Pet Shop Boys review, Glastonbury 2022: A life-affirming, era-straddling set

Also reviewed: The crowd at the Other Stage for Fontaines DC’s set is testament to their reputation as a brilliant live band, while McFly fall a little short on the crowd-pleasers

Kendrick Lamar performs at Glastonbury

Pet Shop Boys – Other Stage

★★★★★

No one brings the Eighties and 2022 together quite like the Pet Shop Boys. From the moment Neil Tennant walks on the stage, inviting us to “a world of memory” as the thumping drums of “Suburbia” begin, we know we’re about to straddle eras.

Chris Lowe, along with an excellent live band, join later. There are Eighties synths, an appearance from Years and Years (although not singing “It’s A Sin” as predicted) and nostalgic anecdotes about holidays in the Caribbean.

The big tracks get the Other Stage crowd jumping higher than half the late-night DJs at this festival. A “Losing My Mind”/”You Were Always On My Mind” remix soars – as does “Love Comes Quickly” and penultimate track “West End Girls”.

“Opportunities”, for all its high-camp joy, is a personal highlight. After the last five days, I’m not sure any of us have much of the brain, looks, brawn or lots of money they mention left… yet it still gets us singing.

Their closing track, “Being Boring”, is an empowering tribute to the victims of the attack on a gay bar in Oslo, Norway. The words “you can always rely on a friend” close out the set, a fitting finish to Glasto 2022. IL

Fontaines DC – Other Stage

★★★★★

“My childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big!” These were the words promised on Fontaines DC’s debut album. With a steady build in the last few years and then one gigantic swoop of success following their No 1 album, this year’s Skinty Fia, the band have become just that. And on a hot Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury, the swarm of twitching fans who buzz around the Other Stage only serve to reaffirm it.

A true showman, frontman Grian Chatten – wearing his usual Pogues T-shirt – throws his arms upwards to summon a cheer. The Dublin-formed group have landed a tough time slot, clashing with Diana Ross in the Legends Slot over on the Pyramid. It’s testament to their fearsome reputation as a live act that they’ve attracted such a huge crowd.

Now three albums deep, the five-piece have been at the forefront of the recent rock resurgence. They’ve also stubbornly resisted categorisation, instead defining themselves by Chatten’s sharp, observational lyrics and their intense, driving instrumentation.

They throw out a few numbers from their 2019 debut, Dogrel, along with the sonically moodier, yet lyrically hopeful tracks of follow-up A Hero’s Death. Usually an unflinchingly cool collective, they can’t help but grin as mosh pits broil up in front of them. At the cue of “Jackie Down the Line”, a sea of sticky bodies bash into one another. Fontaines won’t be dying a death any time soon.

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McFly – Avalon

★★★☆☆

I know we’re living in an age of nostalgia, but even I (a former superfan) am shocked how big the crowd for McFly’s first Glastonbury set is.

You’ve got to give it to ‘em. Almost two decades since the sort-of-pop, sort-of-emo band burst into the scene with their debut single “Five Colours in Her Hair”, the four-piece have packed out the Avalon stage at Worthy Farm.

Things kick off, surprisingly, with “Red”, giving the band a chance to flex their live guitar skills. More rock-heavy deep cuts follow straight after: “Song for the Radio”, “Lies”. It’s some of their best material, but you can tell the audience is impatient for the hits. I think I might be the only person in a 10-metre radius singing along.

At least the band are self aware. “If you enjoyed that, we’re Mcfly. But if you didn’t enjoy that, we are Busted,” the crowd are told, before a rendition of “Obviously” that perks everyone up no end. A trio of crowd-pleasers follows: “All About You”, “Room on the Third Floor” and the band’s cover of “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

“Star Girl” gets the biggest reception for its eternally juvenile lyric: “There’s nothing on earth that could save us/ When I fell in love with Uranus.” Anything post-2008 falls a little flatter.

In short: a perfect McFly set for me, specifically. Others in the audience were left wanting more.

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