they’ve got Brian Robert Jones playing lead guitar – and he can, like, really play, maaaan – they feel the need to give him some chance to show off. Don’t do that. Play the songs! It’s all about the songs! NO JAMMING!
I’ve switched over from Billie Eilish to Vampire Weekend, who I think are one of the great modern guitar pop groups. I think they are funny, tuneful and clever, and that’s quite enough for me. Also, I think they are good guys. They headlined End of the Road last year, a gig that was supposed to have postdated the release of their new album. Obviously, the album didn’t arrive in time, but they still came over to Europe to do that one-off show, at a festival that can’t afford to pay huge fees – my bet is they lost money on honouring that booking. So all hail to them. It also had one of my favourite festival moments, when some kids at the front were pleading to come up on stage. Ezra Koenig, laughing, helped them up, and said they could sing Wolcott to close the show. At which point it became apparent that they had no idea about any Vampire Weekend songs, which Koenig thought was hilarious. One of the kids was in a wheelchair, and just did wheelies back and forth across the stage. It was great. Here’s the Guardian’s VW interview from last week.
The Good, the Bad & the Queen reviewed
As Glasto this year has shifted focus to the climate emergency, there has only been a whiff of political skewering from the performers in 2019. Stormzy wore a stab vest for his headline show; Joe Goddard shouted “Fuck Boris” at the end of Hot Chip’s set; there are a few other examples here and there; but it does feel a bit like the malaise has well and truly set in.
Damon Albarn senses this and uses his show with The Good, the Bad & the Queen to remind people not to lose faith. “Three years ago we came here and opened on the Friday with the Syrian National Orchestra. It was the Friday after the referendum, and we were really shocked. It became a mission to work out what’s going on here.”
“We didn’t engage with it enough,” he says. “So, simply: don’t give up politics. You might give up on politicians but don’t give up on democracy itself,” before launching into deranged vaudevillian dub tune The Truce of Twilight.
It was to be expected from a band – comprised of, among others, Paul Simonon of the Clash and the godfather of Afrobeat, Tony Allen – whose last album was on the theme of Brexit. The group marries Albarn’s two majors – Britishness and African music – with a rowdy Dickensian flair, Albarn as the Artful Dodger acting up to the crowd. It’s fun to see him being cocky, as if he has a new lease of life, and amusing to see how his bandmates blithely ignore his antics – falling down to the floor in mock shock being one.
But then he is serious again. “Interesting fact,” he says. “Do you know what they call England in Iran? Englishtan. Fill in the rest of the essay. Can’t have any of that terrible xenophobic attitude in England. This is been a great festival to dispel that,” and then he plays a “healing song for a healing festival”, the Dylanesque acoustic number Ribbons.
He’s right: it’s been the most diverse Glastonbury yet, and it’s all the better for it.
Here’s a nice pic of Kylie and Nick Cave discussing which battered halloumi stall they think is better.
OK, here’s the plan, and it’s one I’ve carried out before. So I know it works. I’m going to be on my sofa until nine. But Sunday night is the evening I go to the pub with my friend Jeff. Always. Unless he’s in court on the Monday morning (he’s a barrister, not a criminal). Obviously, taking my laptop to the pub would be a little impractical. So instead, at nine, I will be taking a five minute break and walking round to his house, where I will set up again, and drink his beer, and eat the remains of whatever takeaway he and his family had earlier (the problem with liveblogging is that you can’t stop to make your tea). So this is, genuinely, the only TWO LOCATION GLASTONBURY LIVEBLOG in British media. And do they ever give me prizes for this groundbreaking approach to journalism? Do they buffalo!
Billie Eilish is doing Wish U Were Gay now, which is the single song with the biggest discrepancy between the awfulness of the title and the goodness of the song of the entire year. And also the one I compared to Cole Porter.
Shamed by Kylie!
I had to review Kylie doing a little club show at Cafe de Paris not very long ago, when she launched her country album. I was sitting in the balcony, scribbling in my notebook as she sang. She was, I guess, 20 feet away. Now, when arena stars go to clubs, they don’t usually change their gestures. They’re still projecting to somewhere 100 yards away. And they do all the big point-and-wave gestures they do to anonymous space in arenas, except in a club, there’s actually someone there. I looked up from my notebook, having been scribbled, to be confronted with Kylie doing the arena point-and-wave. At me. With all the people on the floor, turning to see what she was pointing and waving at. It was EXCRUCIATING. Not least because I wasn’t wearing any glitter or feathers.
Battered halloumi reviewed!
Rounding off my Glastonbury Gastodyssey with that classic, super healthy festival snack, battered halloumi – and because I’m a food geek, I got two from competing stalls, just to nitpick. Number one, from the English Indian, is encased in featherlight pakora batter and stayed nice and juicy though I’m deducting points for the sweet chilli sauce because Kylie or not, it’s not 1997. Opposite, Mr Hamid served his with pomegranate molasses and mint, which makes them definitely post-Ottolenghi, but the fries themselves were a bit overcooked and tough. Still feel pretty lucky, lucky, lucky though! Off to have a heart attack on the train home – see you next year!
