Over 200,000 people are flooding into Pilton, Somerset, for the world's biggest Greenfield festival, Glastonbury, which opened on Wednesday.
Headliners in this 50th anniversary year are Paul McCartney – who has just turned 80 – and Billie Eilish – the festival's youngest headliner to date. Both will be taking to the Pyramid Stage across the weekend, as will Kendrick Lamar and Diana Ross, who is performing in the Legend slot.
The Telegraph's chief music critic Neil McCormick, as well as Telegraph music journalists James Hall and Alice Vincent, and Telegraph features writer Ed Cumming are all at the farm this year and will be contributing live talking points, reviews, and Glastonbury highs and lows throughout the weekend.
If you are watching the shows from home, here are the 10 artists not to miss.
Billie Eilish looked completely at home on the world's biggest stage
There was a sound rarely heard at Glastonbury as Billie Eilish became the youngest person to ever headline the festival: full on high pitched teenage screaming. A hard core of Eilish devotees had packed the front of the Pyramid stage and helped her make this event as noisy and exciting as anything in Glastonbury's 50 year history.
At 20, Eilish certainly wasn't overwhelmed by the occasion, delivering a masterclass in taut, slinky, smart, charismatic modern pop that seemed to go down as well with the regular flag waving festival veterans as her own highly wraught fans.
Sugarbabes's reunion shows 25 years is just the blink of an eye ★★★★☆
— TOM WATTS (@TomWatts_) June 24, 2022
When the original Sugababes line-up – Siobhán Donaghy, Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan – imploded in 2001, few expected the London pop group to continue with such an eternally rotating line-up for the next 12 years. Fewer still expected that the three women who had founded the group in 1998 would reunite nearly 25 years later, at Glastonbury’s gloriously eclectic Avalon stage, of all places. I’m not sure even Sugababes imagined their long-awaited reunion would happen next to an olde worlde cider pub.
After two decades (and the two hours some fans spent holding their space in one of Glastonbury’s smaller arenas) what matter 10 minutes? Sugababes arrived a little late, and then unleashed an unrelenting torrent of hits, ratting through Push The Button, Round, Round, debut single Overload, Hole in the Head and the rest of their chart-topping back catalogue. It’s telling that even moody ballads Too Lost in You, Run For Cover and Stronger were met with a universal singalong. Sugababes, because they are make pop music, and they are made up of women, are one of those bands whose reputation as hitmakers is too easily forgotten. A delirious cover of Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers showed a winking deference to the pop era that formed them.
They are also quite short, on a stage with no screens, and this similarly short woman struggled to see much beyond the raised hands and jubilant shoulder-sitters. But from what I could hear? Angelically tight harmonies, a substantial backing from a nimble live band that gave a punkish gravity to 2000s pop production, and the overwhelmed patter of three women who never thought this day would come.
Little Simz riffs effortlessly through her back catalogue ★★★★☆
Meanwhile, down the road, 28-year-old rapper and singer Little Simz was dominating a big West Holts in a stripped-back and potent set. It might seem like it’s been Simz’ (or Simbiatu "Simbi" Abisola Abiola Ajikawo’s) year, after her irrationally overdue Brit Award for Best New Artist – she released her acclaimed first album, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons, in 2015, and her fourth, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, was voted best of the year by 6 Music last year. Still, it was gratifying to see Simz deliver in this headline set, where she hopped from mic to piano, backed by musicians snuck to the back of the stage.
Wearing wide-legged black trousers and a loose button-down with her braids tucked under a hat, Simz stretched out across the stage, effortlessly demonstrating the breadth of her back catalogue, from the ranging Point and Kill to soulful I See You, stitched together with animated storytelling.
Simz last played Glastonbury six years ago, on the Park Stage. It was amazing to watch how she’s grown in that time, not just in her musical skill – although she’s always been a masterful rapper – but as a polymathic and affecting performer. How Did I Get Here, which documents the graft she’s put in over the years, was lit up by a crowd of flashlights. “Trust me, this music shit is my prophecy”, Simz rapped. This headline set seemed as much of an arrival as it did ascension. Alice Vincent
Welcome to the summer of Sam ★★★★★
The flares and the flags came out for Sam Fender. Someone, presumably in the marketing team for North Shields’s answer to Bruce Springsteen, had planted dozens of black and white flags among the crowd (the colours of Newcastle United). Allied with the flare torches that burst into life throughout the vast Pyramid Stage audience, the show took on the feel of a celebratory, chaotic football match.
