Glastonbury Festival review – generations tied together by giving back a national treasure

That seemed impossible to the long-time businessmen and eccentrics who inaugurated it in 1970, but the Glastonbury Festival has now taken its place among Britain’s first national treasures, along with with works like Paddington Bear and Dame Judi Dench.

If its countercultural roots were nourished by a sense of difference, today Somerset extravaganza prides itself on having something for everyone. This year’s event featured nearly 800 performances at one venue with more than 200,000 people present. It has received widespread BBC coverage, like a less tender Wimbledon. Of the three titles, there is the youngest solo artist to do so, Billie Eilish, and also the oldest, Paul McCartney. Glasto, as it is given an intimate nickname, wants to reach across boundaries.

McCartney is scheduled to appear in 2020 for the festival’s 50th anniversary, in an ecumenical lineup of rock-rap-pop superstars that includes Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift. After the pandemic was canceled that year and last year’s online mini-festival, Glastonbury lured two out of three people back into proper action. McCartney made the headlines about the Pyramid Stage on Saturday, while Lamar was reclassified as the closing play for Sunday (to be covered in a separate review). Eilish was Swift’s replacement as opening night’s lead. She’s also one of the biggest names in pop music, a sign of the carnival’s mark.

The official show got underway on Friday morning with a video speech from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, challenging Glastonbury’s pleasure seekers to prove “that freedom always wins”. His olive green army t-shirt lends an elegant shine to khaki suits that are a festive wardrobe staple, and also Glastoist metaphors the pleasure of being “bombed” and “hyped”. Followed by him on the Other Stage (the festival’s second largest space) by a band notorious for using their freedom more recklessly than good – The Libertines, indie darlings UK early 2000s rock, Britpop fag-end.

As if taken by Zelenskyy’s words, or perhaps disoriented to find themselves under the bright midday sky, the middle-aged quartet now began to slow down. But they gave a breath of fresh air with their dull anthems–sudden, clattering events that seemed about to fall apart, only to bounce back with raucous choruses and raw rhymes. such as team captain Pete Doherty’s ominous promise “to confess all my guilt after some big gins” in “Music When the Lights Go Out”.

Glastonbury’s bill used to be filled with indie bands like The Libertines. But the lights are off, or at least dimmed, in this musical style. Over the past 20 years, the festival has grown to diversify itself. It crams loads of activity into its 800-acre estate, where the rest of the year is farmland with cows. During the long weekend, the only applause was for applause, in the form of a chorus heard over and over from stages regardless of musical genre: “Glastonbury, are you having fun?”

FT’s sixth journey features Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab play shimmering, mesmerizing songs with acoustic guitarists and violinists on the West Holts stage. “Is that a sitting vibe?” a festival-goer asked her companion. Yes – and happily it can be safe to submit to the vibe without risking one’s chair. The rain threatened, but was contained. Sunshine won, it’s as important to have a good time in Glastonbury as any musician looking for applause.

Three attractively dressed women perform on stage

Veteran girl group TLC drew a huge crowd on the West Holts Stage © James Veysey / Shutterstock

It was the only room at the West Holts stage for veteran American girl group TLC, who drew huge crowds. The backing band gave their 1990s R&B hits a nostalgic sense of old-fashioned soul, while the super glamorous dancers did the opposite. Singers Tionne Watkins and Rozonda Thomas sang hits like “No junk ingredients” and “Waterfall” with the US entertainment rights script. The vibe of the occasion was captured by a woman in the stands, who recklessly climbed the flagpole and started doing pole dance moves.

Confidence Man’s goal at the Park Stage was another highlight. The Australian male-female duo put together a hyperactive choreography, a stunning display of hand-spins, weapons, obstacles, shakes, knee-slips and vogues – everything became popular. variable, accompanied by a series of highly entertaining disco, house and electropop. the numbers.

Any civilian wise enough to attempt similar feats of terpsichorean power in the nearby field of Arcadia would later inflict severe injury. It was hit in the shoulder for engineering in the middle of the night while a giant mechanical spider spewing fire and a balloon floated in the air with a dancer hovering over it. FT rubs his eyes and wonders if it’s time for bed.

