Glastonbury Top Tens: The Pyramid Stage

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Steve Jenner, Greg Rose, Tom Bentley | 01 July 2009

Blur's highly anticipated return after a nine-year break (not counting 2003's ghastly soirees sans Graham) drew the largest crowd of the festival. Fans hoping for the old Blur mayhem (Damon climbing lighting rigs, stage-diving and throwing up on-stage, etc.) didn't receive that. Instead, Albarn sang his heart and soul out, the band delivering a majestic performance that lovingly caressed every classic song and showed the kids exactly why Blur remain truly one of Britain's greatest musical treasures. Anyone remember Oasis' 2004 set? Us neither. SJ
Click here for our full report.
Bruce Springsteen
Opening with a Mescaleros cover and closing with ‘Dancing In The Dark’ as the moon shone overhead, The Boss rocked out long after curfew, leaving next to nothing out of his headline set. Fitting in career-spanning tracks from ‘The Rising’ to ‘Radio Nowhere’, back to the glory days of ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘Born To Run’ made sure that there were no doubters’ mind left unchanged. Away from the rock idol commotion, he slid in a humble folk cover of ‘Hard Times’, urged hope and love onto the crowd without sounding ridiculous and dueted with The Gaslight Anthem. “Is anybody out there alive?” Springsteen repeatedly screamed, ran offstage and teared into the crowd as he the impeccable E-Street Band showed why the Eavis’ were right to bring him to the farm. GR

Neil Young
Definitely up there among the Friday greats, Young took Glastonbury back to it's old school roots with a classic rock'n'roll set, which was epitomised by eternal classics like 'Down By The River’ and 'Rockin’ In The Free World'. The great man let loose, delving deep into poignant guitar solos whilst also delivering heart felt numbers on his usual concoction of organs, harmonicas and guitars. “Rock n roll will never die,”- the first words of 'Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)' resounded around Glastonbury for the entire weekend. TB

Easy Star All Stars
Having done Radiohead and Pink Floyd elsewhere over the weekend, Easy Star All Stars took The Beatles to the main stage. A near complete run-through of ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was the perfect wake up call on a hazy Sunday morning, with the tracks reinvented as reggae numbers. ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ and ‘When I’m 64’ got the crowd involved, while ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ was inventive. Vocal frivolity added a new dimension to ‘She’s Leaving Home’ too, but it was ‘A Day In The Life’ that sealed the deal. While it lacked the fire of Neil Young’s earlier cover on the same stage, the gathered masses appreciated it none the less. GR

The Specials
The Specials' gig was one of those little slices of Pyramid history that make Glastonbury so, well, special. The young and the old were all out for the return of Coventry’s finest with tracks like 'A Message To You Rudy' and the emphatic closer 'Ghost Town' working it into an 'I was there' show. With Terry Hall his usual grumpy self, a stark contrast to his frenetic bandmates, it was a set delivered in true Specials style to an audience who were reaching a peak in sun and drink fuelled fun. TB

Tom Jones
One for the ladies, Jones was greeted by his usual sea of knickers, but on poles this time (plus one pair delivered via a 'raft' of inflatable condoms). He took it all in his stride, crooning merrily through an armada of wedding classics such as 'Delilah', 'She's A Lady', 'Sex Bomb, 'Mama Told Me Not To Come', 'What's New Pussycat', 'Kiss' and ending with a repeat of the cover he performed with EMF here back in '92 - 'Unbelievable'. A perfect Sunday afternoon set under a sunny, Glasto sky. SJ
Check out our full report here.

Outrageous outfits (a strawberry jacket for singer Tom, a leopard-skin creation for guitarist Serge), massive riffs and bigger attitudes, Kasabian brought the lot to Glastonbury. ‘Fire’ was a more recent highlight, but the swaggering oomph of ‘LSF’ and ‘Empire’ were the meaty anthems that got the hands in the air. A mooted special guest slot didn’t materialise, the Leicester boys instead taking the chance to stamp their own mark on the festival. With the bottle and bravado to handle the big slots, they are a couple of hits away from being headliner material. GR

Lily Allen
Allen came of age at Glastonbury 2009. With a new opus under her belt she had more material to play with, giving this particular set an edge over any previous performances. Recent belters 'The Fear' and BNP castigating 'Fuck You' were lapped up by her first ever Pyramid Stage audience while favourites 'Smile' and 'LDN' were transformed into vibrant dance numbers. “I'm so scared,” she admitted, showing a scarcely seen vulnerability that grasped people's affections, before reminiscing about her Gran who passed away during Glasto last year. Allen even had time to cover Britney's 'Womanizer' as she donned that one glove in honour of the late MJ. TB

Regina Spektor
Spektor's charming songs were perfect for the heat of Friday afternoon. Her innocently witty banter and her timid presence grasped people's affections throughout a set that included all of her sensational new favourites. She reached Kate Bushs-esque highs in songs like 'Samson', played percussion on chairs for 'Poor Little Rich Boy' and even sang in her native Russian before bringing the curtains down on a remarkably intimate set with 'Fidelity'. Lets hope she fulfilled her promise and told the US that “Glastonbury says WOOOH!”. TB

Spinal Tap - 11/10

Not for being 'one louder' than any other band on the bill (VF can hereby expose that as a marketing hoax), but for bursting on-stage at 2.30pm on a chilled out sunny Saturday afternoon at Glasto in wigs and latex "straight from hell!" (according the announcer). For playing songs with names like 'Sex Farm', 'Stinkin' Out the Big Outdoors', 'Big Bottom', 'Majesty Of Rock' and an ode to Jack The Ripper called 'Saucy Jack'; for bringing two real dwarves on-stage in monk robes to jig around an inflatable undersized replica of Stonehenge; for performing as tight as many other acts on the bill despite not being a real band (or even professional musicians); for having Nigel Tuffnel on guitar. Need any more reasons? Suck my love pump. SJ
Check out our full report here.

By Greg Rose, Tom Bentley and Steve Jenner

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