Uncut’s 5 Glastonbury 2023 highlights

Arctic Monkeys! Pretenders! Tinariwen!

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Our man in a field reports back on his 5 highlights from this year’s festival at Worthy Farm…

Arctic Monkeys
Baffling the TV audience by opening with imposing The Car cut “Sculptures Of Anything Goes”, Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys delivered a suave, low-lit and quasi-theatrical Friday night headline set that struck an engrossing balance between youthful urgency, beastly/sultry desert rock, grotesque carnival tones and post-modern lounge crooning.

The Pretenders
“Oh Glastonbury, how many memories?” sighed Chrissie Hynde from the Park Stage on Saturday evening, then set about making a few more. After an opening half hour of brash new wave, she introduced Johnny Marr to add his trademark gossamer licks to “Back On The Chain Gang”, Dave Grohl to drum on “Tattooed Love Boys” and Paul McCartney to wave at the end.


“Welcome to the Sahara,” says Alhousseini ag Abdoulah, referencing both music and mercury. Ahead of The Pretenders, the Park Stage was lulled into a bliss state by the Malian desert blues of Tinariwen, merging eastern textures, North African rhythms and western psych and funk rock into a hypnotic, free-flowing hour. No Dave Grohl though, surprisingly.

In a flowing black frock, Gwenno draped her haunting and spacious atmospheres across Sunday afternoon tackling topics, in Cornish and Welsh, both whimsical (‘Hi a Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow was about “a land that time forgot”) and technological (‘Jynn-amontya’ concerned “AI and the battle for it not to forget human beings”). The leylines sang along.

Elton John
What “might be” the last UK show from one of its greatest showmen could only go one way – a cornucopia of hits from an opening “Pinball Wizard” to a closing “Rocket Man…”, dotted with special guest spots including Gabriels’ Jacob Lusk (“Are You Ready For Love”), Brandon Flowers (“Tiny Dancer”) and Rina Sawayama (“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”). A celestial farewell.


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