Saturday at Glastonbury 2022: the best festival moments as Paul McCartney headlined

·20 min read
saturday at glastonbury festival 2022 highlights best moments paul mccartney headliners performers olivia rodrigo self esteem performances - Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
saturday at glastonbury festival 2022 highlights best moments paul mccartney headliners performers olivia rodrigo self esteem performances - Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Over 200,000 people are flooding into Pilton, Somerset, for the world's biggest Greenfield festival, Glastonbury, which opened on Wednesday.

Headliners in this 50th anniversary year are Paul McCartney – who has just turned 80 – and Billie Eilish – the festival's youngest headliner to date. Macca performed on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night, and you can read about Eilish's triumphant set here, plus catch up on all the action from Friday. Greta Thunberg also made an appearance during Saturday's festivities, as did Noel Gallagher.

There's plenty more to come, too: Kendrick Lamar will be Sunday's headliner, and Diana Ross is performing in the Legends slot.

The Telegraph's chief music critic Neil McCormick, as well as Telegraph music journalists James Hall and Alice Vincent, and Telegraph features writer Ed Cumming are all at the farm this year and will be contributing live talking points, reviews, and Glastonbury highs and lows throughout the weekend.

Saturday's Glastonbury highlights

Paul McCartney knocks out one storming classic after another

Paul McCartney headlines Glastonbury 2022 - REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Paul McCartney headlines Glastonbury 2022 - REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Neil is bringing us his full verdict on the Beatle's headlining set later, but here's a sneak preview at the halfway point. Spoiler alert: Macca rules.

And there he was, with his Hofner bass and Beatle collar jacket, rocking through Can't Buy Me Love, Got to Get You Into My Life and Getting Better. It was the return of the Macca, Britain’s most revered rock legend headlining the nation's most beloved festival.

When it comes to knowing exactly what an audience wants and delivering it with pin point perfectionism, the Oldies rule. And even amongst rock's veterans, nobody has a more universally loved cross-generational back catalogue than McCartney, with the Beatles, Wings and solo. Famously a people pleaser, he was certainly committed to pleasing the festival faithful. McCartney and his tightly drilled combo just kept knocking them out, one absolutely storming classic after another, sending waves of excitement up the packed hillside, and turning the biggest crowd of the 2022 Glastonbury festival into the world's biggest choir.

Detractors say McCartney can't sing like he used to. And certainly his voice has thinned over the decades, grown weaker and more fragile. Nevertheless he is still singing in the same keys and hitting all the right notes, using warrior skills to make up for any loss of youthful vigour. He roared through Wings classic Let Me Roll It, weaving in a wild lead solo. He briefly paused the show for stewards to help a man in the crowd, joking "It wasn't my solo, was it?".

Read Neil McCormick's review of Paul McCartney

Johnny Depp video features in McCartney's set

Many viewers were startled to see a black-and-white video featuring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp appear behind Paul McCartney while he crooned My Valentine, a song dedicated to his wife Nancy. Depp isn't exactly a controversy-free paragon of a spouse, to put it mildly, given his recent defamation trial against former wife Amber Heard.

But Macca has continued to use this video - which was shot in 2012 - during his recent tour, and clearly didn't see a problem with reprising it at Glastonbury. Others may disagree.

It's nearly Macca time

Word from our intrepid correspondents on the ground is that there's already an enormous crowd gathered for Paul McCartney at the Pyramid Stage, so big in fact that they're routing people round the back. Alice adds that she hasn't seen a crowd like this since Dolly Parton played the Legend slot back in 2014.

Plus, plenty of hardcore fans have gone for the full Sgt Pepper suit. We hope they will enjoy the show. In fact, it's already kicking off: Beatles tracks are being played over the speakers. The man himself is on at 9:30pm, although the BBC won't actually start broadcasting his set until 10:30pm.

Noel Gallagher gives the crowd what they want – eventually ★★★☆☆

Noel Gallagher at Glastonbury 2022 - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
Noel Gallagher at Glastonbury 2022 - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph

Noel Gallagher’s Pyramid Stage set before Paul McCartney was a big deal. It was the largest crowd that the former Oasis guitarist has played to without his younger brother and former bandmate Liam standing next to him. Oasis split up in 2009 and there is, famously, little love lost between the siblings.

