Entertainment & Arts

Glastonbury preview: Eleven acts to watch this weekend

A muddy punter at Glastonbury Image copyright PA
Image caption Squelch, squelch, squelch. The true sound of Glastonbury.

Mud, moshpits, music and mayhem - Glastonbury is gearing up for a gargantuan 2,000+ performances this weekend.

Headliners Adele, Coldplay and Muse will rock the Pyramid stage - which this year is festooned with a giant lightning bolt in honour of the late David Bowie.

And many of the bands will contribute a song from their sets to a live album, which will raise money for Oxfam, in honour of MP Jo Cox.

With more than 100 stages spread across the 1,200-acre site, it can be hard to work out what to watch. So here is a guide to 11 of the suggested best acts making the pilgrimage to Worthy Farm.

And even if you're not attending, you can catch up with the festival on BBC radio, TV, online and the red button.


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Formed in Surrey by brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, Disclosure's exhilarating sound and light show has quickly become a highlight of festivals around Europe. This year, they graduate from the dance arena to Glastonbury's second-biggest venue, The Other Stage, where they top the bill on Friday night, as Howard explains.

How does it feel to be headlining?

It's an honour to be asked. The Other Stage - especially this slot we've been asked to do - is something we've wanted to do for a long, long time. For us, it's the pinnacle of what we've ever set out to do at Glastonbury.

What acts are you hoping to emulate?

People like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. They're some of the few acts we think have done electronic music in a live format and made it a genuinely entertaining show. It's much easier said than done.

Calvin Harris recently told us he'd grabbed Rihanna and recorded her vocals for This Is What You Came For in a caravan backstage at the Coachella festival. Do you ever get up to that sort of thing?

We always write the songs with the person who's singing it. So we've never done it quite as quickly as that. I guess the closest thing would be a couple of times we've bumped into Sam Smith on tour and literally had him on stage within an hour.

Is it really that ramshackle?

Generally we try and organise it at least a day or two in advance. But if it comes to it, we can literally decide 10 minutes before we go on.

For example, at Coachella, AlunaGeorge were playing on a different stage directly before our slot, so Aluna had to jump off stage at their show, get on a little golf buggy and head straight to us for the first song of our set. She only made it by 10 seconds, so that was pretty touch and go!


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Psych-rocktonauts Tame Impala have broken into the mainstream with their third album, Currents. Fronted by Kevin Parker, the Australian outfit won best international band at the Brits in February. They play the Pyramid Stage immediately before Adele on Saturday night.

You made a guest appearance during Mark Ronson's set last year. Did you have any idea at that point that you'd be coming back as the second headliner in 2016?

Obviously not! What's lucky for us is each year has new surprises in store. Things where, if you'd asked us a year earlier, we'd have had no idea they were coming - and this is one of those. But on a bigger scale.

What's your Glastonbury experience been like over the years?

We actually played the main stage the first time we ever went to Glastonbury. It was about 11:30 in the morning, with people just crawling out of their tents. We were playing mostly to a field of mud.

But each time we've played, I've fallen in love with it more and more.

Last year, Florence + The Machine were booked in the same slot as you, but they ended up headlining when Dave Grohl broke his leg. You must be hoping that Adele watches her step over the next few days...

Ha! Absolutely. We'd certainly be the most... what's the word? The most confusing headliner ever.

Are you looking forward to Adele's set?

I think everyone is... I'm not even English and I feel like it's going to be a religious moment for me. You know what I mean? She's England's girl. She's royalty.

Given your affection for the festival, do you feel like you have to do something special for your set?

I do, I do. We've already put the wheels in motion. But you have to balance doing something special, a one-off, with the nerves of messing that up and ruining the whole show.


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Self-described "ginger little cookie," Frances is being tipped as one of this year's breakthrough acts, thanks to heart-rending piano ballads like Don't Worry About Me and Grow. She plays the Pussy Parlure stage at 16:30 on Friday.

This is your first Glastonbury. What are you expecting?

I'm expecting chaos. I'm expecting it to be a completely different world.

Are you staying in a tent or the tourbus?

I'm actually staying in a hotel!

Oh, how posh.

I know! But I get back from Australia the day before… and it's also my birthday on the Monday, so it's like my birthday treat. I'll start the celebrations watching Coldplay on the Sunday.

