After asking Siri ten times during the week whether or not it was going to rain, I realised no one really knew what the Glastonbury weather would be like for sure. However, one thing was always certain: there would be mud in abundance. But that did not matter as, according to my carefully selected Glastonbury schedule, I would be too busy enjoying the vast array of musical performances to give any mind to the weather. 

Thursday

As I was aware that there would be a few surprise acts headlining the mainstage, I thought I wouldn’t leave my enjoyment of the first day to chance and therefore opted to travel to the Rum Shack to secure a good spot to see one of my favourite poets, Kojey Radical. However, before Kojey graced the stage, I had the pleasure of watching Kate Tempest perform. Although I had heard her name, I had never heard any of her material. Safe to say I was blown away by her ability to captivate the crowd while she spoke in verse from the beginning to the end of her 20-minute set.

“Kojey’s energy and unapologetically South-London behaviour on stage was what made the set for me”

When Kojey graced the stage in his Adidas tracksuit, I could feel the presence and I was expecting to be blown away. I was not disappointed. In fact, Kojey exceeded my expectations with charisma, showmanship, aggression and banter in between performances. He built a very relaxed relationship with the crowd to the extent that he was sharing cider with the front row and had been able to get the whole crowd to perform a two-step to one of his more soulful songs. Kojey’s energy and unapologetically South-London behaviour on stage was what made the set for me, with him showing his appreciation for the crowd by yelling “Gang! Gang! Gang!” and “You lot are nang!” His band, though missing two instrumentalists, definitely held their own as they cleverly used click tracks to create an illusion of a much larger backing band. Kojey must also be praised for his ability to improvise, which was showcased many times in the show, for example, at one point he invited a beatboxer onto the stage to battle his drummer.

Friday
Woken up by the sunshine, I thought Friday was going to be a great day, especially since I was finally going to get to see BBk frontman Skepta on the Pyramid Stage. As I predicted, Skepta began his set with title track ‘Konnichiwa’ from his latest LP of the same name. While I enjoyed the set, I feel it would have been better suited to a smaller tent like the Sonic Stage. However, judging by the turn out at the Pyramid Stage, the logistics would not have worked out. The mix was not always on point with the crowd not always being able to hear the what the MCs on stage were saying. But this did not prevent the formation of monumental mosh pits (shoutout to the energy crew) and good vibes as Skepta and a few of his friends brought grime to the mainstage.
Two Door Cinema Club were the band that graced the stage after Skepta’s set as the clouds gave way to heavy rain that let me know that my supposedly waterproof jacket was, in fact, not waterproof at all. Whilst it was nice to be made aware of how many songs the band were responsible for and having those “oh, that’s their song,” moments, as a band, I felt like they weren’t very excited to be performing at the festival and didn’t provide a very entertaining show.
My Two Door Cinema Club experience was cut short as I had to see the Northside Long-Beach rapper Vince Staples in action on the West Holt stage. The rapper showed showmanship, energy and quickly adapted to a crowd where not everyone knew the words. From this writer’s observation, the crowd wasn’t as enthusiastic as Vince would have hoped for. A reason for this might have been the nature of the festival, but this didn’t stop Vince from putting on a good show packed with in between jokes and topical banter, including a dig about the crowd being united like the European Union… too soon?
“As I entered William’s Green, I saw an energetic four-piece band led by a long-haired anarchist. They called themselves VANT…”
On my way back to my campsite I was drawn into a small tent by a killer guitar riff. As I entered William’s Green, I saw an energetic four-piece band led by a long-haired anarchist. They called themselves VANT and were described by the Glastonbury app as a “quartet who sound like the Rolling Stones on speed”. The lead singer, while pitchy, definitely brought energy to the performance. The use of bright white lights made the performance epic. The songs they performed really stood out lyrically as they all were lyrically dense with interesting themes. This performance also provided me with the first entertaining guitar solo I’ve witnessed at this festival. And the performance got exponentially better.
Jack Garratt is unfairly talented. That is all I have to say about that performance. It was so good that as a musician it made me jealous… and then upset with myself. I cannot urge you enough to buy tickets to see him live when he comes to Nottingham in November.

“Kano built a real connection with the crowd during his performance to the extent that without prompt the crowd began to chant his name between each song.”
While my friends debated on whether they would see Disclosure or Muse, I seemed to be the only one with my heart set on seeing the East London veteran that is Kano. As far as I’m concerned, I made the correct decision as Kano provided my favourite performance of the festival. This performance had no fillers, no songs that the crowd did not appreciate, only good songs, really good songs and absolute bangers. Kano built a real connection with the crowd during his performance to the extent that without prompt the crowd began to chant his name between each song. Having already shut down the Sonic Stage, Kano still had a few tricks up his sleeve as he performed ‘3 Wheel Ups’. Instead of performing the song from beginning to end, he wheeled up the track three times with the third wheel up happening after he brought out none other than the landlord Giggs. Words cannot describe the reaction in the crowd.

