Glastonbury's Saturday featured some serious clashes and it seemed whatever route you took the music was absolutely next level. But there was one name that stood out like a sore thumb: Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour party leader,who was introduced by Michael Eavis, had cheers for his speech rang on long after he left. This massive display of support was a great launch into day two from where we caught Foo Fighters, Phoenix, The National and Katy Perry - among many other great discoveries set to be featured in a forthcoming bumper review.
A significantly huge crowd gathered as Foo Fighters arrived to reclaim the headline slot at Glastonbury, two years after he gave it away to Florence and the Machine.
Grohl, ever the charmer, began the set thanking Florence for covering a Foo Fighters song in honour of them when they were promoted to headliners because of Grohl’s broken leg in a stage fall. Now back in full health, he evidently appreciated being mobile again and showed this by making full use of every corner of the stage in a way that Jagger, Arcade Fire and Springsteen have done on the Pyramid. But Grohl looked like he was thinking more about Angus Young. He also proved a welcome contrast the relatively still figure that was Thom Yorke on Friday.
In fact, the entire band were on their highest gear, and the six-piece (they have a keyboardist now) created the perfect antidote to all the pushing and shoving it took to get a half-decent spot: we immediately ceased to care about our comfort and instead got with the most passionate fans, who knew most the words to the three incredible singles: ‘Times Like These’, ‘All My Life’, and ‘Learn To Fly’ - what a way to start a set.
As, ‘Something For Nothing’, was played, it seemed that this material from their 2014 album, Sonic Highways, did not the same impact as those just played from their more highly acclaimed albums One By One and There's Nothing Left To Lose. They're both records that blew the door down for them to become one of the biggest bands on the planet, whereas the other has had less of a cultural impact.
‘The Pretender’, from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, however, was much stronger and the fire-y reception was back to full throttle – some fans even claimed to have this as a favourite song, which is daring considering how everything on The Colour and the Shape album surpasses it.
One of the night’s best moments came as Taylor Hawkins – and his bright big toothed grin – took lead vocals for the stunning song ‘Cold Day In The Sun’. This clean, jangly pop number is there with some of the 60s greats’ – you wouldn’t blink an eye if you were told Ray Davies wrote this, but no it’s the drummer.
As with every gig, Grohl’s warm-hearted personality, that’s kept from being too nice for a hard rock show with frequent use of the word "fuck," was a big part of it. He was most heavily applauded for dedicating ‘My Hero’ – a hit that came as a welcome surge of energy after the relatively slow tempo’d previous few tracks – to a naked man that the camera opted to hone in on straight away.
Aside from stage banter, another facet of their live show that gets a lot of respect is their ability to go on the occasional tangent in an experimental way before coming back to the song – something that Led Zeppelin were so great at doing back in the day, and Foo Fighters manage it to the highest level of musicianship thought possible. Chris Shiflett’s solos were particularly mesmerising.
The track that was the most epic extended version was ‘Monkey Wrench’, it went down so well, Glastonbury chanted "ten more songs". This gushing was quite typical throughout from both Grohl to the crowd, and vice-versa.
Shortly after, ‘Best Of You’ got a huge response with 150,000 attendees singing in unison, helping Grohl realise that Glastonbury is “the big one”, after he admitted to underestimating it in the build up. But impressed by the phenomenal turnout and stunning crowd response, Grohl looked in awe and seemed genuinlely huimble and surprised at how much of a response he was getting.
For the penultimate track, their cover of Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ was every Nirvana fans treat as Grohl got behind the kit, leaving the ever capable and second most swooned after member of the band, Taylor Hawkins to take lead vocal. But it’s of course the epic ‘Everlong’ that generated the biggest outpouring of emotion as soon as the intro was played all hearts and minds were all on the band and the Foo Fighters leave knowing they’ve absolutely raised the bar with surely this weekend’s most energetic and memorable headline set. Important too was that played the hits rather than using it as an opportunity to promote their forthcoming new album. And that's completely fine by us as were the token fireworks at the end filled us with energy to burn late into the night.
Mirror, mirror on the wall - who has the most bonkers stage production of them all? Yep, it’s definitely Phoenix. While the Foos were ripping up the Pyramid, we headed into Glastonbury’s woodland for a true sound and vision treat.
Last night’s John Peel Stage headline set from the French synth superstars took an army of roadies to hoist an enormous mirrored surface above the stage - to offer a full bird’s eye view of the band in action. Instead of a regular stage floor, equipment was set up on an LED screen surface, with the aim of creating a unique, mind-bending visual experience.
The set-up alone was incredible to watch, and such a mammoth task that the set was delayed by half an hour - followed by an announcement promising it would be “worth the wait”. But before the band even arrived on stage we were disoriented and felt quite frankly sea sick from taking in this unusual perspective for too long.
Eventually Phoenix did appear, opening with the shimmering ‘J-Boy’ - the lead single from the Italian summer-infused new record Ti Amo. Off the bat, it was a set tailored for a Saturday night party - with a run of five of their biggest and high-octane hits.
‘Lasso’ was up next, followed by the relentless ‘Entertainment’, where the crowd chanted to its keyboard riff and bounced to frantic, pummelling drums. The laid back groove of ‘Trying To Be Cool’ followed, before Phoenix’s most electro-sounding cut ‘Ti Amo’ began, with vocoder-effected vocals and sleazy synth bass.
