Yes, it was overcrowded, the food was overpriced and wifi failure proved a crisis for people who thought we had moved into a cashless society. Still, Glastonbury 2022 was a stellar success. Part of this was down to luck (good weather) and public appetite (it was the big return after the pandemic) and yet there was something special beyond that. Glastonbury manages to put a quarter of a million people together over a few fields and, with unobtrusive security, keep the whole thing running smoothly and safely. It really is one of the wonders of the modern world.
The big highlight had to be Paul McCartney. Whatever his tendencies toward glibness and whimsy, we were in the presence of greatness: a three-hour set in which the special guests Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl were not even the main attraction. It was the coming together during such mainstays of late 20th-century life as Let It Be, Hey Jude and Something — a tribute to George Harrison, which McCartney played on the ukulele Harrison gave him — that counted.
A video of John Lennon, with vocals isolated from the roof top concert, plays with Paul McCartney for a performance of I’ve Got a Feeling on the Pyramid Stage
JOEL C RYAN/AP
A virtual duet with John Lennon on I’ve Got a Feeling, with footage of the 1969 rooftop concert from Get Back, was a profound use of modern technology, and an encore of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End, all from Abbey Road, served as a reminder that the Beatles will forever be the band against which all others must be judged.
McCartney certainly had his cheesy moments (a love song called Fuh You? Please no) but really, it was a remarkable show, as moving as it was impressive and epic in the best sense of the word. Glastonbury is so vast that you can only ever really catch a fraction of it, but that is enough to give plenty of flavour. The Kate Bush award for arty pop went to the US singer Caroline Polachek, not only for her moon goddess dance or her floaty, Enya-like new-age take on digital pop, but also for raising her arms and saying: “Glastonbury, it is Sunday and we are ascending.” Elsewhere, Olivia Rodrigo proved a hit with the pre-teen set: a former child actress making ultra-shiny pop rock that wouldn’t be out of place in a remake of High School Musical. Watching it in full was like eating an entire bag of Haribo and feeling a bit sick, which is presumably why the kids loved it.
Sunday featured the worst-kept secret of the weekend: a surprise set by garage rock king Jack White. If you could beat the crush of the crowd there was much to enjoy, not least the relentless chant-along appeal of the White Stripes’ ubiquitous Seven Nation Army. Jarvis Cocker was rather more nuanced and erudite, if no less entertaining; nobody knows how to connect with a crowd like him, not least when he retitled a solo favourite Pricks Are Still Running The World and dedicated it to the men who voted against abortion rights in the US. “Life is great, isn’t it? It’s certainly better than the alternative,” he observed, and he was right. “Thank you for listening, Glastonbury,” he said after House Music All Night Long. “The best festival in the world.” Everyone agreed with him.
Kendrick Lamar, the Pulitzer prize-winning, greatest rapper of his generation, closed Sunday night with a set of socially conscious hip-hop. Wearing a white shirt, black trousers and a crown of thorns, he came on stage to United in Grief and went from there into his classic Good Kid, Maad City, before playing a set that was a masterpiece of choreography, with lines of dancers coming and going as he performed ultra-fast raps like King Kunta, the funk-driven I and the Black Lives Matter anthem Alright.
“I like where the energy is at right now Glastonbury-berry,” he said, and although the energy dropped between songs, the sheer intensity and theatricality of the show was undeniable. “Is anybody alive right now?” The answer was, by Sunday night, only just, but the crowd did manage to chant “Oh, Kendrick Lamar” to the tune of Seven Nation Army. “No matter what you’re going through, imperfection is beautiful,” he said, before welling up with some words about Jesus and rapping: “God speed for women’s rights, they judge you, they judge Christ.”
This was a powerful set for the festival as it reflects the modern age and heads toward the future. Throw in a speech by Greta Thunberg and Diana Ross in a glamorous legends slot, and Glastonbury 2022 was one for the history books.
You can read all of Sunday’s live coverage by Will Hodgkinson, Ed Potton, Lisa Verrico and Kaya Burgess below
Kendrick Lamar on the Pyramid Stage
Pet Shop Boys review — Rising brilliantly to the occasion
After 40 years of hits, Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant — on the Other Stage at Glastonbury — have never sounded better
An almighty orchestral intro, an apocalyptic voiceover, searchlights across the crowd and Neil Tennant in a white mac and silver facewear like a Cyberman crossed with a scientist, standing between two lampposts. You don’t need to tell Pet Shop Boys how to rise to an occasion (Ed Potton writes).
An enormous crowd is instantly dancing and singing — Suburbia, Can You Forgive Her?, Where The Streets Have No Name, Rent retooled with stabbing synths and sounding more subversive than ever. So much so that few seem to notice that Chris Lowe is missing, his keyboards unmanned to one side.
