It feels like all of the 170,000 party-minded people of Glastonbury have descended on the John Peel Stage tonight. OK, so our grasp of crowd estimation is probably well off the mark, but there really are thousands upon thousands of punters who’ve trekked up to the site’s northern-most stage this evening for The Streets‘ headline set. People are positively pouring out of the sides of the tent and craning their necks to get a glimpse of Birmingham’s finest, Mike Skinner, for the much-loved stage’s final performance of the weekend.
Good luck keeping your eye on Skinner, though, because within seconds he’s matching the explosive energy of the flare-popping crowd and jumping into the front row, uncorking a bottle of champagne as the triumphant, Bullring-referencing call-to-arms of ‘Turn The Page’ rings out. It’s almost like Skinner’s trying to one-up the sublime stage presence showcased by one of his heirs apparent Slowthai over on the West Holts Stage yesterday, especially as he starts to orchestrate a giant circle pit (yelling “this is what they do in Germany!” in an attempt to galvanise the effort) during ‘Geezers Need Excitement’. Tracks off ‘Original Pirate Material’, which are now over 17 years old (!), set a tone of familiarity across the setlist with the likes of ‘Sharp Darts’, ‘Has It Come To This?’ and the knees-up glory of ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ among those to be performed.
Skinner isn’t always conducting the rave, though. He’s in a bit of philosophical mood tonight, frequently reminding us to cherish our memories of the weekend, and he’s keen to temper the release of the crowd’s collective energy heading into the festival’s final night. Mellowing things out with the ballad-y double header ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ and ‘Never Went To Church’, he then asks for the “most chilled-out crowd surf” as he requests they “treat me like you would your baby” during ‘Dry Your Eyes’. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Any tear-stained tissues and hankies fly up in the air, though, as Skinner invites Grim Sickers and Jaykae on stage to spark the rave back into life, before the uniting force of ‘Blinded By The Lights’ brings the many thousands of us who are gathered here even closer together. It is, however, a shame that some of those people have had to stand so far away from the stage and the tent itself just because of how massively over-subscribed the John Peel Stage is tonight. Based on the numbers of a crowd like this, a headline slot on The Other Stage might’ve been a wiser staging ground for The Streets’ set. Maybe next year, eh?
“Go into the night… be safe, and go get fucked up,” Skinner declares as the last bars of the still-massive ‘Fit But You Know It’ bring proceedings to an emphatic close. After an evening like this, it’s a wonder how anyone’s going to have any energy left for the scant few hours that are left of Glastonbury 2019.