Sunday at Glastonbury Festival 2019 promises to be the coolest day of the festival so far. It’s cloudy as I wake in my tent and I put on a thin hoodie as I wander down to grab a coffee. But while the day is cooler, it’s still a warm one out there and the sun eventually appears. I spend the morning with my family in the Kidzfield – more on that in a future feature – before checking my schedule for today’s musical delights.
Hollywood actor Jeff Goldblum of The Fly, Jurassic Park and Independence Day fame brings his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra to the West Holts Stage. Goldblum, also a Jazz pianist and singer, appears on stage a good 20 minutes before his set is due to begin. It’s like something out of a comedy film; he’s sound-checking with his band, sharing banter with the growing crowd building in front of him and even debating with a poor BBC producer regarding when he will be appearing on stage. “I am on stage, I’m here” he jests as the panic visibly sets into her.
The 66-year-old even responds to the crowd humming the famous John Williams theme from Jurassic Park by playing a few notes of it on his piano to rapturous applause – a full rendition coming later in his set. But it’s his set of Jazz classics including a rendition of Irving Berlin’s 1936 standard Let’s Face The Music And Dance with New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten that this West Holts crowd have flocked to enjoy.
It’s a fast walk to the Other Stage where Slaves have just blasted through an hour making way for Japanese kawaii metallers Babymetal. The trio of Suzuka Nakamoto as “Su-metal”, Moa Kikuchi as “Moametal” and Riho Sayashi of Japanese pop group Morning Musume in-lieu of departed member Yui Mizuno, formerly known as “Yuimetal”, storm through their heavy eight-song set joined by their masked band of musicians.
Broadcaster and environmentalist Sir David Attenborough is announced as a special guest on the Pyramid Stage and the largest crowd of the weekend quickly descends to catch the 93-year-old’s speech. It’s gridlock and I am caught in an unmoving mass of people within earshot of the legend as he appears on stage to the sound of whale song.
His impassioned speech thanking festival-goers for embracing Glastonbury’s newly-enforced single-use plastic ban leads into a promo for forthcoming BBC natural world series Seven Worlds, One Planet, which he narrates. Some are reduced to tears as the effects humans have had on our planet are laid out. We are the first generation that truly understands the consequences of our impacts on our planet and it’s up to us to change our choices and behaviours for our children and the generations to come.
Kylie is the Pyramid stage’s 4th headliner, taking up the ‘legends’ slot on Sunday afternoon in an emotional set some 14 years after she was originally meant to headline but ultimately pulled out due to a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. While tears are shed by the Australian as she discusses those “circumstances”, today she is resplendent. Her hits are as plentiful as her outfit changes. Fellow Australian legend Nick Cave joins her on stage for an emotional outing of their 1995 duet Where The Wild Roses Grow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin is wheeled out once again (following a random appearance during Stormzy’s set) for an acoustic guitar-led rendition of dance anthem Can’t Get You Out of My Head. English rockers Bring Me The Horizon play a fire-fuelled set over on the Other minus guitarist Lee Malia at the same time.
And while Miley Cyrus is closing out her pop bangers on the Pyramid, teen sensation Billie Eilish takes up position on the Other. Her slot has been upgraded from the John Peel following her recent meteoric rise meaning the tented stage simply wouldn’t be big enough for the 17-year-old Los Angeles-native. Appearing on stage to an animated horror backdrop and wearing a bizarre Stella McCartney-designed getup emblazoned with The Beatles’ logo on the back and a medical mask, she immediately owns the stage and commands the crowd as if she’s 10+ years into her career.
Eilish kicks off with latest single and biggest hit to date Bad Guy, her audience immediately chanting and bouncing along as she bounds about the stage, stopping during the song’s break to remove her white Oakleys and headband. But she takes time to move between each side of the stage, lingering on risers placed at either side. “Damn, there’s a lot of you!” she proclaims before tearing into You Should See Me In A Crown. Well-charting Wish You Were Gay and early single Bellyache also make the cut before her triumphant set is closed out with Bury A Friend.
It’s a return trip to Avalon for me next for more cheesy crumpets (thank you Truly Crumptious!) and a beer to enjoy more cheesy pop nostalgia, this time by way of Bananarama (minus Siobhan Fahey). The duo of Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward are having a wonderful time while cranking out hit single after hit single, many in the audience forget just how many they know. Woodward has some issues with her in-ear monitors and promptly discards them, going “old-school”. Love In Stereo, Cruel Summer, Venus and Love In The First Degree are just some of the highlights as the evening starts to set in.
Vampire Weekend take to the Pyramid for the second set of their Glasto 2019 before it’s time for the main event, The Cure. The English rockers take up their headline slot like the old pros they are, now 41 years into their hugely successful career and currently on a huge world tour which has seen them play South Africa, Sydney’s famous Opera House for a massive five-night residency before returning to Europe for a run of festival headline slots.
The Robert Smith-led alt. rock pioneers, making their fourth headline appearance at Glastonbury, kick off with Plainsong from 1989’s Disintegration – their current tour celebrating 30 years of the group’s eighth studio record. But their mammoth 24-song, two-hour set takes in a good swathe of tracks from across their huge back catalogue.
The guitar intro-led Pictures Of You allows Smith and bassist Simon Gallup to face-off. But it’s the well-charting hits that have the whole Pyramid field singing along. 1987 hit Just Like Heaven and 1989’s Lovesong find their way into the main set while we are made to wait for the massive six-song encore for Friday I’m In Love and Boys Don’t Cry. The Love Cats is notable for its absence tonight.
Over on the Other stage French pop-pioneer, Héloïse Letissier better known as Christine And The Queens (“just call me Chris”), is wrapping things up with an energetic dance routine-led show to rival some of the biggest pop productions. Some pyrotechnics kick off the show with sparks flying behind Chris and her troupe as Comme Si is aired while Girlfriend’s synth-pop stylings are reminiscent of French indie-pop pioneers Phoenix.
That’s a wrap from the 2019 edition of Glastonbury Festival. The sun was out, the rain stayed away, far too many incredible acts played one or more sets across four days of live music, theatre and comedy, and a good time was had by some 200,000 people in attendance. As the seemingly endless helicopter runs ferried the rich and famous out of Worthy Farm on Monday morning, there was a collective smile on the faces of those having just enjoyed one of the best life experiences ever as they packed up their tents and headed home.
Photography & words by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival on Sunday 30th June 2019