It’s five years since Kings Of Leon played their first ever festival at Glastonbury which marked the beginning of their near self-implosion as they lurched – like so many next big things do – from gig to party to gutter.
Since 2003 much has changed - the Followill boys, once known for their ample facial hair and God-fearing past with a preacher father are now clean of chin and clean of soul. The audience seem to have undergone a similar transformation, as those who push past don’t lurch through in a stupefied haze - as was once the norm in front of the hallowed Pyramid - but politely say “excuse me”. How pleasant.
Sadly, Kings Of Leon are equally reserved. A surprise headliner they have opted boldly to just let the music do the talking by avoiding the usual trick of others unexpectedly propelled to the top of the bill by spending thousands on lights and fireworks.
To an extent it works, but it’s only the tracks from the first two albums that get the damp crowd going – Taper Jean Girl and Molly’s Chambers causing a mini-stampede of “excuse me-s” from the assembled crazy flag wavers.
Singer Caleb is low on communication, but he knows it, blaming “preparing for Glastonbury just a little too much”. They sound fantastic, far gone from the 'Southern Strokes', as they were once labelled but, alas, something is missing.
That something is “a show”. This is without doubt their career peak but it feels like just another gig – albeit one in front of 80,000 people. Much depends on Jay-Z tomorrow turning round this festival of the curious bill topper.
As the sun (ha!) goes down on a line-up to be forever enshrined in Glastonbury folklore as 'bands with a disappointing second album' day, Editors show how to paper over flaws: they play their best songs fast and loud and squeeze the gaps betweens tunes so that our minds cannot wander.
From Bones to Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors, Chris Urbanowicz’s chiming guitars call out to the weary and disheartened. It might be Boy-era U2, but if you ever need to learn crowd-stealing from anybody, The Edge is a decent place to start.
As smoke envelops the stage, the look on Ed Lay’s face seems to say: “How come The Fratellis (pictured) are following us?” Good question: their beery stag-night chants turn out to be crowd-pleasers, especially the football-chant of mega hit Chelsea Dagger, but elsewhere it’s a little ‘mince’, as they say in Glesca. David Hutcheon
The afternoon saw three frontpersons find different ways of cheering us. KT Tunstall had a pally arm round every shoulder – from her opening “Isn’t it great!?”, via gags about the toilets and moobs, she won through with her swampy soul, nice ballads, and Black Horse And The Cherry Tree’s eternal loopaganza magic.
The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie-Sells’ approach was avidly look-at-me rather than reach-out. Rather oddly, their audience partied to their accurately executed harmonic hits, while the band frowned throughout, even when reviving A-Ha’s crowd-pleaser Take On Me.
But then came Beth Ditto bringing the attitude that is rock’n’roll. Suspense replaced comfort – she muttered indecipherably, lost her band with vocal improvs including bits of Smells Like Teen Spirit. However, she pulled it all round when she bundled offstage to connect with the front rows, and suddenly everyone was roaring the “whoa, whoa” chorus of Standing In The Way Of Control. In a word? Blimey. Phil Sutcliffe
Once it was possible to saunter casually down to the front for the opening act of the weekend. Not this year. Everyone and her boyfriend and their best mates is here to see Kate Nash.
The lady herself walks on-stage as if she is walking into a yurt and perches herself behind her piano, which in fabulously shabby chic fashion is housed inside a giant oyster shell.
There she remains for the majority of her set, emerging once to accompany her backing band The Mature Students (well, that’s what they look like anyway) and to give us a twirl of her lovely frock. Foundations gives us our first Glastonbury sing-along of 2008 and everyone is happy.
Four years ago The Subways won Glastonbury’s unsigned band competition – now they’re on the Pyramid Stage wigging out in front of thousands. To celebrate, singer-guitarist Billy Lunn has stripped to the waist and makes up for the lack of hits by running around, performing scissor kicks at any given opportunity and succeeding in blowing the hay out of the crowd’s ears.
The same could not be said of Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly who, despite being the most worthy man on Worthy Farm, fails to inspire anything more than a urgent desire for a snooze. The comedy flag contingent slides away into the afternoon drizzle. Johnny Dee