The best sets at UK festivals in 2018, from Childish Gambino to Idles

There might have been no Glastonbury this year, but that didn’t mean festival season here in the UK was a disappointment. From first-time events, super small weekenders, and sprawling biggies, this summer was one full of brilliant, diverse, and unmissable thrills, no matter what you’re into. Here’s the eight best acts NME caught at UK festivals this summer.


1Tame Impala

Tame Impala
CCZH Photography
Where:Citadel, London What we said: "Tame Impala's performance at Citadel was a euphoric success, and the festival slot they have long deserved."

2The xx

The xx at Parklife 2018
Corinne Cumming/NME
Where: All Points East, London What we said: "Who knew that a mixture of sparse Joy Division guitar lines, spectral ambient electronic textures and Everything But The Girl could touch so many souls, but there’s something about the shimmering emotion and poignant quietude of songs like ‘Sunset’ and the gorgeous ‘Say Something Loving’ that makes them capable of bewitching vast fields of damp-eyed booze-hounds."

3Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino Getty
Where: Lovebox, London What we said: "Nothing but respect for my President Donald – especially if he can go from motivational speaking to a scintillating performance of ‘Riot’, which descends into a combustible freak-out as Glover ends up lying down on the stage, panting and completely lost in the moment."

4The Killers

MANCHESTER, TN - JUNE 10: Brandon Flowers of The Killers performs on What Stage during day 4 of the 2018 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival on June 10, 2018 in Manchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival) FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival
Where: Isle Of Wight Festival, Isle Of Wight What we said: "The Killers are still worthy of headlining festivals after 15 years […] Sure enough, most of their set is that bit more entertaining than it needed to be, from the moment a confetti canon goes off at the very start of the show."

5Vampire Weekend

Jenn Five
Where:End Of The Road, Wiltshire What we said: "The beloved band’s first show in the UK since 2014 was a colourful greatest hits set, stuffed with the likes of ‘A-Punk’, ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘Walcott’, their cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’ an indication of its jubilant nature."


M.I.A. throws fresh flowers over the crowd during her headline slot on Sunday night. Neelam Khan Vela
Where:Bestival, Dorset What we said: "M.I.A. emits a revolutionary aura and, with her in charge, it feels like everything in Britain might just turn out okay."


Poppy Marriott
Where: End Of The Road, Wiltshire What we said: "Jaw-dropping […] their Sunday set coursed with purpose, as singer Joe Talbot turned down the audience interaction to tear through breakneck songs about immigration, masculinity and the NHS."

8Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs All Points East
Andy Ford/NME
Where: All Points East, London What we said: "Yeah Yeah Yeahs have long been front-runners for the title of best live band in the world, and their APE return pretty much seals the deal. Storming hell-for-studded-leather into ‘Y Control’ with Karen Owhipping the monitors with her mike lead like a dervish dominatrix of PA equipment, they throw themselves into a tight and tumultuous hour without an ounce of flab in sight."

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