Some things we learned at Glastonbury 2016

Damon Albarn is the Pharaoh of the Pyramid Stage

After headlining with Blur in 2009 and Gorillaz in 2011, Damon Albarn’s set saw him at the other end of the bill this year, opening the Pyramid stage with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians. Not only is it a difficult spot with an audience half-asleep, mostly-sober and already walking in wellies caked in a pound of mud; but this is the morning of Friday 24th June. “Reason to be cheerful: It’s not raining.” Albarn muses, before addressing the suddenly, surprisingly non-European elephant in the field, “I have a very heavy heart today. To my mind, democracy has failed us.” Despite this (and the fact it began raining one song in) the music was stunning – a reminder that the world, and Glastonbury, are beautiful places – even if the rest of this country doesn’t seem recognisable.

Expect to see Two Door Cinema Club headlining a stage next year

The Friday early afternoon slot was an odd one for a band who headlined Latitude a couple of years ago, but with the new tracks from upcoming album, Gameshow, sounding as upbeat and rhythmic as previous material, expect to see them at the top of a different stage next year.

Coldplay gave arguably the best (and sometimes most bizarre) headline slot, ever. 

As if Xylobands, lasers, butterfly confetti, huge balloons and some of the finest indie-pop-rock-dance anthems from the last decade weren’t enough to give Worthy Farm the closer it deserved, they scrapped their usual “Instagram request” for a two-song Bee Gee set with Barry Gibb himself. What the bands have in common isn’t obvious, but it made for a Glastonbury moment to go down in history. Add to this Michael Eavis joining for his karaoke choice, ‘My Way’, and a cover of Viola Beach’s ‘Boys That Sing’, and you have a set to doubt the naysayers who thought their booking was a boring one.

0% of Glastonbury voted Leave

Not a stat as such, but there wasn’t one band who walked onto stage celebrating the referendum result. Many mentioned their disappointment however, including The 1975 (“There’s this sentiment of anti-compassion that’s spread across an older generation and voted in a future that we don’t fucking want”), Ellie Goulding (“I know some really terrible things have been happening and I really hope that when you go home that you guys will take that spirit with you”) and Coldplay, with Chris Martin thanking fans for braving the mud and rain and “the collapse of the country”.

Falsetto’s truly the favoured singing style

It wasn’t only The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb who was hitting the highest of the high notes. Muse brought them to the Pyramid on Friday evening, with Half Moon Run filling the John Peel tent with delicate, meticulously carved harmonies earlier in the day. Expect a-ha to appear on the line-up next year.

This year could have been called “Glastonbury: The Bowie Edition”

It was obviously going to happen, and while the rumours of a showing of Bowie’s 2000 headline set fizzed out, it was left to the acts and events of today to pay tribute. From the Aladdin Sane Lightning Bolt above the Pyramid to The Last Shadow Puppets’ ‘Moonage Daydream’ cover to Dance Bowie Dance at The Park (Bowie’s best bangers, remixes included, in chronological order) to the ‘Starman’ flashmob, this one was his.

Muse are better when they’re belting out the bangers

‘Uprising’, ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Time Is Running Out’ and the rest were the prog-rock pleasers we were all waiting for, but there were instrumentals and moments that might have been interesting with drones flying around (and into) the crowd on their tour dates, that didn’t quite fit in on this slot.

There’s more than one “Legends slot”

Jeff Lynne’s ELO brought the Blue Sky (in song form), but there were legends galore: Squeeze, Madness and Cyndi Lauper all delivered sets worthy of a Sunday 4:00pm slot.

Alex Turner loves being Alex Turner

Looking and sounding more like the lovechild of Elvis Presley and Alan Partridge by the day, Alex Turner’s performance with The Last Shadow Puppets was pouring with schmaltz and strings, with his lip curls and hip swings leading numbers from their two albums, as well as that aforementioned Bowie cover. Sounds like a car crash, but it was in fact a dream.

The best things happen between the bands

An eight-piece brass band playing Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’, two-hours of power ballads in William’s Green, Club De Fromage going from ‘3 Lions’ to ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. If we’ve said it before we’ve… Well we’ve definitely said it before – don’t let your Glastonbury be ruled by the bands.

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Reviews Editor
London. Likes: Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Prince Charles Cinema, Duran Duran Dislikes: Soreen, All-hits setlists, "I liked them before everyone else..."