GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL, WORTHY FARM, PILTON, SOMERSET 23-26.6.22
GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL DAYS 1 & 2 – 23-24.6.22
This is my first visit to Glastonbury Festival for 23 years, and my, hasn’t it grown?!!! Last time I was here the old railway line was effectively the southern boundary of the site, with just a market and the Healing Fields to the south of it. Now it is a major thoroughfare between the stages. The festival is massively more crowded too, with most parts of the festival resembling Oxford Street on a very busy Saturday afternoon.
Still, what we’re actually here for is the music, which to my surprise starts in a small way at the Rocket Lounge on Wednesday 22nd. Very late at night (or it could have been in the early hours of the morning, it’s a bit hazy…) we see a rather good 1960s style R’n’B band called Us, who appear to be from Finland, although they sounded Irish to me. They play original material, although much of it sounds like it could have been from 1966, and the band look like they could have beamed in from then too. Maybe they did. It is Glastonbury after all. You don’t have to be here for very long before you feel that absolutely anything is possible.
It’s on the Thursday that some of the name bands start to appear from the woodwork. Our first band of the day is System 7, consisting of Steve Hillage and his partner Miquette Giraudy, both formerly (and possibly presently?) of Gong, at the Glade stage. Their music is ambient trance with Hillage’s guitar and keyboards overlayed. It almost sounds like Hawkwind to a techno beat. There are some awesome psychedelic backdrops, and the whole ensemble performance makes you feel as if you are in another time and place entirely. Probably the best start to Glastonbury one could possibly wish for.
Next we trip across to the Truth stage in the Shangri La area, which is probably worthy of a review in its own right. Suffice to say it’s like nowhere you’ve ever been before. We’re here to see the magnificent Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, a band that could have been specifically invented to play at Glastonbury. To say that their approach and attitude is somewhat ‘out there’ only just about begins to do them justice. They were formed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and comprise Matthew Baty on vocals, Sam Grant on guitar, Adam Ian Sykes on lead guitar, John-Michael Joseph Hedley on bass and Ewan Mackenzie on drums. Baty is barefoot. Well, why wouldn’t he be?
Their Sabbath-influenced mayhem seemingly isn’t sufficient to prevent the crowd from chanting “turn it up”!!! Sometimes no amount of volume can cut through the wall of deafness. It’s perhaps not altogether inaccurate to describe Baty as an Ozzy Osbourne who can actually sing. He doesn’t lack in showmanship either. He puts his mic in his mouth and screams – very Napalm Death!
Pigs x 7 are followed on the Truth stage by Nova Twins, a rap-rock duo (with a touring drummer) consisting of Amy Love on guitar and vocals, and Georgia South on bass. I’ve seen them a few times before, and not only do they never fail to impress, they seem to improve every time that I see them.
They are a mind-blowing live band, with incredible musicianship. Georgia South is in danger of joining the honourable society of lead bassists, despite her tender years. They have just released their second album ‘Supernova’, and much of tonight’s set comes from it. On tonight’s showing, it sounds as if it is a very impressive piece of work.
Friday brings out the first of the big-hitters, with The Libertines due on the Other Stage at 11.30. Now, I must confess I have mixed feelings about The Libertines. I felt that the best tracks from their first two albums ‘Up The Bracket’ and ‘The Libertines’ could have been put together to make one decent album. I believe that they are massively overrated and that their perceived importance is actually pretty negligible. Added to that, the way in which their various addictions were glamourised both by themselves and by the music press was shameful. There is nothing glamorous about a junkie.
So how were they? Well, whilst I hadn’t come to bury them so to speak, I was expecting something of a car crash. That absolutely didn’t happen. They began punctually, so punctually in fact that I nearly missed the beginning of the set! The crowd that they have drawn is absolutely massive, and I find it difficult to get to a place where I can actually see them. Carl Barat, bassist John Hassall and drummer Gary Powell all look much the same as always. Pete Doherty however looks relatively healthy in comparison to the past. He has some grey hair but his heroin pallor has gone. Indeed he has put on weight and looks in fine form. Clearly living in Margate and being clean agrees with him!
