Glastonbury’s best bits

The incredible Glastonbury festival has been and gone for another year. Piers Barber and Phil Smith take a look back at the weekend’s finest moments.

Mick Jagger at Glastonbury

Rip This Joint: Mick Jagger finally entertains a jubilant Glastonbury crowd.

10. Stornoway
Selected solely for their tongue-in-cheek cover of ‘Wearing My Rolex’ by Wiley, who launched an angry and hilarious attack on Glastonbury via his Twitter account the night before his scheduled appearance on the Sonic Stage. “Fuck them and their farm,” quipped the Godfather of Grime, who seemed to take extremely personal offence to Glastonbury’s payment system and unforgivable inability to control the weather. Stornoway’s cover is a lovely Glastonbury moment: “He obviously needs the royalties,” jokes singer Brian Briggs. Piers Barber

9. Steve Winwood
A scorching set from Winwood which re-affirmed his status as a true musical icon. The man with a CV to match Nile Rodgers performed hits from all of his notable enterprises: The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and his successful solo career. A twenty minute version of the Traffic classic ‘Light Up Or Leave Me Alone’ featured an array of solo performances from Winwood’s band, before the crowd which had sacrificed a good spot at The Rolling Stones for this pleasure were treated to a stunning run including ‘Higher Love,’ ‘Keep On Running’ and ‘Gimme Some Lovin’. By no means the biggest crowd of the weekend, but undoubtedly one of the most satisfied. Phil Smith

8. The xx
The xx continued their impressive ascent by turning in an absorbing set to close this year’s Other Stage. Although the band have remained loyal to their recognisable formula of mournful minimalism on record, their live shows have experienced quite a substantial transformation since the days of their self-titled debut. Romy Croft and Oliver Sim are more confident and intricate, combining particularly effectively on songs like ‘Missing’ and ‘Infinity’. Meanwhile Jamie Smith, the band’s beatmaker and brains, has become more expansive and adventurous with his beats, at one point thrillingly mixing elements of The Streets’ ‘Has It Come To This’, Sweet Female Attitude’s ‘Flowers’ and The Artful Dodger’s ‘Movin’ Too Fast’ to form the rhythm for ‘Chained’. It’s smart, introspective and extremely memorable. PB

7. I Am Kloot
In the glorious Sunday sunshine, I Am Kloot brought added warmth to the Other Stage with a set packed full of Northern charm. A slot as notable as this has been a long time coming for the Manchester band, but they were certainly not phased by the occasion. Lead singer John Bramwell lead the show with the perfect combination of assurance and self depreciation, joking at one stage that they were the only band in history to do the festival three years in a row, but only because the organisers had forgotten about them the second year. Tracks such as ‘Proof’ and ‘Northern Skies’ were sublimely performed, normally with band members clutching either a cigarette or a pint, creating one of those much vaunted Glastonbury moments that you want to climb inside forever. PS

6. Peace
In a weekend dominated by iconic acts of years gone by, it was refreshing to see the John Peel stage exploding into life in the face of a full on guitar assault. Acts such as the Rolling Stones and Chic may have had punters loosening their hips, but Peace took a whole tent back to their formative years, where dancing for the most part simply involved jumping up and down and waving one arm in the air. Regrettably, these boys are probably destined to become NME poster boys, but some seriously memorable hooks and riffs on tracks such as ‘Wraith’ and ‘Bloodshake’ mean they truly are a band to watch out for. PS

5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Seeing Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds live is a truly unique experience, with Cave consistently proving himself to be one of the most brilliant showman in the business. Glastonbury was no different. Bare chested, Cave delivered a typical performance of real intensity, his lyrics packed with demonic imagery exploring themes such a religion, love, violence and death. All of which transpired to make it the most hilariously inappropriate warm up act for Mumford and Sons in history. Nevertheless, it was a spine tingling set, with one woman visibly mesmerised by his performance of ‘Stagger Lee,’ during which Cave pretended to shoot her in the head. Above all else, this was an opportunity to see many of the tracks from Push the Sky Way, one of the most underrated albums of recent times, in action, and it was worthwhile for that alone. PS

4. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have played to millions of adoring and high-paying fans over the course of their fifty year career, but in agreeing to headline Glastonbury – where crowds possess far broader interests and are rarely impressed solely by myth or reputation – the legendary band were taking a far greater gamble than many appreciated. Yet tonight it takes just the first riff of set opener ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ to utterly hook a massive Pyramid Stage gathering. Thankfully there are no flashy star guests (an exhilarating ‘Gimme Shelter’ is co-sung by the band’s remarkably talented long-term backing singer Lisa Fischer) or particularly extravagant stage gimmicks. Instead, the quality of the group’s fantastic brand of rock ‘n’ roll shines through on its own: ‘Miss You’ is a brilliant chunk of groovy bass-led disco, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ is strikingly poignant with its choir chorus and lovely Ronnie Wood guitar solo, whilst ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ still packs a remarkably angsty punch. There are some treats for the die-hards too, including a touching rendition of the psychedelic ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ and a jubilant ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’, which features some tasty guitar meanderings from former band member Mick Taylor. It’s one of the great Pyramid Stage performances. PB

3. Chic feat. Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers performs with his band Chic at Glastonbury

The greatest benefit to have come from Nile Rodgers’ recent collaboration with Daft Punk has been a resurgence of awareness of the disco king’s unbelievable back catalogue. Tonight, Rodgers and his impressively tight band put on a formidably funky West Holts show that puts all other dance music at the festival to shame. An opening salvo of ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘I Want Your Love’ is followed by a medley comprising ‘I’m Coming Out’, ‘Upside Down’, ‘Greatest Dancer’ and ‘We Are Family’, surely one of the most exurberant combination of hits ever performed consecutively at Pilton. It is a blatant reminder of one of music’s indisputable truths: Rodgers is the creator of a strikingly large proportion of the greatest pop songs ever made. The hits continue relentlessly: there’s Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’, the wonderful ‘Thinking of You’, the underrated ‘My Forbidden Lover’, and David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, which almost causes an ecstatic crowd to cross over into total disco delirium. After a joyous ‘Good Times’, when crowd members join the band on stage, ‘Get Lucky’ is blared out across the sound system. Rodgers stands alone and offers his genuine thanks to the delighted crowd, who know they have just witnessed one of the greatest parties Glastonbury has ever seen. PB

2. Phoenix
Eyebrows a many were raised in this part of the world when Phoenix were announced as headliners for the iconic Coachella festival earlier this year. Their magnificent closing performance at the John Peel stage on Sunday night proved any doubters wrong, however. A set packed with hits such as ‘1901’ and ‘Lisztomania’ delighted a crowd determined to match the Parisian outfits’ wonderfully energetic songs and performance. With a clearly impressive eye for the big occasion, lead singer Thomas Mars crowd surfed during the final track, before climbing a support tower to wish the crowd goodnight. The most delightful, fun and electric end to the festival imaginable, Phoenix’s steady ascent looks set to continue. Chapeau. PS

1. Portishead

Portishead’s first performance here for 15 years is a masterclass in live music that occurs on one of those perfect Glastonbury evenings, when clear air carries the sound for miles and a cool breeze encourages those iconic flags to flutter gently throughout. The setlist is formidable despite the band’s limited discography: tonight ‘Glory Box’ and ‘Sour Times’ produce considerable sing-alongs, whilst a hauntingly stripped down version of ‘Wandering Star’ stuns a bewitched crowd. A particular highlight is the awesome ‘Machine Gun’, during which Geoff Barrow’s incredible bullet-like drumming is backdropped by an anti-Trident audiovisual display that includes menacing red lasers darting from the eyes of an image of David Cameron.

Sonically, Portishead are extraordinary: Adrian Utley’s crashing guitar riffs are mournful and alarming, Barrow’s DJ scratching is vicious and discordant, whilst the keyboards are haunting and echo powerfully across the Other Stage arena. At the heart of it all is Beth Gibbons, wearing plain jeans and a raincoat, who throughout showcases one of the most beguiling, ethereal voices ever to grace this stage. Their performance is smart, addictive and utterly engrossing. These bustling Glastonbury fields are crammed with musicians trying to sell records. Portishead, with no album to market or tour to promote, are here solely to contribute their stunning talents to the greatest festival in the world. It’s a dynamic that makes their show all the more mesmerizing. PB

Follow Piers and Phil on Twitter @piersbarber18 & @Phil__Smith

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