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Kae Tempest – Other Stage


“More pressure… release! More pressure… more release!”

Kae Tempest is cooking Worthy Farm with a bass line that simmers and bubbles underfoot. On their heavy January single “More Pressure”, everyone in this crowd is serving as a tuning fork for the 36-year-old’s bars.

The poet-turned-rapper looks supremely comfortable. Their work contains sharp contrasts, veering appreciably from the aggressive to the emotive. Tempest goes hard – but they are also deliriously happy to be here.

“This is such an important part of my summer,” they gush. “I’m so grateful to be here. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Like a gassed-up preacher in a black tunic, they stalk the stage, throwing hands. Tempest really is an artist whose work comes to life when it’s performed live. They are known for their state-of-the-nation addresses, but that’s not all that’s on their mind today.

“Ketamine for breakfast! Bad girls were drinking with! Half-naked in the bakery eating pastries!” they purr on “Ketamine for Breakfast”. It’s supposed to be a moment of poignant reflection on a chaotic past, but there’s no denying that Tempest could be describing half the crowd’s ideal morning at Glastonbury. BB

Crowded House – Pyramid Stage

Crowded House at Glastonbury



“I think we’re all reinventing the way the world works here at Glastonbury. Community, common space, wildness, pathways to light. Pathways to love,” says Crowded House frontman Neil Finn. This is a band from the 1980s playing a set in the 2020s that could have been recorded in the 1960s.

Their catchy New Zealand-blend of gently psychedelic soft rock is a perfect choice for Friday afternoon on the Pyramid Stage, where the energy is just about right for a wholesome banger that brings everyone together. They manage it three times – just. The first, singalong “Fall at your Feet”, lands a little shakily at first. But a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for lead singer Neil Finn’s brother and former bandmate, Tim – who’s back in Melbourne – soon has the crowd on firmer ground, loosening up their vocal chords.

Set closer “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, with its addictive “Hey now, hey now” chorus, bathes the site in the warm glow of a small festival moment. But it’s “Weather With You” that has everyone up and singing. “Everywhere you go / Always take the weather with you,” sings the Glastonbury crowd, with a little trepidation. And it doesn’t even rain. BB

Plastic Mermaids – Croissant Neuf


Making their Glastonbury debut, Isle of Wight collective Plastic Mermaids are a joy to behold at the Croissant-Neuf stage. Musically, they are almost impossible to define: a carnivalesque synthesis of jazz, folk, prog, psychedelia, electronic, indie and dance. There are video game noises. Vocoders. Keyboards. Trumpets. Maracas. Megaphones. At times, such as on the swelling, syncopated “1996”, from their debut 2019 album Suddenly Everyone Explodes, they’ll remind you of The Flaming Lips. At others, you detect traces of Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem.

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But make no mistake: Plastic Mermaids are completely unique. “Something Better”, a new single from their forthcoming record It’s Not Comfortable to Know, proves they can pump up the pathos, too, as charismatic frontman Douglas Richards, resplendent in a tangerine bowl haircut, laments in piercing falsetto, “I miss my best friend”. A wonderful set. PS

Dry Cleaning – Park Stage


Yes, there is Wet Leg, obviously, but there is also Dry Cleaning – the other British band with a cool deadpan sprechstimme – who start playing at the Park just as the British phenomenon are finishing up their set at the Other Stage.

The south-London four-piece’s delivery is less poppy. Florence Shaw’s breezy delivery rubs nicely against the abrasive guitar work of Tom Dowse. The two sometimes sound as though they’re competing with each other.

The band are about to release a new album, and new single Don’t Press Me experiments with a glimmer of melody in its childlike chorus. But for the most part, Shaw affects a limited range, and there are moments their music today feels a little dirge-y. Their most upbeat tracks, “Strong Feelings”, “Magic of Meghan” and “Scratchcard Lanyard”, are still brilliant.

And Shaw may affect standoffishness, but she still has some of the cutest crowd chat. “Just to explain what I was doing then,” she says towards the end of her set, wiping her face after bonking the mic. “Sometimes lipstick gets on the microphone. and then sometimes I hit the microphone. and then I end up with little bits of lipstick on my face.” BB

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