And that’s it for our live Glastonbury coverage this year – the bacchanalian post-Covid festival, the first in three years, the long-delayed 50th birthday celebration. As ever we’ve had some of the biggest and most enduring stars of musical history play for us here, alongside emerging talent and a huge side-helping of joyful nonsense. I hope you’ve enjoyed our running commentary on this most festival of festivals – an event that I’ve always seen as a coming-together of all the best bits of British culture. It’s been so great to be back.
There’ll be a gallery of photos at 6am tomorrow and the next Politics Weekly podcast will be a Glastonbury special. We’re off into the night to ride the last waves of serotonin out here. Until next year!
…and Alexis Petridis’s review of Kendrick’s concluding headliner set is in:
“Whatever else he may be, he certainly isn’t one of those performers who keeps beaming at the Glastonbury audience, shaking his head in disbelief and telling you how grateful he is to be here – although towards the end of the set he spends a surprisingly lengthy period of time just walking backwards and forwards across the stage in silence, staring at the crowd and nodding his head as if taking its sheer size in. But he sounds amazing: as technically gifted a rapper as has emerged in recent years. Live, he delivers his astonishing flows with a kind of HD clarity.”
Pet Shop Boys reviewed
Other stage, 9.40pm
Much has been made of the advanced age of some of this year’s Glastonbury stage headliners, as if this represented some kind of lack of imagination on behalf of the bookers. But that limited mindset discounts the massive contributions that these venerable artists have made to pop history, not to mention the continued pertinence of the most vital among them. Arguably – and I would argue it to the death – that is Pet Shop Boys, who draw one of the vastest (and most euphoric) crowds on the Other stage all weekend for a victory lap of their greatest hits, most of which still bite fiercely hard today. Although it’s basically the same set they’ve been touring in arenas recently, there’s not a shred of complacency here: opener Suburbia stings with Neil Tennant’s imperious sneer; Can You Forgive Her has a haughty strut; Tennant, having removed his Daft Punk-style glittery, horned helmet, sounds lacerating and scabrous on Opportunities.
Oddly, it takes a while for Chris Lowe to appear on stage. “The other one will reveal himself shortly,” Tennant says before their mash-up of U2’s The Streets Have No Name and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, though it still takes a while for his fabulously petulant foil to appear. There’s no explanation for his absence other than a “technical hitch”. Regardless, Tennant’s evident delight at the euphoria they’re greeted with makes up for Lowe’s initial absence.
Personally, I think the PSBs remain underrated, a lesser-celebrated act of their era; I’m 33 and I didn’t really grow up hearing their songs. Tonight feels like a national reclamation of the synth-pop heroes, which Tennant seems to recognise. They are such masters of duality: Left to My Own Devices switches between frenzy and dreaminess; Domino Dancing is intermittently warm and sad; Losing My Mind (originally sung by Liza Minelli) is at once uninhibitedly sexy and entirely possessed. I think I’ve been to Glastonbury about seven times, and this the best set I’ve ever seen. I genuinely can’t imagine being any happier than in this moment.
There are rumours that they’re going to bring Kylie Minogue on, though the only guest we ultimately get is Olly Alexander of Years and Years for Dreamland, one of their better latter-day songs. (Sadly, The Pop Kids, a gem from their 2016 album Super, is absent from this tour’s setlist.) His voice is a little insipid next to Tennant’s worldly brogue, which reels with disgust during the sardonic It’s a Sin, and purrs during the fabulous Shep Pettibone remix of West End Girls (the greatest song of all time, if you ask me). It imbues their set with both experience and tenderness, a sense of hope juxtaposed with thwarted reality. And none more so than their final song. “Tonight, we dedicate our set to the victims of the appalling crime at Oslo Pride,” Tennant says before a serene, graceful, utterly gorgeous rendition of Being Boring. “I never dreamt that I would get to be the creature that I always meant to be,” he sings, his awe at hard-won self-fulfilment profoundly intact.
West Holts - 9.45pm
And the award for the loudest set of the weekend goes to Bicep, dead keen not to let Kendrick blow them out of the water. You can hear it all the way from the edges of the Pyramid stage, and they want to blow everyone’s tiny minds with their airy ambient-rave and visual extravaganza. Alas, this also means that you can hear when the bass is very out of sync. It’s a disappointing start for a duo who have popped off in the past year and can now fill festival fields. They’re the next in a lineage of massive chompy electronic live acts such as Leftfield, Orbital, Chemical Brothers and Underworld, laying on the lasers for the part-time ravers. Compared to those 90s titans, however, their euphoric spangle-dance does sound fairly lightweight.
Bicep are two Irish disco-heads who started off as DJs with a blog dedicated to Italo, and have now struck upon a formula that’s rejuvenated veteran ravers and inspired the part-time millennial ones. They pare their tracks back and coast along on a slow-building crescendo, heavy on choral cooing that sounds a bit like the Headspace app’s gone off at 4am in your tent. The buildup goes on long but finally climaxes with concrete-blasting drums and abstracted, souped-up trance, plus genuinely excellent trippy-by-numbers visuals that must have looked incredible for all the sofa ravers at home.
Their Jon Hopkins-alike bouncy blooper Opal, off their eponymous 2017 album, gets big cheers from the bucket-hatted masses – who keep on pouring in, doing a halfy-halfy with Kendrick. A slightly reworked version of breakbeat-heavy Glue, meanwhile, is a juddering homage to acid-house.
It’s an epic set, even if you can’t shake the impression that, deep down, Bicep are making My First Rave Music (you can tell because much of the audience is just having a nice chat). Still, you can’t knock accessibility: maybe Bicep will prove the gateway drug into a heady, more diverse world of house. For now, they’ve more than proved themselves to be the next Orbital.
While all that best-in-class rap was going on at the Pyramid, we had house/electronic duo Bicep at West Holts, Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett up at the Park, and Charli XCX at John Peel. The late-night areas of the festival are gearing up for one last night of debauchery before everyone hauls their camping equipment (and the empty shells of their bodies) homewards.
Some photos to recap that astonishing Kendrick set. Our review from Alexis Petridis is coming soon.
That was easily one of the best sets I’ve ever seen on the Pyramid, and one that I can’t wait to see again on a small screen to be able to pore over all the detail. It felt like a production by Ivo Van Hove or Crystal Pite – something between contemporary dance and avant garde theatre, with such rich, deep, symbolic human movement. The biggest thrill though was just hearing that flow up close and in the air: every consonant so supernaturally crisp, as if he’s telling you something you absolutely have to understand. He makes you feel like the stakes are very high indeed – and, of course, they are. His call for women’s rights at the climax was electrifying and an appropriate ending to a festival where plenty of artists have decried the Supreme Court’s dreadful decision.
The Pet Shop Boys on the Other Stage dedicated their Aids crisis song Being Boring to the victims of the shooting in Oslo before the city’s planned Pride celebrations. It was by all accounts an amazing set over there as well – what a closing night!
Apparently nobody in the crowd thought the set had ended – I also wasn’t ready for the end of one of the most theatrical Glastonbury performances ever, to be quite honest.
It’s a sombre and powerful ending. Kendrick is not shy about his faith - it is rare to have Christian faith mentioned in such passionate and evangelistic terms on this stage. Lamar’s crown of barbed wire thorns is not blasphemous, but an attempt to remind the audience of the violence committed against (and the sacrifice of) Jesus.
So much to unpack here! The female dancers are back and they are the total opposite of their graceful former selves, now violently punching the air - just as men were before. Motifs of frustration and anger return. “They judge you they judge Christ, godspeed for women’s rights!” He shouts this over and over to a furious peak. He can barely open his eyes because of all the blood from his crown.
The words “your saviour I am not” are emblazoned across the background.
An incredible piece of theatre from Kendrick just then. “I was locked up in LA during the pandemic. You feel like family... I see so many faces. Different creed, different colours... Imperfection is beautiful, no matter what they going through. I’m wearing this crown. They judge you, they judge Christ. We’re going to do our best to follow in his image.” And blood pours down from his crown and into his white shirt.
Surely not a controversial opinion at this point to say that this beats Kanye’s headline set from 2015, if we’re playing superstar-US-rapper Top Trumps.
