It’s easy to forget what a spectacle Glasto is. Before this year’s festival, all the talk was about the line-up but as Phil pointed out recently, Glastonbury is about so much more than the that. It’s much more than a music festival. For the first time ever it failed to sell out, and the “controversy” of a hip-hop headliner in Jay-Z only highlighted the prejudices of traditional festivalgoers expecting the Saturday headliner to be a little bit more…white.
As it happens, a side-by-side study of Friday and Saturday night headliners leaves no doubt about the decision. Friday night saw the Kings of Leon deliver a greatest hits with no panache, sincerity or engagement. It was very white and a very average performance. The band looked listless throughout. Where was the energy? Just because a band are on a big stage in front of thousands, it does not mean the performance is going to be remembered for years as BBC’s presenters repeatedly extolled after nearly every main stage performance.
In contrast Jay-Z took all the criticism in his stride and delivered a much more entertaining and unique show. The kind of show that Glastonbury should be known for. Starting with a rather cheeky rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ following Noel Gallagher’s comments about his unsuitability as a headliner, it was the clear highlight especially when it was followed with the only tune that could have proceeded it – ’99 Problems’ spliced with AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’.
Jigga demonstrated himself as a supreme showman with his set and despite playing a few poor songs in his canon, he was more than able to hold his own. At one point, he looked like he was choking tears behind his glasses when he said something along the lines of “I thought none y’all wanted me.” I think it was very clear by the triumphant ending, he was wanted.
The BBC have always made the effort to highlight the characters occupying the nether-regions of Worthy Farm but for the armchair enthusiast, a variety of coverage was distinctly lacking. The coverage repeatedly showed the same limited number of artists on rotation and without the red button option, it was quite tedious at times. Thankfully the BBC Glasto site goes some way to rectifying the problem.
Sunday’s headliners The Verve exceeded expectations albeit ten years later than expected. The closing one-two punch of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and the anthemic new single ‘Love is Noise’ delivered a suitably emotional finale, especially with the band members clearly relishing every moment.
What’s to be said about Amy Winehouse’s performance? The girl looked ragged, off her head and a little bit unhinged. Plus, she dances like a skeletal 85 year old granny. Very strange performance. And that’s not even mentioning the incident where she took a swipe at the person in the front row. Give us Duffy’s performance anyday.
Elsewhere we’ve collated some video highlights for y’all to enjoy a second time round.
- How did the Irish fare? That’s yet to be determined but you can watch Fight Like Apes’ highlights.
- Crystal Castles annoyed the stage organisers so much they cut them off (About 10 minutes in to the video).
- Curious to see how Ethiopiques goes down on stage before their Festival of World Cultures show in August? Catch half an hour from the set.
- Foals brought a brass section to their Friday afternoon slot.
- Neon Neon’s performance was rather bizarre. Gruff sat in a deckchair for the entire set while Har Mar Superstar stood on his head and sang.
- The Ting Tings returned to Glastonbury one year from humble beginnings to crown their massive success.
- Vampire Weekend were awesome while Black Kids were not.
- Can someone please explain the appeal of The Wombats?
- Neil Diamond + ‘Sweet Caroline’ = Perfect Sunday teatime @ Glasto.
OK, tell us, what did we miss?