It’s Sunday night, England have won the cricket, I’ve been dozing most of the day (couldn’t sleep last night: too hot, or I was buzzing too hard after watching the Killers on TV. You decide), but now I’m here for five hours of watching the television with you. You can tweet me your observations: @michaelahann. Or you can just watch TV. At the moment, I’ve got Billie Eilish on the iPlayer – her album is pretty great, so have a look. Though I accept that comparing her to Cole Porter in print, which I did, was perhaps pushing it.
Glastonbury's best dressed
Thanks to everyone I spoke to for my tour of Glastonbury’s fashion – we’re ending on a high with Ian Kenton and his mankini.
“I got this from Amazon. There’s been a lot of selfies. I had to get a bumbag because I have no pockets. The festival is one of the times I work really hard – we do the sound and light. We were all meant to wear outfits like this – but no one else got the memo.”
Miley Cyrus reviewed
The narrative around Miley Cyrus has always been about how she picks up one sound – hip-hop, pure pop, gnarly authenticity – and then “rejects” it as she moves on to the next thing. Her current styling is “hard rock karaoke at a gritty midwest bar”, and she has her fair share of grungy belters, but her latest EP also features a fairly self-explanatory rap track called Catitude that she performs while crawling across the Pyramid stage, and that you imagine was written expressly in the hope of scoring a Drag Race sync.
At this point in her mercurial, often controversial career, it’s pretty clear that these things reflect the many multitudes of Miley, who stomps around the Pyramid stage in wet-look leather and a tiny skin-tight vest, yet spouts new-age wisdom (“the Killers fucking rocked and it scared the fuck out of me, but I ask the universe every day, show me something that scares the fuck out of me”) and cries as she sings The Most, a song about her mum.
The glorious thing about Miley is that she doesn’t really make any sense, and her chaotic energy is the thing that binds it all together and keeps everyone goggling even when she makes moves that would traditionally result in shedding followers – the Pyramid field is packed, surprisingly. She covers Amy Winehouse and Dolly Parton, brings out her dad Billy Ray and rapper Lil Nas X for the latter’s Old Town Road, and wears a lilac wig to play On a Roll, the “hit” from the episode of Black Mirror where she plays ill-fated pop star Ashley O. Played half in its original synth-pop style, half as the Nine Inch Nails song it riffs on, it becomes a hard-rock battering ram yowled so mightily that she makes Steven Tyler sound like Aled Jones. As insane as it is brilliant.
Miley Cyrus lets Lil Nas X do his new single Panini, which sadly isn’t about the very bad mozzarella paninis you can buy over near the Other Stage. It’s reminiscent of when Pharrell awkwardly played Move That Dope a couple of years back – the folding chair-toting masses aren’t massively familiar with US rap bangers.
It allows Miley a chance to change into a new outfit – of her Black Mirror character Ashley O – to perform On a Roll, which interpolates Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole. She then reverts back to her earlier outfit to cover the original in full. And then does Wrecking Ball. A totally blockbuster ending.
Tom Walker reviewed
Another day, another bewilderingly massive singer-songwriter at the John Peel stage, though Tom Walker’s syrupy sad-lad balladry couldn’t be further from the chirpy folk of Gerry Cinnamon. That said, the Glaswegian by way of Manchester balladeer is a sensible fit for Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury, a time when the prospect of a return to stultifying normality is casting a deep pall over punters. Most are here to wallow in the gloom of Leave the Light On (241m listens and counting on Spotify), a maudlin but sincerely felt ballad about a friend’s drug addiction. Walker is stronger when he sticks to this sort of lived experience – it’s when he aims for state-of-the-nation stuff that things go badly wrong. “This is my middle finger in the air to the news,” he says, introducing Dominoes, a muddled broadside against the mainstream media that feels like an unintended companion piece to David Brent’s Equality Street.
Taking Glastonbury to the Old Town Road
Miley Cyrus just played a cover of Jolene, by her godmother Dolly Parton, then rolled into Party In the USA, and then brought out her dad Billy Ray and Lil Nas X to do Old Town Road. Incredible scenes!
Five stars for Kylie's performance
Laura Snapes has done us a five-star review of Kylie’s performance, concluding thus: “The showmanship, the incredible run of hits – it is absolutely phenomenal. So much so that the crowd keep bursting into chants of “Kylie! Kylie!” and bringing her to tears. Never mind the legends slot; next stop, headliner.”
Loyle Carner is picking up the anti-Boris baton from Stormzy and running with it. He wore a T-shirt that read I Hate Boris, and ended his set by saying: “My name is Loyle Carner. Fuck Boris Johnson. Thank you!”
