Glastonbury 2019: The Best Sets

Glastonbury 2019: The Best Sets

Glastonbury Festival 2020

Glastonbury Festival 2020

Pilton, United Kingdom


Well, it was certainly worth the two-year wait; this past weekend, Glastonbury Festival brought the magic back to Worthy Farm with an alarming - but forever embraced - rate of exceptional performances from the greatest artists in the contemporary music scene across the globe. 

The general buoyant mood felt amongst the 250,000 people on-site was not purely down to music, however, with consistent blistering sunshine throughout, bucking the usual Glastonbury trend of having to navigate muddy quagmires, where to sit down without submerging in more mud, and losing your clothes to water-rot. 

It was the incredible performances that typically stole the limelight, with secret sets and special guests galore; with one-use plastics being totally abolished at the festival, this even prompted praise from Sir David Attenborough who thanked the Pyramid Stage crowd for their eco-conscious contributions. 

After a remarkable weekend of live music, we've listed the best - the performers, performances, and prized moments that will go down in Glastonbury folklore.


Stormzy

 

Where else to start really? As the first black British solo artist to tackle the coveted Pyramid Stage headliner slot, the now-global ambassador for UK grime left anyone in little doubt that he earned the right to be there.

Channelling the vitriol that Jay-Z was on the end of before his 2008 headline set, the intro saw Stormzy taking advice from the man himself, before bursting onstage in a Banksy-designed stab vest emblazoned with a black-and-white British flag. Socio-political commentary was expected, and it was unhesitantly delivered with constant energy from start to finish; Stormzy, once championed by his grime subculture, has now gained unanimous respect and admiration the world over.

 

Jon Hopkins

 

Clashing with Stormzy whilst headlining West Holts Stage, Jon Hopkins' considered, organic, and neural electronica stimulated a euphoric trance amongst several thousand festival-goers on Friday night.

Complete with synaptic visuals, teeth-shattering bass, and ultraviolet dancers on stage, Hopkins' even mixed in Orbital's masterpiece 'Halcyon On and On' as a homage to their iconic '94 set when they inspired Michael Eavis to introduce a dedicated dance area. After this transcendental set, Hopkins himself has now joined the bloodstream of this rich lineage.

 

IDLES

 

What a moment for the Bristolians. Drawing in a huge crowd at the Park Stage, they've inspired an entire wave of new music lovers with their overarching message that promotes inclusivity, acceptance, and love via rip-roaring punk-rock.

It proved to be a touching moment for frontman Joe Talbot; brought to tears amidst the potent ferocity and partial-nudity of their set, he was joined onstage by his wife and newborn child for an extremely touching moment. Talbot can rest assured, they've swiftly become part of the Glastonbury zeitgeist.

 

Lizzo

 

Yet another artist that's making headlines with her infectious outlook on body positivity, Lizzo's performance was joyous as it was reaffirming. Bounding across the stage in a glittering pink leotard and accompanied by similarly scantily-clad dancers, Lizzo riled each and every one of the participating crowd, ensuring they were feeling as gorgeous and empowered as she's learned to. Not to mention she's a classically trained flautist so exhibited her woodwind expertise with aplomb. We're still shimmying, even now.

 

Foals

 

It was one of the most talked about secret sets, even before it was announced; seeing a Glastonbury-sized gap in the Oxford band's touring schedule made tongues wag, and lo-and-behold they ignited the Park Stage on Saturday evening.

Blazing through their arena-math-rock, blood was spilt, the crowd stretched as far back as the area dictates, yet the most touching moment was frontman Yannis declaring that they had a Glastonbury performance particularly in mind when writing the anthemic 'Sunday'. It was meant to be.

 

Sharon Van Etten

 

Brooklyn-based troubadour Sharon Van Etten wouldn't have been one of the typical standout names when planning the Glastonbury itinerary, considering she was playing the John Peel Stage that shied away from the glorious and rare sun, but she produced one of the most spine-tingling sets of the weekend.

Unusually dressed in sultry black, it exemplified her brooding demeanour, distancing her previous guise as the softened singer-songwriter as she roused the crowd with her poignant brand of dark Americana. Her incredible passion and intensity stick with you, long after the set ended.

 

Kylie Minogue

 

Returning 14 years after she was initially supposed to headline the festival in 2005, Kylie pulled out all the stops to ensure her 'legends slot' set was nothing short of legendary.

The campness was laid on thick and fast as she embraced her often-shunned earlier 'school-disco' body of work alongside the hits she had during her '00s revival. There were multiple costume changes, flamboyant choreography, even Nick Cave joined her on stage, whilst the Glastonbury crowd spilt out into the adjacent fields, exceeding 100,000 in total. 

It was tear-jerking (with Kylie herself failing to contain herself at times), it was life-affirming, it was just what everyone needed for a Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury. 

 

 

Miley Cyrus

 

After Kylie? It was Miley; presenting herself as a pop-star-gone-rock, her performance at the world's biggest festival was an opportunity to escape the looming shadow of Hannah Montana and pop mediocrity in one fail swoop. Bolshy, sultry, and excessively foul-mouthed, Cyrus succeeded in doing so.

A strange mish-mash of a setlist, incorporating covers of Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Dolly Parton, and Nine Inch Nails (riffing on the Black Mirror connection, even performing as her Charlie Brooker-created alter ego at one point), it was oddly compelling from beginning to end. Mark Ronson made a cameo, as did her dad and Lil' Nas X for 'Old Town Road'; a smart move, and one that will cement her set at one of the weekend's highlights.

 

Little Simz

 

So unphased, so effortlessly cool, Little Simz brought the bops from the yard to the middle of the Somerset countryside.

Not only commanding the mic for an hour, she digressed from her street-level millennial wisdom throughout, jamming with her band on guitar, bass, and keys. Evidence of why she's one of the most sought-after collaborators in British hip-hop was evident, and this is only the start of it. 

 

The Cure

 

With the onus seemingly on secret appearances and cameo spots to whoo a crowd, Robert Smith's approach was far less exuberant. Playing almost non-stop for two hours, Smith intermittently addressed the crowd to show his appreciation, but the banter was few and far between.

Cultivating their pioneering gothic-alternative rock over the course of 40 years, however, the bangers were in no shortage, and every tune you'd expect to hear they played; Smith can at times be quite the cantankerous individual, but on this occasion, he seemed truly humbled, and dare I say, speechless.

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