© The Financial Times Ltd 2014 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
Last updated: June 30, 2014 5:53 pm
The biggest audience at this year’s Glastonbury festival, far larger than those watching the previous nights’ headliners Arcade Fire and Metallica, was for Dolly Parton, who bounded on for her afternoon Pyramid Stage slot in a dazzling white jumpsuit, her gargantuan mane of blonde hair visible to even the furthest flung of the 90,000 or so present, whom she greeted in the traditional Tennessee fashion: “Howdy!”
Her numbers were swelled by sunny weather, a welcome change from the rain of the earlier days. Yet it was still remarkable to see the queen of country’s pulling power: a sign of the relatively humdrum nature of this year’s line-up.
Her set was a genially corny Nashville affair. The 68-year-old singer rattled on about her life – the “big ol’ farm” where the festival happens held no surprises for a lil’ ol’ farmer’s gal like herself – and jaunted through hits such as “Jolene”. A beautifully sung version of a 19th-century murder ballad, “The Banks of the Ohio”, from her latest album was a reminder of the powerful voice that goes with the showbiz schmaltz. But mostly the latter prevailed, Parton for some reason choosing to reveal her little-known saxophone chops by honking the Benny Hill theme tune on the instrument and rocking out awkwardly with Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora on a novelty cover of Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me”.
On the Other Stage Ellie Goulding continued her transformation into a proper Big Pop Star, gyrating in a gold training bra and black miniskirt while delivering lively arena-sized versions of her dance-pop to a young crowd.
Rap music was the victim of ungenerous scheduling this year. On Friday Detroit harlequin Danny Brown played a manic set to a sparse and chilly crowd at the distant Park Stage. On Sunday evening Chicago up-and-comer Chance the Rapper played to a similarly underpopulated John Peel Tent. Backed by a band, moving unpredictably between R&B singing and barked passages of rapping, he transmitted a livewire sense that anything might happen, like a younger, less otiose Kanye West.
The task of ending the festival fell to Kasabian, the final headliners. The Leicester rockers snapped into action with “Ecstasy”, a belligerent party song that pressed some pretty basic buttons, but, considering the context, the right ones. The band’s habit of talking the talk and then failing to walk it surfaced on “Underdog”, tuxedo-wearing singer Tom Meighan snarling, “This is why you came [to Glastonbury],” a boast the song’s pedestrian thump fell laughably short of achieving. But a succession of aggressive big-beat anthems did the trick, working the crowd into an impressive frenzy. Glastonbury’s desire to educate has dwindled but it can still entertain.
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney was named Arts Reviewer of the Year at this year’s London Press Club awards
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.