Miley Cyrus is giving the Pyramid stage a potty-mouthed pep talk. “In many ways, this show has changed my fucking life drastically, a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice,” she tells the Pyramid stage crowd, adding that she saw the Killers last night on telly. “They fucking rocked, so it scared the shit out of me. You know what? I ask the universe every day: give me something that scares the fuck out of me, and I’m going to fucking do it. So today, that’s motherfucking Glastonbury.”
Here’s the view from the – extremely large – crowd for Kylie.
Miley Cyrus has taken to the Pyramid stage, and kicks off with Mark Ronson collabo Nothing Breaks Like a Heart, joined by Mark Ronson on guitar. With wet-look trousers and cap plus a vast Chanel pendant, the look is very much “raunchy traffic cop”. Miley’s, not Mark’s.
Glastonbury's best dressed
Ashuvini Mahendraun: “I like catsuits – I have three with me for this trip. They’re really good for hot weather. I go to a lot of festivals - I went to Primavera earlier this year – but I don’t wear these kinds of things at other festivals. It’s more T-shirt and shorts. At Glastonbury everyone is a bit more out there.”
Fat White Family reviewed
Fat White Family look like they’ve been at Glastonbury since at least last Tuesday when they take the stage at the Park, but then Fat White Family always look like that: sleazy but chic. Like all the best bands, they give the impression of being fellow reprobates well met, the last gang in town.
Easing themselves into their set like they’re easing themselves into a spandex trouser suit, they slowly pick up the pace and by the time they hit Feet, the crowd squinting through the late afternoon haze are firmly into their stride too. One of the singalong moments of the festival comes with the chorus of one of their big tunes, Touch the Leather. It might make more sense to see them in the small hours in Shangri-La, but anyone who has got lost en route to or from Kylie and ended up here by mistake will be taking away some kind of strange but important life lessons.
Glastonbury's best dressed
Eve Lazarus: “These leggings are from Puckoo Couture, a Bristol designer, and I got the earrings from a market stall. The rest of it is Pretty Little Thing, I got told at the last minute I had to wear green. I usually wear a lot more colour and when I am not wearing colour, I don’t feel like myself. Amy Winehouse said the same thing about her beehive.”
Met with equal parts bafflement and joy over on the Other stage, it’s kawaii metal group Babymetal!
Here’s another shot of Kylie and Nick Cave. *Screams in gothic*
This is a fantastically buoyant and brilliant performance by Kylie, and clearly an emotional one after she had to pull out in 2005 following a breast cancer diagnosis. Chris Martin covered Can’t Get You Out of My Head that year with Coldplay, and so there was a poignant edge to his guest appearance today.
Revelry and rebellion: is this the greenest Glastonbury yet?
All weekend Hannah Jane Parkinson has been looking at how Glastonbury is addressing the climate emergency.
Kylie update: she’s had another costume change and is now wearing a gold glittery number while rattling through Better the Devil You Know.
Bring Me the Horizon review
The angular-haired pop-metal posers have upped their game since they played Glastonbury’s Other stage three years ago. They are by now Britain’s biggest metal band, as well as the festival’s token heavy main stagers. Their show is arena-sized, with a catwalk along the back for them to grind their axes along and Janet Jackson-rivalling dancers, who mosh around the musicians, and a song in which they appear to duet with the film character The Crow, who looms on the visuals behind.
But though they have the heaviness to reign supreme in the metal world, they also have an appealing commercial edge, straying into EDM at points. As such they seem seem stuck between the two realms, perhaps condemned to the Other stage for life. Their show, with the bombast of Queen, is a spectacle at least. Maybe next year the Pyramid could be theirs.
Chris Martin joins Kylie on stage!
Another special guest over on the Pyramid: Chris Martin has joined Kylie’s backing band, strumming away on an acoustic guitar for I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head!
The Coldplay star appeared with Stormzy during the grime star’s Friday Pyramid headline set.
Jeff Goldblum reviewed
Ben Beaumont-Thomas just watched Jeff Goldblum charm the pants off the West Holts and had a fun time, even if the Jurassic Park star’s ivory-tinkering left something to be desired:
Goldblum himself plays the piano like a man driving an unfamiliar hire car away from an airport, peering at his sheet music and poking experimentally at chords. But he is game enough to admit his own frailties. “I’m known for the glissando,” he says wryly; he relies on cascading note runs, one-note solos and vamping chords rather than virtuosity. But his magnetism is its own instrument. As his band close out with the Jurassic Park theme, the crowd at the West Holts stage has swelled massively, everyone basking in a beam of starlight.
Glastonbury flags – ranked!
Flags. Glasto’s got a ton of them. Plenty are bad but some are worth your attention. Here are a few of our faves from this year:
Nick Cave is on stage with Kylie!