We’re 20 minutes in when a screen rises to reveal a band in sparkly tasselled jackets and Lowe, looking sulky in a rain cape and cap, playing one handed on Left To My Own Devices. Only afterwards does Tennant spill a secret. “We had a slight technical hitch at the start,” he admits. “Did you notice?”
Did it matter? Not a jot. If that was a start gone wrong, bring it on. Domino Dancing is introduced with a tale about a cheap hotel in the Caribbean in the Eighties when the duo was beaten at board games. Losing My Mind morphs into Always On My Mind.
A grinning Olly Alexander duets on Dreamland wearing a space punk school uniform, by which time Tennant is in a silver Ming the Merciless cape and a gang of scary fairy dancers has arrived.
Despite the high camp party, the lyrics to almost every song feel as though, over decades, they have gained gravity — not throwaway pop but sharp insights and social commentary.
A glorious Go West is, quips Tennant, “a song of gay liberation which became a football anthem”. West End Girls includes the new line “From Mariupol to Kyiv station”. Being Boring is dedicated to “the victims of the appalling hate crime at Oslo Pride”.
After 40 years of hits, Pet Shop Boys have never sounded better.
Lorde review — Cold, distant and lacking energy to lift crowd
Lorde’s entry to the Pyramid Stage looked promising but she failed to connect with fans
KATE GREEN/GETTY IMAGES
Last year Lorde divided fans with her blissed-out, third album Solar Power — “confounding and painful” she called the response to her poorest seller last week (Lisa Verrico writes). On the Pyramid stage, in front of one of the thinnest evening crowds of the festival, she squandered the chance to bring them together.
Smart, arty staging and a band in canary yellow trouser suits initially looked promising. A giant drum which doubled as a dance pod sat atop a revolving platform and below a stepladder which was put to good use on opener The Path — Lorde stood at the bottom in a basque and bright red tights, some of her band on the rungs above her.
But what would have worked well in a theatre failed to connect in a field. Lorde felt cold and distant, like a smiley actress playing a part she didn’t believe in. Her chat was cheesy — excruciatingly, she compared Glastonbury to Disneyland. Also, her plan was all off.
“You’re probably brutally hungover,” she told an audience in desperate need of an energy shot. “I am the ideal comedown shepherd. And when I think you are ready, I will f*** you up.”
There was some excitement when Lorde brought on fellow Gen Z chroniclers Arlo Parks and Clairo for Stoned at the Nail Bar, but as lovely as the song was, performed with the trio sitting side by side on the floor, it didn’t shake much up. A cover of Bananarama’s Cruel Summer was sabotaged to make it angsty, when a singalong was urgently required.
That finally came 45 minutes in with Liability and Lorde’s decade-old superhit Royals. Yet still the show didn’t explode. Green Light brought it close, briefly, but boy, was this a missed opportunity.
Kacey Musgraves review — The best voice at the festival, and the best show this year
Kacey Musgraves on the Other Stage today, showcasing her “serene but richly expressive” voice
HARRY DURRANT/GETTY IMAGES
Wow. The superb finale of this show by Kacey Musgraves had me crying like an idiot (Ed Potton writes). The song was Slow Burn, the gorgeously languorous opener to the Texan country-pop star’s 2018 album, Golden Hour. I’ve not heard a better voice at the festival, serene but richly expressive.
What came before was pretty amazing, too. Musgraves made us wait, her rumbustious band building the drama until she strode on in a sparkly mini dress — and wellies.“They serve no f***ing purpose,” she said of the latter, looking out at the sun-baked ground.
Musgraves has many traditional country-music qualities — lilting melodies, witty amenability, songs about divorce (the windswept Star-Crossed, about her own recent breakup). She also deviates from the template in striking ways, whether it’s name-checking Beijing on Slow Burn or openly admitting the influence of LSD on her music.
She really fits in at Glastonbury.
Her politics too are not those of a stereotypical country star. She talked about “dark times” in America, presumably referring to the overturning of abortion laws, and insisted that there are “a ton of people who don’t like what’s happening”.
The darkness never obscured the beauty, though, or the mischief. She changed the lyrics of Golden Hour to “golden shower” and called us “a bunch of freaks for laughing”.
Then she led us in a round of “Kacey karaoke” which involved singing along to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams as the lyrics appeared on the screen behind her. The audience weren’t bad but Musgraves out-Stevied Stevie Nicks.
Gem followed gem: Butterflies was powered by achingly beautiful melodies while High Horse had the crowd doing riding motions at the “giddy up” line.