What should people expect from your set?

Well, I've been touring with a keyboard since I was 16 and just recently I've got my own proper, big girl's piano. So that's very exciting. But I just want it to be a nice, relaxing little introduction for people that might not have heard me before.

What's the best, or the strangest, reaction you've had so far?

I played at Wilderness festival last year and people started doing contemporary dance - this sort of capoeira stuff - in the crowd. It was very nice, but it was pretty distracting.

THE HIGH WIRE ACT - The Bullzini Family

Image copyright Bullzini Family

Husband and wife Phoebe Bates and Christopher Anaspitos will spend most of Glastonbury 11 metres off the ground, performing their high-wire show Equilibrius. When they're not in mid-air, the couple also give classes in circus skills and invite fans to their caravan for a cup of tea.

What can you tell us about Equilibrius?

It's paying homage to traditional wire-walking and high-wire skills throughout the ages, but with a contemporary twist - there's a theatrical storyline about how we met and hopefully a few laughs, too.

How do you pay homage to your predecessors?

Those with a keen eye will notice my wife Phoebe stepping into buckets, which is a reference to Maria Spelterini, who crossed over the Niagra Falls in the 1800s wearing cherry baskets [strapped to her feet].

How dangerous is it to perform an act like this in Glastonbury's notoriously inclement weather?

We train in different weather conditions, so we know what our limits are. There's always an element of risk, but I'd be lying if I said I thought it was dangerous.

What's your top tip when you're training people to walk the wire?

What I find is that depending on the body that you've got, certain tricks will be easier. So it's easier for me to mount a unicycle on a slack rope than to do a backflip on a tight wire.

Wait... Neither of those sound easy

Easy might be the wrong word - but certainly more achievable. It's a shorter path to success!

What's your greatest Glastonbury experience?

There's so many! But it was probably when I did the Arcadia show in 2010, and I walked across a wire 11 metres in the air, near one of those [flaming] gas jets, and there were about 8,000 to 10,000 people in the field. It was a very simple walk, but the feeling of arriving at the other end of the wire, with the huge cheer from all those people, is something that reverberates in your soul.

THE LEGEND - Cyndi Lauper

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Media captionCyndi Lauper says she is 'so excited' about playing Glastonbury for the first time.

With a back catalogue that includes Time After Time, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and True Colours, Cyndi Lauper's set on the Acoustic Stage is sure to be a highlight of the festival. The singer will also perform songs from her new album, the country-tinged Detour.

This is your first Glastonbury. Are you looking forward to it?

Hell yeah, I'm excited! I was with Boy George in the States and he said: 'You're going to have so much fun' so I'm really looking forward to it.

Do you know what to expect?

There's a lot of camping and it's going to rain on Thursday, so bring your galoshes.

And will you be sticking around to see some of the other acts?

I won't be able to see some of the people I'd love to see, because I'm on tour. I think I'm playing on Sunday, so I can't see the people on Saturday like Squeeze or Madness and Adele. That stage is pretty slamming.

Tell us about how you came to record a country album in Nashville?

When you first come out, and you're famous, your job is being famous, I guess. You have to stay on the hamster wheel. Everything you might want to do, people are like: 'Don't do that, it'll ruin your career!'

At this point, it's like how many times can you be ruined? It's never too late to do what you want.

THE BOWIE TRIBUTE - Charles Hazlewood

Image copyright Chris Levine
Image caption Visualisation of Chris Levine's iy_project for the David Bowie tribute at Glastonbury 2016

On Saturday night at The Park stage, an orchestra conducted by Charles Hazlewood will perform Philip Glass's Symphony No 4, which is based on Bowie's Heroes LP. The performance will be accompanied by a light show designed by artist Chris Levine, who has worked with Massive Attack, Grace Jones and Sigur Ros - as Charles explains.

For people who've never heard the Philip Glass Symphony, tell me what it's like.

It's a really remarkable piece. Most people have some sense of what Philip Glass's music is like - it's hypnotic, it's repetitive, it's quite kaleidoscopic. And what he did, was he took the essence of Heroes - the essential melodic and harmonic contours of that album - and turned it into a symphony. It's almost like you're experiencing Bowie through a strange, glassy prism.

Is it right that you have to wait for Adele to sing her last note before you can strike up the orchestra?