As widely hoped, Nick Cave has joined Kylie for the pair’s sensual and dark duet, Where the Wild Roses Grow. The pair enjoy a light canoodle midway through. Phwoar!
Within about five minutes Kylie has declared herself speechless, brought out a Klaus Nomi lookalike and is already on to her second costume change - from silky white trousers to a ritzy red dress.
Georgia on Left Field and Love Island
Time for another of our artist Q&As. This time it’s multi-instrumentalist Georgia, who tells Kate Hutchinson about coming to Glastonbury aged seven (her dad was in Left Field!) and a close encounter at this year’s fest with a Love Islander:
NYC Downlow celebrates Stonewall
NYC Downlow, Glastonbury’s venerable gay club, has been commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots at this year’s festival. Alex Needham spoke to its creators about what they had in store, including – rather wonderfully – a communal listen to Somewhere Over the Rainbow:
Judging from the hearty roar we just heard in the Guardian Glasto office, Kylie has emerged on the Pyramid stage.
In previous years, grime and UK rap has often been confined to a particular corner of Glastonbury. This year, it’s joyful (and pretty tiring on the legs) to discover that there’s a huge variety of rap artists spread across the whole site. There’s scarcely a stage that hasn’t seen a moshpit this weekend – yesterday Slowthai was demanding his crowd create the biggest of the festival at West Holts, and today Octavian was insisting that his at John Peel had to be even bigger. But perhaps unlike other rappers on the bill, Octavian’s dreamlike music isn’t always the most obviously mosh-able.
Drenched in acid trip-emulating cartoon visuals and delivering elegiac auto-tuned vocals over skippy beats, Octavian’s mid-afternoon set had a “heartbroken in the rave” vibe. At one point, he announced that he broke up with his girlfriend last week, and got everyone in the crowd who’s going through a break-up to give a mournful cheer. His vocals shone on sad bangers from his most recent mixtape, Endorphins, but the true highlights of the set were his off-kilter breakthrough hit Party Here (including his lithe, wiry footwork) and the boisterous Skepta-featuring single Bet – a song so infectious that even the security staff were spotted skanking.
Self Esteem reviewed
Freed from the shackles of indie also-rans Slow Club, Rebecca Taylor is now known as Self Esteem, and specialises in emotionally lacerating DIY pop. If in her previous life she was in the shadows, here she’s gloriously front and centre, rolling through tight choreography with her two backing singers while wearing a sequinned bra and an oversized lilac suit.
Steady I Stand, like most of the songs on debut Compliments Please, starts small before morphing into an anthemic chorus skyrocketed by Taylor’s swollen vocals. Girl Crush, meanwhile, is a 60s girl-group bop updated for 2019 complete with choreographed handclaps, while the urgent In Time (“I’m going to get drunk and slag you off then go home and eat my feelings”) morphs hip-hop’s booming beats into something endearingly lo-fi.
A sweaty set ends with The Best, a throbbing electro stomper revolving around the chorus: “I did the best that I could babe.” You did more than that, if anything.
Ocean Wisdom reviewed
Ocean Wisdom is a man of firsts: he’s the first rapper to dethrone Eminem as the fastest MC in the world and he’s possibly the first rapper to get his name from a 90s indie band. He tells a story about how his parents came to Glastonbury in 1992 and liked Ocean Colour Scene so much that they gave their son the same name.
Ocean’s sound throws the old-school back to the future. He raps like a cross between a junglist MC and Busta Rhymes, over beats that hark back to the golden era of UK hip-hop (think Roots Manuva), drum’n’bass and Boy Better Know-era grime instrumentals. But while the tunes are decent and he’s drawn a large crowd to Sonic stage, his rapid-fire delivery can come off, at times, as jibberish wibbling away over a party track. And while he brings on a hype man to help out, he lacks stage presence of some of his peers (he shouts out Stormzy) – his set comes off a little like People Just Do Nothing. It’s a promising debut at Glasto, but there’s work to do before he gets anywhere near the Pyramid stage.
George Ezra interviewed
Time for another of our occasional catch-ups with the stars performing at this year’s festival. George Ezra spoke to Jenny Stevens about how nice his tent is and why he’s not ready to headline Glasto just yet:
Environmental protests, blunts in the air, roots reggae chirruping over the park: its almost as if it’s 1970, except that Koffee is completely of her time. The young Jamaican star brings playful, combative rap energy and nifty electronic sheen to her debut Glastonbury performance, unspooling her wickedly tangled flow so vigorously that she appears to vibrate, a wiry thing in sleek black Nike. Her revolutionary spirit is also totally of her generation, not focusing on governments and politics but existential stresses: in Jamaica, she tells us, obstacles in life are known as pressure, the name of a song that has the same sense of lived-in stress as anything off Rihanna’s Anti. “We all have to make it, she insists in a laid-back acoustic number that she describes as “a cry for the youth”. She has songs for their triumphs, too: Blessings shimmers with joy, as does Koffee when the crowd sing every word back at her. Another career-making Glastonbury performance.