Dance music is performed by a huge DJ lineup, from Carl Cox to Calvin Harris. Meanwhile, post-enlightenment seekers from old-school acid-rock, the soundtrack of the past Glastonburys, are also served by artists like the Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo. They played an enchanting show at West Holts on Friday morning, where the noonday sun was obscured by the fact that this was their last UK appearance: they were on tour. Farewell before parting.

A male performer holding a microphone and pointing in the air

West London rapper AJ Tracey on the Pyramid Stage © Dylan Martinez / Reuters

One highlight of the festival, sparked by comments from British comedian Lenny Henry, is how white its audience is, in contrast to the diversity of its repertoire. . The forest of white arms swinging back and forth at the behest of AJ Tracey during Saturday’s delightful Pyramid Stage is proof of the accuracy of the observation. As did the west London rapper’s decision to add a flavor of rock to his UK garage and sound snarky with a guitarist and drummer. There are many rappers in the lineup, but there is no stage dedicated to music.

In other ways, though, the festival’s clientele seems encouragingly mixed. All ages are present, with an equal division between women and men. The £285 ticket price represents considerable value, including up to five nights of camping as well as an extensive lineup of repertoire. The festival’s organizers, Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily Eavis, have resisted squeezing out finances for the event.

On Saturday, Greta Thunberg delivered a surprise speech on climate change from the Pyramid Stage (one exclaims “Depressed!” and they turn around) to a view of Haim. The California trio played a perfect summation performance, with reserve professionalism beneath flashy looks. At another stage, Nigerian Afrobeats star Burna Boy performed dusk hour, spinning dances in golden light with a large group of backing musicians and singers.

The US Supreme Court’s anti-abortion action in overturning Roe vs Wade, announced during the festival, has been repeatedly denounced from the stages. One of the most powerful interventions came from new US pop star Olivia Rodrigo on Other Stage, who invited Lily Allen to join her in a version of the British singer’s “Fuck You”. It is dedicated to five conservative judges.

A young female singer sings into the microphone against a dark red light

Billie Eilish. 20, is the festival’s youngest headliner © Kate Green / Getty Images

Billie Eilish also referred to their decision, a “dark day for women in America,” as she put it in her Friday set of headlines. Youngest solo title person ever, 20 years old, tuned her current arena tour for the vast space of the Pyramid Stage, with more upbeat songs and fewer slow songs. The clever loud and quiet sound design of hits like “Bury a Friend” delivered surprisingly well in large outdoor spaces – but it created a subdued atmosphere. . Although Eilish is a charismatic presence, her staging and material feel swallowed up during the night time period. A knockout finale with “Happier Than Ever,” featuring vocal and realistic fireworks, accompanied by guitar fireworks from her brother Finneas O’Connell, emphasizes that the rest of the film slightly damp.

Saturday’s celebrity just turned 80. A tireless McCartney went on to play for more than double Eilish’s 75-minute appearance. A huge crowd of about 100,000 people stretched out from the Pyramid Stage. Macca continued to do it on his terms. That meant an unfortunate appearance at the mandolin-led hoedown performance of “Dance Tonight,” the Beatles’ kneeling on the Beatles’ song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and the tunes. ancient tales of Jimi (Hendrix) and Eric (Clapton), as well as nervous tension as a solo “Blackbird”. McCartney sang pragmatically, not pushing his voice beyond his ability.

Excitement at his announcement of a special guest from the West Coast of the United States led to hopes of the arrival of California expat Ringo Starr: pointed to the famously beaming image of Dave Grohl stepping on the field. discount. The next special guest was more special: Bruce Springsteen, who joined Macca for his own songs “Glory Days” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” by The Beatles.

McCartney pushed the guitar too far, returning for tedious guitar practice with his guests and bandmates during the closing performance of the show. Abbey Roadof “The End”. He should have ended the more intimate pre-encore “Hey Jude,” in which the former Beatle led his massive audience with a resounding single. In that large choir, na-na-na-ing walks passionately, is the bondage, is the meeting between the two most outstanding national treasures Glasto and Macca.

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