And then came the tear-inducing Slow Burn. It’s the best show I’ve seen this year.
Jack White review — There is a vein of madness in everything he does
Jack White on Park Stage, proving his status as the king of manic, overdriven rock
Time for the worst-kept secret of the weekend: Jack White at the Park Stage (Will Hodgkinson writes). The sheer numbers within the relatively small area proved the word had got out, and as White came on to recent song Taking Me Back he proved his status as the reigning blue-haired king of manic, overdriven rock, with squealing guitar solos, wild organ runs, crowd chants and general musical hysteria.
By the White Stripes’ Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground he was descending into a strangulated yowl, and for his anti-love song Love Interruption, with its country rock organ sound, it sounded like there was a thin thread of control stopping everything from falling apart.
This is White’s appeal: there is a vein of madness running through everything he does. Even a fun hoedown like Hotel Yorba had an edge of panic to it. Topped with being a brilliant guitarist and following a strict colour code (currently blue, white and black, right down to his guitars and what were either very tight trousers or leggings), it made his “secret” set pretty compelling, even if the sound was getting blown around.
And he’s very inventive, liking finding new ways of putting new colours into the Raconteurs’ Steady As She Goes. It ended, of course, with Seven Nation Army; the perfect festival anthem and still exciting after all these years of near total ubiquity at sporting events the world over. A lovely near end to the whole weekend.
Fontaines DC review — Chatten is a mesmerising frontman with a searing howl
Grian Chatten of Fontaines DC on the Other Stage today
Who would wish to be scheduled against Diana Ross? Fontaines DC. It’s nigh on impossible to pull a pogo-ing, moshpit-forming crowd at Glastonbury, but a little easier when a swathe of the oldies are elsewhere (Lisa Verrico writes).
Fresh from scoring their first UK No 1 album — their second was controversially kept off the top spot by Taylor Swift after she brought forward the CD release of her lockdown album — the Dubliners arrived in suitably celebratory mood, arms aloft, their singer, Grian Chatten, imploring the kids to roar.
Contrary to their scruffy, tattooed appearance, Fontaines DC are no scrappy indie-rock act. Opener In Ar gCroithe Go Deo, from their third album, Skinty Fia, began on solo piano, built a towering wall of close harmonies provided by both the band and a seated, female string quartet, and recalled Joy Division thanks to Gratten, a fidgety fellow with a searing, hypnotic, melodic howl.
The Irish band’s set clashed with Diana Ross’s
Initially post-punk, Fontaines DC now dip into the spoken rap of the Streets and Slowthai, the baggy rock of the Stone Roses and early Oasis, and even the Cure. Chatten is a frontman you can’t take your eyes off as he persistently tugs at his T-shirt or spins in tight circles around his mic stand.
At one point, sunglasses removed and backed only by strings, he was utterly exposed but still masking any trace of nerves. Indeed all of the band did their best not to smile, the anti-Ezras of Sunday.
Chanting fans flew Eire flags and let off orange flares as the show closed with punky tracks from the album Dogrel and majestic newbie Jackie Down The Line. Who needs disco and dresses?
Diana Ross review — even the security guards were dancing
Diana Ross on the Pyramid Stage
MATTHEW BAKER/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES
The sun shone, thank goodness — the Sunday afternoon legends slot would be less legendary in a downpour (Ed Potton writes). Diana Ross drew a crowd to rival Paul McCartney’s the previous night, proving again that pedigree has pulling power for the young, the old and the in-between.
Ross came out to I’m Coming Out, understatedly dressed in a sparkling gown, diaphanous shawl and sprouting feather headdress. Her voice is thinner these days but still shimmers — it was certainly in better nick than it was at the Platinum Jubilee. She’s still got the shoulder-shaking moves, too.
Backed by a taut and funky band, Ross gave us a run of Supremes-era soda-fountain classics early on. The puppyish sentiment of Baby Love was somehow still plausible from this 78-year-old, while Stop in the Name of Love had the crowd holding up their hands on “stop” like a horde of traffic policemen.
Then a jump to the Eighties and the glorious, Bee Gees-penned disco anthem Chain Reaction. “We talk about love,” chanted the audience, who were rewarded with an explosion of pink confetti.
Ross’s outfit had a carnival feel, complete with headdress
Ross was giving us the hits in a way that a certain former Beatle had refused to do. It was perfect for the frazzled bonhomie of a final day. “I have so many songs about love,” she cooed.
There were sighs when she introduced some new material but even that was up to scratch. Thank You, the title track from her most recent album, was a languid piece of soul-disco while If The World Just Danced was the kind of Latin-tinged floorfiller that Gloria Estefan released in her pomp.
