Sleaford Mods and Dizzee Rascal sent out the rhymes, Lorde graced the Other stage and Radiohead were the Pyramid stage headliners for the first big night of Glastonbury 2017
And there Wayne goes, over the front of the stage and across the Park Stage crowd. And with that I’m off to bed – my colleagues in the field will take over. See you tomorrow, same time and place.
It’s battle of the balls! Wayne Coyne is fronting Flaming Lips in a huge plastic sphere, as he has done for years, and performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity. It’s art rock karaoke, but at this time of night that’s probably what’s required.
Now Nadia Rose is playing her anti-fascist anthem Skwod on the BBC, and it’s the perfect palate cleanser after Radiohead.
By way of a total contrast, the live TV broadcast has switched to Major Lazer, who are playing to an enormous crowd and bolstered by four female dancers in that most challenging of garment – chaps. There was also some kind of plastic ball action ...
And there they go, Thom waving manically and the crowd singing the chorus of Karma Police. Alexis’s verdict will be up soon. It was a challenging set for non-believers, but Radiohead finally brought it home.
Now they’re doing Karma Police, another song from their rock era. It’s been a choppy journey at times, a few people fell out with one another, but we made it to the other side together, singing “This is what you’ll get when you mess with us.”
Clearly, this is one of those times:
Watching Radiohead I feel the same as when I catch Eastenders. Just ocassionally I recognise something I know. #glastonbury17
Never gets old:
After a crackling Lotus Flower, Radiohead give the crowd the anthem they want and do Creep.
I tell you one thing, I would definitely be ready for some disco dancing in the NYC Downlow tent right about now if I were watching this on site.
I’m not sure we even noticed, Rob:
My colleague Rob Davies, like many fans, is getting fed up with the Radiohead shade:
Next time your favourite band's doing a live set, I won't bang on about how bad they are because i probably hate them so won't be watching.
“Here’s another cheery fucker,” Thom announces before Fake Plastic Trees, another singalong moment.
My former NME colleague Rob Biddulph, now a top children’s author, offers some reminiscence of our yesteryears:
When I was art director of NME, Glasto meant early weekend mornings in the office chasing hungover photographers for pics of Thom in focus
After a furious 2+2=5 it’s another signature tune – Paranoid Android. As Alexis Petridis wrote in his review of the reissue of OK Computer:
While Radiohead were apparently irked by being described as prog rock, when confronted by, say, Paranoid Android – six and a half minutes long, in four episodic parts with a section in 7/8 time and a title inspired by a sci-fi novel, which began life clocking in at more than 14 minutes, replete with a lengthy Pink-Floyd-esque organ solo – the desire to call a spade a spade becomes overwhelming.
Reader Woolie Maddie emails to say:
Hi Alex. Not sure where this ‘Why aren’t they playing Creep or High and Dry?!’ with Radiohead still comes from. Their last “rock” album was released 20 years ago. While their more electronic/experimental sound, ushered in by Kid A, was controversial back in 2001, it’s not like people haven’t had time to get used to it, or to come to terms with the fact that they actually aren’t really that keen on Radiohead. I know it’s Glastonbury and you are expected to play the hits, to an extent, but at this point in their career most of their back catalogue isn’t rock music. Are people really surprised that they aren’t filling their set with songs from their first two albums (of nine)?
“See you later Theresa, just shut the door on your way out,” spits Yorke, by way of introduction to Nude.
But on the other hand, some are being reduced to tears:
This song truly makes me lament my youth. Just going for a cry. #Radiohead
Another hit! It’s No Surprises after a stretch of songs which certainly challenged non-die-hards.
Radiohead peaked with The Bends, which was awesome. After that, they descended into prog without the fun. Dismal gits. Don't @ me.
It’s a hit! Street Spirit (Fade Out) sounding exemplary and – for the first time in a while – inspiring backing vocals from the crowd.
Radiohead are getting a mixed reponse in the comments. Some think it’s genius, others say “Imagine trying to get your freak on to this.” Pre-1997 songs have been pretty thinly sprinkled, but that’s not unusual for this band. As Morris Mitchener puts it:
This set, so far, proves that Radiohead are not a rock band that dabble in a bit of experimental avant garde stuff but an experimental avant garde band that dabbled, for a couple of years early on, with rock music.