Their set starts strongly with ‘Up The Bracket’ and ‘Vertigo’ from the first album, and ‘The Ha Ha Wall’ from the second. There are some selections from the third album ‘Anthem For Doomed Youth’ from 2015, which I must confess that I had completely forgotten about! The set does sag a little occasionally, especially in the middle. There are plenty of highlights though, including ‘Boys In The Band’, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ and ‘Time For Heroes’. Indeed there are some gems in The Libertines’ back catalogue, and we got plenty of them today. The band connect well with the audience too. Pete has a message for us from Michael Eavis: “Get orff my land!” Overall, today has been something of a triumph for The Libertines. Some new music would be nice though.
The Libertines setlist:
‘Up The Bracket’
‘The Ha Ha Wall’
‘What Katie Did’
‘You’re My Waterloo’
‘Boys In The Band’
‘Can’t Stand Me Now’
‘Music When The Lights Go Out’
‘What Became Of The Likely Lads’
‘Death On The Stairs’
‘The Good Old Days’
‘Time For Heroes’
‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’
We see Nova Twins for a second time (I really can’t get enough of this band) on the Greenpeace stage.
We then head off to the Park Stage for Wet Leg. Again there is a massive crowd. This must be far and away the biggest gig this band have played. They must be terrified – I certainly would be! If they are, it certainly doesn’t show. They turn in an assured performance. Their humour is present and correct in their performance. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers pirouette in unison. They are both wearing Victorian style frocks which must be incredibly hot. Their lyrics are laugh out loud funny: wanting to shop until they are “weak in the knees” in ‘Supermarket’ for example. Unsurprisingly they finish with ‘Chaise Longue’, the audience joining in with considerable gusto. Wet Leg are clearly very much on the up. Can’t wait for their second album, although I somehow suspect I shall have to!
Wet Leg setlist:
‘Being In Love’
‘It’s Not Fun’
‘I Don’t Wanna Go Out’
‘Too Late Now’
‘I Want To Be Abducted (By A UFO)’
We have something of a sojourn at the Pyramid stage which begins with Crowded House. The band today consists of founder members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, together with producer Mitchell Froom, and Finn’s sons Liam and Elroy. In some ways it doesn’t matter exactly who’s in the band, as they sound like Crowded House. We get something of a greatest hits set, but let’s face it, when a band like Crowded House have so many great songs, how could they play anything else? There are surprises though: Neil gets the band to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his brother Tim; during ‘Weather With You’ a small child called Buddy dances onstage. Quite who’s child this is I’m not sure, but presumably he’s something to do with the band. During the closing number, Split Enz’s ‘I Got You’, Buddy screams in time with the song. It’s different…. Overall their set is enjoyable and relaxing. Perfect afternoon festival music in fact.
Crowded House setlist:
‘World Where You Live’
‘Fall At Your Feet’
‘Pineapple Head’ (including ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by The Kinks)
‘Show Me The Way’
‘It’s Only Natural’
‘When You Come’
‘Better Be Home Soon’
‘Four Seasons In One Day’
‘Weather With You’
‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’
‘I Got You’ (Split Enz)
We remain at the Pyramid stage for Wolf Alice and their delightfully lean grungy rock. I haven’t seen Wolf Alice before and am mightily impressed. There is plenty of light and shade. They know how to rock out, but on their slower songs they’re accompanied by a string section. On the other side of the coin, at one point guitarist Joff Oddie swings his guitar around as if he’s about to smash it. Wolf Alice are now three albums into their career and have the depth of material to match that. Not a minute is wasted in the set. There is nothing that even approaches filler. The reaction from the crowd is deservedly ecstatic, and vocalist Ellie Rowsell becomes quite emotional as a result. It’s a superb performance, one of the best of the festival from my point of view.
Wolf Alice setlist:
‘You’re A Germ’
‘Lipstick On The Glass’
‘Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall In Love)’
‘How Can I Make It OK?’
‘Play The Greatest Hits’
‘The Last Man On Earth’
‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’
The most hotly anticipated artists of Friday for me are Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. I’d never seen them before and I was eager to see how their take on Americana translated live. I am certainly not disappointed. Opener ‘Rich Woman’ from the first Plant & Krauss album ‘Raising Sand’ is simply sublime. Likewise Naomi Neville’s ‘Fortune Teller’ is an early highlight. The Everly Brothers’ ‘The Price Of Love’ from the current ‘Raise The Roof’ album is given a much slower treatment than the original, with some utterly searing guitar work.