Riz Ahmed reviewed
Lonely Hearts Club, 7.45pm
Watching Riz Ahmed take to Glastonbury’s Lonely Hearts Club stage you can’t help but wonder: how on earth does he have the time? The English-Pakistani actor has an academy award and an Emmy under his belt and also somehow has the capacity to maintain a side career as a rapper. Known for both his solo project and his group with Heems, the Swet Shop Boys, Ahmed uses his music to air his frustrations with a world that is increasingly racist and Islamophobic, his latest record, The Long Goodbye, being a dense, heartbroken reckoning with the UK’s relationship with the South Asian diaspora.
Still, acting is Ahmed’s day job for a reason: although he’s got plenty to say and possesses seemingly boundless charm, his Sunday night set confirms that, musically, he’s still caught in the vortex of 2010s blog rap, his lyrics filled with clumsy jokes and awkward turns of phrase. His set’s most potent moments arrive during songs such as Deal With It, a ferocious track set to a warped, blown-out Bollywood sample, or Karma, when he jumps into the crowd, surrounding himself with fans. Even in these moments, though, Ahmed has to compete with the sound of Years & Years, playing a few hundred yards away. Although he shines on screen, on stage Ahmed can’t help but fade away.
Laura Snapes in the Pet Shop Boys crowd, meanwhile, says it’s the best she’s been in all weekend - and West End Girls has just started!
The Pyramid stage has just been graced by Lamar’s performance of Humble under raining red fireworks, after a contemporary dance interlude in which the male dancers walked impassively as the women gracefully turned away. The energy is back up in the crowd, with everyone back to shouting lyrics back at the stage, and the inevitable flares are going up. “I’m so sick and tired of the Photoshop! Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor! Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks!” - just a sample of some favourite lines there.
Charli XCX reviewed
John Peel stage, 9.30pm
For those feeling faded on Sunday night at Glastonbury, Charli XCX on the John Peel tent is a shot in the arm, bringing her full-throttle pop firepower to the stage. As she points out, though, she too has been partying and “is hanging on by a thread”. I have seen Charli XCX play three times in the past few months, and somehow she gets better every time. This is a performer at the peak of her powers, polished, poised and with crowdpleasing yet enduringly personal pop.
Part of Charli’s appeal is her take-no-prisoners approach to performing – she doesn’t lure you in, as Lorde did on the Pyramid stage, so much as step on your neck and demand that you take notice. There are a few concessions for her headline slot audience tonight, notably the inclusion of her effervescent collaboration with Icona Pop, I Love It – excluded from earlier sets – and party 4 u, dedicated to her day-one fans. Any time spent with Charli is guaranteed to be a good one.
Worth emphasising how incredibly clear Kendrick is on the mic. The enunciation of literally every syllable is so rounded and crisp. He is actually superhuman - you need such a razor sharp mind and intellect to even deliver this material in the way he does, quite apart from the lyrics, which are also some of the greatest around at the moment (and arguably ever).
Lamar is on to Loyalty now. The line of women in red return, following him around the stage – a really elegant symbol for the song’s title and subject.
The relaxed demeanour from earlier has evaporated now. He’s still confident and absolutely precise in his flow, but also raw and heavy, politically, musically and lyrically.
In Element, Kendrick really played around with his delivery – melodically, this is very different. The crowd is slightly quieter now as he says – the trouble with this one is that it’s hard to shout the lyrics back perfectly because he’s just so technically strong.
Kendrick is surrounded by a circle of men who explode out into frantic shadowboxing - a properly aggressive rendition of a track about genocidal racism. It feels so important to have this on the Pyramid stage.
Left Field stage
Headlining the Left Field stage on Sunday is Yola, the British musician and actress born Yolanda Claire Quartey who first made waves in 2019 with her debut album Walk Through Fire. That record earned her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, but it’s her latest project that’s sparked the most discussion: Yola plays rock legend Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic.
Much like the Elvis movie, though, Yola’s Left Field set can’t help but feel like a tribute act. Her voice is sublime and her band is tight, but these songs just don’t hold water: heavily referencing and borrowing from classic rock and soul standards, they feel more like hold music than the emphatic, powerful tracks that Yola insists they are. A mid-set cover of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road proves that these songs lack oomph: it’s the only point in the set that’s a certified festival moment.
Kendrick’s backing dancers right now are like a ghostly parade of figures who waft across the stage and just leave again with no interaction with Kendrick. Such drama! His backdrop has changed: it now reads “they want us to bow” - and we’re into Blacker the Berry from To Pimp a Butterfly
Jack White reviewed
A brief interruption in our Kendrick commentary to say that Jack White was amazing earlier, playing a secret set full of everything from the Raconteurs to the White Stripes to all of his solo material - there was even a Dead Weather song. Read our review:
Kendrick is throwing huge crowd-pleaser Alright out there surprisingly early. Dude’s got RANGE. Big Defund the Police vibe in the crowd as everybody shouts “and we hate po-po, want to kill us in the street for sho”
Meanwhile at the Pet Shop Boys: Chris Lowe has finally appeared. We have been given absolutely no explanation as to his absence thus far.
People in the crowd know EVERY word, it seems – and Lamar is not a rapper who’s easy to keep up with. Any fears that this would be a chinstrokey set dominated by the latest, more introspective album are being put to rest. We’ve got hand waving, crowd chants – proper arena performance tactics.
Aaaah, it’s King Kunta! What a song. He’s loosening up, doing lots of ad-libs, transforming into a proper party MC suddenly. It’s an immediate change of tone – is there nothing he can’t do!?
On Count Me Out, Kendrick goes full European avant garde, surrounded by dancers in flowing red dresses, swirling around him. The rappers who headline the Pyramid bring so much theatre in different ways: art-installation minimalism from Kanye, joyful circus and ballet by Stormzy, and now this.
Jarvis Cocker reviewed
Park stage, 7.45pm
Up on the Park stage for Jarvis Cocker, it’s impossible not to think of Pulp’s 2011 secret set up here and the furious joy of hearing their greatest hits live for the first time in years. Knowing that he’s withholding these wonderful songs makes his set a touch frustrating, especially as it initially dwells on fairly languid material – a song about the frustrations of satnav, the minimalist theme for the BBC drama This Is Going to Hurt, a lounge lizardy dirge (a new song) about lockdown. “The longest night in human history has got me glued to my seat,” he sings, as captivating a performer as ever with his loose limbs and floppy wrists and tweed jacket.
At one point he chucks sweets into the crowd to assuage our flagging Sunday-night energy levels, but the true enlivener comes when his set gets aggro and Cocker assumes his right and proper livewire form. Further Complications is post-punk with a rude, lurching riff that boils over at the climax; there is industrial clangour accompanied by the arresting sight of him bent backwards. He finds purpose with an adapted rendition of Running the World, swapping the C-word for “pricks” because it’s being broadcast on TV.
“We’re singing it over the ocean because there’s a decision that’s been made by mainly men telling women what they can do with their bodies,” he explains, “so this is for those guys.” It’s louche and sardonic and Cocker holds up a middle finger as he sings, “screw the morals / does it make any money?” As he pauses for suspense, you’d expect the crowd to roar back, but instead there’s a defeated feeling of reality descending: no defiance to be had here, more the sense that the song’s message holds regrettably, irretrievably true. At the very least, he brings us back to a message of liberation with closer House Music All Night Long, with its seductive, overdriven grind. “We’re free,” he says.
Kendrick seems totally relaxed and in command up there - his dancers march and sway around him but he’s there, surrounded by torchlights on a darkened stage, delivering lines perfectly. He’s mesmerising. Snares sounding huge.
He’s playing quite a lot from Good Kid, Maad City so far. “I need my day ones out here tonight!”
The incredible troupe of dancers is marching in matching white shirts and suit trousers - as Ben observes, this is Akram Khan/Crystal Pite levels of movement design. We can always expect a beautiful and provocative performance from Kendrick. The next song is Swimming Pools (Drank) - the crowd have their hands up and Kendrick is masterful on stage, solo now, directing the exuberant audience
Kendrick’s now on the swaggering, ego-centric track Backstreet Freestyle - a guitar-heavy rendition that gives it even more swagger. Have you ever heard thousands of people scream that they pray their dick gets big as the Eiffel Tower? Now you have.