Fender’s powerful blue-collar rock, which deals with the minutiae and struggles of everyday life, prompted singalongs so loud that the 28-year-old seemed utterly overwhelmed at times. He explained that neither he nor any members of his band had been to Glastonbury before, so you could see why.
He dedicated Spit Of You to his dad, standing in the wings. The high-octane anthem Seventeen Going Under, a song about “growing up”, was astonishing. Its chanted refrain kept going long after the song had finished. This “sunset” set, one down on the bill from headliner Billie Eilish, was the perfect melding of atmosphere and music. A cold mizzle gave way to a glorious sunset. Despite his jitters, he grabbed the moment. Careers are made from such things.
Fender has recently supported The Killers on their stadium tour and will next month headline his own one-day festival at London’s Finsbury Park. His steep trajectory continues. The summer of Sam is upon us. James Hall
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss prove old lions can still roar ★★★★★
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss delivered an absolute masterclass of duet singing and organic lithesome groove at Glastonbury. Their early evening set beneath dreary skies and drifting rain on the Pyramid stage was not the most densely packed performance of the day, certainly not drawing a crowd of the scale that would be expected if Plant's old cohorts Led Zeppelin ever decided to pummel Glastonbury into oblivion.
At 73, the man who practically invented heavy rock singing has shifted towards something more sensuous and understated. For her part, the fifty year old Krauss established her reputation singing country and playing bluegrass fiddle, and she knows exactly where to put a harmony to make a vocal fly. The multiple Grammy award winner may be the more accomplished musician, but she grew up listening to her brother's Zeppelin albums and knows her place as the junior partner in this combo; indeed, she revels in it.
The odd couple arrived on stage as casually as a couple of old festival heads who had just wandered down from the stone circle bathed in patchouli oil. Krauss was wrapped in what looked like a flowery bedstead, Plant wore a paisley shirt and clutched a pair of maracas, his mane of grey ringlets tied back.
— BBC Radio 2 (@BBCRadio2) June 24, 2022
Backed by a fantastic band who could add piano, mandolin, banjo and violin to the swampy bass, drum and electric guitar grooves, they warmed up with some sublime roots Americana, their voices perfectly and artfully matched. But the set gathered power as they kept throwing in Zeppelin classics, including a rockabilly romp through Rock and Roll, an ethereally folky Battle of Evermore and a broody, moody When the Levee Breaks.
As the songs gathered pace, and the rhythms gained impetus, Plant would close his eyes and let out a hearty roar, voice drenched in echo, to remind us all that the old lion is still a frontman to be feared and revered. When he called out “It's gonna break!” at the end of Levee, I half expected a deluge to descend. Fortunately the rain held off, and Plant and Krauss left the stage wreathed in smiled and basking in loud applause. Neil McCormick
Pheobe Bridgers takes on the US Supreme Court in a muscular set ★★★★☆
“Do we have any dads in the audience?” Pheobe Bridgers asked in a low, Californian drawl, to the sound of hundreds of middle-aged men awkwardly chuckling. It’s telling of the 27-year-old singer-songwriter’s appeal, which has increased stratospherically over the past couple of years, that the John Peel stage was packed out with every demographic from teenagers to boomers.
After months of performing in a child’s Halloween skeleton costume, Bridgers sported a new stage outfit: a smart black suit atop a spangly funnybones crop top, beneath her white-blonde mane. This was her Glastonbury debut and with rich pickings from two accomplished albums (Motion Sickness, in 2017, and Punisher in 2020) of dreamy yet gimlet-eyed songs, Bridgers’s set tripped along with a grounded confidence. Arlo Parks, the British singer whose star as risen alongside Bridgers’s, made an unexpected appearance to duet on Graceland Too; together, the pair made something pertinent and beautiful.
But what could have been a bit of a low-key show – after-dinner, before headliners on a Friday can be a strangely lacklustre time at Glastonbury at the best of times, especially given Bridgers’s wistful repartee and featherlight vocals – was surprisingly muscular. Tour-ready background graphics, often playing with images of a fantastical skies, were at odds with the ferocity which which she led the crowd in a chorus of “F-ck the Supreme Court, F-ck America”, in reference to the recent overturning of Roe v Wade and a winking dedication to “Paul” – Mescal, her boyfriend and breakout star of the BBC adaptation of Normal People. But this energy was more than matched by the crowd, who drowned Bridgers out at times with their adulation. She deserved all of it. Alice Vincent
Wolf Alice look like headliners of the future ★★★★☆
Wolf Alice almost never made it to Glastonbury. A bomb scare at LAX airport in Los Angeles scuppered their return from an American tour, necessitating a last minute scramble to Seattle and overnight flight to Heathrow, with the band only just arriving on site for their mid afternoon set. It might explain the sheer adrenalinised energy with which they attacked their set, amidst manic giggles from guitar-toting frontwoman Ellie Rowsell. Although to be fair, a slightly off kilter balance of self-conscious nervousness and swaggering exuberance is her usual stage persona.
