GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL review – Evening Standard, 30 June 2014

Once again, Glastonbury was such a challenge that it felt like attendees should have been asking for sponsorship, but the rewards for the committed were immeasurable. It was a weekend of extremes, from Dolly Parton to Metallica, sunburn to mudbaths..

Rain did not dominate as it had threatened to, but there was enough to cut Rudimental short and delay a colourful Lily Allen on Friday, and coat the entire site in brown glue that made flitting between stages almost impossible.

The best strategy was to pick an area and stick to it. The Park Stage was a boutique festival in its own right, more relaxed and beautiful the higher you climbed up its hill. Cate Le Bon’s dreamy indie folk and the daring hip hop of Young Fathers provided compelling contrasts there on Saturday.

The West Holts Stage was the spot for the broadest musical selection, with the heavily populated Daptone Super Soul Revue making the most of a sunny moment on Saturday afternoon, unlike Lana Del Rey on the Pyramid Stage. Her tragic laments needed a monsoon to sound right.

Every set made it clear that playing Glastonbury is like meeting the Queen for bands. Almost everyone stressed that their set here was a career pinnacle, including Friday headliners Arcade Fire, who brought fireworks as well as irresistible Haitian drumming.

Dolly Parton wrote a song about mud specially for the occasion, and charmed a vast crowd with her many hits and warm chatter. She was the welcome surprise in the line-up, and if you believed the pre-event hype, Metallica were the unwelcome one. Yet they worked as hard as anyone to please, their brand of metal was powerful but less extreme than many, and there was no mass exodus from the curious crowd. Metal at Glastonbury? Why not?

Kasabian’s big moment was equally deserved on Sunday night, their bombastic anthem LSF leaving the crowd singing well after their exit.

As ever, the biggest star was the festival itself, with all those flags, all the peripheral madness and yes, all that mud, providing an overwhelming experience that remains unique in British culture.