Younger readers may be aware that Robert Plant used to be in a very old band called Led Zeppelin. I had heard that Plant & Krauss did include one or two Zeppelin songs in their set, but in very different arrangements. The first Zeppelin song to be performed is ‘Rock and Roll’. The drum intro is absent, and there is a really quite fabulous fiddle intro in its place. Plant and Krauss share lead vocals.
‘Please Read The Letter’ from Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s ‘Walking Into Clarksdale’ album (and also re-recorded by Plant & Krauss on ‘Raising Sand’) gets an airing. This seems to be something of a favourite of Plant’s at the moment, as he also performs it with his Saving Grace band. In that band he also has a female vocal foil, Suzi Dian.
The set ends with two more Led Zeppelin songs. ‘The Battle Of Evermore’ is fairly faithful to the original, and is something of a revelation with Alison Krauss singing Sandy Denny’s part. It really is a truly splendid thing. However, the version of ‘When The Levee Breaks’ (itself an old blues song) is considerably more adventurous, featuring dualling violins and instrumental excerpt from Led Zeppelin ‘III’’s ‘Hangman’. Overall this is a stunning performance. The great thing about Robert Plant, both on record and performing live, is that you never quite know what you’re going to get from him, in a good way. Today is certainly no exception.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss setlist:
‘Quattro (World Drifts In)’
‘The Price Of Love’
‘Rock And Roll’
‘Please Read The Letter’
‘Trouble With My Lover’
‘High And Lonesome’
‘It Don’t Bother Me’
‘Gone Gone Gone’
‘The Battle Of Evermore’
‘When The Levee Breaks’
We then battle our way over to the Park stage for the kings (and queen) of 1990s dance music, Saint Etienne. Their set commences with their first single, a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’. Vocalist Sarah Cracknell is in fine form as the voice and indeed the face of the band.
The set is like a skimming stone through their back catalogue, and to be fair is something of a treat. It’s exactly what a festival set should be, catering for fans and casual watchers alike. Closer ‘He’s On The Phone’ is a stone cold classic and leaves us wanting more. Your reviewer particularly wanted to hear ‘You’re In A Bad Way’, but no joy today. Ah well, maybe next time.
Saint Etienne setlist:
‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’
‘Like A Motorway’
‘Who Do You Think You Are’
‘Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)’
‘Nothing Can Stop Us’
‘He’s On The Phone’
Tonight’s headliner on the John Peel stage is Primal Scream, playing as part of their ‘Screamadelica’ tour. I was in two minds whether to see them as I had already seen (and reviewed) them at the Wide Awake Festival in May. However, they’re one of my favourite bands, so what’s a poor boy to do? Tonight’s set is very different to that at the Wide Awake Festival. Although ‘Screamadelica’ is heavily featured, three of the first four songs (‘Swastika Eyes’, ‘Pills’ and ‘XTRMNTR’) are from the ‘XTRMNTR’ album.I’m more than happy with that as it’s one of my favourite albums and is extremely powerful when played live. Particularly poignant is their inclusion of ‘Deep Hit Of Morning Sun’ from ‘Evil Heat’. They dedicate it to the late Mark Lanegan, as he had covered it. There is also a new song: ‘English Town’. This was recorded last year and is unusually slow with lots of minor chords. It sounds like it could almost be the soundtrack for a lot of peoples’ lockdowns.
Unsurprisingly there is some of ‘Screamadelica’ album essayed tonight, but by no means the full album. So we get a three song section comprising ‘Come Together’, ‘Loaded’ and ‘Movin’ On Up’. Nothing to complain about there, but anybody who was expecting to hear the full album might have been left feeling a little short-changed. It’s nonetheless a brilliant show, and for those who aren’t committed Screamteam fans, it gives something more of an insight into what Primal Scream are all about. And what they are all about is being a damn fine rock ‘n’ roll band.
Primal Scream setlist:
‘Deep Hit Of Morning Sun’
‘Movin’ On Up’
GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL DAY 3 – 25.6.22
I make no bones about Saturday being all about Paul McCartney. My main intention is to be safely ensconced in a reasonable position in front of the Pyramid stage way before Macca is due on stage. This doesn’t quite go to plan but the intention was there
The first act I see on Saturday is Black Midi. They are London based and comprise Geordie Greep (vocals, guitar), Cameron Picton (vocals, bass, synths), Morgan Simpson (drums), Seth Evans (keyboards, synths), and Kaidi Akinnibi (sax). I have seen writers attach all kinds of labels to this band, and I’m afraid that I am going to be no better. Personally, I would describe it as angular post-rock with jazz influences. The lyrics bounce between being interesting and downright bizarre. With frequent and unexpected time signature changes it’s all a little bit mad. This is brilliant music that is dazzling and bewildering in equal measure. But hey, don’t wait for people like me to tell you what Black Midi are like. Listen to their music yourselves. You won’t regret it. I must confess though, I had to have a little lie down after their set.
