Miley Cyrus has had a fair few musical phases. There was the country of ‘Younger Now’, the psychedelia of the Flaming Lips collaborative album ‘Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz’, and the R&B-inflected pop on ‘Bangerz’. And if the different stages in Cyrus’ career are marked by genre, then her Sunday evening slot on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage marks the beginning of her very own rockstar era.
She opens with her country banger collaboration with Mark Ronson ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’, with Ronson joining her on stage to play guitar. They mix this into an impressive cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’, which acts as a reminder that, yes, Cyrus has got one hell of a voice on her.
From then on it gets heavier. Songs are reworked to be louder and angrier, adding in extended breakdowns and filling them with grungy guitar solos. She also intermingles her set with formidable covers of classic rock songs by Led Zeppelin (‘Black Dog’) and Metallica (‘Nothing Else Matters’).
Cyrus acts the part too, strutting around the Pyramid like an ‘80s hair metal frontman, whipping her hair back and forth and writhing on the floor in patent leather trousers. Everything has been well thought out, right down to the video coverage of the set, which includes a specific VHS-style angle of the show that makes it look like an old rock video. It’s convincing, and leaves no doubt that this is who Cyrus is now.
“In many ways this show has changed my fucking life drastically: a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, and a lot of sacrifice,” she tells the crowd at one point, and you believe it. Her vocals are on point, she moves around the stage like a pro and she seems genuinely humbled to be on stage and determined to enjoy every moment she has on it.
It’s a family affair, too. She covers her Godmother Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ (“if I’ve learnt one thing, it’s to do whatever the fuck Dolly Parton has been doing for all these years”) and brings out her dad Billy Ray Cyrus (and Lil Nas X, too!) for a cover of ‘Old Town Road’ – which may just go down as one of those Glastonbury moments. Even during these sentimental section of the show, though, the guitars remain overdriven, the band play loud and proud, and Cyrus’ vocals are still deliciously raspy.
The rockstar façade is broken only once when Cyrus trots back onstage in a lilac wig and an Ashley O outfit (the popstar character she played in a recent episode of Black Mirror). Blitzing through the sparkling ‘On A Roll’, complete with dance routine, it’s a token reminder of the squeaky clean pop world she came from. Yet this doesn’t last long, leading straight into a proper cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Head Like a Hole’, which ‘On A Roll’ is based on. Finishing with a crowd sing-a-long to ‘Wrecking Ball’, Cyrus milks her final moments on stage and takes plenty of time to survey the huge audience during a roaring extended outro.
Yes, Miley Cyrus is a rockstar now – and she’s all the better for it.
Miley Cyrus played:
Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Back to Black (Amy Winehouse cover)
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin cover)
Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
We Can’t Stop
Party Up the Street
Malibu (Gigamesh remix)
Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)
Party In The U.S.A.
Old Town Road (with Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus)
Panini (performed by Lil Nas X)
On A Roll (performed as Ashley O)
Head Like a Hole (Nine Inch Nails Cover)