This year’s installment of Glastonbury felt like the biggest and best ever. Michael Eavis is famous for claiming that every year has been the very best, but when he said it this year, I felt inclined to agree. Between wandering around in The Green Fields and shaking out some moves at various silent discos, I managed to see many of my current favourite bands. In a set of brief reviews, this is how they each sounded.
Haim • Pyramid Stage
Haim were just the second band to play the iconic Pyramid Stage. Sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim make up the ultra-cool rock/country band from Los Angeles. Cool they may be, but their edge seemed to wear away with the weight of playing one of the world’s most famous festival stages.
Jake Bugg • Pyramid Stage
Country singer Jake Bugg sings as though he is from Kentucky, but when he speaks his Nottingham roots are revealed. At just 19 years old he held his own on the large Pyramid Stage with an incredible voice and irresistible cool demeanor in perfect music for a sunny afternoon. A legacy in the making, for sure.
Rita Ora • Pyramid Stage
I like to catch the odd glamourous pop princess at Glastonbury. This year Rita Ora took the pop-spot and was well worth the watch. When the music wasn’t developed enough to hold my attention, the backing dancers certainly did. And I can’t deny singing along with ‘Shine Ya Light’ with the most ardent devotees.
|Rita Ora, Glastonbury 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath|
The Lumineers • Other Stage
I was lucky to pass through Other during The Lumineer’s set. Beautiful folk vibes and it was incredible to see members of the band climb down into the crowd to continue their set touching shoulders with adoring fans. A brilliant Glastonbury moment.
Alt-J • Other Stage
Alt-J began by playing through the first three songs of their highly acclaimed debut album – no need for any introduction – just pure Alt-J sounds. The brilliantly conceived and tightly executed set did not disappoint.
Foals • Other Stage
I feel that Foals really came of age in their two latest albums, Total Life Forever and Holy Fire. Tonight’s set was characteristically energetic, beautiful and wholly absorbing.
Crystal Castles • John Peel Stage
Crystal Castles were 25 minutes late for their set and Alice Glass threw a tantrum (she took her anger out on the crash cymbal) when the electronics didn’t go off according to plan. But that didn’t stop this being a great set. The best in high-octane and trippy dance music.
|The Park, Glastonbury 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath|
Melody’s Echo Chamber • The Park
The perfect soundtrack to lunch of halloumi and spicy rice in The Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon – tuneful electronic vibes.
Laura Mvula • Pyramid Stage
One of my highlights was catching Laura Mvula toward the end of her set. She has an incredible voice for the soul/pop she sings and I fell in love with her stage presence and genuine manner.
Ben Howard • Pyramid
Ben Howard gave an incredibly intense and emotional performance and it was impeccable from start to finish. Just, wow.
Daughter • John Peel Stage
Elena Tonra – the voice of folk trio Daughter – is sweet and shy on stage. But that didn’t stop her giving a powerful and beautiful performance that broke all of our hearts. Poignant lyrics coupled with incredible melodies.
|Daughter, Glastonbury 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath|
Alabama Shakes • Other Stage
Soulful rock and roll from the Deep South – plenty of personality and fun for a sunny Saturday evening.
The Rolling Stones • Pyramid Stage
100,000+ people filled the pyramid arena (surely the biggest crowd Glastonbury has ever seen?) to see The Rolling Stones in this historic gig. Jagger still has his moves, the music rocked and despite comments about band members' ages, I felt the boys were on top form.
|The Rolling Stones, Glastonbury 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath|
Sheelanagig • Croissant Neuf
I wrapped my Saturday night with a good ol’ knees up with Eastern European gypsy folk band Sheelanagig. Incredible instrumentalists, brilliant humour and irresistible dance beats.
The Heavy • Other Stage
"We’re kind of a night time band, but ya’ll made it out at 10 past 12 on a Sunday afternoon so – thank you." A dose of funk-rock with my late breakfast…
First Aid Kit • Pyramid Stage
You would be forgiven for thinking that sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg were from one of North America’s southern states (I did!). In fact, they are from Sweden, but nonetheless evoke brilliantly the country singer ilk – the likes of June Carter and Emmy Lou Harris – that they so clearly admire. With lovely folky harmonies and familier tales of love, self-discovery and journeys, this is music for the great American road trip.
Deap Vally • John Peel Stage
Ultra-sexy and unstoppably cool, rock duo Deap Vally shook the John Peel tent on Sunday afternoon. These girls have been playing together only a couple of years but are already a strong female force to fall in love with.
|Deap Vally, Glastonbury 2013 | Photo: Rosie Pentreath|
Villagers • John Peel Stage
I listened to The Villagers whilst lying under a satisfyingly warm sun – perfect for a chilled summer day.
Tom Odell • John Peel Stage
“I’ve just found out that my album is number one.” The roar from the crowd was unbelievably loud with that, and deservedly so. In his heartfelt ballades and cleverly conceived piano songs, Odell is a superb musician with an incredible voice and charming manner. Swoon. What an honour to witness this brilliant set.
Jessie Ware • John Peel Stage
Jessie Ware is a charmer. And just so much fun! She gave us a great set with strong vocals and catchy electronic beats – the highlight was singing my heart out to ‘Wildest Moments’ along with the best of them.
James Blake • John Peel Stage
The experience of watching James Blake live was without doubt one of the best I have had at any Glastonbury so far. His brand of electronic music is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, powerfully intense and wholly consuming. Simply stunning.
The XX • Other Stage
The XX began their headline set earlier than programmed. I experienced a fabulous moment running down the hill whilst the introduction to ‘Try’ pierced the air. Certainly a chilled end to the festival programme, but not a disappointment. Incredible chemistry and uplifting electronics.
In between the main bands I sipped tea in folk tents, experienced the hedonistic surrealism of Shangri La, danced through sunrise at the Silver Hayes silent disco, made an abstract terracotta portrait, watched a classic film, and visited Left Field to attend a talk on Feminism.
+ I hugged a hippy.