Saturday starts with Yuck, a fitting description of the John Peel tent, although the bands distortion-wracked take on Sonic Youth is anything but unpleasant, whilst Dry The River play a spirited set of pastoral indie-folk.
Anna Calvi is striking if a touch surly, whilst Warpaint are characteristically beguiling, their snaking, sludgy tracks aptly-suited to a stage standing in the centre of a bog.
The prize for most bizarre double-header goes to Oxylers In West on Saturday afternoon. Right after Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses play a set that sparked circle pits throughout it was left to Patrick Wolf to take us to the other end of the musical spectrum. On this occasion the flamboyance overcame the riffs. If you needed any proof of the ascending and declining popularity of pop and rock respectively, this was it.
It might have been Glastonbury’s worst kept secret, but it didn’t stop Pulp‘s ‘surprise’ set at The Park being anything short of spectacular.
With a handful of festival gigs under their belt, the glaring hole in their summer schedule was surely a visit to the band’s spiritual home, and this relatively intimate setting was a chance few wanted to miss. The field was so heaving, improvised gates kept late comers out.
“Well, you didn’t think we’d let you down, did you?” Jarvis deadpanned as he strutted onto the stage, launching straight into Do You Remember The First Time? A greatest hits set largely mirrored those played at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and the Isle Of Wight Festival, with the surprise addition of Acrylic Afternoons, Like A Friend and Mis-Shapes. Sunrise, Razzmatazz and This Is Hardcore served as reminders of why they’re still so adored, but it was, of course, the likes of Babies, Sorted For Es and Whizz and Disco 2000 (which debuted during their infamous 1995 headline slot) which united the crowd before a goose-bump inducing Common People wraps up their 14 song set, further whetting fans’ appetite for a summer of Pulp shows.
We head to see Battles play a frustrating set, Tyondai Braxtons absence keenly felt in the recourse to mainly sampled vocals and the omission of crowd favourites Atlas and Tonto. Despite their staggering technical skill the three-pieces performance fails to engage the audience, with only closer Futura managing to transcend the nagging sense that were merely peering in on a very impressive drum clinic.
Wild Beasts, by contrast, play a show that borders on the magical, their fragile, finely-nuanced songs casting a spell from the off that never lessens: even during the three-minute silence during closer End Come Too Soon the audience remains entranced, faces rapt and bodies locked in position.
It’s one of those why aren’t they headlining? moments: Elbow have the tunes, they have the sing-alongs and Guy Garvey has more charisma and charm than any other frontman on site. Inevitably, One Day Like This is the pinnacle but the sheer power of Neat Little Rows is juxtaposed by the beauty of The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver as the sun starts to set.
For all the stick they get, Coldplay are born Glastonbury headliners. Chris Martin’s long-standing affiliation with the festival means this is their third outing – their second as Pyramid headliners – and it shows. Martin is so at home that even a sickly-sweet new ode to Gwyneth, Us Against The World, goes down a storm.
As fireworks cascade left, right and centre, the likes of Yellow, In My Place and The Scientist sound anthemic, warming and heaped in emotion. As the crowd shoves and shuffles its way into the night, still singing Vive La Vida, many will go back to their tents surprised by the ‘forgotten’ headliners, leaving Beyonc quite a show to live up to.