Guardian Money editor has a Thom Yorke anecdote of sorts:
I once walked down Oxford high street behind Thom Yorke #underwhelmingbuttopicalanecdotes
The “Ooh, Jeremy Corbyn” chant breaks out and Thom Yorke joins in in a descant.
They’re playing Idioteque, and some tweeters, like the Guardian’s TV critic, are tugging at their followers’ sleeves to watch Dizzee Rascal instead:
if you've had enough of Thom's wailing, Dizzee's brilliant #Glastonbury
Reports from the field that there are a lot of Palestinian flags being flown in the crowd at Radiohead, given out by activists beforehand – and in fact one is visible, close to the stage, on the BBC’s broadcast. They’re protesting against Radiohead’s decision to play Tel Aviv in Israel next month. Forty-seven public figures including Desmond Tutu and Ken Loach wrote an open letter to the band, imploring them not to play “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people”.
Yorke responded in Rolling Stone: “The person who knows most about these things is Jonny [Greenwood]. He has both Palestinian and Israeli friends and a wife who’s an Arab Jew. All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, ‘You don’t know anything about it!’ Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny.”
However, they’ve got the stars onside:
Matt Smith, Sienna Miller and friends totally losing their shit to Radiohead in front of us. Quite sweet! #glasto2017
Radiohead fans are getting militant, as the band slide into Let Down from OK Computer, currently enjoying its 20th anniversary.
I'm seeing the odd bit of negativity toward Radiohead on my timeline. I'm trying to rise above it but any more and I may have to take action
Not everyone’s into Radiohead’s Glastonbury vibes.
Thom Yorke is a legend but I wish he's stop talking toss about lay lines #Glastonbury2017
We’ve had Myxomatosis (hey, you can pick up all sorts at Glastonbury), Exit Music (For A Film) and now Radiohead are performing an intense Pyramid Song. Now Thom Yorke is talking to the audience saying: “Someone told me that this is on a ley line, but I find it quite significant, being a hippy.” So there you go, it’s on the record: Thom Yorke is a hippy. The frosty but undeniably great Everything in its Right Place, the opening song of their “difficult” album Kid A, follows and is welcomed by the crowd like a stroppy old friend.
Pitt? Pfft. Depp? Do one. The real star attraction at day one proper of the festival is a giant intergalactic space despot with a cylinder on his bonce. Yes, Lord Buckethead has landed at Glastonbury, where he’s introducing Sleaford Mods. “Why should the Pyramid Stage alone have a guest appearance from a influential political leader,” he booms, prompting the crowd to chant his name to the tune of Seven Nation Army.
At just 20, Lorde has already morphed from precocious teen icon to prestige pop star, releasing Melodrama, her rich and, erm, melodramatic second album earlier this month. “I think when you’re a strange magical person - and I’m a witch - you know what it’s like. You know that you’re not too much for everyone. You’re just kind of magical,” she says softly before piano weepy Liability, still very much advocating herself as a champion of the underdog (if you were in any doubt, her secret onion ring review blog was recently unearthed).
Radiohead are playing 15 Step, Thom Yorke going for the Glastonbury double with both maracas and a man bun. On TV it sounds totally assured and the crowd look ecstatic, though a friend in the field is texting me to say that there’s plenty of room at the back: “zero energy even halfway back ... it’s an uphill battle getting my mates to stay.”
15 Step is the best #Radiohead song, pass it on.
.@thomyorke is just a damn God.
He stood for election in Maidenhead, Theresa May’s constituency, on a mandate of “strong, not entirely stable, leadership”, and received 249 votes.
But it’s not the first time Lord Buckethead has been propelled into the spotlight, with a namesake having stood against Margaret Thatcher as well as John Major in previous general elections.
The first song is Daydreaming, the warped piano ballad from A Moon Shaped Pool, concluding with the ambivalent lyrics “We are just happy to serve you” as white light cascades behind them. There’s a hungry roar from a crowd which seems to stretch right up the hill. It’s followed up with Lucky, a signature tune which wouldn’t usually come so early in their set.