Meanwhile on the Other Stage, the Pet Shop Boys have arrived, though Chris Lowe is not yet on stage. Neil says: “Glastonbury, good evening! We are the Pet Shop Boys. The other one will reveal himself shortly. Tonight we welcome you to a dreamworld... being boring is a sin, the music plays forever and the streets have no name.”
Kendrick is - of course - wearing a thorn of crowns with diamonds. Huge guitar soloing for Money Trees - everybody in the crowd is calling each other “ya bish”
Hi folks - this is Keza taking over again just in time for Kendrick’s headline set, as Ben sprints to the Pyramid Stage. You ready for the greatest rapper of our times?
As the sun sets on the Pyramid stage on the final night of the festival, a blissed-out crowd gathers for Lorde – who, surprise surprise, has ditched her trademark dark locks for honey blonde.
Our Ella (Yelich-O’Connor) is an energetic and always engaging presence on stage, bounding along its length in a white leotard, red fishnet tights and sensible Doc Martens – but it seems she’s also well aware of her spot on the billing, and how fragile the audience might be feeling after at least three days in the wilderness of Worthy Farm. “I am very fucking gassed to be back at the Pyramid stage,” she says, referring to her primetime spot in 2017. This time, she tells us, she appreciates the responsibility of the Sunday evening slot: “You’re probably brutally hungover now, I understand, maybe on the comedown – and I love that, because I really am the comedown shepherd.”
With that Yelich-O’Connor ushers us into a hazy sundowner set, with The Path, the album’s po-faced opener, setting the tone: welcome to the temple of Lorde, let her wash over you and return you to health. She’s a summer baby, she tells us, and her sundial centrepiece on stage and yellow-suited band set an appropriately restorative tone – but beyond the set dressing, you’re struck by her ironclad songwriting, immediately compelling enough to draw people in from other stages. By the time her set is done, she’s filled the Pyramid stage, with The Louvre (from 2017’s Melodrama) a notable pull. That, plus her assured performance, makes it easy to forget that she is only 25; as fan favourite Ribs goes to show, she is a wunderkindw riting songs that are far more self-aware and poignant than her years would suggest.
“I wrote this song when I was 15 years old,” she says, “which means some of you might have been listening to it for ten years.” No wonder it feels like a moment, for her and us. Yes, the biggest scream and sing-along is reserved for Royals, but the rest of the set demonstrates how versatile and dynamic she is as an artist, down to her fantastically funky cover of Banararama’s Cruel Summer. Secrets From a Girl Who’s Seen It All – what might feel like forgettable filler on her latest album – comes alive when performed in part due to Lorde’s chatty, languorous manner.
Likewise Stoned At the Nail Salon, for which Arlo Parks and Clairo join her on stage, in a performance that seems as much a girls’ night sleepover as Glastonbury main stage. But Lorde can do both: cosy and full throttle, as the outpouring of foot-stomping catharsis that greets Green Light (“a British song,” she says) goes to show. “I become very powerful, and I can get away with almost anything,” she says of the mood boost from her favourite season. By the time she concludes her set with recent single Solar Power, as the sun dips beneath the Pyramid and she urges us to “be safe, be happy, be healthy; wear sunscreen, protect the bees”, you are convinced of her star power, too.
Our photographer David Levene was on stage with Jack White – jealous!
Courtney Barnett is on the Park stage, jangling stridently. The climax of the festival is just bonkers good: her, Suzanne Vega, Bicep, Pet Shop Boys and Kendrick Lamar all playing concurrently. Turns out you can have an intra-Glasto form of fomo.
Lots of people still swooning over Diana’s set – between her and Macca there have been some bucket lists thoroughly ticked. Just bask in the sheer fabulousness.
Ok the wifi has been thoroughly hydrated, told that it’s only got one more night of raving, been given a vegan burrito and now it’s saying that we can hopefully carry on and do one last rager.
The internet network here is the equivalent of a Glasto festivalgoer who’s been drinking all day and is slowly wheezing with sunstroke, so the updates are a little slower than usual. We’ll get it an espresso martini and try and get it back in the game soon.
Angélique Kidjo is heading off stage at West Holts stage, having just led a huge singalong in the evening light to a joyfully bopping front few rows.
Apparently Eminem has been spotted swimming at a classy members’ club nearby. Is he going to be coming on with Kendrick Lamar? Huge moment if so!
Jarvis Cocker also joined the condemnation of Roe v Wade, renaming the – avert your eyes if you don’t like more potty-mouthed language – scabrously anti-authoritarian song Cunts Are Running the World.
We’ve changed the words for today because it’s on telly, and that’s not the be all and end all. Usually it’s C-words are still running the world, but today it’s pricks running the world. We’re singing it over the ocean because there’s a decision that’s been made by mainly men telling women what they can do with their bodies, so this is for those guys.
It’s been inspiring to see how many artists have taken a stand on this during the weekend: Olivia Rodrigo the most forthright, angry and specific, but there have been so many others. It’s perhaps such a glaring ethical failure that it’s easy to make a statement about, but it feels like we’ve moved on a lot in pop culture since the Brexit year at Glastonbury, when strident condemnations were pretty thin on the ground.
Lorde’s Solar Power is sounding incredible floating over to our wee portacabin backstage – such a big, clear, open-hearted melody, exactly the kind that sends a Pyramid audience loopy.
John Peel stage, 6.30pm
The John Peel has been moshpit central this year, with Amyl and the Sniffers and Ukrainians Go_A inspiring circle pits, and Jamie T prompting some serious skanking last night. But even by those standards, Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile’s set is something else entirely. Bodies are flying everywhere, frequently that of vocalist Brendan Yates, who spends a decent chunk of the set crowd surfing, and the rest of it furiously slam dancing to the band’s monstrously heavy breakdowns.
But Turnstile aren’t just about sheer brute force. Over the course of three albums they have evolved into something more than just a straightforward hardcore act, fusing R&B, electronica and shoegaze into their sound on recent record Glow On, which featured guest appearances from the unlikely figure of Dev Hynes. They power through much of it tonight – the earwormy Mystery; Holiday, with its salsa-tinged rhythms; and the pulverising power-metal of TLC (Turnstile Love Connection).
While drummer Daniel Fang stands out for his inventive, Latin-tinged rhythms and Duracell bunny nature, it’s hard to keep your eyes off Yates, one of the most dynamic and charismatic vocalists around right now. Bar a brief interlude when he crouches menacingly behind the drum kit, he never stops moving, contorting his body into strange shapes, lifting his mic stand above his head and leaping preposterously high into the air. Three songs in he’s disposed of his T-shirt; six songs in he embarks on his first crowdsurf, at the same time strumming away at an acoustic guitar he pinched off a fan; and by the end of the set he’s somehow convinced a sizeable chunk of the audience to climb on to the shoulders of the person next to them: a risky move in the middle of a circle pit.
The result is one of the most thrilling and euphoric sets of the weekend – a cathartic burst of joy and fury. At the set’s close, Yates hops off the stage and shakes hands with the front row behind the crash barrier, revelling in a job well done.
Rising Jamaican reggae star Koffee has had a wild few years: in 2020, she became the first woman, and youngest person ever, to win best reggae album at the Grammys, and rumours abound that she’s a featured player on the next Rihanna album. Over the course of the pandemic, she’s become something of a streaming star: her breakout single Toast, released in 2019, has received 129m streams on Spotify alone.
There’s a lot of weight on the 22-year-old’s shoulders, then, as she takes to the West Holts stage on Sunday night – as evidenced by the sizeable crowd gathering to see her, an audience that far outnumbers that for Róisín Murphy, last night’s West Holts headliner. Taking to the stage wearing a chic silk shirt and matching shorts, both by the hyped luxury resortwear brand Casablanca, she is a sweet, compelling presence, casual in attitude but totally in control of her crowd.
