Last weekend saw a multitude of festival-goers brave the torrential rain at Worthy Farm for Glastonbury Festival 2014. With a range of different acts of every genre performing all over the site, the difficulty of scheduling the weekend was evident as people ran through the mud from stage to stage. From Dolly Parton to The 1975, the number of well-known and popular acts at Glastonbury this year was overwhelming.
Shortlisting this list therefore, wasn’t easy, but nevertheless, here are my best five acts of Glastonbury 2014.
HAIM – Friday on Other
The Haim sisters returned to Glastonbury Festival for the second time performing with their renowned charisma on the Other Stage. Welcomed by a huge sea of fans, the trio were clearly amazed and overwhelmed by their audience with bassist Este, who tends to lead the band when performing live, shouting to the crowd “What the fuck guys; this is crazy!”
Performing ‘My Song 5’ was definitely one of the best decisions the band made. As an anomaly of their debut album Days Are Gone – in terms of the album’s general sound and vibe – the demands of Este to “shake your asses” were well-received by the crowd. Their onstage presence throughout – but especially during ‘My Song 5’ and their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ – was overwhelming for the audience, who almost seem like flies on the wall as the band embrace their rock energy together as a symbol of their sisterly bond.
The set took a more serious tone as Este, abandoning her famous bass face, recalled last year’s Glastonbury set where her blood sugar levels became dangerously low due to her diabetes. Telling the audience “to celebrate the fact that I’m still alive, I’m going to sing a song” Este took over from lead vocalist Danielle to play tribute to 2011 Pyramid Stage headliner Beyoncé, performing a cover of ‘XO’.
As the sisters began their last song, ‘Let Me Go’, the audience were well aware that this was the end. Rocking out in true Haim style, the trio elongated the track with a drum remix, hair flying all over the place, screaming to their fans “I fucking love you Glastonbury”.
Lily Allen – Friday on Pyramid
After a torrential electrical storm, leaving the crowd in a depressive state as they eagerly awaited some good news, Lily Allen finally appeared on stage kicking it off with ‘LDN’. With the optimistic lyrics ‘Sun is in the sky, oh why oh why, would I want to be anywhere else‘, the track suddenly brightened up the crowd’s mood.
With her latest album Sheezus gaining some mixed reviews due to the controversy of her lyrics, Allen chose to fill the initial part of her set with recent material. Dedicating ‘As Long As I Got You’ to her family who were on stage by her side, Allen swiftly moved to her lyrically outspoken self with ‘Sheezus’ and ‘Hard Out Here’. As well as her lyrics, her onstage presence was also comedic and forthright, as she asks the audience “Is my camel toe really prevalent?”
It was clear that the crowd were more familiar with Allen’s older material, with hit singles ‘Smile’ and ‘The Fear’. Even ‘Fuck You’, which Allen dedicated to current president of FIFA, “Sepp fucking Blatter”, initiated a crowd singalong accompanied by a sea of two-fingered gestures.
MGMT – Saturday on John Peel
Despite Metallica – the last headliner to be announced for the festival – closing the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night, the John Peel Stage was still full to capacity for psychedelic band MGMT, fronted by lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser.
Although the tent was filled with people eager to see the band, the audience were fairly quiet as MGMT, returning to Worthy Farm for the fourth time, performed a mixture of tracks from all three of their albums. Despite the crowd not knowing the majority of lyrics, the energy in the cold, muddy tent was surprisingly upbeat.
But as soon as ‘Kids’ came on, the crowd went wild. The band lengthened the middle section of the song with only synths, backed by psychedelic projections of technicolour creatures and flowers on the screen, putting the crowd in a trance-like state.
The set was visually and acoustically stunning as everything fitted into place. It was clear that MGMT wanted their performance to be perfect, putting a real effort into their onscreen visuals as well as keeping the set neat and well-structured, as the rest of the band kept an eye on the setlist taped to the back of VanWyngarden’s grey boiler suit.
The topic of secret sets is spoken about greatly at Glastonbury, but word-of-mouth is usually not enough to get you to the right venue at the right time. (This is where a fully charged phone and Twitter come in handy.) Although Bombay Bicycle Club were already confirmed to perform on the Other Stage on Sunday, they announced on Twitter that they would be performing a secret set earlier that day on the BBC Introducing Stage.
On the Other Stage mid-evening, it was clear that anyone who had been lucky enough to experience their secret performance still wanted a second round of Bombay Bicycle Club.
Opening with the more rock-like, darker ‘Overdone’, the first track from latest Asian-inspired album So Long See You Tomorrow, the band were off to a great start. They were accompanied by Liz Lawrence, one of the guest female vocalists on the album, who seemed completely natural on stage with the rest of the band.
Lead singer, Jack Steadman, introduced “a very old friend”, Lucy Rose (who performed earlier on the Other Stage), to join them for ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’. As the distinct Indian drums were heard by the crowd, we all knew that Rae Morris, coyly standing on the edge of the stage, would also join Steadman and co. for the second So Long So See You Tomorrow single, ‘Luna’. Female vocals are evident in the whole of Bombay Bicycle Club’s discography, so it was lovely to see all three guest vocalists on stage at some point during their well-received second performance of the day.
Closing the final night of Glastonbury on the Pyramid Stage, Kasabian knew they had to deliver a truly outstanding performance. Keeping the crowd in eager anticipation, the background screen – the same distinct pink colour used for the sleeve of latest album 48:13 – counted down the minutes until the band finally came on stage.
Opening with ‘Bumblebee’ from their latest album was very apt for the situation for both the band and the crowd as lead singer Tom Meighan sang ‘We’re in ecstasy‘. He quickly addressed the crowd “Hello Glastonbury, how are you?” before going into the popular and well-received 2006 single ‘Shoot the Runner’.
Meighan definitely knows how to work a crowd as he begins a chant of ‘easy, easy’, leading into the inevitability of the next track: ‘eez-eh’, the first single lifted from 48:13. With the crowd jumping as one, the atmosphere was immense. Kasabian were clearly loving every second of it, and so were we, as they promised to ‘keep [us]up all night’.
During the encore, a video of comedian Noel Fielding dressed as a vampire was put on screen. As the band began to perform ‘Vlad the Impaler’, Fielding appeared on stage dancing around in his cape, accompanying the band comedically and visually. Meighan adapted the lyrics slightly to play homage to jazz singer Bobby Womack, who died last weekend, singing ‘Bobby Womack, see you on the other side’.
As the closing act of Glastonbury’s main stage, Kasabian knew they had to give the festival-goers a performance to remember. They definitely lived up to expectations.