Glastonbury Festival 2017 Review

*Apologies that these posts have taken an age. We’ve been without internet for nearly a month!*

This year’s Glastonbury Festival took place on Worthy Farm from the 22nd-27th June. The festival was headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran, with Bee Gee Barry Gibb playing the festival’s prestigious Sunday afternoon legends slot. Other notable acts across the weekend included Lorde, The Courteeners and Declan McKenna. The Killers performed a surprise set, which was headline worthy, on the John Peel Stage, and Elbow, too, performed a surprise set, which was on The Park Stage, on Friday.

This year’s festival felt very exciting. It came at a time of political unrest (a year on from Brexit), great new music- with grime deservedly taking centre stage- and a line-up sufficient to fill the Glastonbury shaped gap in the festival calendar next year, when they take a fallow year. This year’s festival was surprisingly sunny too- result!

Friday 23rd June

Glass Animals, BBC Introducing – There’s little more exciting than the opening act on the BBC Introducing Stage. It’s often big enough- yet secret and special enough- to rival whatever 80s legend is playing a killer set on The Other Stage, in this case it was The Pretenders (who played a pretty brilliant set). In recent years we’ve seen the likes of Circa Waves and plenty of other BBC Introducing alumni christen the stage, but this year it was the turn of glorious, indie art-pop band Glass Animals. The stripped back set was extremely short and sweet- a mere four songs long- but left the audience hungry (perhaps because of the sheer volume of pineapples dotted about the stage and throughout the audience) for their full band performance later that day. They played ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, at the audience’s request, from their latest album How to be a Human Being, which was released later last year. They also played the hit ‘Gooey’ and ‘Black Mambo’, from their 2014 debut album ZABA.

Blossoms, The Pyramid Stage – It’s always brilliant to see a band graduate onto the prestigious Pyramid Stage (we saw Wolf Alice triumphantly do it in 2016), but none more refreshing, exciting or well deserved than that of Blossoms’ early afternoon set. The band played a setlist filled mainly with songs from their debut album Blossoms, which was released last year, with the odd B-Side and latest single ‘This Moment’ with Chase and Status thrown in for good measure. I’ve seen enough Blossoms shows over the last year to say that this was nothing much different to the rest yet this felt extra special. The sheer volume of the crowd reflected the huge year that Blossoms have had and it’s great to see them finally get the recognition they deserve.

Declan McKenna, John Peel Stage – 18-year-old Declan McKenna is no stranger to Glastonbury Festival, but this was his first taste of major stage success, despite being given the chance to play the same stage two years prior. The set came just weeks before the release of his stunning debut album, What Do You Think About the Car? It felt like a pivotal set of his career, with the chance to open up his already huge fan base to a totally different audience. His youthful depictions of life, love and-importantly- politics are refreshing and his energetic stage presence is exciting. He ran about and scaled things like any 18-year-old playing Glastonbury would dream of doing. He even crowd surfed, much to the securities dismay. He played again over the weekend (Sunday on the Left Field Stage, which seemed very fitting). I recommend you watch out for Declan McKenna; he’s only just getting started.

George Ezra, The Other Stage – George Ezra played the ultimate feel good, sing-a-long set on The Other Stage. His set rivalled an unannounced, not-so-secret set by Elbow on The Park Stage, yet the size of his crowd wasn’t hindered by this. Ezra played all the hits from his first album, opening with a jazzed-up, trumpet filled ‘Cassy-O’, closely followed by ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Blame It On Me’ and ‘Listen to the Man’, from his first album, Wanted On Voyage. George Ezra also showcased many a song from his long awaited second album, speaking tales of writing the album- like a delightful in person version of his weekly email updates- and what he learnt in the process of making it. He encouraged the crowd to sing along with his new songs, which they did and they did loudly. He even played his latest single ‘Don’t Matter Now’, which, at the time, had only been out for a matter of weeks and yet everyone knew all the words. When he ended with undoubtedly his biggest hit, ‘Budapest’, he seemed somewhat overwhelmed and moved by the audience’s reaction. He didn’t even need to sing it because the audience sang it so loudly for him! George Ezra is always a pleasure to see, but he really does pull out the stops for Glastonbury.

