Saturday begins with the bass heavy sounds of Australian band Jagwar Ma on the John Peel Stage. At times verging towards a more stadium rock sound, and at others fusing a more electro beat, it’s the bass which carries the whole thing through. Though I’m not always a fan of such weighty sounds, Jagwar Ma arguably deserve a bigger and more engaged crowd than the hungover smattering of people who predominantly sit outside the tent basking in the sunshine. What Love sets the tone, but for me it’s the slightly more rocky style of Man I Need which really showcases the band at their finest. It’s a short but perfectly executed set that marks the band as another one to watch.
Ms Mr on the other hand feel a bit more akin to Florence & The Machine, especially with Lizzy Plapinger’s crisp, clear vocals and the heavy drum emphasis. Nevertheless they’re also able to shake their own twist into the mix. Listed in some places as a TBA slot, some seemed to think this might bring Bowie or Tom Yorke to the John Peel Stage. There was however no such deliberation on my part – and equally no such regret for those who’d made the trek expecting something other than the New York duo. Bones quickly made it clear that they were creating something pretty special and the rest of the set only confirmed this. Their cover of LCD Soundsytem’s Dance Yourself Clean was well received, and if rumours are true then I can only hope Prince Harry enjoyed the set as much as me.
A quick trip over the Left Field (and by Glastonbury standards, quick is anything which takes you less than 30 minutes to reach) rewards me with Billy Bragg’s Radical Round Up featuring Amanda Palmer, Sean McGowan and the The Quiet Loner. For me it surmises everything I love about Glastonbury and it’s ability to fuse music and politics into one. Though it’s probably fair to say the majority of the tent was filled with Amanda Palmer fans, that didn’t stop them enjoying Billy Bragg’s Sexuality or Phil Jupitus’ rewrite, Bestiality. For me it was a treat to be introduced to Southampton based Sean McGowan, who at times feels like the male version of Kate Nash, and The Quiet Loner who lives up to his name being slightly abashed. Still, The Quiet Loner is reminiscent of Martyn Joseph’s protest songs. As Billy Bragg delivers a cover of Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ we’re reminded that musicians can’t write the protest songs until we stand up and protest. It’s a poignant reminder not to remain apathetic, when social injustice seems to loom larger than ever.
Over on the Acoustic stage KT Tunstall works her way through material from new album Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon to a near full house. Though new songs like Carried seem to be well received, it’s Black Horse And The Cherry Tree complete with beatboxer Shlomo and an interlude of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army that brings the biggest applause. Though it’s a short set, there’s still time for a cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and Springsteen’s State Trooper, which is left to round things off. As ever she carries the set with a dose of humour, and it’s nice to hear the new tracks with a full band which bring added life to the material.
While most round off their day with the Rolling Stones, for me it’s a trip to Avalon for Beverley Knight. Despite some 20 years in the industry the UK based soul singer is as enthusiastic as ever, working the crowd in a fluorescent orange leotard that performers half her age probably couldn’t even hope to pull off. Despite some technical difficulties before the start of the set leaving members of the audience feeling restless, it’s not long before everyone is dancing and singing along to her biggest uptempo hits including Get Up! and Greatest Day, along with an ambitious cover of Whitney’s It’s Not Right, But It’s OK which she delivers with ease. Where her vocals really shine though is on the slower tracks, and as she commands silence with Shoulda Woulda Coulda and Gold it’s clear why, not unlike the Stones, her career has stood the test of time.
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