David Attenborough praises Glastonbury for going plastic-free
And here is our report of David Attenborough’s appearance on the Pyramid stage, with some more detail on Glastonbury’s plastic-free initiative:
Jeff Goldblum's charm offensive
Over on the West Holts stage Ben Beaumont-Thomas is watching Jeff Goldblum’s jazz set. He’s not even started yet and he’s already killing it, it seems:
Jeff Goldblum is just doing his soundcheck and he already has the crowd in the palm of his hand: he’s fielded questions on his zebra trousers, flirted outrageously with Kate the TV runner, and sung La Marseilleise. His mic gets cut off ahead of the performance – the crowd respond with boos, then chants of “we want Jeff!”, and then the Jurassic Park theme. Banter levels are already dangerously spiking.
David Attenborough – recapped
Laura Snapes was at the Pyramid for David Attenborough’s rockstar appearance, and here are her first impressions:
There’s almost a Corbyn-sized crowd assembled for David Attenborough, but where the atmosphere for the Labour leader was one of punk community, the vibe today is more reverent – a moment of respect for the nature we’re losing thanks to human destruction, for sure, but also for Attenborough, this single-minded constant in everyone present’s lives, from the infants to the elderly. His speech is brief but powerful, highlighting humankind’s relative insignificance in comparison to its massive footprint, and the comparatively little effort – à la Glastonbury’s plastic-free initiative – it takes to make a difference.
Here’s the trailer for One Planet: Seven Worlds for those at home.
Attenborough announces One Planet: Seven Worlds, a new BBC TV series aimed at fighting climate change. And now we have a trailer from the programme.
And with that he’s off! A short but sweet appearance from the broadcasting veteran.
Attenborough is talking about Blue Planet 2 and the scene where the damage done by plastic to the ocean was starkly shown. He thanks Glastonbury for removing all plastic from the festival and the attendees for using less plastic themselves.
David Attenborough speaks on the Pyramid stage
In voiceover David Attenborough asks the assembled to “listen to the songs of the ocean depths”, followed by some rather soothing whale noises.
A huge roar greets his arrival to the stage. Shades of Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 here.
Years and Years review
Opening with a snippet of portentous dialogue from Dame Judi Dench and a burst of glittery ticker tape feels like the perfect encapsulation of Years and Years’ highfalutin’ but banger-loaded synth-pop. This is also pop music with a message. The opening Sanctify, about frontman Olly Alexander’s toxic liaisons with straight men, is augmented by messages from trolls such as “Why does he have to be so gay?” and “Anybody cringe at the gayness?” flashing up on the screens. That the song’s central lyric is “I won’t be ashamed” says it all.
From there it’s a quick sprint through the undeniable Shine and recent album Paolo Alto’s highlight Karma, Alexander slinking around the stage in what looks like a tartan S&M two piece complete with LOVE choker. When the jacket comes off to leave a mesh vest and bare chest before gay sex anthem Meteorite, the crowd whoop in approval. “Ahh thanks,” Alexander laughs, his euphoria at being a pop star palpable.
Later he’ll suggest he wants to bathe everyone, before a lovely piano-led Eyes Shut causes an outbreak of swaying. Then he announces his loosely buttoned trousers are about to come off before a suitably sultry Desire. Just as the song is hitting its groove, a siren rings out, the beat disintegrates and dancers rush the stage as stats flash up on the screens. “Homosexuality is illegal in 72 countries” one reads, before the show ends with “Queer is beautiful” and Alexander snogs a male dancer to vast cheers. He then gives a very emotional speech, peppered with tears, about everyone working together to change the future for LGBTQ+ people.
If a good Glastonbury performance is about seizing your moment then this is that in excelsis.
There’s always been an admirably activist edge to the shimmering pop of Years and Years, and during their Pyramid Stage set they took over the big screens to broadcast damning facts about the prejudice faced by the LGBTQ community both at home and abroad.
Felicity Cloake's Glasto gourmand adventure continues
Lots of people mentioning the Authentic Lebanese Mezze stall in the Park Area (which also happens to be next to the place I got my second breakfast, but I have moved since I promise). Haven’t spotted a lot of Middle Eastern stuff here, certainly not in comparison to Mexican and Indian, so I was looking forward to this. The best bit was definitely the spinach and feta fatayer pastry, which was unusually spinach-heavy, and the hummus and baba ganoush – but again, had to get out my trusty tin of salt as it all lacked for a bit of oomph. Doing a roaring trade though so clearly Glastonbury disagrees.
