Glastonbury is famed for secret sets. On Thursday evening, The 1975 and Metronomy got the party started unofficially in the Williams Green tent, while rumours abound about just who would open the Other Stage on Friday morning when all the major stages opened up. Last year it was Beady Eye, so some were dreaming of Noel Gallagher (11am is far too early for Noel…), then there was the outlandish Prince rumour (one day it will happen), and the more sensible guesses of The Libertines and Damon Albarn. Unfortunately one tweet from the Kaiser Chiefs put paid to all these rumours. There appeared to be an air of disappointment that the choice this year to open the festival was one already playing a prominent slot as they headlined the John Peel tent later that night. Still, a massive crowd watched and seemed to be enjoying it and with Blondie following swiftly after, it was a hit-filled start to the Other Stage’s proceedings…
The Williams Green stage is one of Worthy Farm’s hidden delights, surprising with it being situated near the newly named Tony Benn Tower and the nicer food stands… This year was no different. East India Youth’s one-man party blend of Patrick Wolf meets LCD Soundsystem is an enticing watch that we’re not sure you’ll ever got bored of. How one man can make that much of an exhilarating sound with a setup of laptop, bass and vocals is a wonder, but one that keeps you beguiled. Summer Camp followed with a full-band set (complete with members from Brontide and Three Trapped Tigers) that adds extra oomph to their 80s-tinged glam pop sounds. Elizabeth Sankey was wearing a bright white suit which was gloriously at odds with the mud surrounding the stage and if ever there was a band who were just perfect for a song called ‘Beyond Clueless’, it was Summer Camp… It’s impossible to watch them without breaking into a huge smile. After this, it was time for Glastonbury veteran Gaz Coombes to take to the stage for his first appearance as a solo artist – and he didn’t disappoint. Seeming to enjoy the intimate surroundings of the tent, he played tracks from his debut alongside newer material that recalls the more introspective ‘Road to Rouen’-era side of Supergrass. Disaster struck with technical problems towards the end of the set but a stripped-down singalong of ‘Caught by the Fuzz’ brought out a rapturous finale.
Heading over to the Park to watch Jimi Goodwin was met with trepidation by the ominous black clouds forming above. Jimi arrived on stage in good spirits – with probably a few necked backstage before he came on for good measure… Playing songs mainly from his solo album, although there was time for Doves’ ‘Sulphur Man’, there was good-natured banter and crowd interaction while ‘Whisky Song’ got people dancing. Then, with 15 minutes to go, Jimi announced he had to cut the set short as ‘an electrical storm was on its way’. He wasn’t wrong. A storm that stopped the amped-up stages of the festival on account of health and safety, it started as hail and quickly formed into something more dramatic. Seeking shelter in the John Peel tent, when the crew were given the go-ahead to soundcheck Wild Beasts, the Kendal four-piece had a huge job on their hands to lift the spirits of the drenched audience. They managed this effortlessly with everyone clapping along to the likes of ‘Hooting and Howling’, singing that vital line ‘Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a fuck’ from ‘Wanderlust’ and ‘Oh-oh-oh-ing’ long after they’d left the stage after finishing with ‘All the King’s Men’.
Sadly missing Interpol due to the slippy nature of what now resembled a wasteland; we headed over to the Pyramid Stage for the final two bands of the day. Elbow, with Guy Garvey as affable as ever, were perfect for the sunset time, with ‘Lippy Kids’ and ‘My Sad Captains’ especially sounding resplendent. In fact, the latter’s ‘What a perfect waste of time’ could have been written with this appearance in mind. However, with a set lasting well over an hour, we just wish Elbow could find the time to play just one song from their first three albums – how beautiful would it have been, and what a treat for the old fans, to have heard ‘Newborn’, ‘Scattered Black & Whites’ or ‘Switching Off’ once again on the Pyramid Stage? Inevitably finishing with ‘One Day Like This’, the one song that seemed to peak the interest of the entire crowd, got the crowd in the mood for what was hotly tipped to be one of the must-see events of the weekend,
With glitter, papier-mache heads, huge tom drums and every single band member performing like it was the most important gig of their lives, the sheer enthusiasm from Arcade Fire surely extinguished any lingering doubts a naysayer had. Opening with ‘Reflektor’, a song that got everyone dancing in their wellies, the band were clearly in celebratory mood from the off, while the classic songs from ‘Funeral’ still sound as fresh and life-affirming as when we first heard them ten years ago. The double bill of ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ is simply thrilling in the live setting and you just can’t take your eyes off any band member as they dance, sing their heart out and seem genuinely thrilled to have the chance to play their music to this many people. Closing with a resplendent rendition of ‘Wake Up’, this was the gig that surely took Arcade Fire into the big league – and boy, do they belong there.