Lorde, The Other Stage – Lorde played Glastonbury for the first time this year, but she was welcomed as if she was a regular. There’s not many times that I’m emotionally moved by a performance, but Lorde’s set was something else. It seemed dramatic, theatrical, a spectacle- all words which, too, describe her incredible second album, Melodrama. Her second album was released a week to the day and Lorde described it as celebrating the album’s “birthday”. She performed in front of a moving glass cage-type contraption. Various actors would fill the container and interact to the music with one another, in front of a changing screen, using props. This was not a gimmick. At first I was confused, but the theatrical performance seemed fitting with the huge, dramatic production. Lorde opened with a short, orchestra lead version of ‘Green Light’ before bursting into a set full of new and old favourites. The pinnacle point of the set was Lorde performing ‘The Louvre’, from her latest album, which she explained was about “having a crush” and urged the audience to “close their eyes” and think of their crush when listening to the song. This flowed seamlessly into the emotional “The Louvre”, whereby Lorde sat on the front of the stage and explained how it was a song about “not feeling like you’re good enough”. It was highly emotional and felt incredible intimate, ironic given the setting. Lorde sang and danced throughout, even ending up in the crowd at points. She played an incredible set, one which topped my entire weekend.

Saturday 24th June

The Magic Gang, William’s Green – Brighton’s own The Magic Gang managed to bring their chilled indie-rock to an eager crowd on the Saturday morning of Glastonbury Festival. Many a huge band have played William’s Green at some point in their career and I’m sure this won’t be the last time we see The Magic Gang at the festival. The band played a selection of tracks from their EPs, including latest single ‘Your Love’, and the audience loved every minute of it.

The Amazons, John Peel – I’m a huge supporter of The Amazons and love their music, but if ever there was a moment you don’t want to have your electrics fail on you this was it. The set was laced with technical issues but proved triumphant nonetheless. The band played to a packed out John Peel tent, which is a promising sign for any up and coming artist, and played the majority of their 2017 self-titled debut album. The set was full of highlights, from the bold ‘Junk Food Forever’ to fan favourite ‘Black Magic’.

Katy Perry, The Pyramid Stage – When faced with the hideous clash between Liam Gallagher and Katy Perry, who do you choose? I spoke to a guy who saw both and his verdict was Perry. The risk of missing a potential- yet hideously unlikely- Oasis reunion tempted the masses but pop-sensation Katy Perry played to nothing short of a full Pyramid field. I find Katy Perry extremely fascinating and her bubbly stage presence and brash production overtly captivating. The set was odd from start to finish (what else would you expect?). Perry came out dressed as some sort of sparkly school child- pink hat and rucksack in tow- with latest album eye logo plastered pretty much everywhere. There was a huge pink moving eye, pom-pom clad dancers a plenty and confetti cannons to make any audience happy. Gimmicky? Maybe. Fascinating and theatrical? Absolutely. Perry played hits from her latest album, including the singles ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, ‘Bon Appétit’ and ‘Swish Swish’, but ultimately it felt obvious she was there to sell her latest album- Witness– which had recently (unfairly) flopped in the charts. Perry played unknown song upon unknown song from her latest album, which became slightly laborious after a while. Having said that, the odd hit she peppered in was absolutely incredible and the atmosphere was buzzing. The mash-up of hits and (infuriating) rearrangement of ‘Teenage Dream’ made up for the lack of desire for the newer songs. You can’t say she’s not entertaining though!