Although her band often overwhelms her vocals – powerful bass muffling any of the nuances in her words, the stadium-primed drum kit a constant distracting presence – Koffee’s voice is still a remarkable instrument, at turns husky, sweet, emphatic and lackadaisical. Even when the sound suffers, though, Koffee’s hooky, profoundly modern take on reggae shines through: W is a clear highlight, and Lockdown, one of the few non-cloying songs written about Covid quarantine, gets the powerful crowd singalong it deserves. It’s not the ideal scenario for someone on such a rapid ascent, but it proves that someone with this much charisma can weather any storm.
Years & Years are warming the crowd up very nicely for Pet Shop Boys by doing It’s a Sin. Lorde has meanwhile joined the chorus of disapproval about Roe v Wade, saying “fuck the Supreme Court”. And Jarvis Cocker is playing a new song about lockdown with the chorus: “Motherfuckers gonna fuck with this / Motherfuckers gonna get fucked up”. Potty mouths!
It’s still going on, of course, but Alexis has written his review of the festival thus far:
Kacey Musgraves reviewed
Other stage, 6pm
Bringing some welcome Nashville razzle-dazzle, it’s Kacey Musgraves, resplendent in a tiny glittering mini-dress and, a knowing Glasto twist, Hunter wellies. “I see your cowboy hats, I know you know what yee-haw means,” she smiles, looking out at a crowd spotted with pink fluffy western numbers and breaking into her disco-fied song High Horse – her giddy-up Get Lucky. Country music has never been much one to boogie to – line-dancing, sure, but not gleeful shape-throwing – but Musgraves is a fearlessly genre-blending star. The occasional banjo gives her roots away, but her new territory is more Chic-style guitars, rock instrumentals, joyful jams and even, wonderfully, a Herbie Mann-rivally jazz flute solo, backed by a seven-piece band of hipster looking dudes in wacky sunglasses and beanie hats.
At Primavera festival in Barcelona she reportedly spent a lot of her set dissing her ex-husband, the subject of her latest album Star-Crossed – and given the opening skit, its deeply dramatic flamenco-western title track with a burning heart behind her, you’d be forgiven for expecting that hell hath no fury like a country singer scorned. Her set might be spiky, perhaps. Pissed off. But Musgraves delivers a serene waft of pop that whirls in the Eagles, Neil Young, rock riffage and even on new song Breadwinner, a plucky piano hook that sounds like something from a Destiny’s Child or Craig David song.
Her set is also a masterclass in stagecraft, switching between acoustic guitar and singing to the audience, arms-outstretched, charming as well as acerbic. “Honestly thinking about never going back to America. Anyone know any positions for sheep farming going, as that sounds really great right now,” she quips before playing the serene Golden Hour at – checks watch – golden hour, a lovely touch. It’s usually a bit naff when artists cover bands they’re inspired by or trying to emulate but her “Kacey-oke” version of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams – complete with flashing lyrics on the big screen and her announcement of “let’s get our middle-aged white lady on” – gives it all a knowing wink.
Musgraves says the last time she played Glastonbury was 2014, which, judging by the cheers when she asks, very few of the current crowd seem to have attended. It’s interesting that her audience today only half-fills the field; she hasn’t yet had a big song that cuts through in the UK as she might have done in the States. But soon she’s off to open for Adele in London, shows that may well gain her a new audience. You’re looking at country – but not as you know it.
Jarvis Cocker – with his outfit Jarv Is – is on the Park, famously the site of a very overcrowded and very unhinged Pulp secret set one year. He’s playing the absolutely terrific song Must I Evolve?, in an excellent arrangement with horror-movie Hermann-style strings scraping and moaning.
And on West Holts, Angélique Kidjo is doing one of her Talking Heads covers with some frenetic congas and fat organs.
Meanwhile on the Other stage, Years & Years’ Olly Alexander seems to have been taking wardrobe tips from Yves Tumor yesterday, continuing Tumor’s leather-daddy streetpunk aesthetic, but adding some striking dyed eyebrows and a haircut that’s half Mad Max extra, half inadvertent Adidas promotion. They’re playing Muscle and it’s suitably horny on main.
I love how Lorde has someone on stage whose only job is to spin her round on a platform every so often. Impressive addition to a CV but ultimately not very transferrable skills.
The stage set is really striking, with a giant pillar resting on a cylinder in a henge-like arrangement that chimes nicely with all the ancient megaliths of Somerset and surrounds.
Lorde adds some special guests
Only a few songs into her set and Lorde – who has a new blonde barnet – is bringing out the crowd-wowing moves, singing Stoned at the Nail Salon with Arlo Parks and Clairo. It’s a bit of a lightweight tune, but their rapport is lovely and it certainly is a perfect mood for any five-pinted woozy brains in the afternoon sun.
Also, apparently James Acaster was in the pit for Turnstile?!
Avalon stage, 6.30pm
Am I in purgatory? I have been sent to a field where it is now so packed with people that I can’t move, I’m sleep deprived, there’s a tent in the distance with a stage I can barely see, and all of us are waiting for … McFly.
The band take to the stage while YMCA blares, for some reason, and understandably their opening lines when they look out at the crowd are “holy shit!”
I’ll be honest: I was a bit too old and annoyingly pretentious for McFly. I liked Busted, which is a rivalry the band jokingly reference today: “If you’re having a good time, we are McFly; if you’re not, we are Busted.” The sound is not really good enough to carry out to the masses who are here, and unlike with Sugababes, who played a similarly packed Avalon, they don’t open with the singalongs in their arsenal. It’s their first time at Glastonbury (“thank you for breaking our virginity!” – I heard them say this, so you have to read it, too), and they’re certainly enjoying it, from what I can see of the lead guitarist zestfully zipping around the stage.
The rapturous screaming drifting from the tent suggests the people who have been camping out waiting for the group today are now living their best lives. But by the time they get to Obviously, a girl climbs up one of the tent poles, such are the general enthusiasm levels all over the field. And from then on everyone is clapping, singing along with the “oo-oo-oooh”s and “na-na-naah”s while the band play their one-size-fits-all guitar pop. People are climbing on benches, shrieking when a different member of the group takes to the mic to address them. When they get to Room on the 3rd Floor they laugh: “Billie Eilish was two years old when we wrote this song” – a cute little reminder of our mortality, which really hits hard after they’ve just been singing about being young and wild while my knees hurt simply from walking around at a festival.
The biggest, most excitable singalongs come at the end: a cover of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, into All About You – the latter sees people holding each other, harmonising with their eyes closed. And then they leap into the exuberant chaos of their first ever song: Five Colours in Her Hair, which I did not remember having a lyric about wanting to “bone her” – risque! Anyway, it’s no Year 3000, but I’ll grant you that it’s a pretty fun and lovely moment.
Caroline Polachek also referenced Roe v Wade decision during her set. “It feels so poignant to be here in the UK when there’s so much policial meltdown back home,” she said. “Access to so much of our healthcare has just been stripped away. And I hope that can serve as a reminder here in Britain to protect the rights that you have, protect the healthcare that you have.”
Sandwiched in a Pyramid stage slot between the very different vibes of Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar on the final night of the festival, it was never guaranteed Manchester indie rock band Elbow would get a truly appreciative audience. But Glastonbury is full of surprises. With a stage backdrop reading “we still believe in love” they announced their arrival with gutsy anthem Dexter and Sinister – and the crowd go remarkably wild.
Frontman Guy Garvey paused afterwards to say: “There was a period there where we thought we’d never see you again. We’re so happy to be here, in the place love was invented.” And then, seamlessly, they slipped into ballads Magnificent, Kindling and Empires. There was a reverse Mexican wave, an audience singalong to Lippy Kids, and Garvey had us eating out of the palm of his hand.
Briefly, we were back in the room for some of his trademark down-to-earth humour. “I saw a man with a plant pot for a head coming out of the loo. Completely normal.” From there, they were on a home run. The sun began to set as the band blasted out a rocking Grounds for Divorce before bringing out the Citizens of the World choir – made up of refugees – to join them on stage.
Garvey has always had the understated charisma of a bloke you’d meet down the pub on a rainy Tuesday who has a fair few tales to tell from a life well lived. His music is at times melancholic, at times uplifting, often comforting, and usually all three. Exactly what this crowd needed, on the final night of a historic weekend, to heal hangovers and soothe the soul. Swaying among tens of thousands to the lyrics “one day like this a year would see me right”, I looked across the enraptured crowd and just thought: too right.