Johnny Marr interviewed
The Guardian’s Alex Needham had a quick chat with Smiths ledge Johnny Marr about this year’s Glasto heatwave, the festival’s political element and his memories of seeing Zep at Knebworth. Read the whole interview here:
Jessie Buckley reviewed
The rumour that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper would play a secret A Star Is Born set at Glastonbury may have been promptly scotched by Emily Eavis, but there’s another multi-hyphenate performing hits from her own musical drama in their absence. Irish actor Jessie Buckley starred last year in Wild Rose, a charming Brit drama about a Glasgow girl’s attempts to break into the Nashville country music scene. It was a premise bolstered by the fact that Buckley has the lovelorn voice of a Broadway veteran, as she proved here.
A barnstorming, belted-out cover of Randy Newman’s Guilty is the highlight, but there’s also a chiming cover of Emmylou Harris’s Born to Run too. “This is fucking insane – I can’t believe it,” she yelps at one point, a line it’s difficult to imagine Gaga ever delivering, but on this evidence Buckley is every bit at home here as the Hollywood heavyweights.
Hi, Gwilym Mumford here, taking over liveblog duties for the next few hours. We’ve got Kylie, Miley and a certain D Attenborough coming shortly. Stay with us!
Michael Cragg visits the bees at BEAM
Situated in the Greenpeace field near a skate park and a 20ft rave tree lives BEAM, a site-specific wooden sculpture by Wolfgang Buttress that aims to highlight the plight of bees in the wake of the climate crisis. “BEAM is a conversation and symphony between the insect world and us,” Buttress explains, with the centre of the vast wooden structure a – wait for it – hive of soundscapes and flashing lights triggered by a live feed from Worthy Farm’s bee colony. “These live signals are sent to the sculpture via a dedicated internet link,” continues Buttress. “[The] algorithms will be used to convert these vibrational signals into lighting and sound effects, enabling the life of the black bee colony to be visually and aurally felt as a live experience. No two moments will ever be the same.”
If the sound of bees pushed through an ambient filter sounds a bit one-note, then the drones have also been augmented by musicians including Spiritualized, Kelly Owens, Camille Christel, Matt Black and Coldcut. As with most things in Glastonbury, its uses are multipurpose: some are using the central space to do yoga or just escape for a bit, while the giant wooden struts that surround it act as a makeshift maze to get lost in.
It’s also not going anywhere. “I’m delighted that Michael Eavis will keep BEAM as a living bee hotel on his farm so it can be reimagined for Glastonbury,” Buttress says. As the Beat Hotel retires, the bee hotel buzzes to life.
Lauren Cochrane has been out and about snapping the most stylish looks in the field.
Alice Fry, 28, social media executive
“Cycling shorts – it’s just the look everyone is going for, isn’t it? I guess it’s born from Kylie Jenner and those people. I showed this to my friend who is really fashion-forward and she loved it. It’s Glastonbury so anything goes. Stormzy was a highlight – I think there’s a lot of truth in what he says.”
Heather Doughy, 26, PR
“Our group has a different outfit theme every day – this time it’s sexy sweetcorn, a really niche reference from an obscure musical. We also have a Billie Eilish lyric and Disco Needs You for Kylie on Sunday. This is the third time I have been. It’s special because everyone is super-kind. We’re a big LGBT group and everyone feels safe here.”
Laura Rietdyk-Johnson, 26, works in social media
“I am volunteering for Oxfam – usually I have a faceful of glitter. Glastonbury really inspires me to be who I want to be. I have a different look for each day – on Saturday, I was in all green. I plan what I am going to wear for months.”
Mavis Staples reviewed
From the spiritual awakening of Langa Methodist Church Choir to a social awakening. Anyone can spout empty bromides about peace and love from a stage, but 79-year-old Mavis Staples gives hers real meaning and power in this absolutely magnificent Pyramid stage set. Delivered in a throaty holler, her songs about love and social justice are full of simple, digestible, but poetic truths: “What good is freedom if we haven’t learned to be free?” she asks early on. These open-hearted questions harden and galvanise on Who Told You That: “We don’t wanna rock the boat – who told you that?” she asks, brilliantly sly and lupine.
Via classic 12-bar electric blues and a cover of activist anthem For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, she warms her heart back up, imploring the crowd in a glorious, ferocious yell to “touch somebody!” English reserve melts as strangers gingerly reach out to each other. She ends by castigating “that – I don’t know what to call it – that one in the White House”, pleading for gun reform and an end to the imprisonment of migrant children at the US border. “I might just run for president!” she decides. She has 10,000 or votes secured here already.
The Left Field debate: how to resist the rise of hate with hope not hate”
Writer and activist Reni Eddo-Lodge made very clear at the beginning of Left Field’s banner debate this afternoon that the panelists would not be discussing “why racism is bad”. The speakers – Matthew Collins from Hope Not Hate, Faiza Shaheen from the think tank Class, Sheffield’s enigmatic Lord Mayor, Majid, and Amos Schonfeld, founder of youth movement Our Second Home – have done enough of that in the past. Instead, this discussion was geared towards action and solutions, exploring what resistance means in an age when far-right ideology is becoming ever more mainstream.