In a flowing white dress and black boots, long fair locks pinned up, she can come across like a PreRaphaelite punk Ophelia, tipping wildly between sweet and sour. Her charisma and supple voice hold the centre of the London band's highly strung sound, which is almost spread too widely between ethereal folkiness, clubby grooves, indie whimsy and heavy metal attack. I'm not sure if Wolf Alice have a streamlined, drop dead, crossover, unstoppable banger in their set yet to reach out beyond their devoted fan base to a mainstream audience. But they are only three albums into a career that has seen them advancing in leaps and bounds. The intensity of this band and their bond with a devoted fan base will surely see them climbing higher and higher up the Pyramid stage bill for future festivals. Are they future Glastonbury headliners? I really hope so, they are a band who have so much to offer, keeping Britain at the forefront of contemporary rock. Neil McCormick
TLC get the tea-time crowd singing along ★★★★☆
Another wildly oversubscribed crowd for TLC, with Johnny-Come-Latelys grumbling about how it would be better to watch the Nineties’ girl group on telly than from the ground at West Holts. Those who persevered were treated to a lively set from Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins (in head-to-toe silver chain mail) and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas (trademark combat pants and mud-defying boots) now in their fifties and dancing like the Noughties never happened.
West Holts getting ready for some TLC! RB pic.twitter.com/a1y7nRkQTk
— Glastonbury Live (@GlastoLive) June 24, 2022
Their caramel-sweet vocals were smoothly supported by a full band complete with brass trio and MC, with bops such as Diggin’ on You, Creep and Chasing Waterfalls encouraging a heartfelt singalong out of a slightly weary tea-time crowd. What’s interesting seeing TLC serve up a set like this in 2022 is just how influential their music has been on contemporary rnb-adjacent acts – Joy Crookes; Lizzo, who played here last year; and Little Simz, who will headline this same stage in a few hours’ time. Unpretty – which got an endearingly earnest rendition - basically predicated the body positivity movement, No Scrubs #MeToo. The enormity of the largely millennial crowd speaks to TLC’s ever-presence on the airwaves 30 years ago, but their musical legacy can be seen on Glastonbury’s line-up, still. Alice Vincent
‘It’s such a major, major moment’: Emily Eavis on Paul McCartney's return to Glastonbury
We caught up with Emily Eavis backstage at The Park. She talked to the Telegraph about the relief of holding Glastonbury following two enforced cancellations, all the Glasto rumours doing the rounds, and Paul McCartney.
James Hall: Can you describe the vibe this year?
Emily Eavis: I would describe the vibe as wonderful and joyous and probably the happiest festival we’ve had in a long time. There’s a lot of savouring every moment and detail going on. So, relief and joy. It’s a very new feeling to be appreciating it on such a deeper level after having had to cancel twice.
JH: It must have been awful having to cancel twice.
EE: The first time [in 2020], although it was difficult, there was nothing we could do about it as we all went into this lockdown. But the second one , we were hopeful about it happening for a while, and then you started to question things. We obviously knew we’d get it back at some point but we were, like, ‘Will it be another couple of years?’ So then to actually be able to bring this festival back feels like a real feat. I know Covid isn’t over but we are living with it and it’s amazing to have this festival back.
JH: There seem to be loads more kids this year.
EE: There are. We don’t actually charge for kids so we’ve always had a large kids’ contingent. The Kidzfield is an incredible pull: the largest free kids’ event in Europe. Everything is free. So it’s actually a draw for kids, and I didn’t realise how good it was until I actually had kids. And I was, like, ‘Wow.’
JH: There are lots of rumours about secret sets. What can you tell us?
I can tell you that it’s not Green Day! [The US punk outfit were rumoured to be playing the BBC Introducing stage].
JH: What about Elton John playing with Paul McCartney?
EE: No, I haven’t heard that.
JH: The Chemical Brothers have pulled out of their Arcadia slot this evening, I’ve heard.