By the time Ross got to Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To) the voice was getting a bit wayward but she rediscovered her mojo on a closing jam that took in two covers, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I Will Survive. Even the security guards were dancing in formation.
‘Biggest party since Downing Street 2020’ — music meets politics in festival’s flags
Plenty of flags flying at Worthy Farm parodied Boris Johnson’s words about lockdown gatherings in No 10
There’s no doubting the political leanings of your average Glastonbury-goer (Kaya Burgess writes). A Times survey of 1,100 people at the festival on the day of the EU referendum in 2016 (which took several hours and a clipboard to complete) found that 83 per cent backed Remain, making it the most anti-Brexit constituency in the country.
This year one flag depicts Boris Johnson kissing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and another declares “f*** Boris”. A Greenpeace stall bears a picture of Rishi Sunak telling festival-goers to “pin their energy bills” to the chancellor’s likeness, while Cassetteboy, the comedy and electronic music duo, played a song called Boris Johnson is a [very rude four-letter word not suitable for a family-friendly news article] to loud cheers. Plenty of flags joke about the festival being “just a work event” while one declares Glastonbury to be “the biggest party since Downing Street 2020”.
Political appearances at the festival included Greta Thunberg’s speech on the Pyramid Stage yesterday
Andy Burnham was among the Labour politicians on the bill at Billy Bragg’s Left Field tent for political debate, while Greta Thunberg’s attacks on “lying” world leaders were cheered at the Pyramid Stage. The anti-establishment vibe runs deep with some graffiti on a fence about Prince Andrew, which it is safe to say was not meant as a compliment. But it’s fair to say that politics is far from pervasive — the spirit is perhaps better captured by one flag declaring “Great friends together again” and, to a lesser but not entirely inaccurate extent, “Let’s get naked”.
George Ezra review — only the sniffy could fail to be won over
George Ezra paused to teach the crowd lyrics, but they already knew them by heart
“The least secret gig ever,” sighed the bloke beside me in the crush to get anywhere near George Ezra’s unannounced show on the John Peel Stage (Lisa Verrico writes). We’re not talking packed tent here — half a hillside battled even to reach the entrance to the field.
Glastonbury’s worst kept secret was, it turned out, Ezra’s own fault.
“Eight years ago I released my first album and played on this stage,” said the singer sporting double denim with the name of his new album, Gold Rush Kid, in gold on his jacket. “They asked me back and I said to make sure it wasn’t a complete secret. Maybe let a few folk know …”
Those grumbling that the permanently sunny Ezra isn’t really Glasto fare were left looking silly. Parents had camped at the front all day with their kids — two youngsters had to be hauled out to avoid being trampled. Every song was a mass chant-along. A dancing, seven-piece band, including a trio of backing vocalists also playing brass, were brilliant.
The not-so-secret performance attracted a huge number of people
Okay, the smiles were sometimes too much. Ezra smiled as he sang. The band smiled as they played. Even the bloke who brought on guitars grinned. But old-fashioned joy is Ezra’s calling card and only the sniffy could fail to be won over.
Cassy O was stopped midway for Ezra to admire the crowd: “Beautiful” — of course. Pretty Shining People was paused for the singer to teach fans lyrics they already knew by heart. After Listen to the Man Ezra had the tent cheer a kid called Thomas holding up a sign with his name on near the front.
Back out on the hillside, the screens-free performance was almost impossible to hear. But fans could hear other fans further forward howling Paradise, Blame It On Me, Green Green Grass and Shotgun. A crowd singing along to a crowd. Is that a Glasto first?
Pyramid Stage gears up for Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar
Half the punters at Glastonbury are just waking up and the other half haven’t been to bed (Ed Potton writes). We shall not dwell on the latter, though. This is a family show.
Let’s instead talk about Paul McCartney’s headline set last night, which for me was a bit of a curate’s egg. Far too many Wings and solo songs (Junior’s Farm, anyone?) early on and his voice is very fragile, bless him.
But he turned it around at the end with a little help from his friends: Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and a virtual John Lennon.
Sir Paul McCartney was joined on stage by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen
JOEL C RYAN/AP
McCartney’s set also included the vocals of John Lennon
JOEL C RYAN/AP
You can watch a round-up of yesterday’s other acts, including Haim and Liam Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, below.
Final day arrives at 50th Glastonbury
Welcome to The Times’s live coverage of Sunday at Glastonbury, where Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar are among the big names set to perform. This afternoon, the crowd was awash with blue and yellow flags as the Ukrainian folk band DakhaBrakha took to the Pyramid Stage.
DakhaBrakha’s performance follows a set by Kalush Orchestra — the Ukrainian Eurovision winners — yesterday, and a video message from President Zelensky on Friday