Glastonbury 2017 was enthusiastically predicted to be the hottest Glasto for over a decade — instead, it turned out to be the overcast, scattered showers type Glastonbury that it tends to be. So in terms of weather, nothing new. But in terms of spirit and music, the Eavis family ended the weekend with the screens proudly reading ‘thanks for making this the best festival yet, see you in 2019’. And Headliner is pleased to say this isn’t mere marketing hype, it really was one of the best outings of the best festival on earth yet.
Wednesday and Thursday tend to be all about desperately finding a patch of land for your Tesco/Millets tent that isn’t directly outside the urinals. However, this year did have some strong music before Glasto-proper commenced on the Friday, besides the usual Ed Sheeran wannabes with 500 likes of Facebook busking in the Healing Fields. Pumarosa served as far more than a tease for the weekend, instead showing they more than deserve a big slot in 2019. Everything Everything were this year’s big Thursday TBA — clearly a wonderful thing, if you could get anywhere near the relatively small William’s Green tent.
A big theme of Glastonbury 2017 was pop music becoming respectable once again, and the people of Pilton gleefully embracing it. Charli XCX brought an abundance of energy to the Other Stage in the early afternoon, and her personal brand of heavy-electro pop. And asking, “who’s getting fucked up this weekend?” was always going to get a decent reaction. Next, it’s only a short walk to the John Peel stage to see chartstress Dua Lipa. The former model joined her male backing band on stage and gives a very decent set, concluding with her hit, I Could Be The One. Her music was as hypnotic as her girating, perfectly toned stomach, which left me feeling I should probably stop frequenting the Chips and Dips stall quite as often.
It wouldn’t be Glastonbury if the next act you go to see doesn’t leave you dizzy from the contrast — Glass Animals won both hearts and minds with their indie-quirkdom, and love of fruit-based stage addornments. Resolutely not taking life and music seriously is obviously less true of the Pyramid Stage’s penultimate Friday act, the xx. Co-lead singer Romey Madley Croft isn’t merely being modest when he exclaims that "it’s mad that three chubby goths are playing the Pyramid Stage” — the trio aren’t the kind of personalities you’d associate with this huge slot, but the dancier songs from their latest, self-titled effort, and Jamie xx’s huge beats do an excellent job getting bodies moving, not to mention warmed up for the first headliners of the weekend.
Life affirming and life changing, Radiohead’s performance is nothing short of a transcendent, out of body experience. Thom Yorke walks onto a darkened stage and greets the assembled thousands with a courtly bow, before some unseen ley line-generated power appears to take over his body as the band open with Daydreaming. On a personal note, I’ve never been to a gig where I enjoyed the songs I didn’t know equally to the ones I knew back to front, as the Oxfordshire quintet conjure up a cosmic-palette of sounds, that only they could, totally live.
The first hour seems to validate the prediction that Radiohead were always going to resolutely refuse to be crowd-pleasers, a flag seen in the crowd reading ‘play the fucking Bends’ being a very wasted effort. But those that saunter off for this reason miss a star-studded finale which includes Paranoid Android, No Surprises (the band released their 20th Anniversary OK Computer re-release the same day), and the rarely-performed Creep. It’s pure magic when Yorke remains on stage for a singalong of Karma Police, and the closing: ‘for a minute there, I lost myself’ stays on everyone’s lips as they depart, either for their tents or the late-night zones of the site. Hands down, the absolute triumph of the weekend.