Well known for their eclectic mix of bookings, Glastonbury yet again proves they have knack of securing the right artists for the right occasions. A Pyramid Stage debut for the Dalai Lama, a triumphant Kanye West performance and a legend slot for pop and soul icon Lionel Richie sent crowds back home happy.
As almost 200,000 people flocked to worthy farm, many fans were unconvinced by the headline acts. Emily Eavis, the daughter of Glastonbury festival owner and national treasure, Michael Eavis, even received death threats over Kanye’s inclusion at the festival.
Being the natural heir to the Glastonbury throne, she wrote an open letter for The Guardian explaining that the festival isn't like any other in the UK. Emily Eavis highlighted that they're keen to showcase the finest performing talents in the world, claiming people should keep an 'open mind' on who is booked.
And she's right. Glastonbury isn't just about who you watch and how many hours you spend at the main stage. It’s got a different feel to it. There’s more attractions and hidden areas than you can shake a muddy stick at. Just shove a few cans of your favourite tipple in a rucksack and explore.
The festival opened on Friday morning with a special guest at 11am on the Other Stage. As many people ditched their smartphones for their old trusted Nokias with a 5-day battery lives, the special guests largely remained unknown bar the old fashioned ‘I heard that’ whispers which started to echo around.
The special guests were in fact The Charlatans. With a large turnout, the Britpop Midlands band, fronted by their floppy haired singer/coffee extraordinaire, Tim Burgess, rattled through their large, energetic back catalogue to help get the early morning crowd going.
Later in the day, rumours started circulating that The Libertines were set to fill the space on the Pyramid Stage line up vacated by Florence + The Machine. Florence had been bumped up to replace the Foo Fighters following Dave Grohl’s on-stage leg break, which forced him to pull out. Don’t worry, Dave, we’re sure you’ll get another opportunity next year.
It seemed pretty far-fetched that The Libertines would actually turn up due to a series of dates dotted around the world, including one on the Saturday night in Moscow. However, if anyone would be able to persuade Pete Doherty and co, your money would certainly be on the Eavis family.
It was only once the Libertines’ signature stage backdrop rose from behind the curtain did the Glastonbury punters fully believe it would happen. Cryptic messages throughout the day did suggest the Albion would yet again sail on course, but in a world where information is spread rapidly, this was one of Glastonbury’s best-kept secrets for many years.
After a host of no-shows and the last Glastonbury performance being over a decade ago, the enigmatic London four-piece finally arrived at the Pyramid Stage ready to show they are still relevant and important in their own way.
The crowd erupted as the sketchy opening guitar riff of ‘The Delaney’ rang through the sky rise speakers and they coasted through many crowd pleasers including the sing-a-long inducing ‘Music When the Lights Go Out’.
With a new album on the horizon, we were treated to three new songs off the currently untitled record, including the previously unreleased demo, ‘You’re My Waterloo’ and a live debut of ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ before they ended on their breakthrough hit ‘Don’t Look Back in to the Sun’.
The turbulent duo of Pete Doherty and Carl Barat had the potential to upstage Florence + the Machine, who in their own right had critics to answer, but the flame-haired singer proved not only that she deserved to be headlining, but she had the tunes to back it up, too.
The 'Dog Days are Over' star put in a coming of age performance, against a sea of Glastonbury’s now stapled flags. She gripped the crowd with ease, showcasing her ability to hold the stage with her eccentric dance moves and crowd interaction. She truly looked at home with a backdrop of a dozen red flares in the crowd of thousands.
Fittingly, she also sent the Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl her best wishes and covered ‘Times Like These’ as a fitting tribute whilst smashing out fan favourites ‘You Got the Love’ and new single ‘What Kind of Man’.
On to Saturday, a day that saw ‘Yeezus’, or Kanye West to those not familiar with urban naming conventions, grace the Pyramid Stage with music not to the typical Glastonbury purists taste. The crowd-pleasers were out in full force earlier in the day, with acts spanning across the various stages including George Ezra, Clean Bandit, the Maccabees, Jessie Ware, Years and Years and Gregory Porter.
As the sun was setting across the Pyramid Stage and Pharrell Williams closed his two decade spanning chart-dominating set, fans had to choose between funk band collaboration ‘The Mothership Returns’ featuring Parliament on the West Holts Stage, electro house DJ, Deadmau5 on the Other Stage, or stay and see what Kanye West had in store.
