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Glastonbury Festival 2024: A day and night to remember for the ages

Dua Lipa moves the Glastonbury crowd in more ways than one at Worthy Farm, Somerset in England, June 28, 2024
Dua Lipa moves the Glastonbury crowd in more ways than one at Worthy Farm, Somerset in England, June 28, 2024 Copyright Joel C Ryan/Invision
Copyright Joel C Ryan/Invision
By Jonny Walfisz
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Dua Lipa astonishes, Marina Abramović silences, and a massive ejaculating rabbit. Everything we seen so far at Glastonbury.

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Glastonbury has been going on since Wednesday morning for most punters who travelled through the heat and dust to get to Worthy Farm. But for many, the main event doesn’t get going until Friday, as that’s when the big name music acts come on. And while Glastonbury might be known for its sprawling programme of cultural activities, it’s still primarily a music festival.

Here’s what went down as Euronews Culture got stuck into Glastonbury Festival 2024 on Friday.

Cirque du Vulgar

Starting off with the early hours of Friday/late hours of Thursday, the circus tent was abuzz with dynamic acts showing off with death-defying feats. Nothing was more impressive though than the final show in the Big Top, the appropriately titled Cirque du Vulgar.

Cirque du Vulgar's happy rabbit
Cirque du Vulgar's happy rabbit Jonny Walfisz/Euronews

Cirque du Vulgar arrives on stage in a London black cab that promptly breaks down and the huge troupe spills out on the stage. Structured chaos ensues as the show combines trapeze with burlesque and cabaret. It’s all very sexy, whether it’s the Vulgette’s contorting in and out of a giant champagne glass or the Only Gay in the Circus character’s Little Mermaid ode to orgies.

In the most impressive moment, a performer skips as he runs around a massive rotating hamster wheel on a pendulum. At around the height of a double-decker bus, he momentarily trips up. It’s clearly not part of the show as the spotters below jump into action mode. No need though, he self-corrects and the crowd goes wild. After that, the only thing left for the show is a celebration with a huge inflatable bunny with equally big ejaculating penis.

Voice of Baceprot

Voice of Baceprot, the first Indonesian band to play at the Glastonbury Festival, 28 June 2024
Voice of Baceprot, the first Indonesian band to play at the Glastonbury Festival, 28 June 2024Jonny Walfisz/Euronews

When all-female metal band Voice of Baceprot open the Woodsies stage on Friday, it’s apparently the first time ever an Indonesian band has performed on one of the main stages. All three members dressed in hijabs, it’s an even more unique sight.

While VOB has been criticised by some conservative Muslim voices back in Indonesia, there’s no criticism here. It’s a rocking set that energises the morning crowd. This is the biggest international stage they’ve ever played and it’s also guitarist-singer Firda Marsya Kurnia’s birthday. The songs may snarl, but she breaks down into tears when the crowd wishes her happy birthday at the end of the set.

Fun in the sun

Traipsing round the Glastonbury site alongside the hundreds of thousands of punters in various levels of festival garb are countless performers without a stage. A big part of the atmosphere comes from the range of characters you can bump into at any one time.

Are you a real doctor? Dr Ken, a scientific performer with a large dash of comedy
Are you a real doctor? Dr Ken, a scientific performer with a large dash of comedyJonny Walfisz/Euronews

We had a great chat with the charmingly whimsical Dr Ken, a science-based entertainer who is lugging around a telescope made of a gutter pipe and a bucket to show Glastonbury the stars.

There are also lots of activities you can give a go yourself. Back in the circus area, we came across a workshop where you could learn anything from juggling to devil sticks. We opted for a diabolo and after some careful training, managed to actually get it in the air. Catching it? Another story entirely.

Women take centre stage

In terms of music highlights, there were strong showings across the stages from female artists. After Voice of Baceprot, we caught Olivia Dean’s triumphant Pyramid Stage setlist. Her meteoric rise after her 2023 debut Mercury-nominated album ‘Messy’ has taken her from tiny stages to the biggest in the country.

Olivia Dean's Glastonbury show on Friday was mesmeric, Worthy Farm, Somerset, June 28, 2024
Olivia Dean's Glastonbury show on Friday was mesmeric, Worthy Farm, Somerset, June 28, 2024Joel C Ryan/Invision

Yet you’d never know it’s been such a fast ascendance as she commands the stage with a relaxed charm and rattles through her soulful setlist.