Black Midi setlist:
‘Welcome To Hell’
‘Sugar / Tzu’
‘Eat Men Eat’
‘Near DT, MI’
I next venture to the Avalon stage for the Tom Robinson Band. I’d seen them a couple of months ago at Guildford Boileroom, and they were excellent, as indeed they are this evening. The set is largely skewed in favour of the albums released by the original Tom Robinson Band in 1978 and 1979: ‘Power In The Darkness’ and ‘TRB Two’. This emphasis is well deserved as they are both fine albums, and it’s depressing to find that many of the issues addressed on those two albums are very relevant today, and in some cases Tom has modified the lyrics to highlight this.
Tom is still very politically active today as is witnessed by his song ‘The Mighty Sword Of Justice’. This song was commissioned by the Law Society to protest against the removal of Legal Aid from 85% of the population. It’s a fine song too, and can hold its head up in the company of the likes of the magnificent ‘Grey Cortina’ and ‘Martin’. ‘Too Good To Be True’ is dedicated to late TRB guitarist Danny Kustow, who passed away in 2019.
‘War Baby’ suffered from a generic 1980s production but sounds fine live. The set closes with ‘Glad To Be Gay’ and ‘Up Against The Wall’ (both with updated lyrics), ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ and ‘Power In The Darkness’, which features Tom delivering a hilarious impersonation of Boris Johnson, which nonetheless carries a very serious message. The message is that very little has improved over the past forty or so years. We still have a government that views ordinary people as some kind of enemy. Tom Robinson may be 72 years old, but he is still angry, he is still relevant, and he still very much has something to say. You should give him a listen.
Tom Robinson Band setlist:
‘Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio’
‘Too Good To Be True’
‘Still Loving You’
‘Silence Is Death’
‘The Mighty Sword Of Justice’
‘(Sing If You’re) Glad To Be Gay’
‘Up Against The Wall’
‘Power In The Darkness’
We head to the Pyramid Stage primarily to get into position for Paul McCartney, and also to see Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, as they just happen to be onstage. Now I have somewhat conflicted views regarding Noel Gallagher. By all accounts he’s a top bloke, and he has written some superb songs, but his High Flying Birds just don’t do it for me. Everything I’ve heard by them seems to be mid-paced and a bit dull, and today’s set just seems to underline that. Indeed, it’s very much a set of two halves: the first half being High Flying Birds material, the bulk of the second half consisting of Oasis songs. And it is indeed a winning second half, for who can argue with ‘Whatever’, ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Half Of The World Away’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger?’ Not me anyway.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds setlist:
‘It’s A Beautiful World’
‘She Taught Me How To Fly’
‘We’re On Our Way Now’
‘Black Star Dancing’
‘Dead In The Water’
‘Little By Little’
‘The Importance Of Being Idle’
‘Half The World Away’
‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’
‘AKA….What A Life!’
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
And so we come to the main event: it’s only Paul McCartney!!!!! If this man was just an ex-Beatle, that would probably be enough. However, he’s also a brilliant songwriter, a great singer (still), a ground-breaking bassist and no slouch on guitar and piano. All in all he’s a very clever boy.
Kicking off with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ it seems that he can do no wrong. These days he gives equal emphasis to his work with Wings as well as his Beatles ouvre. I think this is deserved. Second song ‘Junior’s Farm’ is a classic, and ‘Letting Go’ from Wings’ ‘Venus And Mars’ album is a comparatively deep cut. However, some people seem to only want Beatles songs, which is an unfair requirement. Paul slots in some of his newer songs in amongst the classics, notably ‘Come On To You’ and ‘Fuh You’ from 2018’s ‘Egypt Station’. The reaction afforded these songs is relatively muted, which is rather a shame as they’re great songs.