Well, absolutely. We don't want to clash with that. So it will be literally at that moment, when all the other stages shut down, that we kick off. There will be something very magical and 'in the midnight hour' about it. I think The Park stage is the perfect place to do it because it's a gorgeous natural amphitheatre. People can just come and lie down, and take in this extraordinary 'son et lumiere' experience.

Apparently the light show will be visible right across the site.

Look, what I've heard is that, provided it's a relatively clear night, you'll be able to see the light from the moon.

So it's literally a Space Oddity!

Yeah, I think we can call it that! And do you know what? I feel in my heart this is exactly the kind of thing Bowie would approve of.

Quite clearly, by the means and the manner of his passing, he didn't want funerals, he didn't want memorials, he didn't want any of that mawkish rubbish. What he would have liked, I think, would be a big old celebration. A very theatrical, very out-there celebration of what it was he meant to all of us. And so, for me, this is a pitch perfect way of saying we're grateful David Bowie ever existed.

THE DIVA - Roisin Murphy

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Ireland's Roisin Murphy brings her off-kilter, expansive pop music to the West Holts stage at 20:30 on Friday. Expect to hear songs from her Mercury-nominated album Hairless Toys, alongside new music from the forthcoming Take Her Up To Monto.

You're something of a Glastonbury veteran...

Yeah, I think this might even be my fourth visit to Glastonbury. One time with Moloko, two solo times and back once again like a renegade master.

What are your best and worst experiences?

The sun setting as we were singing The Time Is Now, the first time I played there, was outstanding.

The Ruby Blue set (in 2005) was really difficult because it was just pure muck. It wasn't a pretty sight to look out from the stage and see people all brown and slithering around. You felt pretty sorry for them, to be honest.

How do you approach a festival set, compared to one of your own shows?

The requirement is to bang 'em out a little bit. It's not the opportunity to teach people about my new record.

Unlike a lot of electronic and pop acts, you play with a live band. How important is that?

With our band, it's all live. Anything could happen. Anything could go wrong. But it is musicianship. There's a flair to that, which you don't get any other way.

You're known for your costumes and elaborate staging. Do you have to scale that down when you're playing a festival?

Sometimes festivals aren't really set up for divas like me. My little crew has to set up a tent at the side of the stage to put all my clothes and props in.

It's just you and Grace Jones…

Yes, me and Grace Jones causing all the trouble!


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Guitar pop band Blossoms were all born in the same Stockport hospital, formed in 2013 and have honed their sound by rehearsing in their bassist's grandfather's scaffolding yard. They play The Other Stage on Friday morning, after coming fourth in the BBC's Sound of 2016.

This is your Glastonbury debut. What do you expect, having watched it from afar for all these years?

It'll just be surreal being there. It'll be like being in the telly.

Why should people get out of their tents to see you at 12:30 in the morning?

Well, they'll still be quite fresh on a Friday, I'd imagine. If we were playing on a Sunday I might have been a bit worried that nobody would come to watch us.

But if the sun's out and we're playing our melodic tunes, it'll be a nice way to start your Friday morning.

What's the song that goes down best in your set?

Charlemagne's the one. People's heads pop up, like: 'Oh, I know this one'. They've heard it subliminally. That catchy riff has gone into their head.

Will you be staying in a tent or a tourbus?

We'll be on a bus with beds, which is only a recent addition.

Paint me a picture of that bus.

To be honest, it's got a chilled vibe. And you can make some toast, which is fun when you're flying down the motorway.


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The Sonic Stage is dedicated to Britain's burgeoning Grime scene on Friday, with sets from the likes of Stormzy, Section Boyz, Charlie Sloth and J Hus. At the top of the bill is Kano, one the genre's original and most distinctive voices, who'll be playing songs from his critically-acclaimed new album, Made In The Manor.

Your album is so heavily rooted in East London - how will it feel performing it in a field down the road from Stonehenge?

Well, we'll find out! But what I've seen at the festivals I've done already, is everyone embraces it. Sometimes I'm on stage rapping about roads in East London and I hear people singing the lyrics back and I wonder: 'Why do you identify with this so much?'

I think it's two things. There's people who are interested in where I'm from, and it gives them a peak into my house, so to speak. And there's people who say: 'Do you know what? It's exactly like where I live'. So people from Birmingham and Manchester and all those inner city places just really embrace it.

