Live Review

Rina Sawayama, Lizzo & Lana Del Rey are the true triumphs of Saturday at Glastonbury 2023

24th June 2023

The Last Dinner Party, Jockstrap and Maggie Rogers also shone bright on the scorching day.

Kicking off a sweltering hot Saturday, it’s a testament to the excitement that The Last Dinner Party have created around just one song that their 11.30am Woodsies set is impressively heaving. Relishing the opportunity with a show that proves there’s all kinds of substance behind the style, ‘Lady of Mercy’ hits with a prowling bang whilst ‘Nothing Matters’ concludes proceedings with a celebratory flourish. As they leave, the stage’s compere tells the crowd theirs is the biggest gathering for that opening slot that the festival has seen; big things, clearly, are on the horizon.

Jockstrap’s weird and wonderful sonic melting pot might be traditionally more suited to a night time tent slot, but over on the Park Stage in the mid-afternoon sun, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye turn the field into a warped day rave. Where her other band - Black Country, New Road - cut a more stoic silhouette, at the front of Jockstrap Ellery is a free and uninhibited presence, twirling and bounding around the stage and keeping the energy up. Veering between the celestial prettiness of ‘What’s It All About’ into a bonkers, screaming ’50/50’, Jockstrap are largely uncategorisable and all the better for it.

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With the festival in full survival mode, people tucking themselves in the slivers of shade behind bins and ice cream vans, Maggie Rogers’ brand of cathartic pop makes for a rousing soundtrack, whilst on the Other Stage, Manic Street Preachers tread the line between crowd pleasers and uncompromising statements as only they can, flashing up Jack Kerouac quotes between the undeniable hits (‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’ and more).

In a better world, Lizzo would have been topping the Pyramid tonight, and the enormous crowd that turn out for the singer’s pre-headline set (more, it should be noted, than for actual headliners Guns ’n’ Roses) are easy proof. A full Vegas-style spectacular complete with multiple costume changes, a troupe of backing dancers and the sort of megawatt charisma that only true superstars possess, there’s a tangible sense of occasion in the field from the moment she enters. With her ‘love yourself’ ethos in full flow, ‘Rumours’ is dedicated to “the big girls, the piss-off-the-internet thick girls”, while her old friend Sasha Flute gets her time in the sun on multiple occasions; a completely unnecessary cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ complete with flute solo was surely not on anyone’s Glastonbury bingo card. Still, Coldplay aside, it’s wall to wall bangers from beginning to end, with a closing one-two of ‘Good As Hell’ and ‘About Damn Time’ creating as crowd-wide a sing-along as is possible.

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Over on the Woodsies stage, Rina Sawayama did not come here to play. From the moment a backing video flickers on, showing a young girl slowing morphing into the singer herself before dropping into ‘Hold The Girl’, it’s evident that Sawayama has got a true show up her sleeve and the next hour acts as a completely next-level justification of why she should be in pop’s true big leagues. Split into sections complete with atmospheric lighting changes, costume changes and a visceral sense of drama, Rina is on razor-sharp form. Halfway through, it becomes even more clear why there’s a palpable electricity to her performance, as she overtly calls out Dirty Hit label mate Matty Healy by dedicating ‘STFU!’ to “a white man who watches Ghetto Gaggers and mocks Asian people on a podcast. He also owns my masters. I’ve had enough”. It’s a strong move amongst a set that roars with intensity and polish throughout.

Lana Del Rey might be half hour late because, in her own words, “[her] hair takes so long”, but when she does arrive for her Other Stage headline slot the wait becomes fully excused. Where her 2014 Glastonbury debut was a nervous thing, tonight she’s completely in control with a vision that’s fully fleshed out. During ‘Young and Beautiful’, she’s gently tended to by women doing her hair and make up as she sits at a dressing table in a bridal-esque white dress; for ‘Ride’, backing dancers float their way over the stage on two flower-decorated swings. The whole thing is a gorgeous manifestation of the romantic, melancholy world that Lana has spent a career creating, with the singer on top vocal form, which makes the fact she’s unceremoniously cut off after ‘White Mustang’ all the more galling. That means no ‘Video Games’ - a travesty - but even though the night ends on a sour note, Lana still comes out triumphant.

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