Despite the crew’s best efforts, lead singer Thomas Mars was quick to tell the crowd that their floor of visuals wasn’t working - but with the opening portion of the set as strong as this, it didn’t matter one bit. The set still looked incredible, and the 80s Studio 54 vibe was strong - reflecting the band’s recent video collaborations with director Warren Fu.
“Nothing works but you’re the best,” Mars told the crowd, before indie banger ‘1901’ made the tent erupt.
With an instrumental reprise of ‘Ti Amo’, Mars - armed with a mile-long red mic lead - jumped the barrier and ended up deep in the crowd, where enthused fans kissed him and handed over novelty headgear as he past.
An unfortunate technical hitch wasn’t gonna stop the band delivering one of the slickest and most fun sets of the weekend. Everyone in the tent felt the love. Ti amo, Phoenix. as the tracks demand every headbang you can give.
Phoenix @ Glasto pic.twitter.com/v25xMyvuwo— tom skinner (@TomSkinner_) June 25, 2017
The National’s performance on the Pyramid Stage is one seen as long overdue by fans, yet it’s a strange slot for them to be given; sandwiched between Katy Perry and the Foo Fighters, the crowd is an unusual gathering of fans who want ‘Teenage Dream’ or ‘Learning to Fly’ being mixed with the National’s loyal fan following. After the huge success of their last Glastonbury slot, the upgrade to the Pyramid Stage is a logical one, yet a headline slot may have worked better as an hour just doesn’t seem long enough here. For a band capable of delivering rousing, emotive performances that are always a balance of the old and new songs, this slot clearly presents logistical problems.
For yesterday’s slot, this balance is more or less achieved by The National, with a range of new songs making an appearance. Yet with a slot as iconic as the Pyramid Stage, it felt as though more of the classics that made The National the band they are needed an outing – the absence of staples such as ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby’ or ‘Lemonworld’ is quite noticeable. The news songs are received well by the crowd but are clearly still at an embedding stage.
The delivery of the songs by Matt Berninger is typically iconic as he swigs on his wine and fleets between pensive and angry wanders across the stage. Highlights of the gig include ‘Fake Empire’, ‘England’ and ‘Terrible Love’. ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ receives a typically rapturous response - even those who were there still awaiting the Foo Fighters. The National are a band more than capable of headlining the Pyramid Stage – they need that slot to be able to show their full capabilities.
Katy Perry made her Glastonbury debut yesterday on Saturday afternoon, bringing her unique blend of audacious, slick pop to the Pyramid Stage with a set that mixed the old and the new. Her performance comes just two weeks after the release of her latest album, Witness, the fourth of her career, and she clearly has some nervousness about it: “you guys still think I’m cool?” she awkwardly asks the crowd. Perry begins with the new songs but she need not worry: the crowd are already familiar with them. She shouts to the crowd, “but that’s not what you came for, right?!”, before erupting with the best run of songs seen on the Pyramid Stage all afternoon, ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Firework’ and ‘Dark Horse.’ The set was marred by technical issues with the sound cutting out across the various speakers, but it still didn’t manage to spoil the joyous set Perry delivered. Armed with a dance trope changing outlandish head gear throughout, the set is a masterclass in performing festival pop. The ending medley which included ‘I Kissed a Girl’, ‘Swish Swish’, ‘Power’ and ‘Roar’ cemented a powerful Glastonbury debut for Perry; she ended the set by crowd surfing to the horror of her concerned security and the ardent delight of front-row fans.
Introduced by Michael Eavis, Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn appeared on stage at Glastonbury on Saturday afternoon. The deafening chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’ could be heard across Glastonbury, as Corbyn managed to draw one of the biggest Glastonbury crowds of the weekend on The Pyramid Stage. Corbyn delivered a powerful and moving speech, calling on people to vote urgently for social unity. At a time when young people in the UK are becoming more politically active through the message of grime artists such as Stormzy, it was perhaps apt that Corbyn appeared before American socialist pioneers, Run the Jewels, who supported Bernie Sanders throughout his campaign last year. This powerful fusion of music and politics seemed to be repeated throughout Saturday afternoon in what will surely go down as of the most iconic moments of the festival weekend.
“Michael, you brought the spirit of music, of love, of ideas, and of great messages,” Corbyn told Michael Eavis, giving him a copy of the Labour manifesto before delivering a rousing speech that is likely to become one of the most powerful and important in socialist history. Eavis termed Corbyn “the hero of the hour”, and it was hard to disagree when hearing the words that followed and the crowd’s response to it. Corbyn appealed for people to vote for a fairer society, admonishing the levels of inequality in gender, wealth and race as unacceptable. He also vehemently criticised Donald Trump, citing his building of “walls not bridges” as indicative of everything that was wrong with current US politics, drawing perhaps the biggest cheer from the festival goers – many of whom had brought anti-Conservative flags.
Corbyn urged people to tackle the causes of war and greed to make a fairer society. “There are a number of basic questions we should ask ourselves. Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to sleep in? That so many people are frightened to live where they are, having seen horrors of Greenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in poverty in a society surrounded by riches?”, Corbyn asked the crowd. “Is it right that European nationals living in this country making a contribution to society don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here? I say they must stay.” The cheers for his speech rang on long after he left, as did the crowd chanting his name – these continued long into the sets that followed that afternoon.