Sunday begins with weary legs and a heavy heart. The knowledge that this wonderful festival is beginning to draw to a close is only counterbalanced by another day of outstanding music and wonderful adventures. I kick things off on the Pyramid Stage, which by this stage is sporting a ‘save the Arctic Monkeys’ sign thanks to someone’s graffiti.
As Rufus Wainwright takes to his Steinway looking more and more like his father, it only takes a few minutes for him to hush the crowd. He delivers as expected, Out of the Game and Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk both getting an airing. For me however it’s his cover of Cohen’s Hallelujah and his tribute to Jeff Buckley in Memphis Skyline which wow me most. His drawling vocals mix with his seemingly effortless piano delivery to great effect, whilst his tribute to his husband in Sanssouci counteracts the more negative vibe of Going to a Town. It’s a strong reminder of Rufus’ ability to capture feeling and meaning in a song, and the deliberate paradox between the two tracks, especially in a political context also demonstrates his ability to think beyond those three minutes.
A short wander towards the Acoustic Tent also allows for time to soak up the antics of the Theatre and Circus field, which by this stage is filled with stilt walkers, 1950’s hairdressers, a woman playing recorder with her nose, and other mythical beings. It’s the perfect place to lose yourself for an afternoon and though it’s tempting to stay and watch the juggler on a 20 foot high unicycle, the sweet sounds of the London Community Gospel Choir call me in another direction.
Though not normally a fan of religious music, there’s something about gospel which makes sense to me. The joyous celebration which they deliver is a far cry from wooden pews and stiff lipped sermons, and it creates a sense of fitting awe. I’m clearly not the only one to feel this vibe, and before long the tent is filled with dancing bodies. Their cover of The Beatles’ Let It Be, which moves the crowd to an arm waving sing-a-long, reminds me of an earlier scene on Thursday when a hundred or so people gathered around a piano to sing Hey Jude. It’s this which to me is the spirit of Glastonbury – the impromptu moments when complete strangers share in a moment that linger well beyond the gates close for another year.
Though she’s set a tough act to follow Gretchen Peters delivers with grace. With songs from her latest album Hello Cruel World featuring heavily, there’s something which feels slightly lighter about her set than on previous occasions. Maybe it’s the sun, or perhaps it’s the addition of the more up-tempo nod to our fair isle in England Blues. Either way songs like The Matador, Hello Cruel World and Five Minutes, though every bit as sorrowful as normal, seem to move from depressing to melancholy in a poignant way that allows you to hear the intonation and meaning in her voice. Backed by husband Barry Walsh and the wonderful Christine Bougie, who adds depth to the sound, it’s a faultless performance that highlights Gretchen’s capacity to pen timeless songs.
Over on the Avalon Stage it’s The Staves who ease me into the evening. Their soulful harmonies are the perfect way to watch the sun descend over Worthy Farm for the last time, and it quickly becomes clear why they’ve been given so many sets over the weekend. The more angst ridden Pay Us No Mind highlights their ability to fuse harmonies with a shunning of misogyny to great effect, whilst their homage to their home town of Watford in Mexico shows their lust for something more. Reminiscent of an early Laura Marling in style, their storytelling vibe wows the crowd and whether it’s the harmony lead Icarus or The Motherlode and it’s heavier beat it’s clear why they’re another band to file with the likes of Mumford and co as the perfect folk cross over band.
Another pause allows for a wander to the South East corner, where I’m able to take in the sights of Block 9 and The Unfairground, with less of the crush of an evening. Though it lacks the fire and general debauchery that the evenings bring, it does allow for a close up look at the massive constructions which dominate the corner. There’s also time for a sneaky game of table football and space to relax away from the mayhem of the main arena. From here it’s back through the Green Fields and their more serene healing charm, and across the bottom on the tipi field, back to the tower of the Park. Here there’s time to take a trip up the new tree construction and take in a view over the site, reminding you just how large and diverse Glastonbury really is.
Sunday, and for me the festival, ends with Cat Power, who’s slightly abashed stage presence throws me slightly off guard. The Greatest opens with a louder sound than the album version, but it’s her delicate vocal delivery which really hits a nerve. Newer songs from latest album Sun feature heavily with Cherokee, 3.6.9 and Peace and Love finding their way into the set. For me however it’s Silent Machine that draws me in, with a more catchy guitar riff and spoken delivery of the lyrics, and Metal Heart and it’s piano melody start fused with lyrics that Ani DiFranco might have easily penned which grab my attention most.
Though it’s an early finish on the Park Stage, it marks the perfect end to a weekend of dancing and discovery. Glastonbury is, and always will be, about more than just music. The words of the Methodist minister who graced the Pyramid Stage earlier in the day ring through my head on the long drive home. His ability to succinctly define Glastonbury as being about justice for all rings true, and reminds me that it’s this fusion of music, charity and discovery which makes the festival unlike any other.
Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.