Glastonbury: A Look Back

Your clothes are muddy, you’ve lost your tent and the M5 is now a sea of traffic. This can only mean that the three day festival of music, arts and entertainment that is Glastonbury has come to another glorious end. With Worthy Farm becoming a temporary home for acts like Florence and The Machine, The Chemical Brothers, The Who and even the Dalai Lama himself, the weekend had something for everyone whether it be your typical dirty stinking hippy that loves Patti Smith or one of Kanye’s latest prodigies. Now that the music, dancing and laughter has probably been replaced with a hangover, we take a look back at some of the weekend’s best performances.

Florence and The Machine – Pyramid Stage

An unfortunate incident which saw Foo Fighters’ lead singer, Dave Grohl, breaking his leg meant that the American rock band had to pull out as the Friday night headliner and leaving a major void in the lineup. Overnight people speculated who would, could and should be worthy of stepping up at such short notice to fill the slot however, having already been tipped as the favourite to headline before, it only seemed right that Florence Welch and the so called ‘Machine’ should take their place. Performing mostly hits from her ethereal new album How Big How Blue How Beautiful, Welch also paid homage to Grohl with a cover of Times Like These which seemed appropriate as, if it weren’t for him, she wouldn’t be headlining. Old favourites like You’ve Got The Love and What The Water Gave Me appeared to echo through the crowd as Florence, who took to wearing a silver suit, bounded round the stage uninhibited by her previously broken foot. Rounding off the festival’s first night was of course one of her most classic tracks, Dog Days Are Over, to which the crowd responded with a chorus of deafening cheers. If there were any doubts as to whether Florence and The Machine should fill such a coveted spot on the bill, these were certain to have been forgotten with her performance being filled with all the majesty and splendor you would expect from such an artist.

Patti Smith – Pyramid Stage

Coming on 70, Patti Smith made no excuses for a close to lost voice during her raucous set on Sunday’s main stage. It’s been a special year for the singer who fronted the American punk movement with her debut album Horses turning 40 and seeing Smith travel to almost every corner of the globe and, even though she’s recently played festivals from Primavera Sound to London’s Field Day, she can’t help but express how special a set at Glastonbury is for her. Everything seems to become even more special when the raw attitude of tracks like Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) and Pissing In A River is suddenly silenced by a poem for the Dalai Lama and then the onstage appearance of his holiness himself. A rendition of Happy Birthday is sung as he preaches to crowd before the set continues with Smith’s bold and brazen performance. You definitely can’t deny that she still has the same ‘right on’ attitude of 40 years ago with her final song, a cover of The Who’s My Generation seeing her rip off every single string on her guitar one by one to rapturous screams which drew her set to a close.

Jamie T – Other Stage 

Making his return last year with the album Carry On The Grudge, it was the first time in a while that Jamie T had played the festival so a somewhat glorious performance seemed to be in order. Although saying that, the performance was glorious in a more atypical sense with Treays not being your typical modern day pop-star. The Londoner came walking onstage looking slightly disheveled in a white shirt and green anorak before his fast-paced acoustic tunes seemed to turn the crowd almost into wild beasts with bottles being thrown, mosh pits breaking out and a sea of crowd surfers during tracks like Rabbit Hole and The Man’s Machine. If you’re thinking this sounds something more similar of a Slaves performance, the reggae influences of Don’t You Find seemed to resonate a more calming vibe and acted as a moment of peace before the pacey riff and lyrical chants of Zombie shredded through Treay’s guitar and definitely left the crowd on a high.

Slaves – John Peel Stage

Did someone mention Slaves? The punk duo also made an appearance at the Somerset festival which saw the John Peel Tent reach it’s maximum capacity, a feat which wasn’t achieved by any other act across the weekend. The band’s new album Are You Satisfied? was brought to life by the antagonistic characters that are Isaac and Laurie who were seen thrashing at their instruments to produce the blaring sounds of a setlist which included Live Like An Animal, Where’s Your Car Debbie? and Cheer Up London. Slaves music certainly did something to the crowd which, from the offset, were probably as rowdy as they could be and this didn’t change. As the dark and doomy bass line of The Hunter cut through the crowd, it was almost as if they had been hypnotised into fiercely screaming back chants of ‘You keep it, we don’t want it’. With an air of Fat White Family (which was probably created due to the fact Isaac was topless) floating around in their performance, Slaves gave it everything which saw their last song Hey leaving the crowd so fired up that they chanted for more.

Alvvays – John Peel Stage

Canadian fivesome Alvvays managed to make it all the way across the Atlantic for their Glastonbury debut, an overall highlight on the festival’s John Peel Stage The band delivered a charming performance from the offset, with lively opening track Your Type acting as a springboard for an equally as lively set. Fan favourites such as Next of Kin and Adult Diversion were featured much to the delight of the notable crowd, but the definite stand-out was the band’s dreamy best-known track Archie, Marry Me. Earning cheers within seconds, it’s fair to say that the set could have ended there, just five songs in, and have left onlookers beaming. Props had go to lead singer Molly Rankin for maintaining silky, melodic vocals throughout the set’s entirety that were almost indistinguishable from studio versions, and as a whole the band delivered a pristine yet raw-sounding performance.

Wolf Alice – The Park Stage

Wolf Alice are currently one of the most talked about bands with their debut album My Love Is Cool placing second in the album charts. After being number one for most of the week, it was just pipped to the post by Florence (it was probably that headline slot that did it) but this didn’t dampen the band’s spirits for their of numerous Glastonbury performances. Numerous seems the right word to use as the band took full advantage of being on the festival bill for a second year and, where most artists would be content with playing one set, once just isn’t enough for Ellie, Theo, Joel and Joff who took to performing three sets overall. With fans only having a matter of days to learn lyrics from the new album, their all out performance on Friday’s Park Stage made it seem like they’d been around for years. Fans were screaming back the lyrics to older tracks like She and 90 Mile Beach whilst the debut of their new repertoire of gained an equally as positive reception. It was a perfectly planned setlist with the violent screams of Fluffy opening the show and warning the crowd of the rage about to occur which was later contrasted by the composure of The Wonderwhy and Bros. As soon as it had come, Wolf Alice’s set drew to a close with one of their most fondly held songs Moaning Lisa Smile which also saw a special appearance from Drenge’s Eoin Loveless accompanying Rowsell.

Jungle – Other Stage

For a band that no one knew about not that long ago, Jungle have become one of the biggest underground successes of the past year with their self titled debut album managing to creep its way up the charts so it’s no surprise then that they attracted a crowd you couldn’t see the back of on Friday. With their vocals sounding similar to the Scissor Sisters, the sonic waves of Platoon, Lucky I Got What I Want and Julia bounced around the arena causing some questionable dancing from both the crowd and the band. However what stole the show and anyone’s moves to shame had to be the break-dancing girl who moved, twisted and pulsed her body in ways that didn’t seem humanly possible to unruly applause. Wrapping up the set with possibly their most famous tracks, the siren like sounds of Busy Earnin’ flooded the field before the psychedlic chorus of Time took the crowd to somewhere else. Even though it was damp and overcast, the weather didn’t do anything to hinder Jungle’s performance with their songs retaining the same amount of mystery they hold on the album.

Words by William Castile and Tabitha Green

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