The 43rd Glastonbury took place this year after a year long break, (something to do with portaloos and the Olympics!?) but it was back and it did not disappoint. Glastonbury is always the rumour mill’s favourite topic, from alleged headliners, to who is making surprise appearances on the Other Stage, to the main question on everybody’s lips during that weekend, “is Daft Punk playing?”. The answer was of course, disappointingly, no.
The splashes of rain along with the inevitable mud on the Thursday were good omens for the most anticipated festival of the year. When the music properly started on the Friday there were high spirits as the weekend produced three days of consecutive sun; the weather was in Glastonbury’s favour and brightened a truly memorable weekend.
Playing well-recognised songs from his self-titled debut album, Nottingham’s own Jake Bugg played both the Pyramid stage and Acoustic stage within a matter of hours on the Friday afternoon, coming a long way from playing the BBC introducing stage two years ago with fan favourite Two Fingers creating a-sing-along down at the acoustic stage.
Around six o´clock Tame Impala brought Australian psychedelic vibes to the Other Stage, with trippy graphics supporting the fluid, melodic tracks from albums Lonerism and InnerSpeaker. Tame Impala added to the ultimate escapism Glastonbury provides; standing in a field in Somerset, where absolutely nothing else matters.
The headlining act on the Friday was of course Arctic Monkeys. Sporting slick suits, the Monkeys opened with Do I Wanna Know? their first single from their fifth album, AM, giving the thirsty Glastonbury crowd a taste of what to expect once it is released on 9th September. Playing an almost two-hour set, Arctic Monkeys performed a range of songs from all four albums, including the likes of Dancing Shoes, Teddy Picker, and Fake Tales of San Francisco. In addition, for the first time in the UK playing R U Mine? which went down a storm, turning the crowd into mass of craziness in the palm of Alex Turner´s hand, who, after the encore, made the packed Pyramid Stage crowd sing Happy Birthday to his mum, before turning into the final song of the night 505 accompanied by Miles Kane. Kane, returning the favour after Turner had joined him on the John Peel stage earlier in the day for a rendition of the Last Shadow Puppets’ Standing Next to Me. Arctic Monkeys played a charmingly polished set, proving they are serious in changing and evolving from being the four lads that had a go at headlining six years ago.
Saturday was all about one band: The Rolling Stones. The buzz around the festival was the anticipation for the evening where the Stones completely ripped the joint. Jumping into Jumpin’ Jack Flash, the Stones made history headlining their first ever Glastonbury performance to an absolutely packed out Pyramid Stage crowd. Playing a two and a half hour set filled with their greatest hits from over 50 years including the likes of Paint It Black, Gimme Shelter, Start Me Up, and Brown Sugar. Mick Jagger’s stage presence was something special as he strutted across the stage with those tiny hips that made the girls swoon all those years ago (and still today!). Midway through the set, during Sympathy for the Devil on top of the iconic Pyramid stage, a metal Phoenix rose creating awe, and as fire breathed from it, the already stunned crowd knew that this was something to behold from their Glastonbury experience.
Earlier on in the afternoon however, Azealia Banks shook the Other Stage, performing in a green almost dinosaur-like outfit, to an animated crowd dancing to her Harlem beats. A lot has been said about Azealia Banks and she has said a whole lot back, generating controversy everywhere she goes, yet one thing is certain she sure can rap. The impressive aspect though is how she can switch from her cleverly created rhymes to singing tuneful notes whilst maintaining an energetic stage presence. Performing songs such as Liquorice, 1991 and crowd favourite 212, Banks’ performance grabbed attention in the right way.
Over on the Park Stage, Haim brought Californian vibes to the festival, playing their third set at the festival that weekend, but looking and sounding like it was their first performance. Enticing the packed out crowd with their summery tunes and their fun humour, Haim played their already recognisable singles, Send Me Down and Falling whilst teasing the Glastonbury crowd with what to expect from their debut album.
Although you could smell the exhaustion of the Glastonbury goers on the final day, spirits were still high and Jessie Ware’s was one of the highest as it was her first time performing at the festival to a packed out John Peel tent in the late Sunday afternoon. Ware had joined Disclosure during their performance on the Sonic stage on Friday night getting a taste of the Glastonbury crowd. Diving straight into her set with Devotion, Night Light and Sweet Talk, Ware’s vocal talent truly excelled. Ware’s enthusiasm and love for the festival could be felt as she chatted to the crowd frequently between songs, as if she was stood down there with them. She has had a great year and Glastonbury must be one of the highlights.
The xx headlined the Other Stage Sunday night, providing an intense, atmospheric closure to a brilliant weekend. The xx did what they do best; playing a set filled with intimate lyrics, raw vocals and their signature electric moody sound, yet being the headliners proved a challenge. For a band who has only released two albums, the range of songs is limited, yet they did deliver, as the festival crowd were on their side, wanting a distinctive xx performance. Closing with the tender arrangement of Angels the xx delivered an impressionable performance, it may have not been a sing-along headline show, but Mumford and Sons were on the Pyramid stage for that.
After a long weekend of surprises, parties and incredible performances, Glastonbury 2013 exceeded expectation. It is a weekend of escapism and come Monday morning, it is time to return to reality.
By Jess Salter