There is absolutely no way to do Glastonbury Festival justice with a single pair of eyes (or camera lens) as the site is simply huge, and seems all the bigger with the 200,000 odd festival-goers roaming the boulevards, fields, tents, hills and gullies of the 900 acre site. But here is what I managed to catch, running around the festival on Friday.
While many would have headed for the festival’s famous Pyramid Stage to see the festival officially opened by the Hacienda Classical, proceedings on The Other Stage for the weekend were kicked off Chrissie Hynde‘s The Pretenders, the Anglo-American outfit bringing hits Don’t Get Me Wrong, Hymn To Her and I’ll Stand By You along for the ride.
Next up on the site’s second main stage was English popstress Charli XCX who appeared on a stage adorned by bouquets of giant pink roses and blew paper streamers at the crowd that were unfortunately blown up into the giant fish looming out of the top of the stage instead. That didn’t detract from the hitmaker’s bouncing set featuring cuts from latest album Number 1 Angel alongside XCX-penned Icona Pop hit I Love It before closing out her 12-song set with banger Boom Clap.
Wondering past the Acoustic Stage and the dulcet tones of the marvellous Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker can be heard as a more laid-back crowd spreads out from the tent to the nearby Cake Hole, a great stop for barista coffee and cake, and the Cockmill Bar for something stronger.
One of my festival highlights was up next, a late announcement of Londoner Lianne La Havas playing undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable stages of the entire site – the Avalon Stage – located in the south-easterly Field Of Avalon area. Debut album tunes Is Your Love Big Enough? and Au Cinema are standout hits from the songstress as she beams out at her crowd, thanking them for turning up for her newly announced slot and gushing about her love for Glastonbury.
With the bins already overflowing with empty beverage containers, the mood was set for the big acts soon to be making their appearances across the main stages. For me, it was a chance to watch (surely!) future headliners Royal Blood tear up the Pyramid Stage with their two-man rock show which seems to emit far too large a sound to be coming from just the Brighton duo. And enjoying the show from far back in the crowd next to me was former Gallows frontman Frank Carter sporting a crop of pink hair, his Rattlesnakes outfit hitting up the John Peel Stage on Sunday.
A not so quick sprint clear across the massive festival site and up the gentle incline of the north-west hill leads to the John Peel Stage, a place to catch a diverse mix of music from names you’ve heard of and those you will. And tonight it’s Baltimore-based synth-rockers Future Islands who bring their massive sound and sheer energy of frontman Sam Herring to the tent.
It wasn’t long ago that 17-year-old newcomer Lorde was blowing up the pop world with debut album Pure Heroine. Back with sophomore record Melodrama last week, the now 20-year-old drew a simply massive crowd to The Other Stage next for a well-received show, brining both her hits as well as material from the new record … and a massive see-through perspex shipping container with people walking around behind her!
But it was the return of Radiohead to The Pyramid Stage, their first time since 2003, that was as anticipated by many as the Saturday night headliners’ first time at the top. Notorious for not playing their hits, expectations were high for the British rockers’ slot given it’s overlap with the 20th anniversary of the group’s smash hit third record OK Computer. But it was latest record A Moon Shaped Pool single Daydreaming that kicked off proceedings, it’s lead single Burn The Witch omitted. 1998 single Airbag was aired early on, giving hope that the band’s hits would keep coming but ultimately the group divided the Pyramid Stage crowd as the hits were left out, streams of people choosing to leave the stage over the next 90 minutes.
While the stage was brightly lit, the band were largely invisible from the front row to the back of the field as lights silhouetted the band members and the screens showed obscured imagery from the stage. Street Spirit (Fade Out) offered the crowd a small token of thanks from The Bends for waiting out a good hour but it wasn’t until the group’s closing songs that the hits started to come thick and fast, No Surprises, Paranoid Android, Fake Plastic Trees adorning the first encore before the night was closed out with hits Creep and Karma Police. This was very much a Radiohead show for Radiohead fans who lapped up every second, but at the cost of losing many who left to check out Major Lazer, Dizzee Rascal, Annie Mac and The Flaming Lips playing elsewhere around the site or to make an early start on the delights awaiting them at the festival’s famous South East Corner.
Photography & Words by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival 2017