“The best festival in the world” – Aside from the regular chants in support of Jeremy Corbyn, it could be argued that this was the most popular phrases of this year’s Glastonbury. It was a phrase said in humble reverence by, not only nearly every act I saw take to any stage over the weekend but also by punters grinning ear-to-ear.
It might have been that this year’s festival was one of the warmest in recent years, or that particularly copious amounts of “alcohol” were consumed over the five days. Maybe it was because next year is a fallow year for the Somerset-based festival, who knows. But this year’s Glastonbury definitely did feel special. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights.
Orchestra Baobab (Pyramid Stage, Sunday)
The beauty of a music festival is finding something, albeit completely unintentionally, incredibly special. Something that you can’t quite believe you’ve found and brings a grin ear-to-ear. At this year’s Glastonbury, Orchestra Baobab were that act.
Appearing on the Pyramid Stage very early on Sunday afternoon, peppered by a slight rain that in no way perturbed their enthusiasm, the Senegalese band radiated warmth to all those present. Bass heavy, spindling guitar lines, all accompanied by the occasional outburst of a saxophone, for forty minutes or so Orchestra Baobab expertly weaved between languid song that wouldn’t sounded out of place on a Soul Jazz compilation of early reggae, and elongated jams that glistened with melodic energy that had the crowd and onside and dancing – not an easy feat for a Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury. All of this was topped off by the band’s unrelenting positivity and sheer joy throughout their performance, an energy that won over the crowd from the get-go.
Georgia (The Park, Friday)
“It’s such an honour to open The Park stage”. It was phrase uttered in exasperation by Georgia Barnes, the creative force behind Georgia, and it was a sentence that was certainly lived up to. Performing as a duo with Barnes on drums, and Hinako Omori on synths (who later appeared as part of Kate Tempest’s band for her thundering West Holt’s set later in the day) this was a set that bristled with punk energy. As on her criminally under-rated 2015 debut LP, bruising synths combined with warped vocals and yelps not to jar but to jolt everybody watching to attention. By the penultimate song of the set, the majority of early morning Park crowd had been swayed over enough to abandon their comfortable sitting positions on the grass to dance to pulsing rhythms coming from the pair, no mean feat for the first act on any stage but one that Georgia managed through the sheer energy of their set.
Metronomy (John Peel Stage, Sunday)
When the full stage times were released for this year’s festival, Metronomy were the first act I highlighted as a must-see (yes, I am THAT sort of person). In my humble opinion, the bands past four records, from 2008’s Nights Out to last year’s impeccable Summer ’08, have all been full of intelligent, catchy electro-pop, the type which seems easy to create but only because of how effortless the four-piece make it seem. So as you can imagine, expectations were high at the John Peel Stage on the Sunday. These expectations were further heightened by the fact that London Grammar had seemingly attempted to cram as many people as possible into the tent, just before Metronomy took to the stage, with a stellar set.
There was no need to worry, this was a near perfectly constructed and performed set that brought home just how many great songs Metronomy have. Kicking the set off with a near frenzied version of Back Together, and ploughing through high tempo versions of The Bay, Love Letters and Hang Me Out To Dry, much to the crowd’s delight, Joe Mount’s ear for a melody and nouse for twisting it were clearly on display. Throw exhilarating renditions of Reservoir and Nights Out deep-cut On Dancefloors into the mix and it was a headline set that solidified Metronomy’s growing reputation as one of the best pop bands in the UK right now.
The Orb (The Glade, Thursday)
One of the things that helps distinguish Glastonbury from other festivals is its ability to offer experiences that others can’t. Furthermore, Glastonbury is probably the only festival where this experience happens before the festival has officially begun. Tucked away just behind The Other Stage, on Thursday The Glade hosted legendary ambient house duo The Orb for a spectacular rendition of their classic album Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. The performance was an unrelenting journey in the richest of sound tapestries backed with thumping drums all topped off with mind-bending visuals, truly something to behold. The beauty of the whole thing though came from its context. Yes, the music was beautifully transient but the environment and situation in which it was being performed made it all the sweeter. Penned in by trees, and hidden just off the path from any of the “major stages”, a performance of this magnitude being held here felt almost like a reward for curiosity, for embracing the Glastonbury spirit of intrigue and exploration. Truly a magical set.