Three weeks on and we can just about say that we’re ourselves again. The comedown has passed, the blues are gone and we can start to reminisce without wanting to cry.
Aside from the incredible weather, 2019 was a year that will be remembered for the elimination of plastic and the triumph of grime. For a festival that caused so much controversy with its booking of Jay-Z in 2008, many of the best and most talked-about sets this year were by artists of colour.
And where some festivals have stalled following the Keychange initiative, Glasto (almost) achieved a gender-balance with a stellar line up of women artists who stole much of the show.
So, before we start bawling our eyes out, here’s our top 10 favourite sets of the weekend.
10 – Koffee
With thanks to the weather gods, Koffee received the Park Stage Sunday sunshine that she deserves. A muddy, moody arena doesn’t fit with the joy and positive energy that manifests itself in Koffee’s music. The 5”0 Jamaican queen is a ball of energy. Bopping from side to side and wishing blessings from Jah upon us all, it was the uplifting start we needed to kick-start Sunday afternoon. Finishing her set with the people’s favourite ‘Toast’, seeing the entire hill smiling and jiving to their heart’s content was one of the most rejuvenating moments of the weekend.
9 – Scalping
Daringly booked to perform at Croissant Neuf, Glastonbury’s only solar-powered stage, these industrial techno prodigies managed to pull off a number of miracles. One: their massive amps, swathes of pedals and modular synths, and juggernaut live visuals did not leave the batteries backstage drained for the rest of the evening’s entertainment. Two: the Bristol quartet constructed a sweaty, club-dungeon atmosphere in one of the festival’s most quaint corners. Three: they come dangerously close to upstaging Janelle Monae as Sunday’s headliner with their aggressive, visceral grooves.
8 – Fontaines D.C.
‘Luck of the Irish’ doesn’t quite cut it for Dublin-based poetic post-punks, Fontaines D.C. In the past few weeks the five-piece have ridden the wave of releasing a critically acclaimed, publicly adored debut record, supporting genre poster boys IDLES on both the UK and US leg of their mega tour, and to top it off, an unforeseen appearance on heavy-hitting, US late night TV show Jimmy Fallon. Given their unerring rise to prominence it was a slight surprise not to see their name grace a stage outside the smaller haunts of Glastonbury’s fringe arenas. But again, fortune favours the Irish. A last-minute cancellation on the John Peel stage, left Fontaines free to slip into the opening of a favourable Friday afternoon slot on one of the festivals most beloved and largest stages. In this game though, you make your own luck. The band pack the tent, rifle through their set with visceral indignation and send both intended and incidental members of the audience to rapturous applause, converting yet more devotees to their cause.
7 – Kylie
FUCK. The Legends slot is the new headliner – we’d take a punt that the Cure’s crowd was a fraction of what Kylie pulled in hours earlier. The Aussie Queen delivered everything you’d want and more. There were just So. Many. Hits. Nothing was the same again after Miss Minogue stole Pilton’s hearts – even David Attenborough popped in to introduce her (and get a glance at her massive rainbow confetti cannons).
6 – Miley
Well… Where do I even begin? I guess a good place to start is by admitting that without a hint of shame or irony, Miley Cyrus was my (TMB co-editor, Tom) overall highlight of this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Was it the fact she covered a smorgasbord of artists including Amy Winehouse, Led Zeppelin, Dolly Parton, Metallica, and Nine Inch Nails? Maybe. Was it the fact she performed Black Mirror hit and Ashley O cover ‘I’m On a Roll’? Perhaps. Or was it her masterful exhibition of her arsenal of incontrovertibly gargantuan and sensationally captivating pop songs? In truth, it’s a mixture of all of these things, further fuelled by the climactic introduction of her regrettably lip-syncing father, Billy Ray and cowboy of the moment, Lil Nas X to perform mega-hit of the year, ‘Old Town Road’. Only at Glastonbury…
5 – IDLES
By now everyone’s mother, brother, nephew, estranged uncle, pet iguana and dubiously unsettling next-door neighbour is a veritable member of the AF Gang. The latest conquest saw the Bristol punks bring their freight-train of irresistible rebellion to the Park Stage. Fittingly framed with a patchwork of politically-charged, yet colourful artworks of joyful resistance, the band exclaim how they’ve waited their whole lives to play Glastonbury, with frontman Joe Talbot doubling down and paying tribute to the extraordinary line-up programming he has seen on the Park Stage alone. It’s an undeniably and now expectedly triumphant set, but to see the band at their most humble, playing one of Glastonbury’s most important stages, truly feels like a marked moment in the progression of an already monumentally important band.
4 – Janelle Monae
The new Queen of The West Holts stage, Janelle Monae’s Sunday night set was the perfect way to see off the festival. A performance that flashed dazzling genius, edgy intensity and a positive, progressive message, nobody can deny that she threw absolutely everything into this show. Culminating in a brave foray into the crowd, Janelle Monae demonstrated that she’s as raw and fearless as she is supremely talented.
3 – The Chemical Brothers
Yet again, this special duo have proven it’s possible to surpass perfection. Their fifth time headlining the Other Stage (they also headlined Pyramid in 2000), The Chemical Brothers somehow find ways to improve each year. Off the back of their latest album No Geography, this was the finest Glastonbury show yet. Utterly faultless performances of ‘MAH’, ‘Got to Keep On’ and ‘No Geography’ are interspersed with endless all-time classics and met with a sea of DIY crowd pyrotechnics. As if exhilarating tunes weren’t enough, the band’s unique visuals were more spellbinding and intoxicating than ever before. At times you don’t know whether to dance or gawp. Make no mistake, this is a band that could headline the Pyramid with their eyes closed.
2 – Lizzo
We were pretty unanimous in deciding our second favourite act of the festival. Boasting possibly the biggest West Holts crowd of the festival, Lizzo’s set inspired and rejuvenated tens of thousands of sun-struck fans. A beacon of talent, body-positivity and playful energy, Lizzo had the crowd in the palm of her hand from the second she walked out. Sassy, hilarious, athletic and impeccable throughout the entire set, motivational speeches alongside flawless performances were genuinely uplifting and invigorating. The result was one of the wildest, loudest and happiest crowds of the entire festival. Such a joy to be a part of, Lizzo brought the juice to Glastonbury 2019.
1 – Stormzy
What can be said now that hasn’t already been said about Stormzy’s iconic headline set? We witnessed history as the first black British solo artist took to the Pyramid Stage to bring UK rap and grime to the forefront of the world’s eyes. The importance of this fact alone could entitle Stormzy to the “iconic” label we’ve given him, but the 25-year old put on an immense never-seen-before performance that was equal parts musical prowess, political protest and cultural celebration. The use of David Lammy’s speech, the ballet segment, the introduction of Dave and Fredo for UK rap’s first #1 ‘Funky Friday’ – every moment was meticulously planned to showcase the raw power of Stormzy and the empire he’s building around him. Despite Glastonbury’s ultimately rather white population, there was equal excitement for classic grime tracks like ‘Know Me From’ and ‘Shut Up’ to his more spiritual numbers ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ and new single ‘Crown’. And of course, EVERYONE got down to ‘Shape of You’ despite Mr. Sheeran being unable to make an appearance. All in all, whatever your preferred musical taste, Stormzy’s set was one of the most powerful, culturally relevant and important sets that Glastonbury has ever seen.