Just over a week has passed since the wondrous event that was Glastonbury. I’ve somehow managed to wash the mud out of every piece of clothing, strand of hair and crevice of my body. I’ve just conquered a post-festival cold. Tackled 40 hours of travel to get back to Wellington and managed to overcome jetlag and get through my backlog of work and back into routine.
Even after all that, the Glastonbury after-glow is still as strong as ever. The five days I spent at Worthy Farm in Pilton, England were hands down the best days of my life.
In some form of a ‘review’ of the acts I managed to see at the jam-packed event, I’ve come up with my Glastonbury awards. See below:
The top act:
In true form, the Canadian indie group put on a spectacular set showcasing the best of their latest album Reflektor as well as all the feet-stomping hits fans have come to love over the years. There was every track you wanted to hear. Real highlights for me included new bizarre electro-pop tune Here Comes the Night Time, screaming singalong No Cars Go and energetic rock track Ready to Start. I went along to the gig expecting to be amazed as I have the other two times I’ve seen Arcade Fire take the stage, but this show had more than the others, it had an unexplainable energy which saw the performance take on another level and festival-goers whole-heartedly embraced it. The hill at the Pyramid stage was taken over by mad spectators dancing, as if possessed, by the resonating power the band was pouring across the crowd. I knew at the end of night one of Glastonbury that that was a performance it would be nearly impossible to beat and for me, no other act that weekend came close.
The most amusing performance:
Well this is one show that won’t be forgotten any time soon. That’s been solidly reinforced for me as I’ve returned home and almost every person who has approached me to chat has begun with the question ‘was Dolly really as amazing as everyone is saying?’ My experience of the country queen began as my friend and I approached the Pyramid stage at the beginning of her set only to become stuck in ‘Glastonbury gridlock’. Yes, gridlock is an appropriate word to describe it. If you ever thought being stuck in gridlock traffic on the motorway was bad – trust me, it has nothing on being jammed in a crowd moving nowhere, with everyone pushing left, right and centre in a desperate attempt to break into the crowd to get a glimpse of this fascinating songstress crooning Jolene. Eventually we got a good vantage point and thank god for that because this is one woman it’s hard to keep your eyes off. The larger than life singer may be aging but her voice remains perfectly intact. She belts out all the crowd favourites with a ferocious vibrancy and fills the gap between each song with hilarious tales of her lifetime, which make her all the more endearing. I can’t say I’m a big fan of most of Parton’s music but after Glastonbury I am a massive fan of her. She is a music legend in every sense.
The surprise factor:
Before I went to Glastonbury I’d heard about surprise acts popping up to play sets around the festival site. I’d dreamed of the possibilities and marvelled at the thought of being lucky enough to stumble across one of these gigs, but nothing prepared me for the feeling that overwhelmed me when it actually happened. My friend and I were checking out up and coming Brit musician George Ezra when we heard the whisper ‘apparently the Kooks are playing this stage next’. I thought it seemed too good to be true so pulled up the stage timetable on my phone, the next slot wasn’t scheduled, it simply said ‘TBA’. My friend and I could hardly contain our excitement at the possibility. When it came to the end of George Ezra’s set and the screens before us flashed up that the Kooks were on next, true fan-girl madness set in. An indescribable excitement came over me. It was just the best feeling realising I was about to see one of my favourite bands live for the first time and it was all because I was in the right place, at the right time. I had good reason to be thrilled too because the Kooks are back in full force and they put on the show to prove it! It was a riveting set, full of the old singalongs we love like Naiive and Ooh La and a showcase of at least five instantly-loveable new songs from their new album. You couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for hours after the gig. Officially the best surprise ever.
The best Glastonbury spirit:
This American band took embracing Glastonbury to a whole new level when they strutted on stage covered head to toe in mud. “If you guys have to deal with the mud, we should too” exclaimed frontman Dan Reynolds. The applause from the crowd standing poncho-clad, ankle deep in the brown stuff was electric. These Las Vegas boys knew the way to everyone’s hearts and they used it. It was a fantastic touch and set the scene perfectly for what was to be an electric performance. Imagine Dragons really looked ‘on top of the world’ on stage at Glastonbury, it was awesome to see.
