Alt-J and Fatboy Slim Wow! at Glastonbury 2013

Alt-J make their Glastonbury debut in secret circumstances

Photographer:Peter Corkhill

Daniel Fahey - 28 June 2020

As secrets go, the Chinese whispers of a hush hush Alt-J set hadn't quite made as big an impact as the Thursday drizzle down on Worthy Farm. The boys were to play as part of a trio of new acts, secretly showcasing their wares ahead of far bigger slots over the weekend. Dry The River, with their nu-folk stylings, went first and were followed by experimental indie rockers and Mercury nominees Django Django.

So when the Leeds boys wander under the big top canvas of William's Field there was a sense of anticipation for the set ahead. The great spectacle didn't warrant the squeeze of a collective gastric band in the crowd, as with surprise shows from Pulp and Radiohead in previous years.

But those who made the slushy effort were treated to the cinematic whirl of Alt-J's Glastonbury debut.

'Tesselate' waltzes under the aquatic-coloured lights, there are muddy wellied girls clambering on shoulders for a peek of the group, and swaying Topman mannequins hitting the right keys together.

With finger-made triangles hanging in the air, singer Joe Newman got sentimental: "How you do Glastonbury?" he probes. "It feels really good saying that, it's our first time here."

The cheers carry them through to 'Fitzpleasure' which rocks and sways like a Viking ship conquering the North Sea. It's clear that if album two is as anthemic and vitalising as 'An Awesome Wave' they will be slaying stadiums with gusty singalongs like 'Matilda' for a generation.

"If tomorrow is as good as this, we're going to have a really really awesome time," gushes Newman before 'Breezeblocks' which tops just about anything we've heard all day.

It's a set that's signed and sealed but it doesn't push the envelope enough to deliver it as one of the best surprise shows ever. 

Elsewhere on the site, Fatboy Slim delved deep into a treasure trove of heavy house records and splashes of acid to play the first of six sets at Glastonbury Festival. With headphones around his neck, the Brighton-based producer surprised fans with the secret set and saw thousands outside the Wow! Stage trying to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Alt-J at William's Tent Glastonbury set-list:

Interlude 1
Something Good
Dissolve Me

Click here for our full Glastonbury coverage.


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