This time a week ago, I had embarked on my very first visit to Glastonbury, one of the biggest (and best) music festivals in the world. If you haven’t been before, I can confirm Glastonbury is as massive and as magical as everyone says. People are friendly, fun and covered in glitter; the food is genuinely delicious; music of all genres is represented and there’s always a party to be found. And then there’s the acts: artists big and small hit the many stages of Glastonbury, and there’s always some unforgettable, stand out moments in the vast array of performances. By now, thanks to the BBC’s coverage, we’ve all had the chance to watch all the big sets, whether we went to the festival or not.
Of course, there are always a few low points of any festival (queuing in 30 degree heat and having to use long drop toilets are never ideal), but Glastonbury offers so many highs. So, with that in mind, I wanted to bring you my own personal highlights of the event, from the perspective of someone who was actually there.
- Major Lazer
Of course, the big headliner on Friday night was Radiohead. But for many (myself included), Major Laser proved to be a very strong alternative. Headlining the Other Stage, the electronic DJ trio made it impossible not to have a good time, whether it was drunk dancing to their hits like me, or catching a T-shirt that the trio were firing in the crowd via canon. With the set coming at the end of the first day of outstanding music, Major Lazer got the mood exactly right, and the whole crowd came out to party. They performed all their big hits, of which they’re certainly in no short supply, with songs like ‘Lean On’ and ‘Cold Water’ really getting everyone going. However, there were plenty of surprises to be had to: the trio managed to mix in the likes of Ed Sheeran and Spice Girls in their own special way. And perhaps the biggest surprise was the appearance of Dua Lipa on the stage (who, coincidentally, had also delivered a knock out set on the John Peel Stage earlier that day) to sing their collab ‘My Love’. It was a truly outstanding set, which perfectly completed a day of amazing music.
- Royal Blood
Also performing on the Friday, this Brighton duo brought rock to the Pyramid Stage in a very big way. I must admit I had only vaguely heard of Royal Blood when they were first revealed on the Glasto line-up, but they’ve had so many amazing hits since that it was virtually impossible to give their set a miss. The pair have gone from strength to strength this year, which seemed to be epitomised not only by their set on Glastonbury’s main stage, but also the fact they had just been told they had a number one album. The emotional moment where the pair hugged and opened some champagne, live on stage, to celebrate the news is one of those rare festival moments that you can never forget, and it made sure their set was one of the weekend’s strongest. They also played brilliantly, and judging by the sizes of the mosh pits around me in the crowd, everyone else thought so too.
- The Killers
I am saddened to say that this is the only set on the list that I didn’t actually attend, but I’m going to include it anyway. Before the festival, rumours were rife that The Killers were to play the ‘TBA’ slot on the John Peel stage on Sunday afternoon. Earlier that day, it was confirmed to be true, and, heartbreakingly but unsurprisingly, festival-goers fled to the relatively small John Peel Stage to be there. I also tried to be there, but unfortunately the stage had been closed an hour before the set began due to being at full capacity, which left me having to enjoy the music from my campsite. Although this was my biggest disappointment of the weekend, I can appreciate what an amazing set this was for those lucky enough to be there. I’ve seen The Killers before, and they always deliver on their performances – if you’ve seen how mad people go for ‘Mr Brightside’ in a club, you can only imagine what it’s like live. Even hearing the set from my tent, you could hear the crowd belting out the lyrics, which is the best sign on whether a set is any good, and I can only imagine how electric the atmosphere was. One of the best secret sets Glastonbury has delivered in a long-time, and surely a highlight for everyone who was there.
Chic are world-renowned for their disco hits, so it’s understandable they drew a big crowd as they played the Pyramid on Sunday afternoon. I attended their set, looking forward to a nice, upbeat disco set as the sun went down on Worthy Farm – but they delivered so much more than that. Nile Rodgers showed what a complete and utter superstar he is, interacting with the crowd and spending the whole time with a smile on his face. Chic performed some of their very best hits (le freak c’est chic indeed) but an exceptional part of the set came via a medley of the many number one hits Nile Rodgers has created. Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ and Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ were all recognised, though the biggest reaction was gained from Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, which Rodgers played after an emotional reflection on his overcoming of cancer six years earlier. It was a truly magical set, and definitely made up for The Killers’ set that most of Glastonbury couldn’t get into.
