If you have ever been to Glastonbury then you’ll also know the feeling of FOMO that comes around this time of year. Every year, I sit down to watch the BBC’s brilliant coverage and then rue the fact that I didn’t try and get tickets – my last venture to Worthy Farm was back in 2011. Fortunately, we had some great watch parties going on at Croxtons and Staggeringly Good. After watching the coverage it has left me eagerly anticipating seeing some of that Glastonbury talent at Victorious Festival. I wanted to highlight a few of my favourites from last weekend that will be performing at this summer’s event.
Back in 2017, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raye before she supported Jess Glynne as part of her UK tour. She was polite, charming, interesting and kind, so I have naturally always followed her career closely. Sadly her rise never quite happened like it should have given her talent. It’s been a year since the 24-year-old south Londoner blew up her career in order to rebuild it.
Frustrated at the fact she’d been continually denied the chance to release her debut album by her then label Polydor – despite more than 12m monthly listeners on Spotify, seven top 20 singles and four Brit award nominations to her name, plus songwriting credits for the likes of Beyoncé, John Legend, Little Mix and Charli XCX that have landed her more than 2.5 billion global streams (!) – she sent a series of tweets that shone a light not only on her own struggles but on the plight of female artists caught in an endless loop of faceless dance features and broken promises.
Raye returns as an independent artist and off the back of her recently released debut album, My 21st Century Blues, Raye took her place on Glastonbury’s main stage on the Saturday and it was one of my highlights of the weekend. She told fans, “I was told that I would never have a fan base big enough for anyone to care about an album. And now Glastonbury, in front of the Pyramid Stage, I’m performing my debut album.”
If her set is anything to go by then you can expect her set to mainly feature tracks from her new album, highlights include ‘Escapism’ and ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’ Raye’s set brought back memories of the amazing Amy Winehouse. If you know me well then you’ll know how much I adore Amy Winehouse, so that is praise indeed.
Raye will be gracing the Common Stage on Friday, just before the headliner Jamiroquai. Times TBC.
Saturday’s Castle Stage headliner, Alt-J, will be coming to the south coast via Glastonbury’s Park Stage, a venue which also host Strong Island Recordings alumni Los Bitchos earlier in the weekend, and the legendary Fat Boy Slim.
Alt-J consists of Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Sonny Green. The trio have released four studio albums that between them, have sold in excess of two million copies and their songs have been streamed over two and a half billion times. Including their 2012 Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello Award-winning debut An Awesome Wave, was followed two years later by their number one, Grammy Award-nominated This Is All Yours.
Despite going up against Elton John, Queens of the Stone Age and Phoenix the band performed to a huge crowd and they treated them to a collection of greatest hits including ‘Breezeblocks’, ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Fitzpleasure’.
Alt-J will be taking to the Castle Stage on Saturday. Times TBC.
After two days of setting up and getting acquainted with Worthy Farm, festival-goers had the pleasure of Ben Howard opening the festival on The Other Stage. The 36-year-old from London shot to fame over a decade ago and quickly established himself as one of the premier singer-songwriters of the generation with tracks including, ‘Only Love’, ‘Old Pine’ and ‘Small Things’.
In March 2022, Ben was sitting in his garden when he found himself unable to think clearly, form sentences or speak for almost an hour. A month later, after the same thing happened again, the Ivor Novello Award-winning singer-songwriter learned he’d suffered two TIAs (transient ischemic attacks – known as mini-strokes). He told The Guardian, “It was an overload of information, like the whole world was pouring in at once. I felt really hypersensitive to everything: the light, and the sound of the trees, and the leaves, and the wind … I was still compos mentis, but I didn’t have the words to explain it. It was over in an hour. And then, a month later, it happened again.”
This experience had a huge impact on how Ben approached his most recent album Is it?, Telling Apple Music, “My acceptance of the songs for what they were, rather than pondering them too much. It was a great opportunity to just get the songs down and realise that each record is a picture of where you are at a time and a place. And if you can be honest with that, then often it’s a better record that comes out, rather than picking it to pieces.”
There is a small shift in style from his early work, a more radio-friendly synth feel, but his signature vocals remain. Fans of his early stuff will not be disappointed with his evolution.
Sandwiched between indie bands The Enemy and The Vaccines, Ben will be the great palate cleanser we’ll all need after two days of festivities. I am expecting a similar set list to what we were treated to last weekend, which heavily featured new material but with some older crowd pleasers tracks thrown in.
Ben Howard will be performing on the Castle Stage on Sunday. Times TBC.
Early bird tickets for Victorious Festival are on sale now with weekend camping tickets from just £160 and day tickets from just £60 (fees apply). If you’re thinking of coming then please note that the early bird prices and payment plans end in early July.
Photo: Strong Island Media