The BBC have asked the many pop stars who passed through their doors, “What does Glastonbury smell of?” Liam wins again, with his answer “Beautiful people ... covered in shit.” Now it’s time for BBC2’s slightly delayed broadcast of Radiohead’s setlist. This is their third headlining set. I was physically on site in 2003, but my memories of it are frankly scanty. I didn’t see them in 2011, when they did a secret gig on the Park Stage. And they’re on!
And here’s another memory of 1997, the year the stage sank, from Kenickie’s Emma Jackson, now a sociologist:
Twenty years since the great sinking stage debacle. Put me off Glastonbury forever. https://t.co/lStxuwy6pd
Not everyone’s into Sleaford Mods:
is there a more *deeply* embarrassing band than sleaford mods, literally the guardian comment is free section set to bon tempi
And there they go with Jobseeker. I enjoyed that – sweaty, passionate, angry but celebratory too. And with a picture of the crowd, they’re concluding. “It’s been all right innit, by heart has felt some connection with you ... things are fucking shit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop listening to the Sleaford Mods ... fuck England.” Time for Radiohead.
Here’s video of the moment Lord Buckethead introduced Sleaford Mods.
OK, maybe a bit of Sleaford Mods first. The song I just saw concludes with the improvised line, “Fat posh cunts think we’re fake twats”, which is very them.
Back to Lorde, doing Team and still great. She’s about to conclude with Green Light before I switch over to Radiohead.
Channel-hopping now, and it’s the great, if annoyingly punctuated, Anderson .Paak, a one-man party sweating buckets in a migrane-inducing romper suit and welding old soul and hip-hop together like he was born to do it.
It’s five minutes to Radiohead in the field. We’ll have to wait for another half-hour for it to be on the TV. Lorde, meanwhile, just announced that she was a witch – “a good witch” – before tackling the scarf-waver Liability.
This is a bit gulp-inducing for those of us of advancing years ...
Hey, how's your self-worth this evening? When Lorde was born, Say You'll Be There was UK number 1.
That Lorde glass box, as captured on Twitter by the BBC:
Lorde’s performance is containing a lot of interpretive dancing. Everyone has emerged from a perspex case and they’re now lying all over the floor. It’s reminding me of Freddie Mercury in the video to I Want to Break Free, except Lorde’s bodystocking is a bit more modest than Fred’s.
Lord Buckethead, nemesis of Theresa May, introduced Sleaford Mods onstage earlier.
Swampaldo has a query in the comments:
Why don't rock stars look like rock stars any more? I expect half of them are tucked up in bed with a cinnamon latte by midnight after a gig. Lol.
OK, Gwilym Mumford (no relation) reviewed Elbow and says that they were really good. Sorry Elbow!
The identity of the band playing the Park stage’s mystery TBA slot has been one of the biggest talking points of this Friday at Glasto. Even minutes before the unknown act are due to perform plenty of festival punters are still in the dark about who will appear before them. Will it be, as many have predicted, the Killers? Gorillaz? Former Cameroon striker Roger Milla? The possibilities are endless.
So when Guy Garvey saunters onstage you do wonder whether there might be a slight hint of deflation among the crowd. Elbow have, perhaps unfairly, become characterised as safe, solid, predictable. (Their surprise Mercury win over dubstep critical darling Burial a few years back has arguably done more than anything else to cement their reputation.) You can set your watch to them, but they’re probably not the band you’d turn to for a jaw-dropping surprise festival set. Might everyone turn on their heels and head to the Pyramid to nail down a plum slot for Radiohead instead?
That was the end of BBC2’s whistlestop tour of Glastonbury, which concluded with Little Dragon’s singer Yukimi Nagano performing in a veil and extravagant hat, which was a lot more memorable than the music. I haven’t got it in me to last through an hour of Elbow, on BB4, so Lorde it is over on the iPlayer.
Kate Hutchinson has been partaking of some of the grime sprinkled across the festival. Here’s what she made of Dave.
Sonic’s UK underground showcase is by now half full, to the athletic monologues of Streatham rapper and Drake favourite who goes simply by the most unGoogleable artist name ever: Dave. But this is a musician who doesn’t do gimmicks - his lyrics speak for themselves. And like his artist name, they are just as direct. Blackbox Freestyle is an emotional sprint that breathlessly documents his desperation at knife crime, which he dedicates it to his incarcerated sibling.