Alt-J, Headliners of The Other Stage – We tried the HUGE (on all accounts) Pyramid Stage set Foo Fighters, which was filled with hit upon hit from their massive expansive back catalogue, tributes to Florence and the Machine’s 2015 filler- but killer- headline set and two and a half or so hours of Dave Grohl being the absolute legend he is, but settled for Alt-J’s euphoric Other Stage headline set. Alt-J are a band I’m fascinated by. Their live sets always feel as though they’re an experience. A journey. This was no exception. The audience were taken on a journey through the last few years of Alt J material, as each song was seamlessly- and effortlessly- sewn together by instrumental and an impressive light show. Alt-J proved that they know how to navigate a good headline set.

Sunday 25th June  

Sundara Karma, John Peel Stage – You can’t go far without escaping the up and coming indie kings that are Sundara Karma and rightly so. Sundara Karma have picked up massive momentum this year, having released their huge debut album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, toured the UK both on a headline tour and with indie legends Two Door Cinema Club and set to embark on a huge tour which includes a date at the Brixton Academy. The tent was filled with new and old fans, as they played songs from their debut in both its standard and recently released extended form. I’m beyond excited to see where this leads them, but things are looking up- perhaps they’ll do a Wolf Alice or Blossoms and we’ll see them on the Pyramid Stage in a matter of years?

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, The Other Stage – Is there anything Rag ‘N’ Bone Man can’t do? More specifically, is there anything he can’t do without total grace and gratitude? Brighton’s Rag ‘N’ Bone Man seemed to soak up and enjoy every minute of his Glastonbury set. He seemed genuinely grateful that so many people had turned out to watch his hour long set and that’s something that came through in his flawless singing. He sang many a song from his debut album ‘Human’, which was released earlier this year, including the pop-hit title track and others, including ‘Skin’ and ‘Wolves’. He even brought out and shared the stage with his previous rap collective, an understandable yet contradictory move away from his famous soulful voice. He’s a special act.

The Killers, The John Peel Stage – The weekend had been swarming with rumours as to what the mysterious Sunday John Peel Stage TBA act could be. The area was so heaving they had to block all entrances off and stop more people from entering the field and people spilled out of the tent in all directions (you were lucky if you could get close). Luckily, the set turned out to be none other than The Killers, who played a headline worthy set. The band rattled through their hits- ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘When You Were Young’, ‘Smile Like You Mean it’- as well as their infectious new single, ‘The Man’. Brandon Flowers needn’t sing as the crowd sung along (loudly) word for word on every single song. It was pretty incredible really. The hightlights included the bridge of ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ where thousands sung ‘I got soul, but I’m not a soldier’ back to a blown away Flowers and, of course, Mr Brightside, which still remains one of the greatest songs of all times.

Biffy Clyro, The Pyramid Stage – Biffy Fucking Clyro played Glaston-fucking-bury for the first time in a few years and they had been missed. The band played a hit-filled, guitar fuelled set which could quite easily have filled a headline slot. It’s refreshing to see such an incredible rock act play at such an accessible, all-genre embracing festival and seeing the crowd- plenty of whom waiting for pop icon Ed Sheeran- enjoy it despite it being unusually different from the day’s headliner. Songs such as ‘Many of Horror’ provided one of the most goosebump inducing moments of the weekend, as the entire crowd sung back to Simon Neil (lead singer) and Co.

Ed Sheeran, Pyramid Stage Headliner – I’d been eagerly anticipating Ed Sheeran’s headliner set for the best part of six months, let along the few days of the festival that had already been. Sheeran played- entirely solo, with the help of his trusty loop-pedal- centre stage with hundreds of screens behind him projecting his face almost everywhere whilst he delivered a set everyone could sing along to. He made remarks about the audience ‘knowing it even if they didn’t like it’ and assertively directed the crowd to sing, jump and dance at intervals. I wasn’t disappointed by his set, but it had nothing on the likes of Biffy Clyro, The Killers or, especially, Lorde. He’s pretty admirable and gutsy to do it though, you have to give it to him.

