Were Stereophonics at the top of their game? Were White Stripes a breath of fresh air? All Saturday's main stage action is here...
It’s Stuart Cable who steals Stereophonics‘ headline triumph. Tonight, he graduates to fully paid up ridiculous drummer propelling Kelly and Richard through the kind of ostentatious greatest hits set that the Pyramid was built for. But despite ‘Bartender…’ and ‘Just Lookin” howling like true greats, it’s too limp to qualify as a seminal Glastonbury headline. Even if we do take into account the Beatles and The Who covers and a new song, ‘Madam Helga’ for good measure, this is, unfortunately, as good as they’re going to get.
Tonight, The Charlatans wallpaper the Pyramid Stage with a good time greatest hits set of the highest order. ‘North Country Boy’, ‘Tellin’ Stories’ and ‘A Man Needs To Be Told’ spread the vibes throughout. The joyous reception to ‘Just Lookin’ and ‘The Only One I Know’ underlines their cross-generational appeal.
Jack White knows the truth. And like a great, southern preacherman, he spends the best part of an hour selling the faith. While Coldplay and Starsailor look on, (they’re not alone – the backstage bar empties as soon as [a]Ian Brown[/a] begin and bands race to get side-stage) he vamps and spasms his way through 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll. And then he moves on to the Delta Blues. One man and a drummer with a Spartan, stylised set and reference points that left on Noah’s Arc shouldn’t work on the main stage at Glastonbury… but it does.
‘Hotel Yorba’ gets 40,000 moving as one. The cover of [a]No Doubt[/a]’s ‘Lovesick’ sounds like the saddest, most plaintive song ever written.
It’s all Jack. He’s Elvis messing about in Sun Studios, he’s Jimi Hendrixrounding up on his first guitar. He’s every single thing you ever felt music should be about. It is joyous.
As the sun starts to drop, the rest of Glastonbury’s bands file back to the bar and exchange embarrassed glances. Like the rest of us, they have seen the light.
Given Starsailor’s new found celebrity status – friendly meetings with Phil Spector, collaborations with [a][/a] – ears prick up when they announce a special guest. A “Glastonbury legend” no less. So when an old man cobbles onto the stage in a shirt that is both maroon AND paisley, everyone looks perplexed. It’s Donovan, who duets on a ropy version of ‘Caught In The Wind’.
It’s a real shame, because up to that point and immediately after it, Starsailor are brilliant. ‘Lullaby’, ‘Love Is Here’, and even a comedy cover of [a]Ian Brown[/a] ‘Hotel Yorba’ fends off the seemingly imminent rainstorms for another hour. For this reason, they’re forgiven… this time.
It’s [a][/a]. And with all his Zen-like posturing, he’s brought with him the rain. An opening intro of the classic ‘Fools Gold’ promises wonder, but before long, ‘Set My Baby Free’ and ‘Corpses’ are leading a bullish, so-so solo set that makes that initial teaser sound like a cruel joke. (Monkey) business as usual then.
Straddling the stylish, slick pop of nu-[a][/a] and the ska-punk atrocity of old, Gwen Stefani and the other ones deliver a curate’s egg of a set. ‘Hella Good’, the Neptunes-assisted last single, gets things off to a high-kicking start, but we’re soon into the sludgy angst of ‘Ex-Girlfriend’. Gwen is a star, rocking a truly eye-popping outfit, bounding across the stage like the 10-year-olds in the theatre field and with, undoubtedly, the weekend’s best torso. But then there’s the goonish drummer gurning in a negligee. Time to go solo, Gwen, you know it makes sense.
There can’t be anybody outside the Green Futures Field that has a fundamental problem with boogie – providing it today is the job of Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, and doesn’t everybody know it. When he brings on a “proper singer”, Sam Brown for ‘Alright, OK, You Win’ you just know that they’ll be back here next and every year.
Through her hour of hybrid folk funk, Ani De Franco chatters with nervous vivacity of a woman on the edge. It’s buoyed by some athletic finger-picking and bouncing trumpets. What results is a reckless self-help session, but on a Saturday lunchtime that’s just the way things are. Apparently.
A morning with Dreadzone and we could be at any Glastonbury for the last ten years. Here they still are, but their vivid dub reggae performed the ice-breaking duties as well as anything. They exhale good vibes and by the end the arousing ‘Little Britain’ has wafted away any remaining cobwebs from last night.