Glastonbury Festival 2014 review

'An essential British institution'

Glastonbury Festival 2014 review

Photographer: Shirlaine ForrestChris Eustace on 01 July 2014

Let's get it over with first: yes, it rained. Quite a lot. There was a lot of mud. But, seeing as 99.9% of Glastonbury-goers were prepared for this, it didn't matter as much to them as it seemed to people on Twitter and Facebook.

Following last year's festival, arguably the best Glastonbury of the 21st century, was always going to be a tall order, but there were improvements: the most prominent seeing fiery dance venue Arcadia moved back to its own site, rather than being shunted in between the Glade and the Other Stage, a move which allowed all three to do what they do best.

If the mud was back, there was also time to reflect on the passing of a much more welcome Glastonbury fixture, Tony Benn. While the Left Field missed his inspiring words, the newly-renamed Tony Benn Tower Of Strength in William's Green will be a permanent testament to his beliefs about the wonders that can be achieved with unity.

William's Green was also where music-seekers needed to be for an early fix on Thursday night, and the weekend's first secret sets didn't disappoint, with The 1975 (7.5) delivering big 80's style choruses and (possibly) a punch in the face if you throw stuff at them, while Metronomy (8.5) showed why every festival needs them with a superlative synth-pop masterclass.

Friday saw Kaiser Chiefs (7) take the Other Stage secret slot to successfully charm back old friends, while Jungle (8) had crowds spilling out of the John Peel tent at a time when some can't even make it out of their own.

Lily Allen (8.5) battled back from the Pyramid Stage having to power down because of an electrical storm to show she's still both relevant and neccessary, and Elbow and Arcade Fire traded blows to decide the battle of the anthem-makers, with the Canadians getting the Win (he's the lead singer) thanks to a stadium art-rock set that managed to marry the surreal and communal brilliantly.

On a soggy Saturday, Circa Waves (7.5) summoned up the spirit of The Strokes' debut on the Other Stage, Angel Haze decided to dispense with a stage altogether, delivering her last two songs from the crowd, Kelis (7.5/10) showed off her new culinary soul direction and Lana Del Rey's sultry torch songs captivated (7).

 

Jack White's White Stripes-heavy stint went down a storm (8), whereas Metallica (9) were way louder than one, cutting through any controversy about their booking to triumph easily, and open up the possibility of more heavier bands coming down to Worthy Farm in the future.

If you fancied some breakfast time guitar-smashing on Sunday, you should have seen Darlia (7) who obliged after a yelping 'Queen Of Hearts', and - who knew? - The Kooks' not-so-secret set suggested their new direction might yet be the making of them (7).

Dolly Parton (9) had 99% of the site in attendance for an emotive, witty and sparkling set, Anti-Flag (9) got a circle pit started in the Left Field and Ed Sheeran (8) celebrated a second Number One album on the Pyramid, whipping the crowd into a frenzy as he built tracks up with loops. Kasabian (7) then powered things home after a slow start to ensure proceedings ended on a high.  

The amount of thought that goes into the festival - we haven't even got into the amazing Shangri-La and Block 9 or the Park Stage or the tranquil-as-Glasto-gets Green Fields - has to be seen to be believed, and that, plus the atmosphere generated come rain, shine or storm, is what makes it an essential British institution. It's rightly the one everyone wants to be at - just make sure you bring your wellies if you get lucky next year.

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