This is the first time Grime has taken over a stage at Glastonbury - does it feel like a watershed moment?

Do you know what? It does feel like a real moment. I remember playing Glastonbury about 10 years ago and it was mainly indie bands, with a little section of rap. I remember people would try and spit on an Arctic Monkeys beat to try and do something the audience would recognise. Now you look at this line-up and you feel like: 'Wow, we really have arrived'. It's been a massive year for us. So yeah, it's a proud moment.

You joined Gorillaz on stage when they headlined in 2010. What was that like?

It's just crazy. It's just like a sea of people. Oh man, the emotion and the energy is like nothing you've ever, ever felt before.

Gorillaz' frontman Damon Albarn is playing with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians on Friday, too. Will you try to hook up with him?

Yeah, I'll try. I think I'll be doing a song with them. So I should be performing twice that day.

To quote one of your own songs back at you, do you think it'll be "t-shirt weather in the manor" this weekend?

I'm hoping so. I wouldn't put money on it. But my venue's a tent so if it rains, it'll get even busier. So I'm glad if it rains, man!


Garage rock trio The Bay Rays were formed in Kent just last year. But their debut single Four Walls and its follow-up, New Home, have blasted onto radio thanks to their combination of dynamic riffs and melodic harmonies. They headline the BBC Introducing stage on Sunday. Frontman Harry Nicoll can hardly believe his luck.

What were you doing this time last year?

This time last year, we were playing small cover gigs in local pubs, just to try and raise money to make some demos and buy a van that could get us on the road.

How did you go from a covers band to headlining a stage at Glastonbury in just 12 months?

I really don't know! We worked quite hard. We started with a bass player that didn't really know how to play bass - but he learned to play 30 songs in a week so we could do some gigs. [From that], we seemed to pick up the knowledge of how to put songs together.

For people who haven't heard you, what's the music like?

We're just writing about everyday life, really. There's only three of us and it's quite a simple sound. There's a bit of a glam feel - but there just seems to be something about it that resonates.

You're on at the same time as Coldplay - so why should people choose you over Chris Martin?

Well, everyone knows what Coldplay are about, because they've been around for a while. If you want to see something fresh and exciting and new, the Introducing stage nurtures that.

How nervous are you, on a scale of totally calm to permanently on the verge of throwing up?

At the moment, I'm fairly nonchalant. But I know that at the time, I'm going to be quaking in my boots.


US folk-rock trio Lumineers hit it big in 2012 with songs like Ho Hey and Stubborn Love. Their debut album went platinum on both sides of the Atlantic, with President Obama declaring himself a fan, and they became a firm favourite on the live circuit. Frontman Wesley Schultz tells us what to expect from their Glastonbury return.

When you first played Glastonbury in 2013 you jumped off stage and played a song in the middle of the audience. What do you remember about that?

We had just flown in, so I don't know what time it was in my body and mind but I remember feeling like it was all dreamlike. We were just going off instinct and muscle memory. We'd never played in front of that many people at that point. It was just an unbelievable high.

Had you heard of the festival before you played?

We had heard about it through friends but we didn't know what to expect. We had never heard of wellies!

Even the flags reminded me of watching Braveheart. You felt like you were removed from the present day.

How has the set list evolved now the second album's out? You must be pleased to be playing new material.

You can say that again! We used to love festivals because we barely had enough songs to fill 45 minutes! But it's just been really wonderful to turn the page and have all this new material to draw from.

Does that mean you won't be doing any more covers?

Sometimes we cover Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues. We used to play that in little bars, where they'd pay us next to nothing, but it'd be free food and beer. Subterranean Homesick Blues was one that got everyone's attention for a minute. Everyone would stop and say: 'I wonder if they're going to remember all the words?'

At festival it's really important that you take that into account, because there's a lot of people that may never see you again. So you think: 'How are we going to make them stay for one more song?'

There's a tradition of people dressing up at Glastonbury. What would you like to see as you look out at the crowd?

Of all the people in our band, Jerry is the only one who has a signature look. He's like a superhero, he always has to wear the same thing every day. So if people wear some braces and a white shirt, we'll know they're Lumineers fans, so that would be cool.

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