Glastonbury 2019 – Saturday Round-Up

June 30, 2019

Its the point where the legs start to ache, the hangovers start to feel their pinch more intensely and the rhythm of the festival beds in. If the average ticket goer hadnt felt as though they had walked 500 miles by this point it sure as hell didnt stop them bellowing the lyrics back to the Proclaimers, who concluded their harmony-laden set with gusto and good spirit. The likes of Letter From America, Lets Get Married and Im on My Way hitting all the right, delicious notes. Even the mournful and hard-hitting Sunshine on Leith couldnt derail the convivial atmosphere. Those boys sure have a way with a melody.

Over on the Other Stage Fantastic Negrito managed to do the one thing that an up-and-comer dreams to do: start off with a paltry crowd and watch it grow. FN frequently conjures the sort of wrought iron rock and blues bluster that marks Gary Clarke Jrs best work. Or even, whisper it, Lenny Kravitz, on the days when he wants to ramp up his Hendrix obsession. A clutch of well received records are now matched by a sometimes ambling, rambling but never-less-than-engrossing live show. If there is any justice, this special talent will crawl up festival rosters in the coming years.

Someone who has been in it for the long haul is Gerry Cinnamon. The Scottish tunesmiths been plying his trade for the best part of fifteen years, but snowballing, word-of-mouth recommendations have turned him into 2019s latest sensation and the longest overnight sensation in recent memory. In fact, the John Peel tent cannot house all the people who wish to see him. It is mid-afternoon, and the scorching temperatures dont even put off those who are placed outside of the tents canopy. They merely surrender themselves to the mercy of the sun in exchange for words from the street from this proudly working-class lad who has the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout. This is an unstoppable phenomenon.   

Hozier plies his sumptuous, dramatic catalogue with a disarming ease. He nonchalantly pulls out fingerpicked guitar figures and fiery blues backed by a sophisticated band. It is the tracks from his monster-selling debut that translate the best. New songs such as Sweet Music fail to quite have the same impact as, say, Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene or Jackie and Wilson both of which rumble and tumble with the main stage crowd in delightful fashion. Any quibbles as to the consistency of the material is probably a bit churlish in the context of this being an artist in the legacy mould. Yes, he will take detours and he will occasionally disappoint, but this is someone who will always pique interest and is likely to scale timeless heights.

Watching Janet Jackson initially feels like going back in a time machine. Her stage craft and songs sound so antiquated when compared to say, Stormzy, who ushered in a new era with his performance on Saturday night. What is even worse is that is becomes crystal clear that this Jackson is miming her way through her medley of hits (and misses). Thats a no-no at somewhere like Glastonbury. Especially as Hozier had just given way to this icon. Also, there is nowhere to hide for singers in the 10s. You might have gotten away with it back in the day, but there are so many cameras and so much possibility for a quick consensus via social media that it is unfathomable as to why anyone would try. The temerity is absurd. A major disappointment.

Cockily walking to the microphone like the last rock star on the planet, Liam Gallagher gives the crowd what they came for and he gives it to them in abundance. If the crowd sometimes cover up the deficiencies in his vox (time hasnt been as kind to Gallagher Jr as it has to his elder sibling in that regard), it is still a masterclass in communality as the slew of Oasis tracks provide ample evidence of their cross-generational, cross-genre appeal. He doesnt work up a sweat behind the mic, of course. He never does. But he does ooze that inimitable charisma. He is unquestionably back where he belongs: in the heart of the music scene, ruffing things up as simultaneously a parody of himself and a man wholl earnestly march with anyone into the trenches for the cause of rock n roll.

The Killers have to banish that 2007 headline set and the sound problems that marred their debut on the Pyramid Stage. Brandon Flowers pulls more rabbits out of the hat than a seasoned conjurer. Pet Shop Boys and Johnny Marr join the group onstage for a rabid, infectious encore that tries with all of its might to eclipse the universal acclaim that greeted their counterpart the night before. It doesnt have the same significance or cultural cache but it does still strike home in a very satisfying manner.

There are more singalongs than the terraces at Anfield. Predictably, the most unhinged reaction is reserved for the ubiquitous Mr Brightside, certainly, but there are many instances when the crowd goes absolutely mental. This was a kitchen sink type of performance and it would take a very miserly soul not to be enraptured by the relentless onslaught from the Vegas troubadours.

They may still need to answer what the hell the lyrics to Human mean, but on the evidence of their live prowess provided in Somerset, well turn a blind eye to that continuing mystery. They rewrote their own Glastonbury script under the stars. Magnificent.

By Greg Wetherall

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