Jack White doing Seven Nation Army, meanwhile, sounded like one of the biggest moments at Glastonbury 2022. “Fucking wild!” says Keza. “I thought football matches and drunk people outside my window had ruined that song forever, but no.” Apparently the entire crowd were jumping up and down in perfect unison, which is no mean feat on that sloping hill. Hope everyone’s ankles are fine.
Brendan from Turnstile, as buff as a superhero, is seemingly thanking everyone in the front row after their John Peel set. “Thank you for letting me see myself,” he tells them – I just know that this was one of the sets of the weekend, which Gwilym will review for us shortly.
The solidarity with Ukraine – such a heartening part of this festival – continues today, chiefly with DakhaBrakha, who wowed the Pyramid stage with some of the weekend’s best outfits.
And here’s Macca from last night showing his support.
Sorry to be insufferably annoying if you wish you were there, but literally everyone looks like this today: smiling, sunkissed, and smitten with each other. It feels like this Glastonbury has gone faster than ever. I was expecting a kind of feral, mad-eyed energy from people, given they have been waiting for this since they first got tickets in 2019, but the main mood has been a softer mix of relief and bonhomie.
“She’s got so many hits she’s forced on occasion to condense them into medleys” – here’s Alexis Petridis’ review of Diana Ross.
Amyl and the Sniffers reviewed
John Peel stage, 5pm
Anyone who says Glastonbury is getting overly gentrified needs to see Amyl and the Sniffers, one of the few bands around today who give off a genuine sense of danger. Frontwoman Amy Taylor’s voice is like a fist through concrete and she has a sublimely ratty, feral stage presence that suggests she lives on nothing but speed and dry cornflakes and knows her way around a headbutt. The modern successor to Iggy Pop, she has a flicky peroxide mullet and wears a tiny gold two-piece that makes her look like Barbarella by way of Abba, and seems, to put it politely, absolutely mashed. Her between-song chat is for the most part magnificently unintelligible: “Anyone seen Bridget Jones’ Diary 3?” she asks at one point, for indiscernible reasons. “She gets knocked up!” She calls 2022 “a sweaty little freak” and also yells “2022! Fuck every cunt!”
I’d love to tell you what songs they played but for the most part they all sound like someone rampaging on a piledriver – brute, chugging, primitive, glorious aggression played by a bunch of true hard nutters, some of whom are quite clearly chewing their faces off. From their latest album, 2021’s Comfort to Me, comes Security, which sees Taylor attempt some impromptu ballet in her black knee-high boots; she slaps her own bum during Maggot, a gloriously revolting love song, and looks furious and possessed during Knifey, which ends with her flexing her muscles and roaring in true “come and ‘ave a go if you think you’re hard enough” fashion. Guided By Angels expands the moshpit to take up most of the crowd, and then they play what appears to be a bespoke, boozy sea shanty about Glastonbury.
It’s hilarious, deranged, and totally exhilarating. I leave feeling as though I could kick down a wall – as well as heartened by the sight of a six-year-old girl on her dad’s shoulders who was punching her hands in the air the whole way through, observing this superb display of impropriety with wonder.
Kacey Musgraves, presumably alluding to the Roe v Wade decision, has told the Other stage: “I’m honestly thinking about never going back to America. Anyone know any positions for sheep farming going? As that sounds really great right now.”
Jack White is absolutely blasting through Lazaretto, delivering its rapid-fire lyrics with such verve: “Thrown down to the wolves, made feral for nothing / Quarantined on the Isle of Man / And I’m trying to escape any way that I can”. His guitar tone is just absurdly raunchy, too.
Keza is watching Jack White: “The guitars are screaming! The drums are thundering, the bass is rattling ribcages. The Park stage crowd seems somewhat stunned, though that might be because of what they’ve just been through to get here – they’ve had to close the stage because of the mad crowding.”
Caroline Polachek reviewed
“Glastonbury! It’s Sunday, I’m transcending!” American pop singer-songwriter Caroline Polachek has been around the block – she was half of synthpop duo Chairlift in the 2010s and collabed with Charli XCX and Christine and the Queens on New Shapes (I reckon we might see that later on today at Charli’s set). But this is her first time here. “This festival makes you tenderised but also fortified at the same time,” she says, truly a relatable festival Sunday vibe.
She’s a performer with awesome vocal range, which she shows off today on her cover of the Corrs’ Breathless, set to vibrating synth-pop bass. This is a banging moment, though we spend most of the rest of the set somewhat mired in pop ballads about heartbreak (Look at Me Now) and falling in love (Hey Big Eyes). She breaks out a couple of new songs too, such as Sunset, a danceable track with flamenco beats and Spanish guitar. Spinning around the stage giving high femme energy in an artfully tattered grey dress, she’s really enjoying herself.
She does eventually bring out the hits: Bunny Is a Rider, an Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole piece of electropop about being desired, and So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings, a yearning sad banger that I’ve heard at every queer karaoke night I’ve been to in the past year. The crowd at the front yells along delightedly. Will we see her again when Charli XCX comes on stage at John Peel?
Secret special guest: Jack White!
Jack White is the secret guest for the Park stage – a good coup, who feels like a proper star name. With electric blue hair to match his guitar and kecks, he’s shredding his way through a magnificently crunchy opener.
Fontaines DC reviewed
After using Erik Satie as their entrance hype music – not one to get the moshpit salivating – frontman Grian Chatten intones: “Gone is the day / gone is the night”. Fontaines DC are clearly going to be the karmic opposite to Diana Ross a few hundred metres away: nihilist and neurotic.
The opener In ár gCroíthe Go Deo is both very Glasto – it’s a bit reminiscent of Radiohead – and not at all, a creeping bank of rain on an entirely sunny day. A Lucid Dream follows it, ostensibly boisterous but actually too strange and blustery to pogo to. It initially feels like an anti-audience opening but it sets a restive, itchy tone that builds and builds in power.
By Televised Mind, a man is cossack dancing in a circle pit. Nabakov is utterly riveting, its repeated “daze ya, faze ya” chorus line so stoic, trudging and Sisyphean. Too Real is a storm of noise, like My Bloody Valentine with more shape, its guitar line like an accelerating superbike. The weird mood deepens.
With his repertoire of odd mannerisms, shaking his hand like it’s got a bit of Sellotape stuck to it, Chatten is hard to tear your eyes from. Dressed in T-shirt and trackie bottoms, he looks like a man who had to sleep on the sofa and is now stalking around the living room in a funk. He is left alone with a string quartet for The Couple Across the Way, and this is one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen at the festival: a melody of staggering simplicity sung over and over, for a song about the loneliness of a lover’s argument. Big Shot is given a new strings and piano arrangement that really suits it, and then it’s back to noise and ranting.
I Love You is becoming one of their best loved songs, Chatten’s relentless hectoring finding such a potent rhythm, just as he does on A Hero’s Death, with its vocal harmonies like seeing the Beach Boys through smoked glass. Some of the bands this weekend have been vacuously pleasant, but Fontaines DC are charged with the crackling electricity of life.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas here, taking over from Gwilym who is off to lose his trainers and dislocate a finger at Turnstile.
Plenty of viewing options on the iPlayer at the mo. Take your pick from Elbow on the Pyramid, Snarky Puppy on the West Holts or the remarkably rowdy Amyl and the Sniffers on the John Peel, where a massive circle pit has just formed.
Small children at Glastonbury: it might sound like a recipe for social services, but actually quite a few parents bring their sprogs to the festival, and all parties have a jolly good time too. There’s a great area, Kidzfield, that has magicians, circus performers and Basil actual Brush. Leah Harper has been catching up with parents to find out the pleasures and perils of taking your kids to Glasto:
Chris Godfrey has been speaking to Glastonbury’s unsung heroes – stewards, police officers, nurses and more. They’ve offered some top tips on how to enjoy the festival. Short version: stay in the shade, drink loads of water, mainline cereal bars and go with walking boots over wellies.
Pyramid ground post-Diana is covered in detritus of sequins, feathers and confetti.