Over the rest of the day, there were other great sets from the likes of 00s British icons, the Sugababes and 90s grunge legend PJ Harvey. If anything, the only problem is these massive acts didn’t have many other clashing acts to divide crowds, causing massive swells of people – particularly ahead of the Sugababes.

Marina Abramović silents the crowds

Before PJ Harvey’s set begins, Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović takes to the Pyramid Stage for an experiment. In the name of peace, unity, togetherness, and… all that kinda Glasto jazz, Abramović wants the biggest stage in Glastonbury to fall silent for seven whole minutes.

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović appeals for peace and seven minutes of silence at Glastonbury
Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović appeals for peace and seven minutes of silence at GlastonburyJoel C Ryan/Invision

It’s all very hippy dippy but after the gong is sounded, it is genuinely impressive how many people can stay silent in one place for so long. The effect is somewhat diminished by the pumping sounds coming from other stages in the distance and Abramović’s silly peace sign outfit. It’s nowhere near as bold as Abramović thinks it is, but it’s still a nice distraction between the tunes.

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LCD Soundsystem delivers

James Murphy makes it look all too easy as he swaggers on stage with his gruff avuncular persona to rock the area with his disco-inflected indie tunes. Ever since he reunited LCD Soundsystem, they’ve gained a new touring energy that perfectly suits a sunset at the Pyramid.

The crowd is big but the bass is bigger, as Murphy brings everyone to their feet as he and his taut band run through hits across their back catalogue. It’s the perfect way to amp up the atmosphere ahead of Dua Lipa’s headline set.

Glastonbury for Palestine

Glastonbury festival goes walk by a Palestinian flag at Worthy Farm in Somerset, June 27, 2024
Glastonbury festival goes walk by a Palestinian flag at Worthy Farm in Somerset, June 27, 2024Scott A Garfitt/2024 Invision

One of the biggest political presences at this year’s festival is the swell of support for the Palestinian people in Gaza, of which an estimated 37,500 have been killed since October when Israeli forces launched a retaliatory campaign to destroy Hamas. A running joke between friends is to say you’re “by the Palestine flag” when they’re looking for you, so numerous are the flags. At one point, a group of 20 flag bearers come to the mainstage to ensure that the cause of the Gazan people is front and centre of everyone’s mind.

There were also flags raising awareness for the Hamas attack on the Nova Festival in Israel, that killed 364 revellers and took 40 hostages on 7 October. At one point during Dua Lipa’s set, both a Nova Festival flag and Palestine flag were next to each other at the very front as she addressed the crowd. Hopefully in the Glastonbury spirit those two groups found they had more in common than not.

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Dua Lipa astonishes

After a fun opening day of music, it was finally time for Dua Lipa’s headline set. She’s been preparing for this her whole life, she tells the crowd. It feels like it. The show is a non-stop blast of hits that most popstars would dream of recording over a career, let alone the three albums that Dua has released so far.

Dua Lipa performs at Glastonbury Festival's Pyramid Stage
Dua Lipa performs at Glastonbury Festival's Pyramid Stage Joel C Ryan/Invision
Dua Lipa changes up top as the Glastonbury crowd goes wild
Dua Lipa changes up top as the Glastonbury crowd goes wildJoel C Ryan/Invision

Dua isn’t the kind of popstar that you get to know on an individual level. There’s none of the empathic projecting you’d get at a Taylor Swift concert. Instead, she provides another service equally important to pop – a rave-inflected dance party.

Dua Lipa and her dancers look good in leather at Glastonbury Festival, 28 June 2024
Dua Lipa and her dancers look good in leather at Glastonbury Festival, 28 June 2024Scott A Garfitt/Invision

The set moves through costume changes (I counted four), stage changes (she spent a section on a platform in the centre of the crowd) and even special guests (Tame Impala).

While the songs off latest album ‘Radical Optimism’ aren’t necessarily as perfectly formed, Dua performs them like her life depends on it. She leads a dance troupe with such gusto, any comments about her early moves can be finally put to bed. It’s when she shifts into gear for her classic songs from ‘Future Nostalgia’ though that the entire Pyramid Stage goes into overdrive. This is the set of a pop princess with all the prowess of a future legend.

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