The whole spectrum of the McCartney ouvre is covered, from the beautifully delicate ‘Blackbird’ to the proto-heavy metal ‘Helter Skelter’ in the encore. The set increasingly goes into overdrive with the highlights coming thick and fast. So much so in fact that the audience is reeling from one when another appears: The Beatles’ ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ with it’s acoustic guitar intro, The Quarrymen’s ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’, and the story of how Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton hung onto the record for over twenty years until McCartney bought it from him in 1981 “for a life-changing amount of money”.
Then there’s ‘Love Me Do’, the first Beatles single which was mostly sung by John Lennon; ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ from ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band’ which was written and sung by John. Then comes George Harrison’s ‘Something’ which Paul starts off on ukulele, an instrument that George introduced to him. Let’s not forget the magnificent ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ from the ‘Abbey Road’ album. Then McCartney tells us he has a surprise for us, and Dave Grohl walks onstage. As if the place wasn’t batshit crazy enough already.
McCartney and Grohl charge through ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Band On The Run’, and Grohl leaves the stage to rapturous applause. Paul announces that he has another surprise for us, this time from the east coast of the US, and on walks Bruce Springsteen!!! Naturally there is more rapturous applause and the traditional calls of “Broooooooooce”!!!! Bruce treats us to one of his songs: ‘Glory Days’, then comes ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ (originally sung by Ringo) and Bruce leaves the stage. The main set ends with ‘Let It Be’, a raucous ‘Live And Let Die’ and the now traditional ‘Hey Jude’.
There is a real feeling of ‘follow that’! However, Paul and the band are only offstage for a few minutes before they return. What now? Paul tells us that he can isolate John Lennon’s vocal from the ‘Get Back’ TV series, and should he wish, Paul would be able to duet with John’s 50+ year old vocal live on stage. That’s exactly what happens with ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’. The weird thing is that not only does it not seem in the least bit strange, it works really well! There had been rumours of a hologram being used. Now that would have been weird.
Unusually the encores are all late Beatles songs, with ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ followed by ‘Helter Skelter’, ‘Golden Slumbers’, ‘Carry That Weight’ and ‘The End’. Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen return for ‘The End’, and things get way above fever pitch once again. Some time ago Paul had already commented “f*ck the curfew” and gone twenty minutes or so beyond closing time so to speak. No-one pulled the plug on him here, not like at Hyde Park a few years ago.
This has been one of the most astonishing live performances that it’s ever been my privilege to witness. It’s very difficult to believe that Paul McCartney is 80 years old. This man has just completed what must be an utterly gruelling three hour show. I’m certain that this show will go down in musical history as one of the all-time great Glastonbury performances. I’m delighted that I was able to be there.
Paul McCartney setlist:
‘Can’t Buy Me Love’
‘Got To Get You Into My Life’
‘Come On To Me’
‘Let Me Roll It’ / ‘Foxy Lady’ outro
‘Let ‘Em In’
‘Nineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five’
‘Maybe I’m Amazed’
‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’
‘In Spite Of All The Danger’
‘Love Me Do’
‘Love Me Do’
‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’
‘You Never Give Me Your Money’
‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’
‘Band On The Run’
‘I Wanna Be Your Man’
‘Let It Be’
‘Live And Let Die’
‘I’ve Got A Feeling’
‘Carry That Weight’
GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL DAY 4 – 26.6.22
After the high of Paul McCartney the night before, it’s difficult to see what Sunday might bring that will even take our minds off that classic performance. Thank God then for Big Joanie, who are starting off today’s operations at the Park stage. They are a feminist punk band from London comprising Stephanie Phillips on guitar and vocals, Estella Adeyeri on bass and vocals, and Chardine Taylor-Stone on drums and vocals. They also have a touring keyboard player and guitarist whose name I didn’t catch, which is a shame as she was really good! So – heartfelt apologies!
Big Joanie’s music is tuneful and punchy. The lyrics are articulate, sharp, and on occasion quite hard-hitting. The band members are all pretty vocal. Drummer Chardine plays standing up (not the band’s only nod to The Velvet Underground) and early on in the set tells the crowd to “get off your arses”. This after all is music for the mind and body. The lyrics make you think, but the music makes you dance too!