It was therefore brave of Gallagher to perform seven of his solo songs before playing a single crowd-pleasing Oasis track. To his credit, he acknowledged this early on. “What’s going to happen is I’m going to play you a few more tunes that you don’t give a shit about,” he said a few tracks in. “But if you stick around. F---ing hell. There’s going to be a lot of happy people in bucket hats.”

The comment was amusing in its honesty. But just weeks after Liam played two monster outdoor gigs at Knebworth, Noel could have frontloaded his set with a couple of bangers. Thrown the crowd some red meat. Songs like solo single Holy Mountain are great. But when at least 80,000 people are standing in a field in glorious sunshine, prior to being entertained by a Beatle, they want something to sing along to.

But when the hits came, they came in spades. Little By Little, Whatever, Half the World Away and Wonderwall were greeted with the kind of mass singalongs you’d expect. “Enjoy the big man. He’s got some tunes,” Gallagher said at the end. He ended with Don’t Look Back in Anger as flares lit up across the sun-drenched field. It was the kind of moment that Glastonbury is made for. It’s just a shame that it was a set of two halves. James Hall

John Cooper Clarke is the safest Glasto fodder imaginable ★★★☆☆

John Cooper Clarke - Samir Hussein/WireImage
John Cooper Clarke - Samir Hussein/WireImage

The sky is blue, the sun is beating down and the straw-strewn paths are dry. Olivia Rodrigo is playing on the Other Stage. All the more credit to the several hundred ultras who packed into the gloomy blue Avalon tent to see Dr John Cooper Clarke. Perhaps it is part of the 70s revival.

His body fat percentage is as low as ever, the hair as black, but any edge to his material has long since rubbed away. He delivered his usual polished mix of dad jokes and poems written decades ago. His sense of humour is closer to Jeremy Clarkson’s than he’d like to admit. "There’s a special fat guys prison in Essex. The bars are five yards apart."

But the audience don’t mind. They’re here to see the idea of Dr John Cooper Clarke - "a medical guy" as he reminds us, and that’s what they get. They clap the hits home: Chickentown, I Wanna Be Yours. At 73, he is the safest Glasto fodder imaginable: irascible, funny, charming and inert. Ed Cumming

Olivia Rodrigo proves she's more than just a TikTok trend ★★★★★

Olivia Rodrigo at Glastonbury 2022 - JON ROWLEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Olivia Rodrigo at Glastonbury 2022 - JON ROWLEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Has any artist commanded such a loud callback as Olivia Rodrigo? A noticeably high-pitched chorus of “God! It’s brutal out here!” ricocheted from the Other Stage as the former Disney star opened with one of her many viral hit songs.

At 19, Rodrigo was making her UK debut in a prime slot at Glastonbury’s second-largest stage. No wonder she admitted to being nervous. She needn’t have been, though: this gig will go down as the moment Rodrigo showed that she was more than just a TikTok trend, but a polished pianist, singer and writer of emotionally raw songs.

Dressed in a complicated combination of purple camouflage with enormous knee-high boots, Rodrigo seemed to have made the rookie error of working through her biggest tunes too soon - Brutal was followed by Drivers License, the stripped-back breakup song that catapulted her to international fame last summer. But a fun and invigorating set followed, bolstered by an all-female backing band and, bizarrely, Lily Allen to cover the matter’s 2009 F--k You, dedicated to the five members of the Supreme Court who overturned Roe v Wade. There was also a hugely entertaining cover of Canadian pop-punk Avril Lavigne’s Complicated - released before Rodrigo was born.

