Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Somerset

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
4.00

Pop music adjusts to a new world order

The night the King of Pop died, the news rapidly passed round the world's biggest pop festival as an electrifying rumour, people gabbling his name one to the other in wide-eyed disbelief.

"Tribute" T-shirts had been knocked up before morning. But perhaps it is a measure of how long ago his real tragedy happened that yesterday I didn't hear a single musician even mention his passing on stage. Like Elvis in the year of his death, the reason he was King has been forgotten. At Glastonbury's first full day, pop in all its ever-changing forms moved on without him.

It's no coincidence, though, that the most moving early performance is from the young Bronx soul singer Stephanie McKay. When she sings "The Letter", to a soldier trapped out in Iraq, she stretches its desperate emotion out over light, mantric funk guitar, before finally crying her feelings out. Touching on church foundations but dealing relentlessly with street concerns, her ballsy morality and thoughtful singing bring a tear to the eye.

She is a living reminder of the old black musical world that Jackson's wondrous talent came from.

Regina Spektor, meanwhile, is a Russian New Yorker from further downtown. Though sharing Mackay's sentiment that money corrupts in "Locked Like Machine", she encompasses every white New York style: Laura Nyro's weird wing of Brill Building song-writing, off-Broadway showbiz, Lou Reed's deadpan sex talk, and most of all the Greenwich Village anti-folk movement of recent years. Rhythms and ideas switch and scat around like synaptic short-circuits, as Spektor plays classical piano études and whacks a chair for a drum. Scatty and surreal, her cult is slowly but surely growing. The gently delivered, bizarre psychodramas of Iceland's Emiliana Torrini, VV Brown and Little Boots are among the other diverse female spirits here, with Lily Allen due later. But the other prominent wing is British indie guitar bands still struggling to escape The Libertines' baleful musical shadow. London's Maccabees try quavering yelps and muscular Celtic guitars, but still bounce helplessly from one love song to the next. Dundee heroes The View, by contrast, are on relatively sober form at 4pm, and deliver an exuberant set. The innocent openness in Kyle Falconer's young voice during the acoustic "Superstar Wannabe" is natural art. He sings of needing to be rescued later, which this music is designed to do. Ska-punk shanties and doomy prog-rock intros break up the breezy rockers.Though they lost a battle when their second album under-performed, this set suggests this ambitious people's band is going to win the war.

The previous night's massive thunder-storm has left the ground liquid. A girl's gold slipper buried in the mud is a definitive Glastonbury sight. But the sun is blazing again by the afternoon. It's a perfect time not only for The View, but Seattle's Fleet Foxes. Their vertiginous rise from home-town underground band to high on the Pyramid Stage, looking out at tens of thousands, leaves them giddy. "How do we communicate best?" they wonder. "Twitter?" They wisely concentrate on their high, hymnal harmonies instead. This feels almost meditative as the huge crowd stand and listen. The band look like old hippies from the backwoods, and, when their music rises much beyond contemplative quiet, the guitars have a rustic choppiness.

It isn't a triumph so much as an affirmation of how far they've come with such primal elements. "What a life I lead in the sun," they sing – a feeling they make you share.

N.E.R.D. lose much chance of such mass happiness when Pharrell Williams starts 15 minutes late, and spends another 10 minutes complaining to the crowd about their time being cut. Sound problems are mostly to blame, as malfunctioning pops from the guitars make clear.

But Williams' impassive stare from behind freezing-cool shades silences dissent. With "Put Your Hands Up", he is soon bouncing backwards as if taunting enemies on a basketball court. Spaced psychedelic vibes are mashed with accelerating, aggressive rap, rescuing the shambles. And even Pharrell, while I'm watching, doesn't seem to know Jackson is dead.

Lily Allen, The Streets, the partially reformed Specials and Neil Young were still to come, as sun and music brought Glastonbury alive.

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
    Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

    Escape from Everest base camp

    Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
    Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

    What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

    Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
    Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

    Gossip girl comes of age

    Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
    Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

    Goat cuisine

    It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
    14 best coat hooks

    Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

    Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?