With appetites for live music whet by storming smaller-stage sets on Thursday, Friday is when the main stages finally open and give the 200,000+ Glastonbury Festival-goers a full-fat dose of what they’ve waited three whole years for. But the site would be in a total state if it weren’t for the hoards of ‘Recycling Crew‘ volunteers who are up at the crack of dawn to clear the ridiculously huge festival site area of all the detritus left by revellers the previous evening.
And music isn’t the only thing on offer today. The Pilton Palais welcomes kids of all sizes for the UK premiere of the latest Minions film – Minions: The Rise of Gru. The Steve Carell-led film proving so popular, a second screening was added by Universal Pictures on Sunday evening!
But it is notorious English rock outfit The Libertines who return to Glastonbury to open the main stage music with a set over on The Other Stage, Carl Barât, Pete Doherty, John Hassall and Gary Powell drawing a massive crowd and getting them festival-ready in style.
Glastonbury’s famous Pyramid Stage is opened with none other than Ziggy Marley, Bob Marley’s son pulling out all the stops to reproduce his father’s hits bathed in Pilton’s glorious sunshine. I Shot The Sheriff, Get Up, Stand Up, Jamming, Is This Love, Could You Be Loved and One Love all present and accounted for in a set that had the Pyramid field swaying.
Over at the Kidzfield, it was kids TV presenter extraordinaire Andy Day bringing his band Andy and the Odd Socks to life on the Kidzfield Big Top stage, his adoring little fans getting stuck into the five-piece’s rousing beats.
Back over on the Pyramid Stage, following American-Candia singer Rufus Wainwright are New Zealand legends Crowded House, this iteration of the band featuring three Finns across two generations with a fourth Finn from the next generation joining them for a few screams! Again, the hits flow, Distant Sun, Pineapple Head, It’s Only Natural and Weather With You encouraging mass singalongs from the huge crowd as Neil Finn makes imprompute use of the runway in place for the stage’s headliner, although he requires an extra long guitar lead to be fetched!
Wolf Alice were so close to not actually making it Worthy Farm in time for their set tweeting the day before and begging for a flight back from the U.S. West Coast, where they had just wrapped up a leg of their North American tour, after flights from LAX were cancelled. But phew, after a tense trip to Seattle, they finally made it to London and then on to the festival site with just one hour to spare. And they show just how thankful they are to be on the Pyramid Stage with every song the Ellie Rowsell-led four-piece pump out from across their three records, two Mercury Prize-nominated including one winner.
Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant and his Bluegrass-Country companion Alison Krauss slow things down a notch with their American-tinged set, including a re-worked rendition of Zeppelin classics Rock and Roll, The Battle of Evermore as well as Everly Brothers tunes The Price of Love and Gone Gone Gone.
But it is Geordie guitar man Sam Fender who finally, triumphantly plays his first Glastonbury Festival after having to pull out of the 2019 edition due to illness. And on the Pyramid Stage no less. The glee of playing is present on his and his band’s face from start to finish as they charge through an 11-song set drawing on the 28-year-old’s pair of no.1-charting records. Hit singles Saturday and Hypersonic Missiles rouse the crowd while Spit of You is dedicated to Fender’s father Alan, who is somewhere about.
And then it’s time for the youngest headliner in Glastonbury history, with 20-year-old Billie Eilish returning to Worthy Farm after a storming Other Stage set during the 2019 edition. And she knows it: “Youngest headliner ever, what?!” she says during her fire-fuelled, triumphant set alongside brother, constant collaborator and joint Academy Award-winner Finneas.
By the end of Eilish’s set, there are young girls at the barricade closest to the stage in streams of tears for having witnessed their star, their Gen Z representative, their hero, slay the biggest festival stage in the world.
Photography & words by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival on Friday June 24th 2022