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

Glastonbury returns

Aah – what a feeling it was to be back. The first Glastonbury in three years and everyone was well up for it, including the weather gods, who were enjoying the spectacle so much they forgot to send rain. Unlike 2010, when consecutive sunny days seemed to dampen the hedonism a bit, Glastonbury 2022 was one of the liveliest, loudest and happiest I can remember in 30 years. Here, from a month’s distance, follows the markontour review of the bands I saw at Glastonbury 2022.

Friday
The Libertines, 11.30am, The Other Stage
The Libertines’ first two albums pack so many punchy melodies and revive so many markontour memories of their incendiary early gigs, that it was impossible not to get a little caught up in Pete Doherty, Carl Barat and co getting the chance to kick things off. But these days the shambolic performance diminishes rather than enhances the underlying genius, so I didn’t linger long.

Halloweens, 12.30pm, Williams Green
Instantly catchy pop from the Vaccines’ side project – this was a real treat. Resplendent in a red tracksuit and matching beret, Justin Young said he was nervous and didn’t know “how to move” to these songs, but he hadn’t forgotten how to sing and purred beautifully through far too short a set.

The Goa Express, 1.30pm Williams Green
I loved these young lads’ sound on the introducing stage at Green Man last year and judging by this performance they have now well and truly arrived. Their jangly, indie guitar tunes are surely going to propel them to much bigger stages in the future, so it was a particular privilege to enjoy this performance with the rest of the small crowd.

Wet Leg, 2pm, The Park
I left it a bit late for this one, because of not wanting to miss The Goa Express, but it meant I spent half the set worming my way through a massive, tightly-packed Park Stage crowd, arriving near the front just in time to join the screaming on ‘Ur Mum’. The band looked taken aback by the size of their audience and it was a proper Glastonbury moment with everyone joining in the “Excuse me? What?” bits on ‘Chaise Longue’.

Shaun Keaveny interviews Dick and Dom, 3pm, The Crows Nest
Much missed former 6 Music DJ, Shaun Keaveny was on top form asking children’s entertainers, Dick and Dom, to choose their dream festival schedule for his ‘The Line Up’ podcast. Other than that one of them wisely chose The Stone Roses, I don’t remember much else, but it was very funny and a complete stranger bought me a pint for no reason other than he was perched next to me and was going to the bar himself. Glastonbury.

First Aid Kit, 3.45pm, The Other Stage
I only caught half their set on my way to Wolf Alice, but what I heard was sublime, including a gorgeous crowd-assisted version of Emmylou, which sent me on my way with a smile on my face.

Wolf Alice, 4.45pm, The Pyramid Stage
If I had to pick just one performance from the whole festival this would be it. Wolf Alice are now three incredible albums into their career and totally at the top of their game on stage. Every member is so good you could just watch one of them and still experience an incredible gig. But it was Ellie Rosewell’s vocals on ‘Last Man on Earth’ that brought tears to markontour’s eyes, along with many others in a hushed crowd. One from the top drawer.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, 6.15pm, The Pyramid Stage
Plant’s movements are a bit wooden these days, but his voice still sounds amazing and was perfectly offset by country legend, Emmylou Harris. A beautiful, mellow set before I started my bar shift. And you can’t hope for more than a bit of ‘When the Levee Breaks’.

Billie Eilish, 10.15pm, The Pyramid Stage
There was a moment when the singer’s stage patter, presumably rehearsed for her usual teenage audience, felt like it might fall flat with an all-ages Glastobnury. But there was so much love in the Pyramid stage crowd, and Eilish’ music was just so compelling, that the show was a triumph. I loved what I saw, although I was unfortunately working for most of the set.

Saturday

Katy J Pearson, 2.45pm, Park Stage
Like a folk Stevie Nicks, Katy J Pearson charmed the sun-dappled Park Stage with her gorgeous voice and sing-a-long choruses. The Park is basically the BBC 6 Music stage and so everyone knew the words to playlist regulars, ‘Tonight’ and ‘Take Back the Radio’. I felt bad none of us could line-dance when asked to. Next time..

Wu-Lu, 2.30pm, William’s Green
A brooding, intense set that was utterly compelling and somewhat in the vein of Rage Against The Machine mixed with the Happy Mondays. There was a lovey moment near the end when Wu-Lu invited his younger brother onto the stage and then encouraged/instructed him to stage dive. He did. And we caught him. Glastonbury moment.

Don Letts and Gaudi, 4pm, Greenpeace Rave Tree
A gentle, arty dub set, choreographed by the legendary Don Letts and punctuated by his encouraging crowd members to say just one word into his roving microphone. Perfect for an afternoon sit down.

Honeyglaze, 5.20pm, BBC Introducing
Some really great lines that will make me listen some more: “Thank God for terrestrial TV”; “I know that I look 17 / I know I’m not a beauty queen / It may come as a surprise / That I don’t like being patronised”. Jazz drummer. Marvin the Paranoid Android on bass. Spiky, lyrical singer. Worth checking out.

Haim, 5.30pm, The Pyramid Stage
I enjoyed Honeyglaze (above), but wished I’d left a bit earlier as Haim’s set was so GREAT! This was perfect indie-pop for a sunny afternoon, commanding the Glastonbury crowd with great tunes and funny anecdotes that showed off their Glastonbury credentials, with shouts out to the Rabbit Hole and Avalon. Summer Girl was awesome.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 7.15pm, The Pyramid Stage
I reckon I saw more bands on the Pyramid than ever this year. I usually prefer the smaller stages and I probably wouldn’t have bothered with Noel Gallagher if it had not been for the proximity of the bar where I needed to start my shift just after, or meeting a friend who was there too. But I would have missed out. A no-messing singalong to some of the most memorable songs of the 1990s. What’s not to like? Including a lovely crowd-assisted version of Half the World Away.

Paul McCartney, 9.30pm, The Pyramid Stage
Wow. Wow. Wow. The fools on the hill who left early because there was “too much of his solo stuff” missed one of the all-time greatest Glastonbury performances. I was supposed to be working, but no-one was buying drinks while McCartney was running through his best Beatles songs, so I got to see Dave Grohl join for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Band on the Run’, plus Bruce Springsteen (!!!) for his own ‘Glory Day’s and the Beatles’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. Best of all, however, was joining the other 150,000 smiling voices, arm-round-the-shoulders with complete strangers, on a never-ending rendition of Hey Jude. Perfect.

Sunday
Elbow, 5.45pm, Pyramid Stage
From the moment Guy Garvey shambled onto the stage he had his arm encouragingly, reassuringly around the crowd. We held our hands aloft at his intimation for the very first song; laughed through a reverse Mexican wave that crescendoed all the way up to the hilltop camping; tried and failed to match Guy’s vocal exercises; and, most of all, we sang at the top of our lungs to “Throw those curtains wide / One day like this a year would see me right”. Magic. As always.

Lorde, 7.30pm, The Pyramid Stage
What a revelation. I quite liked Lorde before and have been playing her 2021 album occasionally, but this turned out to be one of the sets of the festival. Full of pop energy, framed by a setting-sun stage set and with the singer descending from a sort of revolving see-saw, Lorde instantly got everyone dancing and it stayed that way.

Kendrick Lamar, 9.45pm, The Pyramid Stage
The crowds thinned out progressively from Diana Ross, through Elbow and then Lorde, as often happens on a Sunday at Glastonbury, but those who stayed were gifted one of the most intense performances of the weekend. I wouldn’t say I “enjoyed it”, because the music and lyrics were too edgy for that, but it was extraordinarily compelling and an amazing platform from which to go off and wholeheartedly enjoy the end of the final night in Shangri-La.

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