Lily Allen joined Olivia Rodrigo - Joseph Okpako/WireImage
Lily Allen joined Olivia Rodrigo - Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Yes, Rodrigo’s booking is a mutual coup not only for Glastonbury’s organisers and the American star, but also the festival’s family appeal. The crowd was the youngest I’ve seen at the festival outside of the Kidz Field - there was even a Tracy Beaker flag. Rodrigo wore her adolescent vulnerability on her detached sleeves: it seemed every other song was written in a bedroom, or because a boy made her feel sad, or because she’d written a poem about how a boy had made her feel bad. But how brilliant to platform these voices and feelings. Teenage girls have been shaping our pop tastes since The Beatles. It’s fitting that on the same night that one of them headlines the Pyramid Stage, a young woman is given the mic, too. Alice Vincent

Bizarrely, it looks like the BBC didn't entirely agree with Rodrigo's right to express herself. That duet with Lily Allen, aimed squarely at the US Supreme Court, was cut from the broadcast replay. Perhaps it was the pre-watershed foul language that they took issue with - although it doesn't seem terribly rock 'n' roll of them...

Haim look and sound like a band on a mission ★★★★☆

Haim at Glastonbury 2022 - Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP
Haim at Glastonbury 2022 - Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg's climate emergency speech may have been serious and timely, but in festival parlance it was a total bummer, man. Fortunately Haim ran straight onto the Pyramid stage in her wake, launching into a riotously joyous set of blissfully harmonised, swaggeringly groovy pop rock to lift the festival's collective spirits. It's the end of the world as we know it … but, hey, let's get the party started.

Bringing the sunshine vibes all the way from LA, the trio of Haim sisters have become real Glastonbury favourites, and this uplifting, exciting, exuberant set demonstrated exactly why. Identically dressed in bikinis and faux-leather flares, they shared lead vocals and swapped instruments with a spirit of playful glee that was a delight to witness. No matter how big the crowd (and this was a big one), Haim genuinely look like they might be having more fun than the audience.

Bassist Este (the eldest sister) gurns so furiously as she plays that she looks like she might be trying to manipulate the sound with her teeth. Lead guitarist, occasional drummer and middle sister Danielle plays with the full-body power of a heavy metal axe hero, but somehow fits this hard rock instinct into deeply groovy pop songs that sound like what you might get if you crossed Fleetwood Mac with the Sugababes. Meanwhile youngest sibling, multi-instrumentalist keyboard, guitar and percussion player Alanna fills in all the spaces in the sound whilst occupying stage space as if she was the star of the show.

It's rare to get a band with three such strong front persons without obvious tensions and ego clashes, but somehow this sisterhood manage to balance the spotlight and present a truly united front. The way they swap lead vocals is a total delight, picking up each others' lines, crisscrossing and harmonising. It surely helps that they've got such elastic, melodic songs to play with. My only quibble with Haim is that they rock so much harder live than they do on record. They have got this far by crafting very artful modern pop with old-school harmonic flavours, but one of these days I'd really like to hear them let loose in the studio and turn the dial up to 11.

It is hard to argue with their progress though. Almost ten years ago, in 2013, I saw Haim make their Glastonbury debut and described them as future headliners. I stand by that. It's taken a decade to climb up to third on the Saturday night Pyramid stage bill, but they still look and sound like a band on a mission. Haim rock. And they are going to rock all the way to the top spot... as long as the world doesn't come to an end first. Neil McCormick

Glass Animals supply retro fun in the sun ★★★☆☆

Glass Animals at Glastonbury
Glass Animals at Glastonbury

Poor Oxford indie rockers Glass Animals had to abort their initial entrance onto the Other Stage for their late-afternoon set as their in-ear monitors were not working. Having just walked on, they promptly left the stage.

Technical issues sorted, they took to the stage (again) looking like children’s TV presenters. Singer Dave Bayley wore white dungarees with cherries on them, and his bandmates sported equally bright colours. With all the children in the audience, this initially felt a bit like ‘Dick and Dom do Glastonbury’. However, the band’s brand of retro indie pop turned out to be hugely enjoyable. This was a colourful show of family-friendly fare, played under blazing late-June sun.

Watched from the wings by none other than Hollywood royalty Woody Harrelson, the band mixed traditional guitar-based indie rock with breezy 1980s synth sounds. And it went down a treat. Their stage set majored on retro neon futurism - at one point, Pac-Man appeared on screen behind them.

