Coldplay headlined after a jam-packed day with some of the most exciting up-and-coming talent on the music scene. Euronews Culture was on the ground to bring you the goss on Glastonbury.

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The sun blazed in the sky as Saturday at Glastonbury kicked off. If the previous day was an ode to pop stardom, Saturday provided a more eclectic variety of musicians with an exuberant colourful finale. Yet for all the fireworks and confetti, we’re still unconvinced by the choice for Coldplay to headline a record fifth time. Here’s everything we learnt from Saturday at Glastonbury Festival 2024.

Good taste at Glastonbury

While we were soaking up rays in the resplendent sunshine, we also needed some food to soak up the previous night’s festivities at Dua Lipa. Walking around the colossal festival site, one of the highlights is the sheer variety of food options to choose from. Top tip: for free food, there’s a Hare Krishna tent in the Healing Fields giving out delicious vegan meals. If you can name a cuisine, it’s here.

Case in point, for our first proper meal of the day we stopped off at a poke place to get a bowl of salmon sashimi with veg on rice. After being assured of the food vendor’s quality refrigeration in this Somerset field, we tucked into a backdrop of Femi Kuti at the Pyramid Stage.

And what a backdrop it was. The son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, 62-year-old Femi brought his own brand of his father’s musical stylings to Glastonbury. It’s a joyous celebratory performance in which Femi recalls his father bringing him on the same stage 40 years ago, before asking his own son, Made Kuti to the stage who performs an unbelievably long continuous note during a solo on the alto saxophone.

It’s more than just music

As always, Glastonbury aficionados will tell you that the “real” festival experience is away from the main stages and while exploring we found our fair share of fun. First, via a marching kazoo band parading through the fields. Of course, we couldn’t resist ourselves and got involved. They even let us keep a kazoo. (I may have spent the rest of the day doing an impression of ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ on mine to everyone around me’s consternation).

Another fun highlight of the festival is in the different kinds of performers that you can see. We caught a woman juggling with her feet, an escape artist balancing at the top of a ladder, and in the small Poetry&Words tent in the Cabaret field, we even found time to check out Glastonbury punters giving spoken word a go for themselves at an open mic section.

Cyndi Lauper struggles

Clad in a baby blue furry jacket and looking every bit the icon she always was, at 71 years old, Cyndi Lauper has strong clothes. Sadly, the same can’t be said for her voice. Time after time, Lauper struggled to reach the notes of her 80s classics, even occasionally missing vocal cues.

As Saturday’s midday legend though, the crowd still showed up for Lauper. Singing along whenever she needed them to. There was also a touching moment when Lauper reflected on how her song ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ inspired feminist slogan “Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights” which inspired her to set up her own women’s health and rights charity.

Glastonbury is the apex

It’s quite fitting that Glastonbury’s main stage is in the shape of a pyramid. A set at the festival often represents the peak of an artist’s career up to now. Thanks to the huge crowds, Britain’s soft power in the music scene, and the globally televised sets by the BBC, a good performance at Glastonbury can take an artist’s career to the next level – as we saw with Dua Lipa on Friday.

That powerful effect was clearly felt by The Last Dinner Party. We loved their set last month at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, but after their whirlwind year following debut album ‘Prelude to Ecstasy’, this was the moment they were waiting for.

And wow did The Last Dinner Party bring it. To a packed out Other Stage, the band pushed aside any doubters to show they are one of the freshest voices in indie rock. Lead singer Abigail Morris commanded the stage in frilly dress with attitude. If they can follow up with an equally impressive sophomore album, expect to see them at the top of the Pyramid soon enough.

Similarly, Mercury Prize-winning rapper Little Simz had the supporting headline slot this Saturday at the Pyramid Stage – representing a new height for her critically acclaimed career. A genuinely interesting choice for this slot, Little Simz has made the impressive leap into the mainstream without sacrificing her art after her fourth album ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ broke through.

With the entire Pyramid Stage singing along, Little Simz’ sunset performance acted as a coronation for her as the queen of British rap. “You are witnessing greatness,” she quipped at one point. It’s hard not to agree.

And it was all mellow

For the fifth time – more than any act before – Coldplay headlined Glastonbury this Saturday. They previously headlined in 2002, 2005, 2011, and 2016. Since the last time, they’ve released three albums. But while their work in the first decade of this century still includes some of the slickest earworms of the indie genre, the latest three albums have largely been bland parades of empty platitudes.

Going into their fifth headline set, it’s hard to see exactly why they’re here – beyond a music scene that’s somewhat lacking in bands able to play at this level anymore. When they do come to the stage though, they put aside any doubts by proving how effective they are as performers. To a sea of glowing light-up wristbands they distribute before the show, the crowd of thousands is brought into a show of singalongs, corny jokes, and guest stars – from the classy musical nods (Femi Kuti, Laura Mvula and Little Simz) to the genuinely touching (Michael J. Fox and Michael Eavis himself).

On an emotional level, this is a top-quality show. It’s a fun jaunt in a field with a band everyone has always secretly loved, even if they won’t admit it. But on a critical level, this feels like a wasted opportunity. Glastonbury is the pinnacle and a Pyramid Stage headlining slot works best when the artist has something to prove. We saw that with Dua Lipa yesterday and it will test SZA later today. For Coldplay, this was routine.

Of course it was enjoyable, but artistically this represented just a retred of previous performances with a few new flourishes. The light-up wristbands might be a genius move for the band, but they did the exact same trick at their 2016 set. All the pyrotechnics, fireworks and confetti are fun, but eventually you notice they only use them to spice up the post-2011 songs that no one actually likes.

You can’t deny the power of their classics though. And an impassioned performance of ‘Fix You’ at the end of the set brings the entire crowd together for a lovely moment singing the chorus acapella. If only the supremely energetic frontman Chris Martin could have left it there. Instead, always trying to go one step further, he has his band finish on their new, completely inconsequential single ‘feelslikeimfallinginlove’. It may have been fun, but like the final song, this headline set was a step too far.

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