 

 

 

 

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Glastonbury Festival 2017 Review

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the beginning of festival season for me and has been a significant event on the music industry calendar for years. Its star studded line-up features some of the hottest, hugest and perhaps even most exclusive artists and bands that the music industry has to offer, as well as a whole host of up and coming bands championed by BBC Introducing. Typically the artists found on the bill are those who get played on Radio 1, but, with an ever expanding audience and increasing interest in what would once have been hailed “niche” genres, the line up now crosses multiple genres and appeals to the masses, with grime becoming a big part of the two-day festival.

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is being held in Hull, at Hull’s Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The bank holiday weekend event is fully sold out now, with 50,000 tickets up for grabs across the two days, however Radio 1 have been running competitions to win the last few tickets. The event, as usual, will be streamed online, played live on BBC Radio 1 and the red button, and highlights will be shown on BBC 4 and on the BBC iPlayer. This year’s event is headlined by US pop sensation Katy Perry (who will also play Glastonbury Festival next month) on Saturday and BST headliners and alternative icons Kings of Leon. The festival is free ( apart from a very small booking fee)- yes, that’s right, FREE- and is currently Europe’s largest free festival, with some of the most successful artists in the world filling out the huge line-up. This is extraordinary in itself (especially when you look at the line up).

I was lucky enough to attend last year, on the Sunday, in Exeter and it truly is a world class festival. It was a gloriously hot weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The sets are the perfect length of time- probably around half an hour per artist, with an hour for the headliner, meaning the bands really only play the hits (with is good when the line-up is so diverse)- and there’s backing dancers and confetti galore! It set me up for festival season perfectly. Not only is Radio One’s Big Weekend a FREE event (and last year I was lucky enough that I got to see some of my favourite artists perform, let alone Coldplay, who I went on to spend over £70 trying to get tickets for at Wembley and saw again at Glastonbury), it also showcases some of the UK’s most wonderful places by bringing world class music to somewhere that doesn’t get much live music. It’s professionally curated and managed and is a brilliant family day out. You’d be a fool to miss it if you ever got the chance to attend.

This year’s line up is jam packed full of headliner worthy artists, spanning three stages- the Main Stage, the newly named ‘Where It Begins’ Stage and, of course, the famous BBC Introducing Stage (which even features some returning acts from the prestigious alumni). This year is set to be unmissable with artists from Biffy Clyro to Little Mix to Kasabian and Lorde all set to perform at the event over the weekend. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday again this year and I truly cannot wait.

Here are my weekend recommendations:

SATURDAY

Katy Perry (Main Stage headliner)– Pop-princess Katy Perry brings her bubblegum pop hit fuelled back catalogue to Hull for what promises to be an unforgettable headline set.

Biffy Clyro (Main Stage)– Scotland’s undeniable rock God’s are returning to Big Weekend, having headlined the In New Music We Trust Stage last year, in Exeter. Their set is obviously going to be brilliant, if their co-headline slot at Reading Festival last year is anything to go by. The band will surely play all the hits- from “Mountains” to “Bubbles” to the anthemic classic that is “Many of Horror”- as well as a whole host of songs from their latest album, Ellipsis.

Imagine Dragons (Main Stage)– If you haven’t seen an Imagine Dragons live set you’re missing out. The atmosphere- especially at an outdoor event- is not comparable to anything. The atmospheric drumming live in their hit single ‘Radioactive’ is phenomenal and never fails to excite a crowd. Their live sets are encapsulating and engaging.

Kasabian (Main Stage)– Reading Festival 2017 headliners are set to perform the Hull event amongst a whole host of equally as huge artists. Kasabian’s expansive back catalogue- spanning over 10 years- is sure to provide the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs, not to mention their brilliant later releases, such as ‘I’m in Love With a Psycho’.

Lorde (Main Stage)– New Zealand’s finest talent Lorde is back and better than ever. The ‘Royals’ singer has released her first new music since 2013’s stunning Pure Heroine. Lorde has matured over the last few years and her songs are more sophisticated and catchy than ever. She’s set to steal the show at Big Weekend, especially after seeing her own Coachella earlier this year.