Saturday

My Saturday started with a slightly different vibe with Southend natives Nothing But Thieves. It was nice to see the band improve significantly yet again. Connor Mason’s vocal ability showed throughout the performance with the great use of falsetto. It was also great to see variation in the way the songs were performed live. The only criticism I had for the performance was that it was way too short.
Lady Leshurr was also surprisingly entertaining. It was clear from her performance that she is a naturally funny individual and she used this very much to her advantage. She showed her ability as a rapper by rapping continuously over different instrumentals mixed seamlessly by DJ Jukes. She saved the internationally famous ‘Queen’s Speech[es]’ until the end of her show, ending it with ‘1 Million Views’. Her set was very enjoyable. However, I hope she comes out with new material and does not constrain herself to the box the industry will undoubtedly try to put her in.
Ady Suleiman was awesome. He was vocally on point and very appreciative of the crowd he had managed to generate at the Pussy Parlour. However, it did take him some time to warm up into the performance. The band was great and whoever arranged the live performances of Ady’s songs deserves special credit for bringing the songs to life in a new way, giving me a new found appreciation for some of the songs I had less affection for.

“I particularly enjoyed their ability to play completely in sync, especially the way they ended ‘Elephant’ with a free tempo drum solo ending with the whole band singing the last word in unison”
Tame Impala was interesting live. Having heard the buzz about their album I’d just never given them a chance but with their one-hour set, they managed to earn themselves a new fan in this writer. I particularly enjoyed their ability to play completely in sync, especially the way they ended ‘Elephant’ with a free tempo drum solo ending with the whole band singing the last word in unison. I also enjoyed the vast array of vocal effects they used to keep the performance interesting, especially the vocoder.

Adele’s headline performance was epic, expected as she kicked off the show with ‘Hello’. Adele didn’t miss a single note and was charismatic in performance. However, my personal highlight of her performance was not musical. Adele possibly best had the best in between chat out of all of the Glastonbury acts, with a possible future in stand up if by any chance the music thing doesn’t pan out.

Sunday

Laura Mvula was insane with cool visuals, unbelievable dancers and great vocals.
Raleigh Ritchie was a personal highlight. Much like his performance at No Tomorrow festival in 2015, he was full of energy. Emerging from backstage in a Spider-Man mask, it was safe to say that he was ready to kill the show. And that was what he did. From his most successful songs ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘Stronger than Ever’ to the lesser known album cuts like ‘Life in a Box’ and ‘Cowards’, every song was executed with class.
As with many of my acts I needed to see, Raleigh Ritchie and Tom Misch clashed. However, luckily, these two acts were only a 100m slippery, muddy dash apart from each other, allowing me to catch the better part of Tom Misch’s set. I was not disappointed, but I did find his singing voice underwhelming. I enjoyed the instrumental songs more than the vocal songs. That being said, special guest Carmodie was amazing live with an exceptional voice that filled the tent.
Apparently contrary to everybody else in my camp, I quite liked Ellie Goulding’s set. While it wasn’t the greatest set I’d seen that day, and she lacked character on stage, her set was enjoyable. She had a great catalogue of songs to perform and she performed them with minimal mistakes. Oh yeah, and she says thank you really weirdly…
“From the unbelievable lighting to the LED lights handed out to the audience; from the confetti to the paint, Coldplay put on a show and a half”
Now this is a disclaimer: I am not a huge Coldplay fan, and when I do tell Coldplay fans which of their songs I like, they always tell me, “eurgh, no! That song sucks, you need to look at their old stuff, it’s way better”. Confession: until this day, I have still not looked at their old stuff. That being said, Coldplay were sick. From the unbelievable lighting to the LED lights handed out to the audience; from the confetti to the paint, Coldplay put on a show and a half. Musically, the band performed brilliantly with decent vocals from Chris Martin. In terms of surprises, while I was hoping for a Rihanna appearance, I was willing to settle for Beegees’ very own Barry Gibbs who provided a festival highlight by performing ‘Staying Alive’. Coldplay’s tribute to the late Viola Beaches was also very touching and admirable.

All in all, if I could summarise Glastonbury in one word I’d say “Muddy”. In a few more words I’d say “Muddy, but enjoyable and worth way more than I paid for”. Here are my awards to summarise this mini-dissertation of a festival review.
Favourite act: Kano
Best Newcomer: Kojey Radical
Best Banter: Adele
Honourable Mention: Lady Leshurr
Best Surprise: Kano bringing out Giggs. (Yeah, I said it).
Best Discovery: VANT. Well, they were probably the only decent discovery I made at Glastonbury… poor I know, but definitely check them out!
Most Improved: Nothing But Thieves
FOMO Award: Earth Wind & Fire
Honourable Mentions: J Hus, Jake Bugg, Little Simz & The 1975

Joshua Ogunmokun

Images Courtesy of Neal Whitehouse Piper – Download Festival 2016

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