They play a 1960s cover, ‘Down Down’, which I don’t know but sounds a bit of a surf masterpiece. Big Joanie are not afraid to be political. They are in favour of the RMT strike that was taking place during the week before Glastonbury. There is a lot of political content in their songs too. One song, ‘Pucker Drew’ (although I may have misheard the title…) (could be ‘Crooked Room’? – Ed) is about black womens’ place in an increasingly fascistic world. ‘It’s You’ is “about men being shit in bed”, so that’s sexual politics. They already have one album out, ‘Sistahs’ which came out in 2018, and they have a new album called ‘Back Home’ coming out later this year. If you like music that makes you think whilst moving your feet, this band’s for you.
We remain at the Park stage for Warmduscher. They started as an offshoot of Fat White Family, and comprise Clams Baker Jr (Craig Louis Higgins Jr), Lightnin’ Jack Everett (Jack Everett), Quicksand (Adam J Harmer), Mr Salt Fingers Lovecraft (Ben Romans-Hopcraft), and The Witherer aka Little Whiskers (Quinn Whalley). As their stage-names suggest, Warmduscher don’t necessarily take everything in life seriously, but their music absolutely deserves to be taken seriously. Their current album ‘At The Hotspot’ is heavily featured in their set, and I have to say, it sounds pretty awesome.
Their music is powerful, energetic, and absolutely out there. Everything that they do onstage is absolutely part of their performance, even down to their disinterested looking backing singers. They both stand completely static. One is chewing gum and has her hands in her pockets. The other has her arms folded. Music doesn’t get more danceable than this, so it must be an act, right?
One song is mostly based on just one chord, which gives it a trancelike feel. At times they hint at Berlin era Bowie, at others they come on like a punky Hawkwind. They’re a most arresting live band and take Sunday up another notch.
Sunday at the Park stage continues with Cate Le Bon. I last saw Cate ten years ago, performing at Rough Trade West with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment. Today’s performance couldn’t be more different! This time Cate has a full band with her, comprising herself on guitar, a saxophonist who also plays guitar, a drummer, bassist and keyboard player. The music has an ethereal, slightly 1980s funky feel a la Japan. It is, however, quite adventurous and difficult to classify. Six of the nine songs in her set are from her current album ‘Pompeii’, which came out in February. It sounds absolutely fascinating and certainly worthy of further investigation. Cate is by far one of the most interesting artists of the weekend.
Cate Le Bon setlist:
‘Dirt On The Bed’
‘Mother’s Mother’s Magazines’
‘Home To You’
Time waits for no man, and bands certainly don’t, so we hotfoot it across to the Other stage for Fontaines DC. This is the first time that I’ve seen them since the release of their ‘Skinty Fia’ album, and unsurprisingly eight songs from their thirteen song set are from it. For opener ‘In ar gCroithe go deo’ the band are augmented by a string quartet, who pop up regularly during the set, most noticeably during ‘The Couple Across The Way’, where they back Grian without the rest of the band.
From the get-go Fontaines DC have always been artistically mature, but their maturity is increasing, which is certainly no bad thing. Having said that, in other parts of the set it is clear that not that much has changed. Grian, clad in a Pogues Rum, Sodomy & The Lash t-shirt still smacks his mic stand down on the stage in between songs, although he is actually mildly chatty. The band have however acquired ‘rock star’ haircuts, especially the guitarists.
They remain a breathtakingly exciting live band. During ‘Too Real’ Carlos O’ Connell plays his guitar with a beer bottle as the band create a wild yet controlled maelstrom. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: this band have consistently improved every time that I’ve seen them, and that’s having started from a position of being very good indeed. I’m seeing them on their tour later in the year. There are still tickets left…..
Fontaines DC setlist:
‘In ar gCroithe go deo’
‘A Lucid Dream’
‘Sha Sha Sha’
‘The Couple Across The Way’
‘I Love You’
‘A Hero’s Death’
‘Boys In The Better Land’
‘Jackie Down The Line’
We next make a visit to the Pyramid stage for Elbow. Now in recent years Elbow seem to have increasingly been viewed as being a bit safe, and almost ‘middle of the road’. This is rather unfair as much of their music is adventurous, complex and bordering on prog. Having said that, today’s set does feel largely quite comfortable, although that may be because they’re playing on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.
However, a sense of unease is never far away in the Elbow ouvre. For example, they play ‘Lippy Kids’, which is about the creeping fear of young people which some people can acquire as they start to get older. Then there’s the rocking ‘Grounds For Divorce’, and it’s obviously unsettling subject matter. Their set concludes with ‘One Day Like This’, which is probably Elbow’s ultimate feel-good song. For this they are joined by a giant puppet of Greta Thunberg (who had spoken on the Pyramid stage earlier in the day) and more importantly, The Citizens Of The World Choir, who are the world’s largest and leading refugee choir. In many ways this emphasises what Elbow are all about: they entertain, sure; but they also use the platform that they have to put across a meaningful and worthwhile message. More power to them.
‘Dexter & Sinister’
‘Magnificent (She Says)’
‘Kindling (Fickle Flame)’
‘My Sad Captains’
‘Grounds For Divorce’
‘One Day Like This’
We leave the Pyramid stage to the likes of Lorde and Kendrick Lamar and head back to the Park stage for Jarv Is. Much as I admire Jarvis Cocker and loved Pulp and like the Jarv Is records, as he takes the stage and starts posturing I briefly wonder “is this man a prat?” He isn’t of course. In fact he may well border on genius, but I guess there is perhaps a fine line between genius and prattishness. All such thoughts subside as the band start off with the only Pulp song of the evening, ‘She’s A Lady’. I should state here and now that one thing Jarv Is are not about is nostalgia. Most of the songs played tonight are at least relatively recent, if not actually new.
‘Must I Evolve?’ is a modern Cocker classic. ‘Proceed To The Route’ is a new song about the evils of satnavs. ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ was commissioned for the BBC TV series of the same name, and is dedicated to the series’ director Lucy Fawkes, who is standing near to us in the crowd! Tonight is the song’s live debut. Another new song is ‘Lockdown’, the subject matter of which is self explanatory. It’s a very bleak song, but the pill is sweetened by some fabulous harmonies. As the show is being broadcast live, ‘C*nts Are Still Running The World’ becomes the possibly more broadcast-friendly ‘Pricks Are Still Running The World’. That lyric change makes all the difference, yes? We’re then taken back into party mode by set-closer ‘House Music All Night Long’. To conclude, Jarvis Cocker is not a prat. He makes us dance. He makes us sing. He makes us think. Top man.
Jarv Is setlist:
‘She’s A Lady’
‘Must I Evolve?’
‘Proceed To The Route’
‘This Is Going To Hurt’
‘Sometimes I Am Pharoah’
‘C*nts Are Still Running The World’
‘House Music All Night Long’
All too soon it’s time for Park stage headliner Courtney Barnett, and the beginning of the end of the festival. During lockdown Courtney recorded an album entitled ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’. Much of the album was recorded using syndrums and this is reflected in the make-up of Courtney’s touring band. As well as regular members Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums, also present is Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint on keyboards and percussion.
The first two songs, ‘Rae Street’ and ‘Sunfair Sundown’ are from the new album. However, any fans with fears of a potential ‘new direction’ have those fears assuaged by the early appearance of ‘Avant Gardener’. More or less business as usual then. Courtney remains an arresting performer, headbanging as she solos and covering the entire stage multiple times within any given song.
It’s easy when watching Courtney perform to miss some of the subtleties of her lyrics, many of which are extraordinarily insightful. ‘Depreston’ is a case in point. Courtney drily describes the subject as “a delightful concept for a song”. The song describes someone viewing a house where the elderly owner has passed away, and her life’s possessions are still in situ and on display to all. The estate agent suggests knocking the house down and rebuilding it, if the potential purchaser has “a spare half million”. It sounds somehow obscenely disrespectful. This is the beauty of Courtney’s lyrics: she paints wonderful word pictures of everyday life.
Courtney shows that Paul McCartney isn’t the only musician who can surprise his audience: for ‘Turning Green’ from the current album she brings on Cate Le Bon to guest on guitar. The set finishes with another song from the current album – ‘Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To’. If you have such a list I would suggest that you add Courtney Barnett’s gig at Brighton Dome on 12th November to it. I suspect that it will be rather good.
Courtney Barnett setlist:
‘Need A Little Time’
‘Walkin’ On Eggshells’
‘Before You Gotta Go’
‘Pedestrian At Best’
‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’
‘Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To’
And so Glastonbury Festival 2022 ends – not with a whimper, but with a bang! Live music carries on at the Truth stage until 02.30 with Hollie Cook and Elvana. Many things remain open until 5am on Monday. The techno music from Arcadia carries on all night. We’re camped in the next field and the bass is so strong that the ground shakes. Glastonbury is busier and more crowded than when we were here last, but ultimately the vibe is still very much present. Will we be going next year? You betcha!
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