Diana Ross: snap verdict
We were promised a legends set, and a legends set we got! While there were a few grumbles at Paul McCartney picking a few deep cuts for his Pyramid set last night, you can’t imagine anyone will feel the same here. Ross delivered every last biggie – I’m Coming Out, Upside Down, Baby Love, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, and of course I’m Coming Out. Yes, her tuning was a little askew at times, but her sheer force of character won the day.
I Will Survive is still going, with Ross introducing her impossibly tight backing band and singers. And just like that she floats off into the wings, leaving her band to play the closing notes!
“I love how Diana has her own Hollywood star projected on to the stage backdrop,” Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill points out. Top, top diva behaviour.
“Do you know this one?” Ross asks, as the opening bars of I Will Survive play. Yes, I believe a few out there may be familiar with it, Diana. Every last person – revellers, stewards, ice cream sellers – sings along.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough! It sounds absolute huge from the Guardian cabin. Ross, now clad in a vast feathery floor-length robe, stomps across the stage commandingly.
Ross’s cover of Why Do Fools Fall in Love injects a note of big-band classiness to proceedings. And then the pace slows entirely with the ballad Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To). Ross’s voice is a little exposed here, and tuning is an issue again. But we’re not going to talk about that!!
Ross’s 1995 track Take Me Higher is next. It’s a mark of how well this set is going down that even the slightly lesser-known tracks are getting everyone dancing.
“I’ve just celebrated my birthday,” Ross says. She’s 78 years old, somehow, but is grooving back and forth like it’s 1975 again.
And then she casually drops Upside Down. Even the stewards are dancing along! It’s just hit after hit after hit here.
Diana leads the crowd in a swoonsome rendition of Still Waiting, cutting the band midway through so it’s just her and them. “We love you so much, you’re so wonderful,” she cries.
PP Arnold reviewed
Avalon stage, 3.20pm
PP Arnold has had a storied life. The soulful American singer’s set today is peppered with anecdotes from her past, as when Mick Jagger took her for a walk – “Oh yes he did”; or when she came to London in 1966 as an Ikette – a backing singer for Ike and Tina Turner – and experienced gigging in non-segregated venues for the first time; or when she couldn’t release a song because of “a lot of bloody politics!”
These are each followed by her striking, knowing laugh. She looks so pleased to be here, shimmying her puffed sleeve shoulders and smiling to herself. She repeatedly talks about how good it is to be at Glastonbury (“the city of happening, happening music”) after the last few years, and though some of the songs are a bit corny (as per the trills of more recent track, Baby Blue, off her 2019 album The New Adventures of PP Arnold, which she mentions a lot and implores people to buy), she has such enthusiastic energy it’s hard not to be won over.
She does several covers, including the Monkees and a particularly pleasant rendition of the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, and drops in the names of some of the illustrious people who have written or produced songs for her, including Small Faces, Paul Weller and Cat Stevens. There are apparently some sound issues from her perspective, which she explains are because they didn’t get a chance to rehearse all together, but in the crowd, at least, things sound fine.
Her voice on the elating classic Angel of the Morning is perfection, pouring out like honey, and The First Cut Is the Deepest, with its twinkly keys, is a sweet way to end proceedings. But it’s not before she gets in a final bit of self-promo, with a cackle and a nod to her autobiography which lands this summer apparently – “I got a whole lotta stories to tell!”, she yells.
We’re into the ‘new tracks that audience members are politely smiling to’ portion of the set. Diana’s just played Tomorrow, a very lively funk number, and is following it up with Just Dance, with it’s refrain of “It’s so much better if the world just danced”. Amen to that.
Cate Le Bon reviewed
Styling a chainmail hood and neon orange guitar for summer, Welsh indie hero Cate Le Bon and her band treat the Park stage to a dreamy, summery set this afternoon, all floaty guitar, languorous piano chords and woozy sax emanating over the sunlit uplands of Glastonbury festival. There is something otherworldly about her as she gazes out at us with a detached, regal expression, like she’s thinking higher thoughts at all times while delivering her coolly professional guitar lines (or perhaps wondering whether she’s left the hob on).
Things get a bit more lively during the extended instrumentals of Home to You, which Cate and the band clearly have fun with, and funky bop Harbour has everyone swaying appreciatively. But we are here to soak in a bath of beautiful folky indie rock that soothes the soul, rather than jump and sing along. A truly lovely set.
Thank You doesn’t sound like too much of a departure by the way – it’s a lovely, celebratory soul bop, that the crowd are waving along to.
Diana is talking about her new album Thank You, which she’s about to play the title track of. “I’m not perfect at it yet, but I will be,” she jokes.
I catch the tail end of Declan McKenna, who is in a pair of Elton-worthy wacky glasses, and whose Be an Astronaut very much also channels Elton: big piano chords with a mix of melancholy and stargazing wonder. There’s a long pealing solo from his guitarist – such guitar hero showboating being a repeat part of this festival – and then it’s into Brazil, whose chillwave jangle is ideal Glasto sunshine fodder. He closes with British Bombs, and the ska rhythm has a huge portion of the audience bouncing. Like George Ezra and Blossoms earlier in the weekend, McKenna is a very classic kind of showman with roots in 1970s family-friendly pop. So while his audience may still be pretty young, there’ll be a lot of older converts today.
I’m going to broach this very delicately given she’s a legend and all, but Diana sounds a tiny bit off-key. But it doesn’t really matter in this context – she’s still hitting it out of the park. We’ve just had You Can’t Hurry Love and Chain Reaction, bangers both.
Yes, she is going to just play wall-to-wall classics! Stop in the Name of Love next. Ross has abandoned her purple shawl and is now glittering away like a diamond.
Baby Love! Ross is sashaying around the stage, imperiously. Everyone else is singing along at top volume. She’s just going to play wall-to-wall classics, isn’t she?
Another Ross staple up next, her brassy, bouncy cover of Spiral Staircase’s More Today Than Yesterday. Then it’s into her own back catalogue with a swooning rendition of the Supremes classic My World is Empty Without You.
Diana Ross takes to the stage
The crowd looks vast, bordering on Macca levels. Ross’s backing band are on first, building the anticipation. And here she is, clad in an extraordinary glittery number with a billowing purple shawl on top and feathery headdress. She immediately launches into I’m Coming Out, and has the audience in the palm of her hand already!
Any second now Diana Ross will be taking to the stage. I’ll keep you updated on what she’s up to, before a review from Alexis Petridis later on.
In the last 30 minutes this liveblog has featured both a lengthy digression on Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation and the phrase “sun’s out, bums out”. Truly all of life’s rich tapestry can be seen here
Moonchild Sanelly reviewed
Lonely Hearts Club, 2.45pm
Sun’s out, bums out for one of the most exciting artists to come out of South Africa: Moonchild Sanelly, with her distinctive blue mop hairstyle and, today, a corset and harness barely covering her modesty. She is one of the breakout stars from SA’s pop scene, having appeared on Beyoncé’s Lion King soundtrack and now signed to UK indie label Transgressive, on which she has just released new album Phases. She mixes up attitudinal, deep electro-house and relentless bouncing bass with the sound of the Jo’burg club scene, such as gqom from Durban – with its shadowy, punchy instrumentals and relentlessly stabby vocal samples – and the slow groove of Kwaito. Then add the military drums and rapping reminiscent of other globetrotting innovators such as MIA and Santigold.
Sanelly’s USP is female empowerment and body positivity and her songs have easy-catchy slogans that have rippled through TikTok: songs about being cute, wanting to smooch or generally being a boss lady. It’s a high energy set that’s exactly what’s needed for Sunday afternoon – on the excellently programmed Lonely Hearts Club stage – and is joined by two dancers and a DJ for some raunchy choreography. Truth be told, it makes the Downlow look a bit tame.
She has the bangers to match. To UK ears they might sound underground but this is mega-pop on her home turf. There’s her mega tune Thunda Thighs, a deeply bassy, seriously excellent cellulite-wobbler that might single-handedly bring twerking back. Her Bey collab My Power still sounds like little else out there at the moment. And then there’s a brilliant moment when Sanelly comes into the crowd and challenges various onlookers to a dance-off. That communal experience and audience interaction is what Glasto is all about.