“One of the reasons I wanted to perform that track so much today ... my older brother got sentenced to life in prison when he was 16 years old,” he says. “I can’t share it with him in flesh but we share it with him in spirit”.
The busy Rachel Aroesti has been to see them, and this is what she reckoned:
If the highly emotional middle-aged man I befriend in the crowd is anything to go by, Future Islands have fanbase as zealous as their frontman’s infamous dancing. And judging by the audience’s rapturous reaction to opener Ran - a new song which is as swollen with emotion as the rest of the Baltimore band’s back catalogue - he probably is.
It’s the way the group’s motorik drums and swooning synths coalesce into something that’s both raw and transcendental that makes them such a seductive outfit. They also boast a welcome air of unpredictability: frontman Samuel T Herring indulges in sudden bizarre vocal outbursts (sometimes screamo-esque, sometimes high and creepy) to match his surprising dance moves - teasing the audience with the prospect of a full routine with brief shimmies and even a spot of cossack dancing.
Elbow are on now – they were playing the Park Stage earlier, a ‘secret’ performance. Guy Garvey’s got a Manchester bee tattoo on his right arm, the sign of civic pride and strength Mancunians adapted after the Manchester Arena attack.
Harriet’s been watching the marginally-less-diffident-than-they-used-to- be trio. She writes:
While the muted, nocturnal tones of London trio the xx were formerly resigned to the darkness of the big tents here at Glastonbury, tonight they’re exposed to the masses on the Pyramid stage. Their stage presence is marginally less subdued than it used to be: Jamie xx’s high-energy jumping has accrued over years of DJing on his own. There’s something quite 80s drivetime about Romy Madley Croft’s breathy solo song Performance. Oliver Sim meanwhile, dressed in satin with his 50s quiff, even addresses his overwhelming emotions with a fleeting bit of banter.
“Every time I get nervous I look back at my mum,” he says. “I don’t think you need me to tell you this but this is the best festival. In 2011 I came with a broken foot and danced to Beyoncé. In 2013 I fell off stage. The moral of the story is,” he concludes, “enjoy yourself.”
It’s Future Islands doing Ran on the John Peel stage about (I think) 45 minutes ago. They’re hectic, fidgety and fabulous.
Meanwhile Jo Whiley is telling us (for the third time) that she watched Kris Kristofferson with Brad Pitt. To add to the Hollywood love-in vibes, Johnny Depp also played guitar.
The BBC’s highlights of the past 20 years was a hectic montage including Beyonce, Jay Z, the Dalai Lama and Coldplay and Barry Gibb doing Staying Alive. Now here’s 1Extra’s Yasser in the Green Fields saying everything smells “very clean”. Glastonbury must have changed more than I thought.
John Mulvey, then at NME, remembers it well.
On its 20th anniversary, am fondly recalling the #Glasto fax we received at NME that basically read: "2nd stage is sinking; don't come..."
More brass for George Ezra, doing Don’t Matter Now on the Other Stage in a stripy T-shirt. Now it’s Jo Wiley herself in 1997 with Kenickie, who couldn’t play because the Other Stage had, as the teenage Lauren Laverne puts it, “sunk into the actual ground”.
It’s the first of several “bespoke acoustic” (according to the BBC) performances in the Beeb’s area which seems to be slightly up the hill from the Park Stage. It’s the Hot Eight Brass Band from New Orleans. They’re effortlessly tight and a lot of fun.
OK, I’ve turned over to see the indefatigable Jo Wiley and comparative Glastonbury newbie Huw Stephens kicking off BBC2’s coverage. It began with a montage of bands talking about the bands they wanted to see, the most startling of which was Liam Gallagher saying he was interested in checking out “some of that grime stuff.” Now we’re kicking off with Royal Blood doing Lights Out on the Pyramid stage earlier. It rocks.
Flag-wavers, here is the one to beat:
Props to our first commenter inasock, who points out about the tweet embedded in the first entry of this blog:
'manplanning' rather than 'mansplaining' apparently.
I guess pointing that out would form some form of mansplaining.
Rachel Aroesti has been checking out Block 9, Glastonbury’s temple of polysexual hedonism, which this year has gone for a New York meatpacking district circa 1977 vibe.
