Pyramid Stage performances don't have quite the same impact from the comfort of your living roomMojoBaron/Flickr

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a ticket for Glastonbury this year. As I saw the tickets rapidly drain away, I held on to the vague hope that I could slip in as some kind of Varsity representative. Alas, my role as a middling music writer for a small student newspaper doesn’t quite have the same street cred as The One Show. I consoled myself that going to Clare May Ball was basically the same thing anyway.

Having returned to the exotic reaches of Birmingham and having already exhausted the catalogue of reality TV show reruns on E4, I decided there was no better way to spend my first few days at home than to bring Glastonbury to my living room. Armed with a lukewarm Aldi lager, the remnants of a May Week hangover, and the full catalogue of performances courtesy of BBC iPlayer, I felt there was not much difference between me and the beaming hordes of fans flocking to see my favourite artists. It was only natural, therefore, that I conducted a review of the sets I’d seen from the comfort of my armchair. I promise, I’m not bitter at all.

"Alas, my role as a middling music writer for a small student newspaper doesn’t quite have the same street cred as The One Show"

My first foray was a viewing of professional theatre-kid Jacob Collier, who took to a sunny West Holts stage on Saturday afternoon. Surrounded by a desk full of strange objects (instruments, I found out later) and decked out in the sort of colourful pyjama-looking wear that wouldn’t look amiss on a CBeebies TV presenter, I was almost certain a mix-up had occurred between one of the afternoon acts and the entertainment provided in the children’s tent. Despite my reservations, the hour I spent with Mr Tumble was, while occasionally quite cringe, undeniably heart-warming. At one point, using the crowd itself as a choir, he pitched the kind of guttural roar you expect from a Glastonbury audience into a vague tune to accompany one of his songs – an oddly unifying, life-affirming moment amongst the chaos of the festival. My attempt to join in at home didn’t quite work the same. I’m sure some complaints from the neighbours have already been filed.

Jacob Collier's audience choir was an oddly unifying moment amid the chaos of the festivalInstagram (@jacobcollier)

Having forgotten to turn up to the Union to see Rina Sawayama earlier in the term (I say forgotten, going to the Union makes me feel like I have insects crawling under my skin), I excitedly tuned in live to see her perform some of my favourite songs of recent years. An energetic pop masterpiece followed: fiery choreography, multiple outfit changes, and an astonishingly impressive vocal performance. Choosing to speak out about Matty Healy to the accompaniment of thundering electric guitars was particularly badass. Fiercely provocative, sleek, and outspoken, Rina Sawayama was a must-see act.

“Fiercely provocative, sleek, and outspoken, Rina Sawayama was a must-see act”

I was slightly late to watching Lana Del Rey, having lost track of time descending down the major rabbit hole that is geography documentaries on YouTube and making myself a cup of tea. Thankfully, I didn’t miss much, with Lana arriving on stage similarly late having spent too much time doing her hair. Her set proved lethargic, with Lana wooing the crowd with one wistful soft ballad after another, while taking the sum total of about 5 steps in either direction. While it’s true that her music doesn’t necessarily lend itself to jumping headfirst into the crowd, the addition of dancers on stage made her immobility even more striking. Dancing to not particularly danceable music, they seemed to struggle to find appropriate choreography, spending most of her set either swaying ethereally or sitting on a swing: in total, a fairly odd, but very Lana Del Rey-esque spectacle.


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Glastonbury remains a wonderful television experience. While some acts are undoubtedly better than others, the access to new music as well as familiar artists, and the massive range of genres on offer is a major triumph of public broadcasting. Unfortunately, festivals just aren’t quite the same on a TV screen. While there was something comforting about having the safety of a comfy armchair and a hot drink while watching Viagra Boys violently scream about the meaningless of modern life through my TV screen, I felt I may have missed some of the joys of actually being present. Next year, Varsity Bigwigs, please get me a free ticket.