On banning or no-platforming as a tactic for fighting back, Majid spoke on his headline-grabbing move to ban Donald Trump from the city of Sheffield during a state visit: “Yes, America are our friends, but when my friend’s being a prick I say, ‘Mate, get your shit together.’” Others spoke on the importance of compassion and celebrating difference. Shaheen, who is standing against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford in the next general election, partly as a protest against his “incredibly cruel” welfare reforms, said that she had found herself redressing her assumptions about people when doorstepping Ukip voters, and finding them open to changing their minds. “Just in having that conversation, and being humanised … You’d be surprised by how far you can engage with some people.”
The most important point iterated by each panelist, though, was a need to challenge hateful rhetoric wherever and whenever we see it, even if that means responding to “endless abuse, diet tips and death threats” on Twitter, as it does for activist Matt Collins. “We have to stand up for what we believe.” For Majid, just being visible and consistently true to his core beliefs is a way of fighting hate. When his appointment as mayor instigated abuse, he says: “I suddenly realised my mere existence was a form of resistance.” Despite facing racist hate mail, he refused to tone down his politics. “I’m a black Muslim refugee immigrant – how can I not be political? If you’re trying to be anyone’s cup of tea, you might as well be a mug.”
Hot off the presses! David Attenborough to speak on the Pyramid stage before Kylie!
If Glastonbury needed a wake up call on its last day then Finland’s Alma is here to deliver it: her brand of brash agit-pop, delivered in a throat-lacerating roar, could resuscitate the dead. “Dance, fucking dance,” she sings within the first two minutes, prowling the stage like an off duty Cyberdog employee – all lime green hair, matching silk shirt and skull jewellery.
“You’re crazy for being awake this early,” she says correctly, before she performs the pulsating Cowboy and a giant picture of her with two middle fingers raised flashes up on the screen. At times the angst feels a little forced – the appropriately named Good Vibes is too buoyant to be delivered angrily – but the congregation of young girls in the front row can’t get enough.
It’s also perfect pop for a genre-agnostic new generation with the self-aggrandising Legend fusing hip-hop and big crunchy rock guitars, while EDM drops are sprinkled throughout MØ collaboration Dance Wiv Me. If occasionally on record it can veer a little too close to generic radio fodder – and there’s still a sense that she’s scrambling for a hit – in a live scenario it’s emboldened by Alma’s untiring stage presence.
Meet the superfans camped out at the front of the Pyramid stage
Cas, 54, and Sue, 60
Sue: “This is a once in a lifetime experience – I’ve wanted to come forever and luckily a mate got tickets at the last minute. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday this year and I can’t think of anything better than being at the front for Kylie. It’s sad that she had to cancel her last performance here because she was ill so it’ll be emotional having her back – I can’t wait to dance along with her.”
“Kylie’s been my idol since I was really young – I used to dress like her when we had mufti days at school! This is my first Glastonbury and I just can’t believe my luck that she’s playing – I want to get as close as possible. I love everything about her.”
“Kylie just doesn’t do bad tunes, does she? She’s a true legend and I want to be front and centre when she’s on. There’s something so special about being at the front of the Pyramid Stage – last time I saw the Jacksons and shed a tear, so I’m sure Kylie will be just as special.”
Michelle, 53, Shona, 44
Michelle: “We’ve come all the way from Australia for Glastonbury and it’s amazing that Kylie’s playing. I’ve seen her three times and each time she’s totally smashed it. I once did a Kylie flash mob at the Royal Opera House in Sydney. How amazing that she’s come back to perform after she cancelled because she was ill before – she’s going to get all the love she needs from us and this crowd.”
“I just don’t want to go home – everyone’s feeling the blues today so I’m really excited to dance to Kylie, it’ll be a massive pick-me-up. She’s got such a great back catalogue of fun bangers – her performance is going to keep me going through the next week when I’m back home and just want to be back here.”
Langa Methodist Church Choir reviewed
Anyone stumbling back to their tent after an all-nighter at the stone circle must have thought they were experiencing a divine intervention: the sound of beautiful choral music spilling across the Pyramid stage field. It’s emanating from Langa Methodist Church Choir, a Cape Town choir that the Eavises met during a charity trip and subsequently invited to play this year’s festival – a serious logistical undertaking involving dozens of artist visas and the kind of effort that very few other festivals would make.
Their songs, which ask God to see them and not leave them stranded – sentiments that will no doubt chime with plenty of hungover festivalgoers – swell and rise to the back of the field. Dressed in black robes with beautiful detailing like green lipstick and beaded headpieces, they’re accompanied by a single hand drum, which gives these devotionals heft and swaying rhythm. This hit of absolute beauty spiritually realigns the entire site – leaving it ready to be undone again for one last time tonight.