EE: They’ve cancelled, which is a shame. There are all kinds of changes. But we’re living in a world where we are adapting to change quicker. It’s more fluid and there are a lot of changes. And with the festival, we thought ‘It’s not going to be exactly the same as the poster.’ Everyone is kind of accepting that.
JH: What are you looking forward to most?
EE: I can’t answer that. But Paul McCartney on Saturday night is significant in such a major way for all of us. To be able to come back with that, rolling over from our 50th anniversary… [The former Beatle was due to headline the abandoned 2020 anniversary festival]. This has been five years in the planning. I’ve been planning this for five years. I’m so excited. It’s such a major, major moment.
Wet Leg prove the hype is justified ★★★★☆
— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) June 24, 2022
Wet Leg are one this year’s hottest bands, and you could tell. The crowd was the biggest I’ve seen at The Park stage since Pulp’s secret set in 2011, stretching up the top of the hill past those famous seven-feet tall Glastonbury letters. The Isle of Wight duo’s ascent has been lightening quick – they only released their debut single a year ago – but this set suggested the hype was justified.
Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers took to the stage in long-sleeved grey layered lace dresses, looking like ghostly Victorian apparitions. The shade matched the sky. But the music was anything but dull: their brand of smart punk-pop was spiky and colourful, crackling with irony and sharp put-downs. Wet Leg’s lyrics embrace youth, rubbish boyfriends and pointless parties. Songs such as Wet Dream (“I was in your wet dream/ Driving in my car”) were rapturously greeted.
The sun even came out for final song Chaise Longue. “Is your muffin buttered? Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” may not be the most profound lyrics ever sung at Glastonbury. But the vast crowd went bananas. It was a tremendously fun set from one of our most promising bands. James Hall
President Zelensky makes a surprise appearance at the Libertines
Before Glastonbury's opening act The Libertines took to the Other stage, a message from Zelensky was played on the big screens, asking everyone to put pressure on their politicians to keep supporting Ukraine.
A message from President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy was just played on the big screens at The Other Stage, shortly before The Libertines’ stage-opening set. #Glastonbury2022 pic.twitter.com/LuXf2FfEBf
— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) June 24, 2022
"Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom these days," he said "and I ask you to share this feeling with everyone whose freedom is under attack." It’s the first time the crowd has been asked - indirectly - for artillery. They cheered and whooped.
The Libertines were a surprising act to open the festival proper, playing at 11.30am on the other stage. Perhaps lead singer Pete Doherty, 2022’s most surprising body positivity model, had a lunch reservation. Whatever the reasoning, it worked: they have left behind all their Albion pretensions and red army jackets, and embraced a new era as crooners for nostalgic millennials. There weren't any new songs, just classics. Up The Bracket, Boys in the Band, Don't Look Back into the Sun: these are singalongs now, mostly played at a slightly slower, jauntier tempo than on record.
At the end, Pete Doherty tried to instigate a Vlodymr Zelensky singalong to the tune of Seven Nation Army. It didn’t work. There is going to be a lot of Ukraine stuff this weekend. Ed Cumming
A Friday morning alarm courtesy of Primal Scream
Being woken on a cloudy morning by Primal Scream sound checking was a perfectly Glastonbury way to start a festival. A rush of clattering drums, reverby guitars, earth shaking bass and wordless Bobby Gillespie vocals floated down from the John Peel marquee at 10 am, whilst an echoing voice repeatedly counted from one to six. The disembodied numbers floated in a psychedelic haze over the sprawling city of tents, where groggy campers stirred from the warm up drinking and dancing of the night before, comparing sunburn and hangovers. Rays of sunshine peaking at the edge of clouds amidst light showers and a sampled choir of Screamadelica "Hallelujah's"... I may have déjà vu but it's honestly good to be back. Neil McCormick
Down the Rabbit Hole we go
So those Met Office yellow warnings were a little overzealous: yesterday there was barely a drizzle, which was just as well as Thursday is traditionally the night of hyped-up roaming and queuing. The one place everyone wanted to be last night was The Rabbit Hole, where MC trio Bad Boy Chiller Crew were playing before Four Tet took to the decks at the venue’s Funkingham Palace – for those who managed to elude or conquer the two-hour queue into the venue’s inner sanctum. Those inside, it seemed, were largely convinced it was worth it: a drag cabaret, bar staff dressed as white rabbits serving cocktails and yes, a long loo queue, awaited. Alice Vincent
What's your favourite Glastonbury memory of 2022 so far? How about your favourite Glastonbury memory all of time? Tell us in the comments below