Zara Larsson (Main Stage)– She’s been part of the last year’s biggest and best collaborations, from ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit to ‘Girls Like’ with Tinie Tempah and even had one of the biggest songs of last summer with ‘Lush Life’. She’s one of pop’s most exciting up and coming artists.

Haim (Where it Begins)– Haim are well and truly back- having cancelled a load of festival performances last summer in order to finish their new record. The band have recently released the new single ‘Want You Back’, as a follow up from 2013’s Days Are Gone.

Lana Del Rey (Where it Begins)– Lana Del Rey isn’t as common a UK festival find as many of the artists on this list. This rare appearance is set to be something special, as the ‘Video Games’ singer gets ready to release her latest album, Lust For Life, which is due out in July.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (Where it Begins)– I’ve been saying it for the last year now, but if you haven’t seen Rag ‘N’ Bone Man you’re most definitely missing out. The 2017 Brits British Breakthrough Artist award winner (which was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners) has a phenomenal, almost gospel voice that can draw crowds of thousands in. I expect Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will pull out all the hits of his debut album, Human, including the title track, which is sure to be a memorable sing-a-long moment.

The Amazons (Where it Begins)– The Amazons release their self-titled debut album the day before they conquer the Where it Begins stage (26/05/17). The Amazons are a band who have been supported by the BBC since the beginning and also made it onto my bands to keep an eye on in 2017 list.

Two Door Cinema Club (Where it Begins)– Two Door Cinema Club sing all the songs. Their sets are full of songs that you undoubtedly know, but don’t know how or why (and they’re bloody brilliant live). Their set promises to be huge, with songs from their impressive back catalogue of indie classics. You’d be daft to miss them play on a stage as small and exclusive as the Where it Begins stage; they could quite easily be headlining!

You Me At Six (Where it Begins)– Ahhh, You Me At Six. I listened to a lot of You Me At Six when I was in my early teens and it was a brilliant time of my life. The band knows how to push and play with the genre of pop-punk to create massive pop-rock records that are infectiously catchy and brilliant. They’ve just released their fifth record- Night People– which is full of bangers.

Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing)– Declan McKenna is returning to the BBC Introducing stage for a one-off return treat. He’s set to dazzle the audience with songs such as ‘Brazil’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ ahead of his debut album release, What Do You Think About The Car?, which is due out in July. This could be your last chance to catch the indie-rock king that is Declan McKenna before he becomes huge and continues to play increasingly large stages over the festival season.

Superfood (BBC Introducing)– Superfooood. They’ve been around for a while and have put out some brilliant records over the last few years, but it’s finally becoming real for the band. They’ve signed to Dirty Hit Records- who are the record label of Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Japanese House- and are starting to release new music and, with the help of BBC Introducing, they’re set to make a comeback to remember. Superfood could easily play the bigger stages, so seeing them play the BBC Introducing stage is a treat.

SUNDAY

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)–  Kings of Leon headline the Main Stage on the Sunday of the festival. The band will play hits from their 14 year+ career, hopefully including the likes of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, as well as songs from their hugely successful latest album Walls, which was released last year. It promises to be big.

Bastille (Main Stage)–  Bastille played the festival last year and they were one of the acts people talked about for ages. Their first album- Bad Blood– is full of memorable, sing-a-long classics and it’ll be great to hear some of their 2016 latest album- Wild World– at the festival. Bastille have been touring a world tour, which saw them play nights at the O2 Arena.

Clean Bandit (Main Stage)– Clean Bandit could wheel out the special guests, due to their many collaborations with huge artists, which could potentially be exciting. I always end up in weird places watching Clean Bandit and I don’t know how or why but they’ve always been a treat. They’re brilliant live.

