Key events

Here’s a wee roundup of some of the most memorable moments of this year’s festival. Somewhat premature, some might say – we have a full seven hours to go! Anything could happen.

Hey folks! Keza taking over from Laura here on the liveblog – I’ve just sprinted back from Blondie, which was one of the most heartening performances I’ve seen in a while. It doesn’t matter if you get old! Just keep rocking!

While we await Ben’s review of Blondie, here are a couple of snaps of Debbie Harry apparently having a whale of a time on the Pyramid stage.

Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Debbie Harry getting up close with the crowd. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Viagra Boys reviewed!

Jenessa Williams

Park stage, 4pm

“None of you hippies better be sitting down out there … I know its 4.30, but this is your last chance to have fun, unless you want to see Elton John choke on a prawn…”

The prawn is somewhat inexplicable, but this kind of surrealist specificity is what Viagra Boys do well. With singer Sebastian Murphy introducing them tonight as “Scandinavia’s worst band”, they approach the art of dance-post-punk with vim and vigour, lacking in the kind of self-seriousness that has sometimes held similar-sounding bands back.

Ain’t No Thief, Slow Learner and Punk Rock Loser are kitsch in their bawdiness, driving grooves that mimic the glory years of Skins parties and indie discos, but with a steelier political edge. With 2022 album Cave World taking on broad themes of pandemic-era vaccine hesitancy and conspiracy theory, they dedicate Troglodyte to “the fucking right wing, fucking everything up”, drawing enormous cheers. With a ch-ch-ch-ch hook that echoes that of My Sharona, it ignites the masses and everything from here in on is an easy win.

Sebastian Murphy of Viagra Boys on the Park stage. Photograph: Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP

Sports is still their best known banger – chanting through the mundanities of chest-puffed toxic masculinity as Murphy delivers illustrative wheezing press ups – but they close on a version of Research Chemicals which quickly turns so feral that half the band are in the crowd, a dustbowl cloud forms from all the dancing, and one particular lad down the front starts throwing his own toddler high in the air, health and safety protocols be damned. As chants of “one more song, one more song” are bellowed but ultimately not met, the energy is, quite frankly, insatiable.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens reviewed

Alexis Petridis’s review of Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ ‘Sunday legend’ performance is in, and he found it quite the tonic …

Speakers Corner Quartet reviewed!

Gwilym Mumford

West Holts, 4pm

For an hour or so this afternoon the West Holts stage is transformed into the dimly lit bar in Brixton where Speakers Corner Quartet hold court, inviting jazz, soul and spoken word artists to follow them down the rabbit hole. The quartet’s debut album, 17 years in the making, is followed here by a victory lap performance where many of their long term collaborators – Tirzah, Shabaka Hutchings, Kae Tempest, Joe-Armon Jones – make an appearance in an unceasing conveyor belt of British talent.

Befitting this assemblage of characters is a wildly varied set, each song generously deferring to the characteristics of its collaborator. Hutchings’ propulsive free jazz saxophone is backed by a swirling, hypnotic composition, while Tirzah’s unconventionally accented, whispered alt-soul vocals are given a delicate, respectful backing and Coby Sey’s barked spoken word is supported by a doomy repeated riff.

But it’s the track featuring Tempest, Geronimo Blues, that truly spellbinds, the swirl of strings and flutes building alongside the rise and fall of their stirring spoken word pronouncements. Afterwards Tempest, in a rousing speech, underlined the importance of music and community in fractious times. Speakers Corner Quartet are surely proof of that.

Toyah and Robert Fripp reviewed!

Elle Hunt

Acoustic stage, 4.10pm

Fresh from their popular pandemic covers series, husband-and-wife duo Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp appear on the misleadingly named Acoustic stage for a set of songs by artists that either the pop star or the King Crimson guitarist have worked with. Willcox, 65 and lithe in a glossy red catsuit, beckons their six-piece, besuited band (with Fripp front and center) to open with a fiery version of her hit Thunder in the Mountains. “We thought we were in the heavy metal tent, I’m really sorry,” she says afterwards, before shouting out her Birmingham hometown and fellow Brummies Black Sabbath. “This is our acoustic version,” she jokes of the next track, jerking and twisting her body as the band launch into a pummelling, and very much electric, rendition of Paranoid.

The set is unambiguously geared towards members of their generation, with rock sing-a-long standards paired with entreaties to remember one’s first detention or first kiss. Often Willcox plays up to her rock-chick status, making explicit her own active sex life. “I’ve been married to this hunk for 37 years; in fact he’s 77’ years of pure rock sex,” she says of Fripp, who is in headphones, seated on a black block beside her, with a tablet presumably displaying his guitar tablature. He smiles benignly. “Now going to the other side of the spectrum, let’s go to my pop career.”

She flings herself into Martha and the Muffins’ Echo Beach, and the mostly pentagenarian or over crowd ramp up from swaying hips to appreciative bobs, holding aloft phones in card-wallet cases. It is swiftly followed by her own It’s a Mystery, which she heralds as having soundtracked everything from detentions to conceptions. “Oh my God, this man is so cool,” gushes Willcox again of her impassive husband. “And I made him breakfast this morning. I’m so glad I slept with a guitarist!” The gusto and energy of her performance unsettlingly contrast the brisk and functional band, like she’s hogging the mic at karaoke for rock hits from Metallica to Neil Young – but the crowd reciprocate her energy with equal enthusiasm.

Here’s the view from Blondie from two different angles, down at the Pyramid stage…

Blondie performing on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, 25 June 2023. Photograph: Keza MacDonald/The Guardian

And from the Park stage.

The crowd at Blondie as seen from the Park stage at Glastonbury, 25 June 2023. Photograph: Josh Halliday/The Guardian

Up at Blondie, they’ve done a keytar-centric rendition of Call Me, Debbie has now removed her visor, and given some insight on putting the setlist together. “We gotta get those phone songs outta the way early, because none of it is relevant today.”

Jury’s still out on Britney appearing with Elton, but …

Elton John’s team just performed a soundcheck at Glastonbury. As one mic was being tested, a member of the crew said: “One, two, one two. Rina mic, one, two.”

So is that @rinasawayama confirmed for the Pyramid Stage tonight?

— Mark Savage (@mrdiscopop) June 25, 2023

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