Having trekked around large areas of the Glastonbury Festival site on Friday, I still had barely scratched the surface, but a full day of music across the many stages still beckoned including the massive, long-awaited Pyramid Stage headline slot from American rockers Foo Fighters who had to pull out of their 2015 appearance due to frontman Dave Grohl breaking his leg at a show a few weeks beforehand. But also added to the bill on both the Pyramid and Leftfield stages was Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But for early risers like me, it was choosing which layers to pack for the day as a refreshing rain had descended on the site overnight, before marching off to the Greenpeace Café for a bit of vegetarian breakfast and delicious Allpress coffee to set me up for the day. Then it was time for the music to begin over at the Acoustic Stage, the wonderful Portland, Oregon-based sister-trio, Joseph opening it up for the day.
Following a delicious bite of Anna Mae’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese (go with The Spicy Juan!) which is helpfully parked right outside the Acoustic tent, it was a gentle saunter over to join the masses next for some family fun with Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra bringing their upbeat, piano and brass-rich tunes to the Pyramid Stage.
The chilled out William’s Green area is really where things kick off on a Thursday with Ultimate Power drawing the masses for a DJ set of 1980’s power ballads before at least a couple of “secret” bands play the tent stage. But the area’s charm, with bandstands, a windmill and a massive ‘Scrap Trident’ sculpture evoking the festival’s green virtues, leave it somewhere to retire to often as well as catching those up and coming bands.
And it was at William’s Green that I caught London-based rock quartet The Big Moon, hot off the release of debut record Love In The 4th Dimension, frontwoman Juliette Jackson sporting a rather bizarre silver getup featuring a metal colander helmet.
Next it was over to The Pyramid Stage to catch Jeremy Corbyn‘s speech. And on any normal day it would be a doddle to get over and to even find a decent viewing position at the Pyramid field. But this was no normal day. Alas, I have no pictures of the Labour leader because the crowd was the thickest and deepest I’ve ever seen it as festival founder Micheal Eavis introduced Corbyn to the stage for a rousing speech before introducing American hip hop stars Run The Jewels.
While it is never really a great use of Glastonbury time to simply camp out at one stage for a long period, that is what I chose to do next at the Pyramid. First up was a Glastonbury debut from pop starlet Katy Perry, the Californian girl bringing the sunshine but seemingly missing the fact that it had rained at Pilton earlier in the day. Still, a storming poptastic show was put on by the 32-year-old with a good airing of latest record Witness as well as a quick-fire airing of past hits including Teenage Dream, Firework (accompanied by actual fireworks launching from the stage), Dark Horse, E.T., California Gurls and breakthrough single I Kissed A Girl.
There was even time for Perry’s set to be slowed down as she slapped on an acoustic guitar to bang out One Of The Boys tune Thinking Of You. Both pink and yellow confetti was blasted out at the crowd as Perry closed out her set with Power, new banger Swish Swish and Prism hit Roar before launching herself into the Pyramid stage crowd, a stampede of ‘KatyCats’ surging forward.
A short wait later and Ohio-based indie rockers The National are in front of us, brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitars flanking a swaggering Matt Berninger, the bespectacled frontman oddly taking sips from drinks before hurling his remaining beverages into the crowd or at any unfortunately positioned security staff in front of the stage. While 2013 single Sea Of Love kicked off proceedings, upcoming seventh record Sleep Well Beast was given a good airing in-between Berninger’s plea for the lobbying of a local Ohio Republican senator … to the Somerset crowd.
Another hour waiting in the slowly compressing crowd and a beaming Dave Grohl steps out onto the Pyramid stage for the very first time. “Traffic was a bitch” he jests, referring to the band’s two year delay in appearing at the festival before going on to praise Florence Welch for her headline performance in 2015, which included a cover of Foo Fighters hit Times Like These, the frontman going on to perform a largely solo rendition of the song in dedication to Welch, later joined by his Foo Fighters bandmates.
The next two+ hours are a non-stop, roller-coaster ride of a rock show with our host for the evening leading us through his band’s hits, teasing us that we’d be camped out at the Pyramid Stage until the band are booted off, ripping through forthcoming ninth album Concrete and Gold‘s lead single Run and even pulling up drummer Taylor Hawkins to the front-of-stage for a cover of Queen and David Bowie song Under Pressure, the former Nirvana sticksman once again taking up drumming duties for the 1982 hit.
Foo Fighters turn as Glastonbury Festival headliners is a true masterclass in putting on a huge, crowd pleasing show without any gimmicks bar a few fireworks. There were no special guests, no runways and guitar duels, not even an encore! But all nine studio albums were touched upon, from their self-titled debut, huge sophomore record The Colour and the Shape, through to 2011’s Wasting Light and 2014’s Sonic Highways. It was a shame, however, that they chose to omit debut album cut For All The Cows while playing a dairy farm #missedopportunity.
The perfect antidote to Friday night’s dark, subdued and fan-focused Radiohead set, Foo Fighters’ bright, engaging two+ hour, hit-laden set dragged in festival-goers leaving other shows and left those in attendance on a high as they departed the Pyramid field for the night, off to the South East Corner, the Stone Circle and other late-night areas of the festival site or simply back to their tents for the night.
Photography & Words by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival 2017
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate