Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

2019 – the year Stormzy headlined Glastonbury

This year’s Glastonbury will be remembered for the sunny weather, for sure, but also the most extraordinary Pyramid stage show that I can remember in twenty-seven years as a Glastonbury regular. 2019 is the year that Stormzy headlined Glastonbury.

It was also the year that Glastonbury focused on the climate emergency, the Park Stage opening a day early to host an Extinction Rebellion rally on Thursday and David Attenborough gaining an emotional reception from a huge afternoon crowd on Saturday.

Here follows the annual markontour Glastonbury round-up, applying my normal rule of using the ratings I scribbled down in the moment of euphoric enjoyment of the show. I seem to have spent a lot more time than normal at the Pyramid stage this year.

As always Glastonbury is made by the people you enjoy it with, so thanks this year to LARAG team on the Solstice Bar, as well as all the random friendliness.

The most heavenly performance of all

  • Stormzy, Pyramid Stage, Friday, 10.15pm
    Understanding that a large proportion of the audience didn’t know many of his songs, Stormzy decided to put on the show to beat all shows. Mixing grime and politics, ballet and bike tricks, Stormzy turned the Pyramid stage into a theatre of modern urban life as a vehicle to convey his powerful rap-poetry. It was simply extraordinary.

Something very special / or very unexpected

  • The Cure, Pyramid Stage, Sunday 9.30pm
    This is the best I have seen the Cure since the early 1990s, from a brooding start based on Disintegration-era masterpieces and building up to a last half hour of un-remitting ’80s pop classics.
  • David Attenborough, Pyramid Stage, Sunday 3pm
    Popping up in the surprise guest appearance slot, before Kylie, Attenborough had the full attention of a devoted crowd, many of whom, like markontour, shed a few a tears as he spoke of the glorious life forms that human pollution is rapidly killing.
  • Stella Donnelly, Leftfield, Saturday 6pm
    Funny, thoughtful, political, and bloody brilliant I had been looking forward to this & she really delivered. “My aunty was a punk / My Mum still is punk / And you’re still shit”. And her Mum’s Welsh..
  • Gently Tender, William’s Green, Sunday 1pm
    A sort of indie super-group, combining members of two great groups, Palma Violets and The Big Moon, to powerful, beautiful effect.
  • Years and Years, Pyramid Stage, Sunday 1.45pm
    A band I only went to see because friends wanted to go, but I left thoroughly impressed. I guess you would call it anthemic-pop, but there was a lot of liberation politics thrown in as well, plus a big, dance-heavy stage performance.

I really liked them

  • The Vaccines, Other Stage, Friday 11am
    Sing-a-long indie-rock that was perfect to open the festival, rattling off catchy tunes from 2011’s ‘If You Wanna’, to last year’s ‘All My Friends are Falling in Love’, this was the start of losing the top range of my [one octave] voice at Glastonbury..
  • The Charlatans, Other Stage, Friday 6.30pm
    Standing in for illness-hit Snow Patrol, Tim Burgess & co reminded us all what a great back catalogue they had. I was lucky enough that my bar-break coincided with a joyous ‘The Only One I Know’.
  • Rob Green, Acoustic Stage, Friday 12.55
    A young lad from Nottingham, singing a kind of soulful pop that normally leaves me cold, I was one of a large early-doors crowd that got carried away by Rob Green’s lust for life and powerful voice. Someone I definitely want to see again, if only to confirm that he really is that good.
  • Loyle Carner, The Other Stage, Sunday 5.15pm
    One of my favourite performances from Glastonbury 2017, Loyle Carner is now an altogether bigger deal, but still offers cracking rapped tales of growing up, told with humility and love.
  • Ultimate Power, William’s Green, Thursday 5.15pm
    An Eighties sing-along basically, but from We Are The Champions to Heaven is a Place on Earth it was euphoric! And the couple who got engaged to that song from Dirty Dancing in 2017 were invited back on stage for a proper Glastonbury moment.
  • Mik Artistik, Croissant Neuf bandstand, some point in the afternoon on Wednesday
    Always good value, we had ‘Sweet Leaf of the North’ and ‘Fuckin’ Flag’ as part of an extended encore that began, with typical contrariness, after his second song.
  • Broken Bones Matilda, Strummerville, Thursday 2.45pm
    A man with a beautiful voice & a guitar, who provided a gorgeous cover of ‘Where did you sleep last night’.
  • Elvana, Williams Green, Thursday 9.30pm
    So packed I elected to enjoy with a pint outside the tent, an Elvis impersonator doing songs from Nirvana as well as The King, this was surprisingly brilliant.
  • Batwings, Permaculture stage, Sunday, noon
    A left-wing Frank Turner, performing with a borrowed guitar on the lovely little stage where they serve home-brew for a contribution to the honesty box. This was a lovely way to start Sunday.

Other good stuff

  • CJ McCraver, Stummerville, Thursday 1.15pm
    An acoustic guitar set that was perfect for a lazy afternoon.
  • Grace Petrie, Acoustic Stage, Friday 1.40pm
    A twenty-first century troubador, I loved her twist on the national anthem, ‘God Save The Hungry’, & a noted down a line that went something like “And the thing that fucked ya / We a patriarchal structure”!
  • The Proclaimers, Pyramid Stage, Saturday 11.45am
    I was only walking past really, but Sunshine on Leith sounded beautiful
  • Tribute to Jeremy Hardy, Cabaret Tent, Saturday noon
    A funny/sad tribute to the irreplaceable Jeremy Hardy, compered by his best mate, Mark Steel & including Phill Jupitus reading the poem that he had been auditioning with the first time he met Hardy.

Here’s what you could’ve won

I was working when Wu-Tang Clan, The Killers and The Good The Bad and the Queen were playing. I was queueing for vegan chicken nuggets when Lizzo was storming the West Holts, and somehow I forgot to see Slowthai, despite having him on my ‘must see’ list. We didn’t wait quite long enough for Vrillon to start in the Rabbit Hole, but they look pretty good on YouTube.

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