The swoon award:
This boy’s got power. There’s something enchanting about the 20-year-old’s performance that’s hard to explain unless you see it for yourself. Typically I’d be quick to criticise a performer who fails to interact with their audience, but Jake Bugg, who said no more than ten words during his entire set, gets away with it. During his show I felt every emotion under the sun. I marvelled at his stage presence, which was so strong considering how little he did to get it. I was hypnotised by his incredible ability on the electric guitar. I closed my eyes and felt pure joy listening to his crooning, deep and soulful voice which overtakes everything. I was well and truly swooned.
The best singalong:
Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5
It was the 90s singalong everyone was craving. The fun-loving J5 crew put on an entertaining set linking all of their well known jams, plus a few new ones but there was one song everyone was hanging out to hear and when they got it, boy did they enjoy it. Concrete Schoolyard rang out at the West Holts stage. The people around me screamed each word so loudly I couldn’t even hear the crew’s voices. It was such an amusing and memorable moment for me and one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
The unexpected highlight:
This man is a star! Not only does he have the voice of a soul angel but he’s got a real knack for song writing and boy can he move. The 23-year-old Yorkshire lad resembled a modern-day Elvis Presley. We all danced, jumped and sang to his better known tracks, Not Giving In and Love Me Again particular highlights, as well as being totally won over during the lesser-known songs which all truly stood up in their own right as well-written, catchy pop tunes. It’s so great to hear top 40 dance hits with a good dose of brass and a non-computerised voice. I’ll be watching this talented musician closely from now on and can’t wait for the next opportunity to see him strut his stuff on stage again.
The best comeback:
Last time I saw Lily Allen she was a disgrace on stage. She stumbled all over the place barely able to walk, she stopped mid line only to take a drag on her cigarette and lose her place in the song and she was pitchy and dull. I heard she’d got her act together now so I thought I’d give her a chance at Glastonbury and I’m so glad I did. Got her act together is an understatement. This gal is on fire! She’s ready for world domination if she puts on a performance as good as this from now on. The charming songstress pumped life into her latest offerings with her famous hilarity while on stage at the festival. She cranked her old favourite tracks like the Fear and LDN, showed off a stunning vocal range in a powerful rendition of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, which had the crowd captivated in silence, and dominated a sexy take on her latest tongue-in-cheek hit Hard Out Here. It was an hour of fun.
The biggest disappointment:
I’ve got three words: Boring. Flat. Lifeless. I needn’t say anymore.
The ones to watch:
These Irish rockers have the potential to keep producing hit after hit as the years go on if their Glastonbury set is anything to go by. Each and every song was a crowd favourite prompting singalongs, many of which would have suited a ‘hold your lighter in the air’ festival moment had their set not been in the middle of the day. Lead singer Steve Garrigan was an effective frontman, leading the band through a well chosen set-list, perfectly suited to the Glastonbury audience. He was a force. During Love Like This I was incredibly impressed to watch him jump between the rhythm guitar, harmonica, piano and vocals with ease. I was so impressed with their performance I can’t wait to see what comes next from this band.
The best crowd motivation:
What an audience-engager! Sheeran was straight on stage with a presence you rarely see in a solo artist today. He took immediate control of the crowd as if they were his minions. Throughout his set we all did exactly as he requested. We even managed to clap in time on the 8th bar and sing harmonies split between different sections of the fans. But the real highlight came during Sing when the Brit had everyone waving a piece of clothing in the air during a certain line in the chorus. The effect at the Pyramid stage, a natural amphitheatre, was an impressive sight.
The spine-tingle award:
When the electronic legend burst into a chilling version of Limit to Your Love I got the spine-tingle I was waiting for at Glastonbury. The way he built the song, layering each part slowly on top of the other, was remarkable to watch. His uniquely powerful voice resonated with me, it is like no other I’ve heard and during his set it seemed to go right to my very soul. I was in electronica heaven and by the way everyone around me moved to the music in slow-motion, eyes closed, just as I did. I could tell they were in heaven too.
The voice award:
My Glastonbury experience was brought to a close with a stimulating live performance from London Grammar. The indie Brit group were surprisingly powerful on stage led by Hannah Reid. The band behind her was left a little in the dust when compared to her. She is a star in the making. Her voice is of a quality we don’t often hear today, it is booming, with an extensive range. Her shy and incredibly genuine personality shines alongside it in a refreshing change from most bolshy popstars. At the end of the set I felt a real longing to hear more.