Felicity's grub gallivanting continues
“Had a mooch round the Healing Fields and then decided the most healing thing I could do for myself was to get a vegan masala chai and raw brownie from the cafe at the entrance to the tipi fields and go and lie in a hammock for a bit. Correct decision: the brownie was good, especially for something with no butter in it – very fudgy and fruity with a decent sprinkling of nuts – and the chai nicely spiced and not too sweet. They look like they take their coffee pretty seriously too.”
Chemical Brothers reviewed
One from last night:
Earlier on Saturday, Liam Gallagher referred to his set as part of his “ongoing Glastonbury residency”. Headlining the Other stage, the Chemical Brothers could easily make a similar claim. For anyone who grew up watching Glastonbury on TV, the sound of Hey Boy, Hey Girl throbbing across montages of Worthy Farm is a familiar one. So there’s a built-in nostalgia to their set, amplified by the dusky sky, the constant smoky pop of flares being lit and a high density of Glastonbury’s iconic flags – but not to the degree that the crowd are twiddling their thumbs waiting for the hits.
The material from new album No Geography is just as joyfully chaotic as the stuff from their heyday – chemical explosions of bright synths girded by twisted robot yowls. They pull off bold, breathless transitions, from ravey sirens that bark like an orchestra of seals into sharply overdriven, twinkly brightness, the effect akin to being dropped off a cliff. Saturate, from 2007’s We Are the Night, is luscious and overwhelming, a powerful jazz drumbeat thrashing amid its hopeful ascending synths. With Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons ensconced in a flight deck’s worth of synths, the visuals transmit the playfulness at the heart of their music – a new song, Got to Keep On, has the best of the lot, a kind of silky pink Michelin man made of petals swaggering along a treadmill.
Nothing, obviously, is as visceral as their admirably spare deployment of the hits: they tease Hey Boy, Hey Girl with a flirty intro, then trigger that roiling beat and helter-skelter cry – “Here we go!”; Galvanise still sounds regally intimidating. It’s easy to overlook the Chems as their hipper, more avant-garde successors take over – as they should – but in their spiritual home, they prove why they’ll always be Britain’s beloved rave dads.
Kylie is officially on site
Meeting the site's BSL interpreters
Tara Asher went viral this weekend for her BSL interpretation of Stormzy’s headline slot. Speaking to the Guardian before the set, she explained how being a lifelong grime fan prepared her for the show:
“Sign language is my first language – I’ve got family members who are deaf. But I never even considered going into [interpreting music] until going to a couple of festivals with my deaf friends, and then I saw the need for it. There’s not many interpreters who interpret music and do festivals, there’s a shortage nationally. Not all deaf people are into music, there are some who are and some who aren’t, the same way that not every single hearing person wants to go to a music festival. I know that a couple of Stormzy’s biggest deaf fans are here, so it’s really nice to know that they’re going to get a wonderful experience.
“I’ve listened to grime music since the Risky Roadz days, since the very beginning, so it’s easier for me, because I understand the context, the slang, all that stuff. Yes, grime is often faster, but sometimes you may get a rock song that’s very difficult to convey in sign language. But each to their own. I like to stick with grime.”
DeafZone volunteer Benajmin Gorman is the first deaf BSL interpreter to work at Glastonbury. On Friday, he interpreted Bastille’s Pyramid stage set for a deaf audience. He told the Guardian:
“Glastonbury is a fantastic music festival, but it’s not just about the music; it’s about the atmosphere, it’s about the camaraderie, and also the lovely food we’re surrounded by, and the bit too much sun we’re experiencing. Festivals aren’t always just about the music, it’s about the overall experience of being part and parcel of the festival, and [interpreting is] about a deaf person being able to take part in that. There are various levels of hearing a person might have. Some deaf people have some residual hearing and can hear quite well; some have no residual hearing but they can experience music through vibrations. Also, the atmosphere really makes you connect with the acts and the artists. So a festival is an experience in itself.
“The important thing is access. For deaf people, they deserve to have the same experience as anybody else who pays for a ticket to go to a festival. For myself, I think we need to show that deaf people are capable of [interpreting] as well.”
The best of Saturday in pictures
And we're back
Good morning from the blessedly cool Guardian cabin where constitutions are slightly fragile but morale remains high. On a scale of “Stone circle dweller” to “Brandon Flowers on the main stage”, our appearances may hew closer to the former, but we’re doing our best to bring some of the Killers’ Vegas razzle-dazzle to today’s liveblog. Before that kicks off in earnest, let’s revisit their five-star performance – with its guest spots from Pet Shop Boys and Johnny Marr – which Alexis Petridis declared a bona fide Glastonbury Moment.