Thursday, October 28

Live at Worthy Farm review: beautiful music marred by technical collapse | Glastonbury Festival

THe was concerned that the posts would start showing up on social media just before the scheduled start time of the Glastonbury live stream. Passwords given to bettors, who have paid £ 20 for access, are recorded on the website as invalid. It is becoming increasingly clear that those who can actually see it are a minority: the majority of the audience is locked out.

The company in charge of the broadcast, which has since apologized, appears to be the technological equivalent of the cheerful but useless Glastonbury administrator who looks at your ticket and confidently directs you to a gateway 26 miles away from the supposed one. that is supposed. to go, a journey that you undertake with the subdued but distinctive sound of a band you really wanted to see, playing far away.

Nothing happens for over an hour and a half, except for a heartbroken message saying there will be an update “soon”. The only entertainment on offer is watching the mood on social media turn increasingly murderous, a curious experience for the Glastonbury veteran. On the one hand, you feel sympathy: there are people who have organized parties or took time off from work during the event. On the other hand, you think: wait, this is a live broadcast that does not work. I was there the year a sewage truck hit the wrong switch and pumped the contents of various portals into one of the dance tents. One man bravely tries to get the government involved, telling Boris Johnson his complaint, which at the very least shows adorably indecent faith in the government’s ability to solve problems, regardless.

Finally, a stream is sent that works, but removes the top three artists from the lineup – bad luck to Wolf Alice fans, Michael Kiwanuka, and George Ezra (although ticket holders who missed out will be able to watch again via streams timed on Sunday, or a broadcast link expiring May 30).

Joe Talbot from Idles.
Idles’ Joe Talbot on the Glastonbury event livestream on May 22. Photograph: Anna Barclay / PA

The first thing you see is Idles frontman Joe Talbot yelling about suffering from anxiety, which at least feels appropriate. The band is playing in what looks like one of Worthy Farm’s stables, turned into a workshop for welding the kind of steampunk creations that dot the festival site every year. In fact, sparks fly around it. There is a certain oddity in the silence between songs, it feels more like eavesdropping on a rehearsal that goes particularly well than watching a concert, but the sound of the band is fantastic.

In fact, the further the live stream progresses, the more embarrassing the glitches seem – a lot of effort has gone into getting the details right. It is very well filmed and the setup is incredibly well done. As any Glastonbury attendee who has been involved in a heated discussion about the merits of an artist’s performance with someone who saw it on television knows, getting the experience of being at Glastonbury through a camera is impossible, but the sets on stage they somehow manage to give you more of a flavor than any other attempt before, despite the absence of crowds.

Augmented by airy sax, Haim’s slick, sun-kissed rock sounds a bit strange emanating from the center of a very wet-looking stone circle, with what appears to be a biting wind blowing dry ice back and forth. , when bassist Este Haim whips her. she takes off her coat in the middle of her set, you’re worried she’ll get bitten. But the film captures the slightly spooky atmosphere of that part of the festival site under a frowning sky.

Meanwhile, PJ Harvey wanders the farm tracks in the dark, declaiming aloud quasi-romantic poetry of his own invention, effectively capturing the kind of random Glastonbury character you see on the way to Block 9 and ending. hurrying while trying to explain. the universe for you.

Chris Martin from Coldplay.
Chris Martin from Coldplay. Photograph: Anna Barclay / PA

Coldplay chooses to reinvent the headlining experience: fireworks and a hit set – Fix You, The Scientist, Viva la Vida – on a small illuminated platform in front of the Pyramid stage housing, amidst a sea of ​​lights blinking. It looks spectacular and reminds you of how experienced Coldplay practitioners are in creating the Glastonbury moment of great success and letting go of your prejudices. The weather is so bad that the rain seems to fall horizontally. “If there’s a day you didn’t want to be standing in a field, it’s today,” says Chris Martin, which is another kind of experience at Glastonbury.

Back at the stone circle, Damon Albarn with Mullets takes the opposite approach, using the lack of a live audience howling at the big numbers to do something markedly different from what you suspect he would do if he were at the top of the bill. principal. . The sound is fragile and exploratory, laden with meanders, jazzy electric piano, resonant guitar, and off-beam string arrangements. The set switches between songs from an upcoming solo album delayed by Covid, digs deep into their previous catalog (there’s a beautiful version of Apple Carts, from their 2011 opera Dr Dee), and hits recast in a different, more oblique light: one take. chilling on Blur’s Out of Time, a This Is a Low with an incredibly melancholic sound.

Jorja Smith performs surrounded by softly lit trees. It’s atmospheric, enhancing its smooth pop-soul with a hip-hop inflection. She brings in rapper Enny and singer Amia Brave for a lighthearted Peng Black Girls reunited version of the former.

Jorja Smith performing at Live at Worthy Farm.
Jorja Smith performing at Live at Worthy Farm. Photograph: David Levene / The Guardian

The festival’s traditional eclectic mix of styles stands out in contrast to the subsequent big reveal of the live stream: The Smile, the new trio that includes Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood giving their first public performance in the middle of a maze. of wooden slats. They sound like both skeletal and knotty version of Radiohead, an intriguingly unconditional embrace of the progressive rock influences his mother band tends to play softly, Yorke’s voice lamenting over deliberately awkward prog rock time signatures , complex guitar riffs and, on occasion, hard-driving motorik psychedelia. It’s powerful, but the energy level increases when the live stream switches to Kano.

Looking at it, it’s hard not to think that if it were an actual Glastonbury performance, it would be something that would elevate the race overnight. On the other hand, if it were a performance at an actual Glastonbury, you wonder if the sound, particularly the lyrics, would be so clear and powerful, or the staging so powerful if viewed from a distance.

Kano brings the marching band that has supported his shows for some time to the fore, surrounding him on an illuminated stage. The theatricality is reminiscent of both Beyoncé’s appearance on Homecoming Coachella and David Byrne’s acclaimed American Utopia shows, but the rapper’s very distinctive charisma imprints his own identity on the show. It’s packed with pulse-pounding moments: the interaction between Kano and guest stars D Double E and Ghetts in Class of Deja; a sudden plunge into total darkness while ringing what sounds like a call to 999 reporting a stabbing in the middle of a problem; the appearance of a chorus, which, among other things, must sing “suck your mom, suck your mom” during SYM.

Róisín Murphy performing during Honey Dijon's DJ session.
Róisín Murphy performing during Honey Dijon’s DJ session. Photograph: David Levene / The Guardian

It ends with DJ Honey Dijon playing high-quality Chicago house, augmented by a spectacular guest appearance by Roísín Murphy, from inside a vehicle that looks like it should be selling street food, a neat mock not of the legendary dance venues of the festival, but rather the Glastonbury phenomenon in which a late-night food vendor blasting at full volume finds its tune by attracting a small crowd of dancers.

You are left nodding appreciatively and shaking your head at the thought that something so theoretically triumphant, conceived and produced with care and thought and enormously impressive attention to detail, could end up overshadowed by a technical error.

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