Glastonbury 2022: MOJO’s Report

With Macca, Diana Ross, Jack White, St Vincent, Steve Davis and many many more… Glastonbury returns!

Glastonbury flags and sun Andrew Allcock

by Ian Harrison |

Picture: Andrew Allcock

Of all the choice moments of Glastonbury 2022, the sight of ‘69 John Lennon virtually singing I’ve Got A Feeling with Paul McCartney on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night was up there with the most nape-raising. And when John notes, “Everybody had a hard year,” there’s an extra wince of understanding.

Of all the cancelled music events of the Covid Epoch, few cut as deep as two enforced fallow years for mother-of-all-festivals Glastonbury. In the run-up to this one, the fear of Sod’s Law wasn’t completely absent, with rail strikes causing disquiet, the Met Office predicting thunderstorms, and The Damned and the Chemical Brothers both cancelling due to illness.

Yet as soon as Mojo makes touchdown, the ground is firm underfoot, the sun shines, and the message of world-class entertainment allied with ecological/ political engagement (Greta Thunberg is also here) comes through loud and clear. Friday begins with a valorous speech from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first of several on-screen presences of the weekend, and it’s hard not to feel a tremor when he says, “Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom these days.” Is it incongruous for a typically jagged yet oddly touching hits set from The Libertines to follow?

We ponder this while heading past West Holts, where Nubiyan Twist are doing their alluring best to have it renamed the Jazz Stage. Up at the Park, a huge crowd watch Wet Leg play Chaise Longue and effusively join the dots between the Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner and the “you what?” chant. After the euphoric Oz-rave of non-formation dancers Confidence Man and the reality-fraying monologues of Dry Cleaning, a walk back down to West Holts finds Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 bringing the rump shaking Afrobeat, with Seun taking no chances weather-wise in a pair of good quality rubber boots.

Things are as animated over at the Other Stage, where St. Vincent, Prince-like in her command, plays a killer hour of brain-and-viscera funk-rock and duels thrillingly with co-guitar Jason Falkner. As the sun begins to set, Khruangbin and their exotica R&B jams in dub are there to soothe at The Park, with the funkadelic Evan Finds The Third Room leading the crowd in a mantric repetition of the word “yes.” At the John Peel stage, Primal Scream are initially in stern, military-industrial complex-bashing mood, though Movin’ On Up, with a Many Rivers To Cross gospel intro and Bobby Gillespie wearing what appears to be a Screamdelica onesie, sets the course back to uplift.

Come Saturday morning, there’s an essential early stop at West Holts for Tokyo kosmische mob Kikagaku Moyo. Swinging between surf guitar mellifluent and raging like a psychedelic weather system, crowd and response grow throughout. Poignantly, it’s their last ever UK gig, but a great one to go out on.

There’s more mindbending at the Green Futures field’s Mandela Stage, where the afternoon jam orchestrated by ex-Hawkwind vibe-elder Nik Turner mainlines original underground festival vibrations. MOJO witnesses early Happy Mondays-like racket, maximum whooshy synths and in occasional frontman Lee Knott, a wailing blues scarecrow who makes up his lyrics on spec and embraces everyone in the crowd at the end. Sadly, Turner can’t be here this year, but we’re assured he sends his love. Laudably, the whole stage is powered by an orange bicycle that legend says once belonged to Pistols producer Dave “Boss” Goodman – the ley lines must be fit to burst.

Back up at the Park, Jacob Lusk of Gabriels, who wears a dinner suit and a cape, inducts us all into what he calls “the Glastonbury missionary Baptist church” with a searing injection of blues, soul and glitter ball disco. There’s similar full-on, main stage-worthy pop effusion when Self Esteem plays the John Peel tent, with exposed singalong I Do This All The Time leavening the dance bombast. Coming from Rotherham, Self Esteem’s Rebecca Lucy Taylor would surely approve of a dash over to the Acoustic tent to see veteran turn Tony Christie bring the cabaret to Glastonbury and, inevitably, get the whole joint karaoke’ing to (Is This The Way To) Amarillo.

Yet these are the aperitifs for the epic triumph that is Paul McCartney’s headline set, a date delayed from 2020. To an estimated crowd of 100,000, the relentless Beatles (Hey Jude, Helter Skelter, the first British performance of She Came In Through The Bathroom Window) and Wings (Band On The Run, Junior’s Farm, Live And Let Die) hits, plus solo selections, reach an even higher pitch when he introduces Dave Grohl and then Bruce Springsteen (the latter duet is a scorching Glory Days). With all floodgates effortlessly open for two hours and forty minutes, the untiring Macca does a wholly justified ‘whacky thumbs aloft’ into the camera as he leaves the stage, and rarely have things been so right with the world.

2JE78K1 EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO ARCHIVING. PLEASE NOTE MANDATORY RESTRICTIONS APPLY: 1) This photograph may only be used until July 23, 2022. 2) This photograph may only be used in context with the Glastonbury Festival 2022. Paul McCartney performing on the Pyramid Stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Picture date: Saturday June 25, 2022.

Being Glastonbury, the fun doesn’t end there. After six times world snooker champion Steve Davis and his highly animated Utopia Strong bandmate Kavus Torabi DJ Battles, Ice Cube and vintage Chicago house in the Glade Dome, the Gaz’s Rockin Blues stage in the after-hours Shangri-La zone presents a blistering 3am show by Finnish youth team Us, who play Dr Feelgood-style punk-blues with the vigour of peak Ramones. In the best way, MOJO needs a lie down.

2JEA0MA Jack White performing on the Park Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Picture date: Sunday June 26, 2022.

Sunday shouldn’t have come round so quick, but it has. For the Pyramid Stage ‘legends’ slot, a valiant Diana Ross is not stingy with the hits, playing I’m Coming Out, Chain Reaction and You Can’t Hurry Love in the first 20 minutes. After Mad Professor’s bass-monstrous tribute to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry on the Glade Stage – he promises that he’s going to “dub you crazy”, and does - word reaches us that none other than Jack White is the secret special guest at The Park. So it proves: riffing the most molten blues, and with multiple White Stripes songs, he’s on feral form, and singing Seven Nation Army with thousands is an experience to savour.

And so to the last dance, something the Pet Shop Boys, on The Other Stage, are ideally suited to. Their symphonic, nothing-but-the-hits set is steeped in ecstasy and melancholy, with a supercharged West End Girls, tributes to Ukraine and the victims of the Oslo Pride terror attacks, and a bittersweet encore of Being Boring. “The Smiths you can dance to?” They were here tonight, and provide a thunderous finish.

TLC, Kendrick Lamar, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and everything else we didn’t get to see will have to wait for BBC’s iPlayer. In real time, to be at Glastonbury in 2022 was to bathe in very special and very restorative waters. Or as Lennon had it, transmitting next to Paul from the roof of Apple in January ’69, everybody let their hair down, everybody saw the sunshine and, at last, everybody had a good year.

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