On her exquisite second album ‘Sling’, Clairo explored ideas about domesticity and her hopes and fears about motherhood. Glastonbury might not seem the most fitting setting to air those musings, but the Massachusetts-based artist’s debut set at the festival lands mid-afternoon on a Sunday (June 26) – AKA a time when a lot of the festival-goers on site could do with being taken care of.
The healing process begins as soon as the singer-songwriter takes to the stage in the John Peel tent and a horde of people slowly stumble up from the ground to let her soothing sounds wash over them. ‘Bambi’ ushers us into Clairo’s tender bubble with serene melodies before ‘Zinnias’ gets a lusher, fuller expansion compared to the recording on 2021’s ‘Sling’.
As the instrumental part of the latter comes into focus, its creator dips off to the side of the stage and plays guitar on the edges, looking towards her band. It’s a move she does often throughout the set – taking time to bask in the musicians’ talents and experience the show from (almost) the same viewpoint as her fans.
Such appreciation becomes a central part of the set, whether it’s coming from Clairo herself or the tent of people looking on today. Before ‘Softly’, she takes a moment to introduce her band “because they’re so incredible”, adoringly calling them “my fucking legends” after they’ve each had their time in the spotlight. Towards the end of the gorgeous set, they air ‘Joanie’, the instrumental track from ‘Sling’ that was inspired by the star’s dog and “thinking about her energy throughout the day”. For it, Clairo takes a seat at her keyboard, but doesn’t play – instead bobbing around on her stool and looking like she’s in her element as her bandmates perform around her.
Her caring streak comes to the fore again after a moving version of ‘Blouse’. “This next song is about being afraid to be a mum,” she begins, her jacket removed to show a Bans Off Our Bodies t-shirt worn in protest of Roe v Wade being overturned underneath. “And I just wanna say my heart goes out to everybody in America. It’s a scary place to be.” She sniffs, seemingly getting tearful and launches into ‘Reaper’, supercharging its lyrics about her hopes and fears around one day becoming a mother more than ever.
“This has been the most fun thing ever,” she says in a happier moment a few songs later. “I’ve dreamt of playing Glastonbury my whole life, so thanks.” Fittingly, she finishes her set by looking back on some of the years she would have spent fantasising about being on this stage. First, ‘Pretty Girl’ – the song that propelled her to stardom – gets a makeover from its more lo-fi beginnings, including a massive sax solo. “Can we dance together?” she asks afterwards, “I think we could.” As the first chords of her 2019 banger ‘Sofia’, the crowd visibly lifts for a final time, ready to take on the remaining hours of Glastonbury 2022.
Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, interviews, photos and more from Glastonbury 2022.