The music is over. The clean-up begins. But what did we all learn? In short, nothing. But that’s life. You live, you die, and there’s a copious amount of music in-between. Here’s a bunch of stuff we “learnt” from Glastonbury 2022 – things we in fact already knew before but were merely reminded of this year. Affirmations, if you will.
The train strikes were never going to prevent people from going
You’ve forked out nearly 300 quid for a golden ticket to Glastonbury. You’ve waited three years for this following a once-in-a-century pandemic. Is planned industrial action going to stop you? Abso-bloody-lutely not. The plucky public largely circumvented the trains this year – with Paddington station virtually empty even as of Thursday. The car, coach and cab route of course led to a pile-up on the roads leading into the Mecca of music. One queuer was even able to get her Domino’s pizza delivered, whilst stuck in traffic.
Politics within music is alive and kicking
The timing is key here. On Friday, the day Billie Eilish became the youngest ever Glastonbury headliner, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the 50-year-old Roe vs. Wade ruling which guaranteed nationwide abortion rights for women – a decision that was just too significant for artists onstage not to speak out about.
Eilish used her set to describe the “really, really dark day for women in the US”, before other artists from across the weekend. Phoebe Bridgers asked the crowd to join her in shouting “f**k the Supreme Court” – words repeated by Lorde on Sunday. Olivia Rodrigo was particularly strong in her criticising, bring out Lily Allen to dedication the track ‘Fuck You’ to the five Supreme Court Justices who voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
olivia rodrigo: “so many women and so many girls are gonna die because of this” no sugarcoating at all! as it SHOULD BE! and then proceeding to call out the 5 members of the Supreme Court!! pic.twitter.com/rv3R6p39Cu
— caro | FAN ACCOUNT (@jelousyliv) June 25, 2022
It wasn’t just female artists using their platform to denounce the decision too. On Friday, IDLES’ Joe Talbot dedicated the song ‘Mother’ to “every woman” in the wake of the ruling, whilst in a more direct criticism, Jarvis Cocker sang ‘Running the World’ – with its famous line “c***s are still running the world” – “over the Atlantic Ocean because a certain judgement has been made, mainly by men, telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies”. Of course, Kendrick, too, concluded his Sunday headline slot with an emotionally charged message of “godspeed for women’s rights”.
— Erica Campbell (@ericacxmpbell) June 24, 2022
Godspeed for Women’s rights 🙏🏾pic.twitter.com/3srSXVjjhS
— DDOT. (@DDotOmen) June 27, 2022
Of course, it wasn’t just the US Supreme Court decision that was brought up by numerous artists onstage. The ongoing war in Ukraine was repeatedly raised, not least by Ukraine’s Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra playing a set in the Shangri-La area in the early hours of Saturday morning. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, also addressed the crowd via video ahead of The Libertine’s set on Friday.
In the front-and-centre Saturday night headline by Paul McCartney, too, the iconic Beatle hoisted up a Ukrainian flag near the end of his star-studded set, which also featured Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.
And whilst many deem such festivals as a means of escapism, there was a reflection on the cost-of-living crisis as well. The Billy Bragg-curated Leftfield Stage held a stalk on the matter. 19-year-old Greta Thunberg gave a rousing speech on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday, which gave an apocalyptic vision of the future and demanded action on climate change and ‘greenwashing’.
Flags can say it all
And whilst it’s powerful to be head-on in your direct criticism, sometimes a flag can paint a thousand words. This one being the pick of the bunch, referring of course to the excuse given for the Prime Minister’s lockdown shenanigans.
Best flag at Glastonbury so far.
“This is a work event.” pic.twitter.com/82flqeWuHu
— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) June 24, 2022
Of course, many of the flags are also waved by those representing their home nations. There were Welsh flags, a Derry Girls-imposed Irish flag and even an Isle of Wight flag spotted by Wet Leg’s Rhian Teasdale, to which she joked “represent”. There was even the flag flown bearing that most profound of all statements to have emerged in recent years: ‘Prince Andrew is a sweaty nonce’.
Happy Friday to the person who’s waving a massive light-up Welsh flag in the crowd at Glastonbury and to that person only 🏴🔥 pic.twitter.com/KW1l9k9XSO
— Elan Iâl (@elanial) June 24, 2022
— Hannah Connolly (@H__OConnell) June 24, 2022
People LOVE Wet Leg – and for good reason
Following the success of their self-titled debut album in April, Wet Leg have been one of the poster acts for a new wave of rising British indie. Their appeal was so enormous, in fact, that access to the Park Stage where they were playing had to be temporarily cut off.
— Wet Leg (@wetlegband) June 24, 2022
It’s not hard to see why the people came in their droves. With their wry humour and at-times absurdist lyrics, the Isle of Wight outfit have made many lost for words when it comes to describe the way their sound is a reflective interrogation of our times. Thankfully, we have screams to express our gratitude – something Teasdale makes a point of in the track ‘Ur Mum’. And the crowds screamed right back at her, knocking her off her feet.
…and people HATE spoilers
Just as the sun will rise, so too will the British public find something to moan about. This time it was the fact that due to the “complexity” of filming such a large-scale event, the BBC explained, Sir Paul McCartney’s set wasn’t aired until an after it was performed on the Saturday. Cue the letters of complaint to Ofcom – presumably by many of the same people who were Tweeting Macca over his apparent poor track selection (for which Tim Burgess had a brilliant response).
Why the heck didn’t Paul McCartney consult Ken9365 on Twitter before deciding on his setlist for last night????
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) June 26, 2022
In fairness, this did mean the surprise appearances of Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen was somewhat less surprising for those who were watching the televised show whilst scrolling through Twitter. Only one answer for that – a charge that can also be levelled at those attending such festivals in person – get off your phones, people.
Old is gold
It’s 2068, crowds gather in the evening sun, listening to Herbie Hancock and his band play a rendition of ‘Cantaloupe Island’ – a moment of soft, enjoyable rest bite for all the weary folk who were up late dancing to Pet Shop Boys at The Other Stage. Fleetwood Mac are due to play next before another Mac – or Macca, aka Sir Paul Bloody McCartney – headlines later this evening.
I jest. The year isn’t 2068, but these acts – all of whom played this weekend – have given such a sense of timelessness in song and performance over performance over the years that you can imagine them playing to the Glastonbury massive for that long. Who knows, maybe with advances in cryogenics we could bring them out every year from now until the end of the world – only if that’s something they want, of course.
Just to be clear, you’re only allowed to mock Paul McCartney if you’re also 80, have written Eleanor Rigby, She’s Leaving Home, Blackbird, Yesterday, Let It Be, Can’t Buy Me Love, Helter Skelter and Band on the Run, and still feel like getting out and playing live
— John Cadigan (@johncadigan) June 25, 2022