Live Review

Glastonbury Festival, Sunday 29th June 2009

Maybe 2008 proved the year where reassurance was required, but 2009’s Glastonbury shows that the score has well and truly been settled. Sad as it may seem, there really is no place quite like it.

As Brand New scream through their Sunday set on The Other Stage, bringing back almost ten years worth of memories, Kissy Sell Out is cranking into one of the festival’s highlights. Mixing up Urban Cookie Collective’s ‘The Key, The Secret’ with his own brand of funk saxophones in a sepia-toned Dance East, it makes for an odd contrast of soothing and shocking the system. Playing bass, Danimal Kingdom is wielding the instrument like a weapon during ‘I Got Friends’; a jump-up anthem blended with the “woo, yeah” of ‘It Takes Two’, which sees Kissy occupying a more silent partner role on the keytar. Kissy is surprisingly virtuoso on the keytar and thoroughly enjoying the positive audience reaction.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have an equally expectant mass of observers, and with Miss O at the helm they can’t fail to be anything but mesmerising. Pattering between the hits of ‘Show Your Bones’ and current dancefloor favourites ‘Zero’ and ‘Heads Will Roll’, for which Karen runs amok, jumping and flashing between headscarves and her leather wonder. ‘Maps’ is, as you can expect, heartfelt and gently sung through by everyone present and possibly the only point at which the leading lady remains stock-still. Fortunately things rev back up for the shock-shot that is ‘Date With The Night’.

Natasha Khan, although less well known, takes up The Other Stage next and Bat For Lashes complement the Sunday feeling with swooning versions of ‘Prescilla’ and ‘Daniel’. Her fingertips grace the strings of the autoharp as though they’re gliding, it’s a quiet moment shared among so many. Closing with ‘Daniel’, Khan swirls around the stage in her playsuit and glitter, glowing with happiness.

Quite the opposite effect is crafted by Roots Manuva, prophesising his way through a slot over on the Jazz World. Wearing his best white trousers he opts for the fattest bass beats so that ‘Too Cold’ rings out like a wash of summer across the slightly dampened earth. Starting fires on the Pyramid Stage, however, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are giving the sermon of a lifetime that closes up with a ten-minute version of ‘Stagger Lee’ choc full of riffs and rage and murderous intent. With sheer audacity in their favour they rock through a set of stately posturing and sharp guitars with Cave looking slick all they way.

If there has been one band talked about since Glastonbury last, it will have been the weekend’s finalists, Blur. The tension visibly mounts pre-show until ‘The Debt Collector’ entrance is minimally audible above whistles and shouts. Ripping sporadically through seven albums Damon, Alex, Graham and Dave couldn’t really do more to impress. ‘She’s So High’ followed by ‘Boys and Girls’ adjusts the heart rates suitably for a headlining to remember. If your favourite song wasn’t included in the setlist, it probably didn’t need to be for ‘This Is A Low’ and ‘To The End’ can reduce weary bodies to heaps of emotion just as much as ‘Sunday Sunday’ and ‘Song 2’ have us bustling for jumping space.

In reality they could have played three night’s worth of headlining and exhausted their repertoire but that would have been unnecessary vanity. Damon Albarn looks visibly touched at the sheer number of people singing their songs, taking a moment to breathe by the drum kit before bursting into the peaks of ‘End Of A Century’ and ‘Out Of Time’. Sent out into the night with ‘The Universal’ still meandering through our ears, it leaves Pilton a sea of smiling faces and fond memories to be wrapped in a fog of booze come morning.

Maybe 2008 proved the year where reassurance was required, but 2009’s Glastonbury shows that the score has well and truly been settled. Sad as it may seem, there really is no place quite like it.

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