With the former Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival (better known these days as Glastonbury Festival) now in its 49th year – and back on this summer following a fallow year during 2018 – the highways & byways, the nooks & crannies, the stages and fields have been pretty well described and are well known to many.
But given the site is put together each summer with the tear-down beginning before all festival-goers have left Worthy Farm, each year there are new delights to be discovered as the organisers continue to innovate. This year, we see the addition of ‘Glastonbury-On-Sea’ – a traditional British seaside-style pier installed above the Park Stage – amongst other changes and tweaks to the site.
And then there’s the music. While this year’s line-up may have received some negative press upon announcement, there are still far too many incredible acts to choose from at any one time and the stages can be a good 30-40 minute fast walk from each other. Here’s the lowdown on what I managed to catch whilst running around the 900-acre site on Friday, thankfully in comfy shoes rather than wellies this time around as the sun shone down on Pilton, Somerset.
While Australian novelty covers act Björn Again opened up proceedings on Glastonbury’s famous Pyramid Stage, the music kicked-off in earnest a good 45 minutes earlier on the Other Stage with a raucous set from London-based indie rockers The Vaccines, frontman Justin Hayward-Young in fine form as his 5-piece attracted a sizeable crowd for an 11am set, their massive 2011 single Post Break-Up Sex receiving a rapturous cheer and getting the sunlit morning crowd in the mood for the rest of the day.
My first trip to the Pyramid stage comes in the early afternoon with a glorious sun-soaked set from the fabulous Sheryl Crow, who brings all the hits some 22 years after her last appearance at Worthy Farm and still looking fabulously glamorous at 57. Kicking off with If It Makes You Happy, Crow can’t wait to descend into the crowd during breakthrough hit All I Wanna Do.
Prove You Wrong from what will be Crow’s eleventh and last studio album is aired. “If you like it now, wait ’til you hear Stevie Nicks on it” she teases of the recorded version which includes vocals from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks and rising Country star Maren Morris.
Hit 2002 single Soak Up The Sun is incredibly apt today, as the unshrouded sun heats the site up to a sweltering 28 degrees and the myriad Water Aid water refilling sites dotted around the site build up queues as the day wears on. Cooler climes were surely found in the company of Lucy Rose’s dulcet tones in the Acoustic tent adjacent to the Kidzfield at the same time.
After a stroll around the site for some of Anna Mae’s fabulously delicious Mac & Cheese sat in some hard-to-find shade for a cool off, it’s back to the Other stage to catch Denver-based folk rockers The Lumineers – shades on – playing stomping summer tunes.
The Wesley Schultz-led six-piece brings the hoedown back to the same stage in pretty much the same slot as they had back in 2016, albeit with additional material from forthcoming third record III. Sleep On The Floor and the title track Cleopatra from the group’s second record kick off their barn-storming set, but of course, it’s debut single Ho Hey that gets the biggest singalong of their hour. Bastille raises the roof over on the Pyramid during the same slot I’m told while the wonderful Gabrielle Aplin graces the Acoustic stage.
A last-minute addition to the Glastonbury line-up The Charlatans take to the Other stage next following the late withdrawal of Northern Irish rockers Snow Patrol due to multiple band member injuries – get well soon Johnny & Nathan! Football legend David Beckham is in attendance having, no doubt, helicoptered in from Le Havre following The Lioness’ outstanding triumph over Norway on Thursday night as Tim Burgess & co take the stage.
For me, it’s a jaunt over to check out Glastonbury-On-Sea over in The Park, what a treat! The vintage feel of UK beach holidays past is here in spades (pun intended). There’s Pinball Alley, old-school amusements, rides for kids, a shooting gallery as well as a very abstract collection of robots – including a not so child-friendly pole dancer!
And just as George Ezra’s set is wrapping up on the Pyramid, the stage then getting prepped for Stormzy’s long-touted Grime headline slot, it’s time for the sun to set over the Park to the soulful sounds of English folk-rocker Michael Kiwanuka, One More Night kicking off his set in fine form while Neo-Folk single Black Man In A White World underscores his minority feeling. But it is Cold Little Heart, made famous as the title music from the hit HBO TV show Big Little Lies, that the crowd have been waiting for.
Manchester’s Pale Waves take on the John Peel Stage in the same slot following Norwegian singer Aurora and ahead of Interpol while Jorja Smith hits the West Holts and Two Door Cinema Club take on the Other. As I make my way back towards my tent, the pumping sounds of Tame Impala’s Let It Happen soak through me as Kevin Parker leads a bouncing crowd onward through the night.
Photography & words by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival on Friday June 28th 2019