Following a dicey week, Arctic Monkeys got through to convey an undeniably exhilarating, if lopsided, title set at the Glastonbury celebration.
After frontman Alex Turner developed laryngitis, the band had to cancel a Tuesday show in Dublin because their set was in jeopardy.
But he came out sounding better than ever, high-kicking through a set of indie songs that defined an era.
At the beginning of the show, he deadpans, “The Monkeys are back on the farm.”
After previously performing as headliners in 2007 and 2013, this is the band’s third time.
Matt Helders, the drummer, told the BBC before the show that they were the best prepared they had ever been for the festival.
“Obviously, we really felt the pressure the first time. The second time was fun because it was at the beginning of a tour, but we hadn’t been playing before.
“We’re on it this time. We are in the middle of a tour, so we are in a good spot. We’re doing everything right.”
They were a perfect match, tearing through songs like “Crying Lightning” and “Fluorescent Adolescent” while still allowing the more experimental material on their most recent album, “The Car,” to develop.
The set was meticulously timed, and it never strayed too far from a singalong that stomped on turf. However, despite this, some of the more melancholy sections were unable to captivate the festival audience, who simply desired to hear the hits.
They kicked things off with Sculptures Of Anything Goes, a new song that was apprehensive and hesitant at first before quickly transitioning into the explosive riffs of Brianstorm. The first flare of the night was lit at that point, and the crowd began to dance.
The band played songs like “Snap Out Of It,” “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair,” “Crying Lighting,” and “Teddy Picker” in rapid succession for the next 20 minutes, barely slowing down the pace.
Despite being somewhat distant, Turner is a charismatic frontman. He makes convincing rock star shapes while resting his foot on the monitors and wearing an unbuttoned shirt with a wide collar. However, all he says to the audience is “Thank you very much” in the vein of Las Vegas.
Although there is frequently a disconnect between the stage and the field, a little bit more communication might have prevented the audience from drifting off during the slower-paced new songs.
However, this is regrettable because songs like “Four Out of Five” and “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball” are grand and romantic in a way that gives the Arctics’ sound new dimensions; furthermore, Turner is noticeably more happy with singing those tracks than the ones he composed as a teen in Sheffield.
Body Paint, a swaggering, cinematic ballad from The Car that pushed Turner to greater and greater guitar pyrotechnics during its extended crescendo, was, in my opinion, one of the night’s standout tracks.
However, despite the fact that the audience frequently became impatient, everything was made right when the Arctics ended their set with RU Mine and I Bet You Look Good On The Dance.
Turner played cheeky stop-start arrangements throughout the encore so that 80,000 people could suddenly be singing about “dancing like a robot from 1984.”
which, of course, was what they had always wanted to do.
The site’s first full day of music was on Friday; as well as a plethora of unexpected highlights.
Cate Blanchett, an Oscar-winning actress, performed the interpretive dance she did in Sparks’ most recent video for “The Girl is Crying in Her Latte” on stage with the pop experimentalists from the United States.
According to the devoted fans who showed up to swoon over Hozier’s pounding Celtic ballads, word had clearly spread that he was playing a secret set on the Woodsies stage.
However, Foo Fighters, a band from the United States, were the biggest (and worst-kept) secret.
On the Pyramid Stage shortly after 18:00 BST, in a time slot that had been advertised as “The ChurnUps,” they performed a brief but enthusiastic set.
They ripped through rough and ragged versions of hits like “Best Of You,” “The Pretender,” and “Everlong” in just an hour of playing.
Dave Grohl, the frontman, seemed to hint that they would return for a bigger show next year at the end of their set.
“Assuming that you all return, we’ll return,” he announced
Over on the Other Stage, dance act Fred Again drew one of the greatest hordes of the day, and chose to take advantage of it.
He yelled, “Let’s try to break the record for the amount of people on shoulders at a festival,” to the music of his lockdown anthem “Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing),” and they complied.
The London-born star quickly established himself as one of the most compelling performers in dance music. He effectively layers samples, drum loops, live instruments, and even video clips to create live remixes of his songs.
However, people are drawn in by his music’s emotional component, which possesses a fragility and humanity uncommon in contemporary dance. He might be the Pyramid Stage’s headliner in a few years.
On the Other Stage, Nigerian superstar Wizkid, a one-man aphrodisiac who performed a set filled with sensual but laid-back Afrobeat songs, was just as impressive.
As he prowled the stage and couples gyrated in the audience, he purred, open-shirted and peering through pitch-black shades, “This is a Africa party tonight, baby.”
Outfitted with hits like One Dance, Genuine romance and Pith, and upheld by an out of control, eight-piece band, he took and broke hearts in equivalent measure.
Kelis, who was performing as the headliner on the West Holts stage, served the Worthy Farm cattle a serving of Milkshake, which featured elements from Wu Tang Clan’s Gravel Pit and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Young Fathers, a Scottish band, performed before her, dedicating their venomous song Shame to Home Secretary Suella Braverman before leading the audience in a chant of: Let’s assume it boisterous and say it clear, exiles are wanted here.”
This is a message that the band conveys at all of their performances, but it seemed to have extra weight over the weekend that Windrush would have been 75 years old.
On the first full day of music at the festival, R&B trio Flo, Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, and Scottish rock band Texas also performed.
The festival continues on Saturday with performances by M, Christine And The Queens, Lizzo, and Lana Del Rey.