Glastonbury 2024 Gives Warm Welcome To Returning British Trio London Grammar

It has been some time since British trio London Grammar released new music, let alone performed a live set in front of an audience. After a lengthy hiatus from writing, and some personal time away from the stage and studio – an absence attributed predominately to “pure exhaustion” – the group returned to release new music ahead of a long-anticipated album launch later in the year.

London Grammar @ Glastonbury Festival 2024

London Grammar @ Glastonbury Festival 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)
London Grammar @ Glastonbury Festival 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)

On Sunday night, the final day of the legendary Glastonbury festival, London Grammar returned as headliners of the Park Stage. Despite being the more low-key of the major stages, the Park Stage is one that has attracted hundreds of outstanding artists in the festival’s 50+ year history and, for a band making a slow return to the spotlight, it felt wonderfully apt. As the sun began to set, the trio emerged sombrely (and almost unnoticeably) to rapturous cheers from tens of thousands of fans who had sprawled way beyond the barriers and all the way up the hill to Glasto’s iconic Ribbon Tower. Front woman Hannah Reid looked almost unrecognisable in a matching oversized denim tracksuit, Raybans, and brown-tinted hair – a radical shift from the hot blonde ponytail that has come to define her style, but which continued to ooze coolness and glamour.

For just their second Glastonbury appearance, following a headline set on the smaller John Peel tent (now Woodsies) in 2014, the band kicked into classic sombre openers Hey Now and Nightcall, before launching into their first live performance (in front of a crowd, that is) of House, their latest single. After a brief moment to remove her sunglasses, Reid sheepishly addresses the crowd with a soft “hello”. It’s no secret that the singer has suffered from severe stage fright all her performing life and, in the build up to the festival, she further revealed just how much this performance means to her and her band. The nerves seem somewhat reflected in her shyness – and occasionally her vocals – but it is never deters from the beauty that comes from the music. Most importantly, it also never deters their fans.

She takes a moment to soak in the welcoming atmosphere before making a joke at how the band seem to easily “get away with selling sadness” and that the show will be “emotional first, and then…party vibes later on”. She wasn’t lying.

In a perfectly timed transition, the sun sets and the stage turns a deep red for Hell To The Liars followed by Wasting My Young Years and Lord It’s A Feeling. Visually the show is perfect in its simplicity: a few animations projected on a screen behind them, choreographed lighting to complement each beat, and the natural darkness of the night sky. It’s here when the confidence of the band really peaks, and the crowd gets the crescendo they’ve all been waiting for. More energy, faster beats and an assertive, physical energy on stage.

Nearing the end of the set and George Fitzgerald is welcomed as a special guest for Baby It’s You and Lose Your Head, Reid joking how it’s virtually impossible for any outsiders to join “this tight-knit trio”. The songs clearly resonate across the field as the crowd turns from sombre observers to vocal enthusiasts, before eventually usurping Reid’s role entirely by singing every lyric of the melancholy closing song, Stronger. It moves the band to tears, as they pause to take stock – hardly believing what’s happening.

With one deep bow (and a few photo memories) they close by thanking this deeply loving crowd for their energy, voices, and support. It’s a performance that, for all the pressure they admittedly created themselves, is sure to be the kick-start they needed as they return.

It’s true that there is no place on Earth ever quite so welcoming as Glastonbury.

Review of London Grammar at Glastonbury Festival 2024 by Lilen Pautasso, photos by Kalpesh Patel

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