London – Glastonbury 2017 is upon us. Right now there are a whole bunch of people wishing they had tickets, and the 135,000 or so who have, wondering how they can reconcile experiencing the entire 135 billed minutes of Radiohead’s Friday night headline set yet still sneaking off to catch a bit of The Flaming Lips, Major Lazer, Anderson .Paak or Dizzy Rascal. To say nothing of course of the other goodies lined up on the smaller stages dotted around the sprawling Worthy Farm site. Glastonbury is all about choices and there are always as many tempting newer acts on offer as there are established ones.
Choice equally extends to what to take with you to Glastonbury. Boots and rainwear have been de rigueur most years as they like a drop of rain round here and, well, Glastonbury would scarcely be Glastonbury without a spot of mud wrestling. Let’s face it, there may be a better weather forecast for this year’s festival than in recent memory but regulars would always bargain for some rain. The festival site lies in a natural bowl which gives a whole new meaning to the concept of localised weather. So, with no logic whatsoever other than she never goes to an outdoor gig in Somerset without her wellies, I confidentially predict rain midway through Katy Perry’s set on Saturday early evening. At least the first part of that statement stands a limited chance of being correct as it’s the singer’s first ever Glastonbury show.
From mega stars to mysteries. Glastonbury is famed for its fondness for secret sets and as festival goers as a breed seem to love a rumour, there’s been plenty of talk about the likes of The Killers (a 24-hour stopover in between Denmark and Greece, so don’t bank on it), Arcade Fire (already played the Isle of Wight as a UK exclusive) and Guns N’ Roses (seemingly available but can’t quite see them sandwiched between Angel Olsen and Sleaford Mods on the Park Stage to fill Friday evening’s TBA slot). A better bet might be Manic Street Preachers for the Park spot (playing nearby the evening before) while there is a head of steam building around The Maccabees making a stop during the band’s farewell tour to grace the TBA slot on Sunday’s John Peel stage schedule.
But enough of rumours – Fleetwood Mac are definitely not coming. Meanwhile Glasto playlists on the ubiquitous Spotify may already abound but, hey, who’s got time right now to plough through those 100 essential Glastonbury 2017 tracks. Instead point your eyes at these hoped-for highlights.
The first two days are about settling in and finding your Glastonbury feet. With the main stages not fired up till Friday late morning, it’s a chance for the further flung areas of the festival site to show off their wares. Green Futures offers a sustainable, eco-friendly antidote to Worthy Farm excesses and the homely Toad Hall stage has an especially strong closing line-up on Wednesday featuring Glastonbury regular Andrew Maxwell Morris and full band followed by Aussie wizards of permaculture, Formidable Vegetable Sound System.
On Thursday head to The Park and look for the enigmatic Rabbit Hole. You may find a queue here of anxious people wondering if they really do need a carrot to get past the gate keeper and enter the warren. A less stressful idea is to locate the nearby Rabbit Hole Stage which hosts a slew of Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition finalists including an early afternoon set from 2016 runner-up Hattie Whitehead and culminating in evening sets by 2017 finalists Silences and 2017 winner, Josh Barry.
Anyone not quite ready to return to the tent can then head to the far south-east corner to hit the pulsating late night spots of Shangri-La, Glasto Latino, The Common, Unfairground and Block9.
It now gets complex. The main stages feature a plethora of names you really don’t want to miss but of course no one has quite worked out time travel yet. Leading up to headliners Radiohead, standouts on the Pyramid Stage include 2016 Glastonbury debutants Blossoms, the mellifluous First Aid Kit and powerhouse rock duo Royal Blood.
The Other Stage which consistently seems to achieve the top sound mix kicks off with iconic 80’s favourites The Pretenders and sees Glass Animals, George Ezra and New Zealand’s Lorde before ending with a set from Major Lazer. Kate Tempest is worth a look on the West Holts Stage which later hosts a post-sunset set by Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals.
The John Peel Stage invariably fields a strong line-up and Friday is no exception with the likes of Dua Lipa, NYC’s The Lemon Twigs, former Glastonbury ETC winner Declan McKenna and the wonderful Future Islands. Those seeking treks further across the site could do worse than take in Emily Barker (2.30pm Acoustic Stage), Nadine Shah (6pm Left Field) and Ailbhe Reddy (9pm Mandala Stage in Green Futures).
Saturday sees Foo Fighters top the Pyramid bill while earlier in the day things get political as UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is due to speak and then introduce firebrand rappers Run The Jewels. Cue the quiz question: what do Foo Fighters and Jeremy Corbyn have in common? Answer: They were both due to appear at Glastonbury 2016 but a broken leg and a thing called Brexit got in the way respectively. Katy Perry then puts a seal on a radical Saturday. The subversion inherent in what is superficially a breezy pop song might also float Jeremy’s boat.
Fresh from his heart-warming set at One Love Manchester, Liam Gallagher is a welcome addition on the Other Stage on a day bookended by Gabrielle Aplin and Alt-J. Over on The Park Stage, Father John Misty looks a must-see while The Park hosts an interesting array including Amber Arcades, Nadia Rose and Warpaint. Smaller stage standouts include Devon, UK trio Wildwood Kin (Avalon 12.50pm), Days Are Done (Small World 1.15pm), Cerian (Toad Hall 2.40pm), The Big Moon (William’s Green 3pm) and Muncie Girls (Left Field 6pm).
The hugely popular and likeable Ed Sheeran gets the privilege of closing the festival on the Pyramid Stage in front of what is likely to be an immense crowd, almost all of whom will forgive him for “Galway Girl”. Earlier Barry Gibb is set for some Sunday Afternoon Fever in the ‘legends’ slot and Laura Marling is a perennial afternoon festival delight.
On the Other Stage Glastonbury regulars Kodaline and US sister act Haim are both likely crowd slayers while fans of great band names will dig psych-rockers King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard on the John Peel. Talking of The Peel, we can’t wait for London Grammar in the evening.
Feet are likely to be mega sore by now but anyone with two good ones still could do worse than expeditions to see Lucas & King (Avalon 11.30am), She Drew The Gun (Park Stage 11.50am), Let’s Eat Grandma (William’s Green 5pm) and The Sherlocks (BBC Introducing 6.30pm).
Phew! And ever thought you were just scratching the surface?
Photo by Maja Smiejkowska
Glastonbury opens on Wednesday 21st June and closes with Ed Sheeran on the vast Pyramid stage on Sunday 25th June. You’ll find the full line-up here and if you’re not fortunate enough to have a ticket, tune into the extensive coverage on BBC TV and Radio in the UK and online.
Tony’s great passion in life is music and nothing gives him more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. His association with Best New Bands brings great opportunities for this. He also writes for Consequence of Sound and is a judge for Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
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