Over 200,000 people are flooding into Pilton, Somerset, for the world’s biggest Greenfield festival, Glastonbury, which opened on Wednesday.
Headliners in this 50th anniversary year are Paul McCartney – who has just turned 80 – and Billie Eilish – the festival’s youngest headliner to date. You can read all about Macca giving “one of the great Pyramid Stage sets”, ditto Eilish impressing, plus you can catch up on all the action from Friday and Saturday.
There’s plenty more to come today, too: Kendrick Lamar is Sunday’s big headliner, while the one and only Diana Ross is performing in the Legend slot. Plus there are two exciting surprise sets, from George Ezra and Jack White.
The Telegraph’s chief music critic Neil McCormick, as well as Telegraph music journalists James Hall and Alice Vincent, and Telegraph features writer Ed Cumming are all at the farm this year and will be contributing live talking points, reviews, and Glastonbury highs and lows throughout the weekend, so stay tuned for their latest updates.
This article will be updated with the latest from Glastonbury.
George Ezra’s secret set was bursting with positivity ★★★★★
The weekend’s ‘secret set’ on the relatively small John Peel stage has been an open secret since a not-so-subtle photo on social media linked it to George Ezra a few days ago. With the singer-songwriter more used to playing the far bigger Pyramid Stage, the place was absolutely heaving.
Ezra, who only arrived on site today, said he’d been a “very jealous young man” seeing friends’ posts from the festival in the preceding days. That was moot now: it was time to have his own fun. The show was significant for Ezra. “Eight years ago, I realised my first album. And that weekend we played the John Peel stage,” he said.
So let’s call it a birthday party. It certainly felt like one. Ezra’s blend of soul and sunny pop could have been tailor-made for Glastonbury. It’s an unrelentingly uplifting sound, rich in horns, organ and backing vocals. And it would take a curmudgeon of monumental proportions not to have been swept up in the sheer joy of this show. Songs like Green Green Grass got people moving, singing and hollering. Ezra was engaging throughout. A little boy called Thomas who was holding up a placard with his name on it got a shout-out from the stage, resulting in a good 10,000 people giving him a hair-raising cheer.
Ezra ended with Budapest and Shotgun. The latter song has become something of an evergreen Glastonbury anthem. It was a fantastic show, bursting with positivity. Ezra will be back. But next time, I imagine, the stage will be bigger. James Hall
Jazz pioneer Herbie Hancock demonstrates his enormous influence on modern music ★★★★☆
Everyone makes a big fuss of who’s headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, but I’d argue that the Sunday afternoon line-up at the big stage is a better decider of a good festival or a great one. On the last day of the festival it makes increasing sense to go easy on the step count and lean in to the gentle roll of the Pyramid Arena hill, especially if the sun’s out, and especially if Herbie Hancock is cooking up some immaculate jazz. Over the course of Hancock’s set, the paths around the Pyramid became clogged with people trying to get their spot for the afternoon, but at least he kept some of them dancing.
The Chicago multi-instrumentalist and jazz funk pioneer is 82 now, and deftly led his three fellow musicians through a set that elegantly showed off his enormous influence on contemporary music. Hancock spoke barely a handful of words, preferring to let his music do the talking. Crooning into layered mics that recalled the presence of autotune in modern pop, Hancock and his band unleashed dreamy harmonies and soft jams upon a happy-weary crowd.
Nearly 40 years have passed since Hancock released Future Shock, an album many consider a vital ancestor of hip-hop, and yet his music – rich, layered and transportive – sounded as timeless as ever. Alice Vincent
With a nod to Macca, Sports Team leave everyone smiling ★★★★☆
Sunday morning cobwebs were firmly blown away by South London six-piece Sports Team, whose energetic indie rock went down a treat in the John Peel tent. The group, most of whom met at Cambridge University, sing about a romanticised Middle England, rather like early-era Blur. Their debut album Deep Down Happy was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2020, and its follow-up, GULP!, comes out later in the summer.
The band’s performance revolved around the manic energy of singer Alex Rice, who – at various times – climbed the lighting rig, crowd-surfed as a confetti cannon burst overhead, and writhed and wriggled on the stage floor like a man possessed. There are elements of the madcap circus performer to Rice (he wore a two-pronged red jester hat for much of the set) and touches of the charisma and presence of INXS’s Michael Hutchence too. (Sources close to real-life sports teams tell me he’s a pretty useful medium-paced bowler as well).
A mosh pit formed for a raucous Here’s The Thing, a pop song that positively crackles with energy. In a big tent like this, guitar-based music can sound muddy and its intricacies can be lost in the vastness. Everything ends up sounding a bit like landfill indie. This threatened to happen once or twice but was saved by the sheer energy of the individuals on stage. In a nod to Paul McCartney, they played A Little Help From My Friends. “This is beautiful. This is the best festival in the world,” Lake said.
The entire tent seemed to leave with smiles on their faces. It hopefully set the tone for Glasto’s final day. James Hall