- Everything Everything
Yet another secret set from Glastonbury, but one that I did actually get to go to. As you may already know, though campers tend to arrive at Worthy Farm on Wednesday, the music doesn’t start until Friday, give or take a few small stages that will have acts on the Thursday. William’s Green is one of these stages, but they made sure their Thursday line-up was spiced up with two secret sets. The first of these was Circa Waves, who performed a great set ahead of their main performance later in the weekend, and the second was Everything Everything, who had not be included on the line-up at all. As a massive Everything Everything fan, this was a bit of a dream come true for me. Although due to set being secret, the crowd was quite a bit smaller than the usual Pyramid Stage sea of people, everyone sang along and seemed to genuinely know every single world of a band which, in my opinion, are underrated. It also marked the perfect introduction to a weekend of music, and was an added bonus to the line-up.
When it comes to festivals, the best acts are always the ones that you can tell want to be there. When Stormzy hit the Other Stage on Thursday night, it was clear it was a big moment for him, and that made it a particularly special performance. The rapper has made a massive impact on music this year, so it’s not surprising the entire crowd were so up for seeing him. Hits like ‘Big For Your Boots’ and ‘Cold’ understandably received a huge reaction, as well as his performance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ which many will remember from the BRITs. However, what made Stormzy’s set even better was that he didn’t shy away from politics: he showed up to the stage where a Grenfell Tower t-shirt and spoke about the poor way the government have handled the tragedy, before engaging the whole crowd in a chant of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’. It’s clear this man can’t do any wrong at the minute, and he seems to be one of the most switched-on artists of current times – plus, he definitely managed to create the biggest mosh pit I’ve ever seen from his ‘energy crew’ of fans.
- Jeremy Corbyn
Speaking of politics, it’s only right to address the appearance of Jeremy Corbyn at the festival. There was quite a bit of backlash about this beforehand, with many stating Glastonbury was “not the place for politics”, despite there being a whole stage dedicated to politics literally called the Leftfield. Regardless of the criticism, Jeremy Corbyn proved to be the man on the hour, even when he wasn’t there. I am not exaggerating when I say ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ (sang to the tune of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’) was the anthem of Glasto. People sang it randomly in crowds between sets, and Corbyn himself was praised by the likes of Stormzy, Run the Jewels, Declan McKenna, and many more. So, when Corbyn did show up on stage, he drew the biggest crowd I have ever seen. You could not move for the amount of people that were there – and the Pyramid Stage is a very large space. Like he has done with his Labour campaign, Corbyn’s speech managed to inspire young people by addressing the big issues of equality, terrorism, Grenfell and the failures of the Tories. He may not be a musician, but if we’re judging on crowd size and reaction, Corbyn was undoubtedly the biggest star of the entire festival.
- Craig David
For an artist that only a few years ago was the subject of ridicule (largely thanks to Bo’ Selecta!), Craig David was surely one of the stand-out performances of Glastonbury. He drew scores of fans to the Pyramid Stage on Saturday afternoon, and the reaction of the crowd when he pulled out his nostalgic hits showed his star status. The likes of ‘Seven Days’, ‘Re-rewind’ and his more recent hits like ‘Ain’t Giving Up’ were big highlights of the set, which became of performance of two halves: firstly with David singing his hits as usual, and then with the introduction of his TS5 DJ set. Though the TS5 set was initially a bit lost on me, David soon won the crowd back over with the inclusion of not only his own well-loved hits, but also favourites like TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. Though he may be a departure to the usual rock and roll festival style, Craig David was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable sets of the whole festival, bringing a sense of cheesiness and garage to Glastonbury.
- Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak was a relatively new artist to me when I saw him at Glastonbury, and judging by the fact my sister thought I was drunk when I texted her his name, he’s still unknown to quite a few people. But one thing you can always rely on a festival to do is introduce you to some new, amazing artists, and for that reason, Anderson .Paak was one of my unexpected highlights of the festival. When you consider .Paak was homeless merely years before his Glastonbury set, it makes his blinder of a performance even more special. He’s frequently credited as one of the biggest upcoming hip hop artists, and it was easy to see why in his set. Coming out in a suit made of his album cover, he instantly drew cheers, and quickly had the crowd onside with his charming interaction and energetic performances. A thoroughly likeable guy with a thoroughly amazing back catalogue; expect to see much more of him on the back of his Glastonbury set.
- The xx
From the moment I saw the line-up, The xx were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing, and they definitely did not disappoint. Coming out with ‘Intro’ (naturally), they quickly had everyone going with their huge catalogue of hits. As a fan particularly on the group’s more upbeat hits, songs like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘On Hold’ were amazing to hear live, and showed the influence of Jamie xx’s growing DJ career. However, they were also able to show the softer side of The xx with the likes of ‘Heart Skipped A Beat’ and ‘Islands’ from their earlier albums, which went down a treat with everyone watching. As arguably one of the coolest current bands, The xx were a perfect part of the festival’s first day, and, as they encouraged festival-goers to enjoy themselves during their time at Glasto, it was clear that their set was a huge part of that enjoyment.