They ended with the mammoth Heat Waves, a track that has had over 1.7 billion streams on Spotify alone. With a chorus that goes “Sometimes, all I think about is you/ Late nights in the middle of June”, it seemed to fit the bill perfectly. James Hall

Greta Thunberg berates the villains of climate change

Greta Thunberg delivering a speech at Glastonbury - Leon Neal/Getty
Greta Thunberg delivering a speech at Glastonbury - Leon Neal/Getty

I wonder how many of the tens of thousands of people who turned up to see Californian sisters Haim take to the Pyramid Stage knew that Greta Thunberg would be warming up. The 19-year-old environmentalist’s appearance was only announced at 11am today. Behind me, one festivalgoer broke the news to a friend. “Today? Here? That’s hilarious!” she replied.

Thunberg’s speech - a brand-new one, whipped up in part to promote her forthcoming book - was hardly laugh-a-minute, but it was as galvanising as it was grim-faces. Introduced by Emily Eavis, Thunberg stood up and read from a few sheets of blown-about A4 as she spoke of the urgency to tell the story of climate change. There were plenty of stark warnings - we were told that “This is not the new normal”, that “We will not be able to adapt to this” and “The world we are used to safely inhabit no longer exists.” Thunberg made it very clear who were the villains - big business; colonialism; the world leaders who have done nothing, at best, and lied, at worst - and who were the ones who could save us from falling off the precipice we are being pushed off: ourselves.

'Hardly laugh-a-minute': the Glastonbury crowd listens to Greta Thunberg - Yui Mok/PA Wire
'Hardly laugh-a-minute': the Glastonbury crowd listens to Greta Thunberg - Yui Mok/PA Wire

Hope, Thunberg told us, was something that was earned. And certainly her speech didn’t leave me with much, but if change is going to happen it needs to be discussed at platforms like the biggest festival stage in the UK. It was extremely telling that everyone watching was quiet - you could have heard a pin drop halfway up the Pyramid arena. Perhaps that’s hopeful in itself. Alice Vincent

All you need is Paul

As you get ready to go on a magical mystery tour with Macca, get some insight into this 80-year-old legend from music's biggest stars. What words of wisdom did he share with Bono? Or Jeff Lynne? How about Elvis Costello? Neil has all the goss.

And let us know your favourite Paul McCartney songs, shows or stories in the comments below!

Feminist powerhouse Self Esteem deserves a bigger stage ★★★★☆

Self Esteem, aka Rebecca Lucy Taylor, has been touring her searing 2021 record Prioritise Pleasure since last year. Was it all an elaborate warm-up for this mid-afternoon slot at the John Peel stage? Perhaps not, but in any case the accomplished singer-songwriter delivered a whipsmart set in fantastic festival get-up: a bodacious spangled breast plate that made Jean Paul Gaultier’s effort for Madonna look subtle.

Self Esteem at Glastonbury
Self Esteem at Glastonbury

Accompanied by three singer-dancers on a stage backed by an enormous sign reading “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged” - a lyric from album opener I’m Fine - Taylor blended virtuosic close harmonies with a winking campiness that saw her pause for applause (riotous) and to let her razor-sharp lyrics about self-empowerment sink in. Poignant ballad The 345 was dedicated to “our sisters in America” in light of the changed abortion law. The sun may have been shining outside but Self Esteem turned the John Peel stage into a dark, sweaty and feverish dance pit.

This may have been Self Esteem’s Glastonbury debut but Taylor has played the festival before as the whimsical frontwoman of Noughties indie group Slow Club, the experience of which contributed to the febrile feminism that runs through much of Self Esteem’s music. Here’s to a bigger stage next time. Alice Vincent

Who will duet with Paul McCartney?

Might Dave Grohl join Paul McCartney? - Theo Wargo/Getty
Might Dave Grohl join Paul McCartney? - Theo Wargo/Getty

With just hours to go before Paul McCartney’s Pyramid Stage headline set, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive about who might be joining him on stage. I have heard all of the following today (and it’s only half-past two). Dave Grohl is coming on to drum for a few songs. However, the Foo Fighters’ frontman has got stiff competition as Macca’s Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr has, apparently, been seen on site. Fresh from playing Hyde Park, Elton John is whizzing down to duet with him, and Bruce Springsteen might also rock up. Meanwhile Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher (who is onsite as he’s playing before McCartney) are said to be joining McCartney to reform their erstwhile supergroup The Smokin’ Mojo Filters. Phew.