Glastonbury’s late-night extravaganza Block9 began life as a “pipe dream” for founders Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher. Keen to carve out a queer space in a hetero-centric festival teeming with “dreadlocks and sarongs”, their fantasy finally got off the ground in the mid-00s, when a two grand blag allowed them to create the NYC Downlow stage, a celebration of gay counterculture which turns 10 this year. Having started life as an apocalyptic take on a Lower East Side tenement, it now more closely resembles a “gay meatpackers abattoir meets gay sauna meets gay disco” according to the pair - or, more succinctly, a “sweaty box of testosterone” where everyone is required to don a £2 moustache upon entry (a venture that has raised over £60k for charity).
Over the years, Block9 has expanded from a single stage - first with London Underground, a grimy block of flats with a tube train poking out the middle, which is described as the “older straighter ASBO big brother” of the area, and reportedly not a favourite of Michael Eavis thanks to its injection of grubby urbanity.
Going to the other end of the political spectrum, Hannah Ellis-Petersen has written about Glastonbury’s real headliner – Jeremy Corbyn. She reports:
Heather Cuss, 33, from south London, said: “There’s always a community atmosphere at Glastonbury but this year it’s definitely all about Jezza. We’ve seen musicians playing with Corbyn necklaces and everywhere you walk you hear people break out into Jeremy Corbyn chants. Even bands from abroad have been giving him a shout out as they’ve clearly heard everyone going, ‘Jeremy Corbyn, Jeremy Corbyn,’ and they’re joining in.”
In the dance area Shangri-La on Thursday, the New York brass band were leading the crowds in the ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’ chant and the giant sand sculpture near the park stage was of Corbyn riding on the back of a fox and chasing Theresa May through fields of wheat.
The White House have responded to Johnny Depp’s joke about assassinating Donald Trump, because that’s the kind of guys they are.
JUST IN: White House official calls Johnny Depp's joke about assassinating a president "sad" pic.twitter.com/cqKdu9ZQiT
My colleague Harriet Gibsone saw the rapper/ranter/performance poet play a trilling set earlier this evening. She writes:
Before the novelist, poet and MC takes to the stage, a girl races past assuring her friend that Tempest is worth barging to the front for as she ‘proper pumps you up’. The compere who comes on stage gives her a lofty introduction, branding her ‘the voice of a generation’. Within seconds of her performance she’s affirmed both: an exhausting, non stop tirade of ‘state of the nation’ poetry spews from the artist, cheeks red with passion, her blue eyes blazing, both furious and focussed.
Anyone who’s bought a Glastonbury ticket hoping to escape the gnarly reality of Britain in 2017 was given a sober slap across the face during her set: before Tempest’s typically wry stories woven through various down-and out-characters, she begins with a more direct narrative.
The Pretenders are on BBC4, playing Message of Love to a sizeable crowd on the Other Stage, despite the fact this was filmed at 11am. Chrissie Hynde is wearing a Motörhead T-shirt and looks effortlessly confident. She’s been doing this for four decades; she’s got this. Now it’s Don’t Get Me Wrong.
Good evening – it’s Friday night and you’re not at Glastonbury. You’re watching it in front of the TV instead. In which case, this is the liveblog for you. Over the next five – five! – hours or so, this blog will be coming at you not from Glastonbury, but from a living room in north London, where I’ll be following all the action on BBC2 and BBC4. There’ll be some input from my colleagues in the field, from social media, and – I hope – from you. Leave a comment, tweet me @alexneedham74 or email me on email@example.com.
I’m not a Glastonbury hater or refusenik (though if you are, pull up a chair anyway). Between 2000 (headliners: Bowie, the Chemical Brothers and, er, Travis) and 2013 (the Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons) I went to every single one – 11 times in all. In that time, the festival evolved from a wildly entertaining but near-lawless place in which literally tens of thousands of people came in over or under the fence and the night-time entertainment was mainly confined to the Rizla tent and the “wine” bars, to the incredibly well-run cultural institution it is today. These days, Glastonbury goers can pick from a smorgasboard of delights ranging from the all-night revelry of Lost Vagueness to a workshop on misogyny and mansplaining.Continue reading...