Neil Young goes old school at Glastonbury

Bloc Party, The Specials, Lily Allen wrap up day one

Neil Young goes old school at Glastonbury

Photographer: Sara Bowrey27 June 2009

The veteran riffed, soloed and unleashed a wall of sound as he ploughed through hits like ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Heart Of Gold’ and ‘Hey Hey My My’ to a huge Pyramid Stage audience.

Young, who famously pulled out of Glastonbury in 1997, after cutting his finger whilst making a sandwich, made up for lost time dragging out ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and banging out classics like ‘Spirit Road’ and ‘Down By The River’.

Encoring with an electric cover of ‘Day In The Life’ by The Beatles, Young left the crowd baying for more as they vanished off into the night.

Meanwhile over on the Other Stage, Bloc Party are in their element having finally snagged a headline slot. “I’ll tell you a secret,” whispered Kele Okereke, “I’ve never enjoyed coming to Glastonbury. Until now.” Following a slow start, a double whammy of ‘Disappear Here’ and ‘Banquet’ ups the tempo.

After a rare outing for ‘Two More Years’, praise for Lady GaGa and their very own fighting song, Kele and Co have the other stage for their taking. ‘Mercury’ – with lines from Lady GaGa’s ‘Poker Face’ thrown in – duly delivered, before the light show of ‘Flux’ brings a florescent glow to the show. The band finished with a jubilant ‘Helicopter’ before returning for a one-song encore of ‘Modern Love’.

The newly reformed Specials are always going to be a highlight at any festival and their appearance on the Pyramid Stage, somewhat highlighted this last night as a large swell gathered for an hour of ska revival. Terry Hall was his usual inactive self, but he still managed to create one of the first mosh pits of the event, skanking through ‘Monkey Man’.

The group’s urgency and energy was hampered by some poor sound in places but tracks like ‘Ghost Town’ and set highlight ‘Message To You Rudy’ made sure that Coventry’s finest left the stage as heroes.

“On 26 July 2009, Lady GaGa came to Glastonbury!” Lady GaGa may’ve got the month wrong, but the festival won’t forget the singer in a hurry. From the glam of ‘Paparazzi’ to the singalong ‘Just Dance’, GaGa just nailed it. She couldn’t sing – often she didn’t even try – but with three costume changes, fire coming out of her breasts (honestly) and an accidental full frontal, her show certainly was action packed. “I used to go to festivals, take acid and lose all my friends,” she admits, now people just come to watch her.

Glastonbury’s little daughter Lily Allen drew a massive crowd at the Pyramid Stage, wowing fans with a hit-filled set, whilst dipping into some drum and bass, supplying some jazz and sticking two fingers up to the BNP. ‘The Fear’ got the dnb reworking and ‘Fuck You’ was well received while older tracks ‘LDN’ and ‘Smile’ fitted nicely against a distinguished version of Britney Spears’ ‘Womanizer’.

Dressed in a pink wig and blue two-piece, Allen even had time to remember her Nan during the set (who passed away during last year’s Glastonbury) and salute her Granddad before launching into a song about her father Keith – a true family affair.

Earlier on in the day, The Tings Tings performed a rather lacklustre set on The Other Stage. Amidst hollow cries of, “Glastonbury, we want you to fucking dance,” the band extended their singles ‘Shut Up And Let Me Go’ and ‘That’s Not My Name’ but had no real substance to hold a crowd that is mainly made up of children and drunk girls.

White Lies
played tribute to Saturday night headliner Bruce Springsteen, playing a euphoric set on The Other Stage. With the show trotting along at a pedestrian pace, the band brought out one of The Boss’ biggest hits ‘Dancing In The Dark’. “This song we learnt just for the festival, just for the crowd,” said singer Harry McVeigh, “it also goes out to The Boss." The band ended with ‘Death’, urging the crowd to sing it themselves as the band left the scene.

Glastonbury Festival 2009
continues today with performances from Bruce Springsteen, Kasabian and Bon Iver.

Click here to watch BBC Glastonbury Festival highlights on Virtual Festivals.

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