Oh, one more. Harry Styles, whose new album has a distinct McCartney feel, is coming on. Definitely. That’s definitely happening, go the rumours. So frenzied is the speculation that some wags onsite are joking that John Lennon is making a guest appearance. For what it’s worth, and I know nothing at all, my moles beneath the Pyramid Stage tell me that Grohl is the most likely option. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gallagher too. Let’s see. At least one of the above will happen. After all, Macca has always got by with a little help from his friends. James Hall

Lauren Laverne pulls out of Glastonbury coverage following her mother's death

Sad news from the popular presenter, who has been at Worthy Farm covering the festival for the BBC. She took to Instagram to announce the passing of her mother Celia, writing - in a heartfelt tribute - that her mum "ran the only reggae club night in the NE and told me that being young in the 60s felt like that line in Mr Tambourine Man 'to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free'." She added that Celia had been looking forward to "watching Paulie (as he was always known in our house - her favourite Beatle) tonight. She’d been a fan ever since she saw him at the Sunderland Empire in 1963 (and later met him later with me - he was just lovely to her)."

Saturday's mood music: mellow, with a side of dragon

There’s definitely a mellow vibe around the site today. Perhaps it’s the sunshine, perhaps it’s the gentle ambience of the third morning of the festival, but Strummerville, hill above the Park and Green Fields are far busier than the thudding dance music mania of Silver Hayes.

This year marks 30 years since artist Ray Brooks was commissioned to make four “elemental” dragons for the festival site. The water dragon is the only one that remains; tucked in a wooded snicket to the edge of the Stone Circle, it’s bloody massive - 80 feet long. The waterfall that clearly ran here once is nowhere to be seen; a sign of how much the rainfall levels have changed on the site over the debases. Alice Vincent

Ukraine's Eurovision winners play their first ever UK concert

The big moments at Glastonbury don’t always happen on the big stages.

Fresh from winning the Eurovision Song Contest in May, Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra played their first ever UK concert on the remote Truth Stage in the Shangri-La zone of Glastonbury’s so-called Naughty Corner in the small hours of Saturday morning. The symbolism of the seven-piece band playing was lost on no-one. War may be ravaging their country but here they were - standing for freedom by playing at the world’s most famous music festival.

The crowd was dotted with Ukrainian flags, with some audience members wearing the country’s traditional dress. Kalush Orchestra play a blend of hip hop and traditional Ukrainian folk music. Front man Oleh Psiuk, immediately identifiable by his pink bucket hat, bounded around the stage. “We came from Ukraine to share our music and culture,” he said.

The sound was rich, the bass was deep and loud. After all the focus on the war during the Eurovision campaign, it was refreshing to hear their music over the course of an hour-long set. It had room to breathe. Psiuk an accomplished rapper (he adores Eminem - you could tell). It was a compelling sonic blend overall, with neat hooks played by traditional instruments like a telenka, a long wooden flute-like instrument without finger holes. James Hall

Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest last month - REUTERS
Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest last month - REUTERS

Psiuk deployed tried and tested "big crowd" tricks. For example, he got different sides of the audience to scream and judged who was the loudest. He threw a replica of his pink bucket hat into the winning side. There was also on-stage breakdancing in this visually-compelling show (two of the band wore outfits comprising head-to-toe multicoloured dreadlocks). At one point Psiuk asked people to dance as though it was the last party of their lives. They duly did.

But inevitably, the conflict loomed large. Kalush’s winning song, Stefania, was written by Psuik about his mother before the invasion. With lyrics about maternal love, it took on new meaning once the war started. For "mother" people read "motherland". It was so rapturously received they played it twice.

The band kept direct mention of the war to a minimum, and the performance was all the more potent for it. The fact that they were here, playing music that they love, was enough. The show was only organised last week - straight after it, they got on a bus to fly back to Ukraine.

At the very end of the show, they stood still, hands clasped over their hearts, bathed in blue and yellow light. They received a long and deserved ovation for what was an incredibly powerful and special concert. James Hall

What's your favourite Glastonbury memory of 2022 so far? How about your favourite Glastonbury memory all of time? Tell us in the comments below

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