George Ezra reviewed
John Peel tent, 2pm
The John Peel tent, and surrounding field, are as stuffed for George Ezra’s secret set as they were for the Killers a few years ago. There’s the worry, with someone who has such beloved singles, that it might be another Glass Animals situation (as we are officially calling it now), with the audience only there for the whopping hits. But that isn’t the case at all: they roar with feral delight at every song and know every single word. Although some might balk at the concept, Ezra makes platonic-ideal festival music, about sunshine and joy and holidays. Beach balls abound above the crowd’s heads. And particularly in keeping with Glastonbury is his palpably sincere faith in people. On a fragile Sunday lunchtime, it’s almost enough to reduce you to a weeping puddle. “We’re alright together!” he sings on Pretty Shining People, eyes shut, pressing a palm to his chest, smiling dreamily in double denim, and you believe him.
Curiously, the set barely draws from his great new album, Gold Rush Kid, other than a particularly dialled up, rabid version of Green Green Grass. Ezra makes no bones about being a crowdpleasing artist, and he gives the people what they want. That said, you can slightly feel the limitations of some of his older, brassier, stompier stuff from his debut album Wanted on Voyage compared to the newer material, which is more complex and idiosyncratically delightful. Mid-set, we dig into what Ezra calls a “Sunday mood”, keeping things mellow. His band sound rich and lovelorn – so much so that you could imagine Ezra making a great Nashville record some day.
Then he starts to bring out the big guns: live, you realise what a tremendous sense of anticipation is built into Paradise and how the song cleverly encapsulates both the feeling of pleasure and of craving it. It climaxes in a chorus that he almost yells, battering his guitar, and the keys and brass swirl in a lovely cascade of sound that evokes the dazzle of arcade game lights. Of course, it ends with the irresistible Shotgun, Ezra singing the whoops in the verses with a real charming sense of silliness. It’s a song about being someone’s copilot for pleasure, and it’s hard to think of anyone you’d want in the front seat more than Ezra with his radiant commitment to fun.
All weekend Guardian chief culture writer and Glasto novice Charlotte Higgins has been sampling the delights of the festival, experiencing late-night raves, mojitos, burritos and something called laughter yoga. She’s written up her experiences for a rather lovely piece, where she ponders the meaning of the festival:
Wandering back to the campsite, one of my friends asks: “What would Kenneth Clark have made of it? Would he have thought this was civilisation?” It’s a good question. Glastonbury is either a highly advanced form of civilisation, or the opposite – a form of anticivilisation. The food, the toilet stench, the rubbish that piles up underfoot, the bodies, the sweat, the desire, the intoxication: everything that is raw and human is visible, on the surface, not buried or tidied away, as in normal life.
Glastonbury: it’s not just heritage rock acts and Palaeolithic ravers. There’s young people here too, if you look hard enough. Elle Hunt went on the hunt for the elusive Gen-Z, and asked them for their thoughts on the festival, Macca, fashion and more:
SPOTTED: (by our indefatigable roving reporter Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill) Just walked past Cockney comic legend Mickey Flanagan. Going out out!
Park stage, 2pm
Warmduscher entertained the Park stage this afternoon with scuzzy, dancey disco punk rock straight out of a London dive bar. It is impossible to hear much of singer Clams Baker Jr’s distorted, drawling vocals, but thankfully Little Whiskers’ filthy guitar and wild drumming from Quicksand come through loud and clear (gotta love this band’s collection of brilliant rock aliases). This is some enthusiastic dancing for 2pm on Sunday: Midnight Dipper is the track that gets people bouncing, with its irresistible riff. The band look admirably clean in matching spotless white jumpsuits but the music is dirty as heck, just as it should be.
Hi all, Gwilym here, walking you through the next three hours of Glastonbury. It’s T-minus one hour until Diana Ross takes to the Pyramid for the Glasto legends slot. We’ve got tons more coming, too: Fontaines DC, Amyl and the Sniffers, Caroline Polachek and ... McFly!
Emma-Jean Thackray reviewed
West Holts, 12.30pm
Emma-Jean Thackray’s vision of jazz is cosmic and kooky, a wash of gold-tinted horns, murmuring sub-bass and rich, languid melody. Clearly taking inspiration from spiritual jazz icons such as Alice Coltrane and McCoy Tyner but also referencing UKG, northern English brass band culture and neo-soul, she’s the perfect musician to help wash away two days’ worth of debasement and debauchery. Taking to the West Holts stage at 12.30pm, Thackray and her band are dressed in outfits that might best be described as “jazz chav” – Thackray herself wears a burnt orange anorak and an Adidas bucket hat, and her band are clad in hoodies, sweatbands and sneakers.
Launching into a run of cuts from Thackray’s recent album Yellow, they’re in fine form, Thackray herself deftly switching between trumpet, vocals and sequencer throughout the set. As the band launches into Venus – drawn out, here, into a winding 10-minute jam – Thackray explains her process: “I’m a bit of a hippie,” she tells the audience. Half of the crowd is dancing madly, and the other half is prostrate, totally blissed out. “I write about the cosmos, the planets, what it all means …” The entire set is an odyssey: although it starts slow, Thackray is an adept bandleader and a sublime master of ceremonies; by the time she hits Yellow, a twinkling, Four Tet-ish jam, she’s pulled a dusty early afternoon crowd out of their hangovers and into her surreal, spacey zone.
Some pics from George Ezra’s secret set, currently enchanting the John Peel stage.
If you’re getting Glasto fomo, feel free to massively ramp it up with this new hymn to the festival by the Waterboys, who played the Acoustic stage last night and by all accounts were very good.
Laura is in a packed tent for the day’s first secret set, George Ezra. She says:
Unlike Glass Animals, certified hitmaker Ezra doesn’t have the problem that people have only turned up to hear his biggest singles – the crowd is word-perfect for every song, back to his brassy debut, and so far he’s keeping us waiting for the biggest of his big guns: Shotgun, Paradise. (I’m hoping he does I Went Hunting, my favourite song from his new album.)
Sports Team reviewed
John Peel stage, 12.30pm
A surprisingly sizeable crowd has dragged itself out of bed and over to the John Peel for this lunchtime set, lured by Sports Team’s tales of motorways and middle England. Perhaps by Glastonbury Sunday everyone is homesick for suburban mundanity – though it helps that Sports Team have the indie disco tunes for days to go along with the ennui: Long Hot Summer is like a recently unearthed 80s Cure singalong, while Going Soft’s sudden chord changes and shoutalong chorus is reminiscent of Modern Life Is Rubbish-era Blur.
With his eye for absurdist detail and laconic delivery, frontman Alex Rice is often compared to Jarvis Cocker or Damon Albarn, but there’s something looser and more slackerish about their sound. That, though, masks some pretty tight musicianship – they tear through early single Kutcher with the confidence of a band who know their worth. They still find time for a spot of needling of their peers, a recurrent theme of their career to date, with digs in interviews at the likes of Shame and HMLTD: here, it takes the form of Camel Crew, a withering put down of the cliquey south London art-rock scene they were never quite part of (“This avant garde is still the same / Go to Goldsmiths and they dye their fringes / Just to know they’ve made it only / When they sign the rights to Sony”). You wonder how long they’ll need to carry on with this scene squabbling – on the evidence here, Sports Team will soon have bigger battles to wage.
Our photographer Antonio Olmos has been wandering the fields and documenting the impressive array of eccentricity and expression that this festival brings out in people.
Big Joanie reviewed
Park stage, 12.45pm
Big Joanie are one of the coolest, punkest bands in the world. As soon as the UK Black feminist trio take to the Park stage they hit us with a dissonant wall of sound, big smiles and unfaltering, formidable vocals. Between songs they talk about the state of the world, discussing everything from the British government’s attempts to send refugees to Rwanda, Roe v Wade (“it feels like everything is going backward but we can’t let them win”), transphobia, why we should be buying striking RMT workers cups of tea on the picket line (“a win for them is a win for us”). They describe how their song Crooked Room is inspired by Black feminist academic Melissa Harris-Perry, who described the world as a crooked room built to exclude so many of us – the job of their band, they say, is to break out of the room. It’s a theme that runs through the set– ahead of In My Arms they say: “We stand in solidarity with you, we hope you stand in solidarity with us.” This collective mindset is clear in the way they play, too – every time I’ve seen the band they perform as close as is possible to being in a line, each of them given equal prominence and equal voice on stage. They perform as if in communion, taut and vibrantly in sync with one another; this is especially notable on their always exquisite cover of Solange’s Cranes in the Sky, transformed here into a snarling thudding march.