Little Mix (Main Stage)– Little Mix are opening the Main Stage on the Sunday. They’re set to bring a healthy helping of guilty pleasure, girl-band hits to the party to get it underway. The band- undeniably- have some absolute bangers and I’m fully expecting fellow Sunday performer Stormzy to join the band for their latest single, ‘Power’. Watch this space!

Shawn Mendes (Main Stage)– Shawn Mendes is another guilty pleasure, gloriously unapologetic pop act. He’s on a UK tour and this set in Hull is set to impress the pop hungry crowd. It’s hard to forget the catchy choruses and hooks of songs like Stitches and Mercy.

Stormzy (Main Stage)– Stormzy played the event last year and was undoubtebly one of the most talked about acts of the event, along with fellow grime artist Skepta. As grime continues to make waves in the music world, it’s especially significant that artists like Stormzy are getting the chance to dazzle such mainstream audiences on hugely accessible platforms. He will no doubt be talked about a lot this year again.

The Chainsmokers (Main Stage)- They’ve come along way since the “lemme take a selfie” days back in the Flappy Bird days of early 2014 (a time best forgotten). They’re responsible for some of the biggest collaborations of the last year, including ‘Something Just Like This’ with last year’s headliner Coldplay, which was debuted at the Brit Awards this year.

Royal Blood (Where it Begins headliner)–  Royal Blood are back with the first new music since their phenomenal self-titled album was released in 2014. Again, their music is probably something you’d recognise, even if you didn’t know they sung it. The Brighton duo are already huge and this set is set to be very special and I, for one, can’t wait.

Alt J (Where it Begins)– Alt-J’s incredibly atmospheric, ambient music is coming for Hull on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be great to finally hear songs such as ‘3WW’ and ‘Cold Blood’ played live, nestled between the songs that made they the band they are today. Here’s praying for Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice to join them for 3WW.

Christine and the Queens (Where it Begins)– I’m told she’s unmissable. 2016’s Chaleur Humaine was one of 2016’s big albums and her dancing is something to behold. The French performer’s incredible stage presence and brilliant songs are set to make this set something to remember.

Twin Atlantic (Where it Begins)– Twin Atlantic are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands that I’ve ever seen live (and the most down to earth, lovely band that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet). The Scottish band are Sunday’s answer to the magnificent Biffy Clryo and they’re set to tear the Where it Begins stage up with huge rock riffs and loud lyrics. They’re something else live. It’ll be great hearing songs from their latest album, GLA, live, finally.

Circa Waves (Where it Begins)– Circa Waves are another great indie-rock band. Their sun-kissed sounding, glorious first album, Young Chasers, could soundtrack the perfect sunny Sunday, whilst their brilliant latest album- Different Creatures– brings a slightly heavier vibe. Here’s hoping for ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

Blossoms (Where it Begins)– No festival would be complete without Stockport’s finest export Blossoms. Blossoms bring their continuing tour to Hull to play songs from their debut album, Blossoms, as well as songs from its extended edition, which was released late last year. The band played a triumphant set as a returning guest on the BBC Introducing stage last year, which was brilliant, so this is set to be a treat.

Pale Waves (BBC Introducing)–  Pale Waves are label mates with the likes of Wolf Alice and The 1975. Their new music is The 1975 produced, too. What more could  you want? They’re about to hit the big time, so catch them playing intimate stages whilst you can!

The Big Moon (BBC Introducing)– The Big Moon return to the BBC Introducing Stage after the release of their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, which was released earlier this year. The band have been championed by Huw Stephens for years.

Of course, there’s so many other huge artists playing across the weekend who I haven’t named here- including Anne-Marie and Mura Masa- but these are my picks. You can check out the whole line up on the BBC Radio 1 website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eppp6q) and it’s useful for more information if you’re going. You can keep up with the event via their Facebook page or via Twitter (@BBCR1). Below I have linked their own playlist of artists playing across the weekend for you to get hyped about, or pretend you’re there to, if you’re not going.

If you’re going I hope you have a great weekend and have a brilliant time. Let’s hope the summery weather holds like last year!

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017