Blistering onstage to the Daft Punk-sampled favourite ‘Stronger’, Kanye immediately had the crowd on his side. With his band hidden behind him and the spotlights literally on him, West stormed through his plethora of classics, which have formed him into the superstar he deserves to be.
Those who have followed the Glastonbury coverage will have no doubt seen the mockery Kanye received for his ‘rendition’ of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ midway through his set (below). But this is the fun and unpredictable nature of ‘Yeezy’ that kept the crowd on the tips of their toes.
As the opening trumpets to ‘Touch The Sky’ drew an emphatic crowd reaction, the whole of the Pyramid Stage suddenly descended into darkness, prompting a chorus of boos and hisses as the show’s momentum ground to halt. After a few minutes of confusion, the lights of the main stage lit back up to reveal the ‘Late Registration’ star poised on a Cherry Picker lifted above the speakers to continue his career-defining set.
The notion of the atypical rock star almost seems a thing of the past in the 21st century. Tweets, Instagram filters and politically correct interviews have seen the music business seem tamer than ever.
As Kanye’s set ends, he self-professes himself as, ‘the greatest living rock star on the planet’ to the Worthy Farm crowd. You feel like he may have a point. Yet again he is the name on everybody’s lips and whether complimentary or not, the headlines were all about him.
With post-Glastonbury blues setting in for some festival-goers who had to vacate the campsites early on Sunday, the fields began to filter out those returning to their Monday morning realities.
After copious days of drinking and spending the early hours in the fabled Shangri La, it seemed the crowd were starting to feel the affects of the five day festival. So as the day kicked off on the Pyramid Stage and the threat of rain loomed large over the Glastonbury fields, the arrival of Lionel Richie after punk-poet Patti Smith paved the way for one of Glastonbury’s most enjoyable afternoons in years.
Promising to bring some ‘California sunshine’ to the main stage, the former Commodores frontman used up all his guile and experience to keep the crowd in high spirits throughout his one and a half hour hits-filled performance. The rise in popularity in the midday Sunday legends slot allows Glastonbury to keep the line-up current, yet still find room for an assured golden oldie.
Coming just over a week after the 66-year-old’s birthday, he treated the biggest crowd recorded at the festival this year to classics such as ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, ‘Hello’, ‘Say You Say Me’ and Commodores soul singles including ‘Easy’ and ‘Brick House’. The Glastonbury debutant certainly proved he still had it.
The high calibre of bookings the festival presents every year forms difficult decisions for revellers and this was no different on Sunday night. Electronic dance duo, The Chemical Brothers was a tempting lure to the Other Stage, whereas occupying the Pyramid Stage was one of the country’s most distinctive bands, The Who.
The mod rockers came onstage half an hour earlier than expected, following on from fellow mod-scene pioneer Paul Weller. The Who had teased this could be their final swansong in terms of live performances, but once the Quadrophenia curators emerged, they seemed up for the challenge of ‘sending the crowd home happy’, and ‘a bit deaf’.
In what was a greatest hits performance, onlookers were treated to Roger Daltry’s raspy vocals and guitarists Pete Townsend’s windmilling mastery to the tune of popular anthems such as ‘My Generation’, ‘Pictures of Lilly’ and ‘Pinball Wizard’.
Midway through the gig, Townshend even took a swipe at the previous night’s headliner, Kanye West, questioning his rock star credentials as he burst in to ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.
The rock legends seemed a little underwhelmed by their set, and ever-vocal lead guitarist Pete Townshend even violently smashed through the plastic shield surrounding the drummer, Zak Starkey, claiming he was unable to hear the Keith Moon most recent replacement properly.
Once they brought their two-hour set to a close, the crowds made their way through Common and to Shangri La to see out the remaining hours of the last night in true Glastonbury fashion.
On arrival, funk and soul DJ (and face of Robot Wars) Craig Charles had one aim in mind. To end the festival in a way only he could do. Better known to many as Lloyd from Coronation Street and Steve McDonald’s right hand man, the Liverpudlian smashed through a three hour set combining the best of 70’s funk and progressive house to send the crowd back to their tent, only with the alarming reality most probably leave in a few hours time.
It may not have been the most obviously star studded line-up compared to previous years, but it seems fans can be assured Emily Eavis certainly has the bottle and credentials to follow on from her dad’s five decade long run of organising the country’s biggest music festival.
Their desire to book the finest artists across the musical spectrum is as strong as ever, and we can be sure people will flock to the Somerset farm in their droves again next year.
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