It’s telling that the talk of solidarity and action isn’t po-faced, and there’s humour and laughter and warmth throughout the show. “This song is about men being shit in bed,” vocalist and guitarist Steph Phillips grins, before drummer and vocalist Chardine Taylor-Stone adds: “It doesn’t have to be this way, I’m sure there’s some kind of workshop you can attend in Shangri-La.” It’s You is a playful song full of yelps and chants and thumping beats.
They get cut off at the end as their set has run slightly over, but the skies are blue, the sun is shining down on the Park, and they leave the stage emanating a powerful, radical feeling of hope.
The reviews of Macca are in from both heart-eyed critics and swooning audience members – our news team has rounded up the reaction here.
A special mention to these glorious images by our photographer David Levene of Róisín Murphy, which have a kind of Philip Marlowe noir aspect to them even though it was actually a super fun set of liquid-hips disco.
A look back at some tip-top sets from yesterday.
Ben Beaumont-Thomas here, taking over while Laura goes to watch her floppy-haired king. Good morning only to the DJ at the Maceo’s bar who played You’re Makin’ Me High by Toni Braxton last night and fulfilled every level of my needs pyramid.
Spirits are mostly high around the Guardian cabin this morning, though the conspicuous sight of almost everyone eating a large salad suggests there might be some atoning going on for last night’s indulgences. Personally I feel as though I have cheated death and will be off to celebrate with my beloved George Ezra imminently. I don’t know exactly how I became a huge George Ezra fan, it just crept up on me. I interviewed him for the Observer earlier this year and he was exactly as nice as you would expect.
Angélique Kidjo interviewed!
Glasto being Glasto – the size, the scale, the weather – sometimes things don’t go to plan and so our live Q&A with Angélique Kidjo on Sunday didn’t go ahead, unfortunately. But we managed to catch her backstage ...
Benin-born Kidjo is one of the African continent’s most recognisable artists, whose fusion of myriad African musical styles and traditions with contemporary western pop, Latin jazz and beyond laid the groundwork not only for today’s Afro-pop explosion but also for how forward-thinking, experimental and truly global a pop musician can be. She’s released more than 18 albums, worked with the likes of Alicia Keys, Philip Glass, Peter Gabriel and Herbie Hancock, has released an album of Talking Heads covers and a tribute to salsa legend Celia Cruz. Her 2021 album Mother Nature featured some of the biggest next-gen African stars, such as Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy and Sampa the Great, the latter two who have also performed across the weekend. This is Kidjo’s first Glastonbury.
Hi Angelique, how are you finding the festival so far?
It’s a huge village of people. I can’t wait to be on stage and see all those people dancing. It’s about time that festivals opened their eyes to African talent. We have to stop being arrogant, deciding who has the right to perform here or there. We all have the right to exist.
There’s a far greater number of African artists playing this year, from Burna Boy to Tems. How is this new wave and your own music changing perceptions?
I think the youth are starting the revolution in music. They want change, profound change, in every way – political, economic.
When you first heard Afrobeats [the umbrella term for the pop sound that blends highlife, juju, R&B and hip-hop] stars like Wizkid and Tiwa Savage from Nigeria, what did you think of their music and this new sound that was coming through?
I predicted this would happen. The thing that gets me is the fact that all of them have been inspired by my music. And for me to hear my music played by this new generation means that I have had an impact that I didn’t even know. What is really interesting to me is to see that finally what I have been dreaming of doing when I was there is coming to life. The technology allowed them to be artists in their own right, without counting on anybody, especially not the westerner, to dictate what they have to do. Me, I had to flee my country [to Paris in the 1980s] because of communist dictatorship and I didn’t have the technology that exists today. These African artists today can have their own career, unapologetically, not having to answer to anyone.
Does it feel like we’ve come a long way since the era of calling non-western music “world music”?
I hate that word. I’ve always hated that word. Rock’n’roll came from Africa. The people decided to call us one music, that’s based on ignorance. It’s a different kind of slavery, a musical slavery. And I’ve always been outside that because I’ve always done what I wanted to do. My music is not to please the critics, it’s to please the public.
Do you ever get annoyed when you hear people sampling African music and putting in their music because it’s “cool” now?
People that take samples that don’t give credit, they live with themselves. But music is not appropriation, it’s expansion. If we don’t we don’t tap into each other’s music, music is gonna shrink and disappear. Today our music is in hip-hop, it’s everywhere. My view is: take it, give it credit, and support it to be global.
When you left Benin for Paris, did the European music industry ever try to put you in a box?
I don’t fit in anybody’s box. I grew up in a family where my mum and dad, they brought me all kinds of music from all walks of life. I listen to every music that is in the world. But for the first photo shoot for my first album [on Island Records, 1991’s Logozo], the stylist said they didn’t know what to dress me in because “people where you’re from, you walk around naked, right?” So I said let me get my own wardrobe. I’m a modern African lady. I’m gonna show you how modern Africa can get.
And so you picked out an amazing zebra catsuit! Did you ever feel too ahead of your time?
Yeah, and you pay a huge price for it! When I did my first album in Benin in 1981, the biggest promoter in west Africa was supposed to launch my career and do my first show outside of my country. Two weeks before that concert, he came to my father and said: “I don’t want to invest in your daughter. She’s too little. Nobody gonna see her on stage.” And my father retired from the Post Office, we have very little money, he said: “I’m gonna make a point to show this guy that is stupid.” You got talent or you don’t got talent. My father said, we don’t mind drinking tea, for lunch, breakfast, dinner, whatever it’s takes [to afford to this]. So my father put his money [into it] and we got the poster back, changed the date, found new musicians, and I played the show. My father showed me that is possible in the face of adversity to tap into your own resources, tap into your resilience and move forward. Live with purpose. Nothing is impossible.
You must have loads of great other life advice, Angélique …
The most important lesson I’ve learned is from my maternal grandmother. I was 12, coming back from high school and out of nowhere, from the back, I was hit by stones and sand, with people chanting “prostitute” because I was a singer. I didn’t want to sing anymore if I have to be called prostitute. And my grandmother said: “Understand this. You cannot please everybody. And it goes both ways.” As long as what you are doing empowers your life and it doesn’t hurt you or nobody, do it.
And here’s Dorian Lynskey’s roundup of the festival for today’s Observer.
Our news team have been busy bees this weekend: here’s one of their many reports, on how the cost of living crisis is affecting the Glastonbury economy.
I have to admit, while it’s nice to have a grounding spell manning the live blog, I am devastated to be missing Pam Ayres on the Cabaret stage. I love Pam. Just look at this amazing clip of her talking about Easter. I went to see her live at Stevenage Leisure Centre a few years ago and I think if you multiplied my age by three I would still have been the youngest person there. What a legend.
I'm coming out
Diana Ross is on in the legends slot later today, so Kate Hutchinson has been out quizzing the people on what makes her an icon.
Dream Nails: Mimi, 31, Lucy, 30, Leah, 28, Anya, 34
Leah: The roots of Diana Ross and queerness and campery and being part of that community ... it’s not just icon status, it’s like going to church for the queers.
Lucy: Upside Down has genuinely been the screensaver of my brain – it’s been stuck in my head since childhood.
“There’s certainly a degree of bullishness about McCartney’s second Glastonbury headlining performance, which draws an immense Saturday night crowd,” our pop critic Alexis Petridis wrote of Paul McCartney’s headline set last night, in which he brought out Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl. Read the full thing here!
And we're back!
Good morning from the Guardian’s cabin, where it’s definitely a two cans of Coke morning. The secret sets today have been announced – it’s George Ezra on the John Peel tent, and Jack White up at the Park stage, which will surely be rammed so I’d get there early if I were you. The sun’s out for Diana Ross in the legends slot, and also later today is the superb Herbie Hancock. Prime yourself with Stevie Chick’s fantastic interview.