Brittany Howard at Glastonbury Review: a riot of colour, sensuality and spirituality

Former Alabama Shakes frontwoman delivers the perfect showcase for her sui generis solo trajectory.

Britanny Howard Glastonbury Festival June 30 2024

by Danny Eccleston |
Published on

Along with the relative sparseness of crowd for SZA’s Pyramid headline set and Louis Tomlinson’s football TV party, it was the talk of Glastonbury’s Sunday evening. A riot of purple, blue, silver and gold, Alabama soul supernova Brittany Howard’s Amazing Technicolour Muumuu was a dazzling, iridescent symbol of her music – daring, one-of a kind, like a stained-glass window in garment form. “Stagewear of the Year,” said one MOJO observer. And her set wasn’t bad, either.

READ MORE: Brittany Howard Interviewed: “Prince kissed me on the cheek… Next thing I know, he’d passed away”

Invading the West Holts Stage in the early evening, Howard brought a masterly eight-piece group delivering a powerful mash-up of soul, jazz and space-gospel, the cream of her two solo albums to date. Earth Sign acted as a crashing overture, the spine-tingling near-dissonance of Howard and her two immaculate backing singers sending a flock of seagulls rising into the evening sky behind the stage (who needs fireworks?), before she dug down into the Curtis Mayfield groove of He Loves Me.

The spirit of Mayfield was present, as was Prince, in the sophisticated rhythms, push and pull of the sacred and sexual, and also in Howard’s own ripping guitar solos – both creamy and fuzzed-out at once on Power To Undo’s declaration of independence from a controlling ex. Prove It To You mined New Jersey deep house heritage. Baby turned into a blistering funk attack. 13th Century Metal, the Robert Glasper co-write from her 2019 solo debut, Jaime, became a passionate sermon to universal siblinghood, as Howard strode off stage, and then back on, in a total deep south preacher move, while the band signed it off with a hair-raising noise-jazz barrage.

Howard has a rich, explosive voice – one of the great ones of our day, and flexible enough to switch between roaring exhortation and hushed reverie, as in the cloistered memoir of Georgia. But it’s the triple-threat of voice, writing and an envelope-pushing musical imagination that makes her extra special. As her Glastonbury set proved, she’s on the way from significant-cult status to achieve something bigger. And she won’t do it by dumbing down, either.


Earth Sign

He Loves Me


Stay High

Red Flags



Goat Head

Prove It To You

13th Century Metal

Power To Undo

Another Day

What Now

Stay on MOJO4MUSIC for complete coverage of Glastonbury 2024’s best music including ColdplayIDLESSqueezePaul Heaton and Fatboy Slim's Housemartin's reunionDexysLCD SoundsystemPJ HarveyThe Last Dinner PartyMichael KiwanukaOrbital, James and more.

Photo: Luke Brennan/Getty

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