FEATURE: Glastonbury Queens: The Terrific Female Artists Illuminating 2019’s Festival




Glastonbury Queens

IN THIS PHOTO: Lizzo delivered one of the best Glastonbury sets so far yesterday/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

The Terrific Female Artists Illuminating 2019’s Festival


IT is a bit unfortunate that one of the biggest…

IN THIS PHOTO: Janet Jackson/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

artists at Glastonbury, Janet Jackson (you can watch the set here), was let down by sound issues yesterday. I saw her set on the T.V. and, from the off, it seemed like there were technical issues. Some say she was miming throughout but, with such a high-intensity set, Jackson definitely had a lot of work to do. Despite the sound problems, I do think she gave a great performance and it was nice to hear all of her hits merged together so seamlessly. It was a very tight performance and proved why she is such an influence. Despite some technical issues, there were some great reviews for her set. The Guardian, in their piece, were keen to highlight the positives:

When she makes her Glastonbury debut, three decades into her career, it is initially a discombobulating experience to witness the actual “Miss Jackson if you’re Nasty” standing on stage in a farm in Somerset in front of a mass of sunburn. It’s not helped by a weirdsound mix that means her vocals are weirdly buried on All for You album track Trust a Try, which she launches into after arriving on stage via a riser on to a raised platform flanked by eight dancers. Lewis Capaldi she isn’t.

PHOTO CREDIT: Mary Ellen Matthews 

The opening deep cut is a fake-out, as she then dashes out a medley of greatest hits taking in the sweaty R&B of If, basically all of Control’s huge singles (What Have You Done for Me Lately into Control into Nasty) and the throwback disco of All for You. If the crowd seem initially hesitant – perhaps kept at a distance by the high-gloss arena-show levels of production – then the undeniable bangers win them round. Janet also relaxes into it with a beaming “I could learn to love this Glastonberry (sic)”.

Seeing Jackson on the Glastonbury stage, at last, was a relief and I do hope we get to see her again. Another female artist who was let down by sound issues was Lauryn Hill. Although she performed her only solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, there were these problems regarding sound – making me wonder whether venues and festivals needs to do more to ensure greater consistency and fewer hiccups. In any case, Hill was radiant and illuminating and she gave a wonderful performance. It would not be her without some punctuality issues (she turned up fifteen minutes late) but the icon definitely delivered. I will talk about some female artists who are going to make the final day of Glastonbury rock but, perhaps topping Jackson and Hill was the incredible Lizzo.

I caught clips of her performance and, between playing the flute and downing some alcohol, it seemed like she owned the stage! The movement and wonder she puts into her performances are mind-blowing and I think everyone in attendance could agree on the fact she killed it. From Hill’s performance on Friday to Jackson and Lizzo’s yesterday, fans were treated to incredible women slaying it. I loved Lizzo’s set because she brought so much life and standout moments to Glastonbury. The Independent, when reviewing the performance, concentrated on Lizzo’s messages of self-love and the insistence everyone gets behind that banner:

Y’all ready to go to church?” asks the 31-year-old, as she arrives onstage dressed in a pink sequinned leotard and decadent ruff-cum-cloak. It’s an accurate analogy – Lizzo inspires such reverent enthusiasm among the crowd that when the camera pans away briefly, someone shouts, “PUT IT BACK ON HER!” Her dancers are the perfect apostles – they mean business to such an extent that they’re wearing knee pads. I suspect most churches wouldn’t include the command, “everybody f**king jump”, but frankly they’re all the poorer for it.

The crowd’s reverie is at least partly thanks to Lizzo’s unabashed messages of self-love. “I’m like chardonnay, get better over time,” she sings on the funk-pop banger “Juice”. “Heard you say I’m not the baddest, bitch, you lie.” For “Truth Hurts”, she dons a veil and announces that she’s taking herself on a honeymoon.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cameron Wittig 

Lizzo is almost maniacally insistent that we all – every single member of a crowd she estimates to about “16 million thousand” – share in her self-love. There are motivational speeches aplenty littered throughout the set. Alongside rapper, singer and flautist, she could add motivational speaker to her resume.

During “Soulmate”, she instructs us to sing “I’m the one” over and over. “I need you to believe it,” she says. “If you can love me, you can love your goddamn self.” Amen”.

One of the performances, perhaps, people were not expecting much from was Sheryl Crow (watch her set here). She played the Pyramid Stage on Friday and it was another staggering performance. I grew up around her music and hearing some of her big hits – like All I Wanna Do – played to the crowd was wonderful. As a performer, she moved around and went into the crowd. If Janet Jackson and Lauryn Hill were focusing on technical details and routine, Crow was more like Lizzo in her freedom and bond with the crowd. Crow was eager to bond with those in attendance and she definitely kicked off Glastonbury in style. I have seen so many great responses to her set and it is a shame that she is releasing her final album later this year. It is sad we will not get more material from Crow but I do hope she keeps touring as her Glastonbury turn was a real highlight.

If there was a lot of focus on some of the bigger female artists, a few that really took me by surprise were Jorja Smith (available to see here), Freya Ridings (watch her here) and . I am familiar with all three female artists and they all have their different style. MØ is, perhaps, the less-well-known of the trio but the Danish artist thrilled when she took to the Other Stage on Friday. Ridings performed her richly emotional and personal songs and caused more than a few people to tear up! I think both women have the potential to become headline acts in years to come but one who seems a little bit closer is the awesome Jorja Smith. Her album, Lost & Found, was nominated for a Mercury and it was one of last year’s best. A confident and spellbinding debut, there are touches of Amy Winehouse and Nelly Furtado but, when you listen deep, this is a strong and unique woman who has stories to tell. Her voice is incredible and powerful and, when she performed on the West Holts stage, there was a huge reaction for her. Pop has not been represented too heavily this year but Sigrid (watch her perform here) definitely made a case for included more Pop acts. She performed a blinder yesterday evening and played songs from her album, Sucker Punch. Like artists such as Robyn, Sigrid can blend the personal and revealing with something fun and catchy. I hope Sigrid and Robyn get to share the same stage one day as they seem like they’d be a perfect duo.

IN THIS PHOTO: Sigrid/PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Louise Bennett

In any case, she was wonderful and so too was Carrie Underwood (see her performance here) and Anne-Marie (check her out here). The former played the Pyramid Stage yesterday afternoon and the latter followed her. Whilst Underwood is more Country-based, Anne-Marie is pure Pop. Both artists played incredibly moving and energetic sets and I think they will bring more fans in next year. Many might have stumbled upon Anne-Marie and Underwood but both woman gave such commanding sets that they will be moving up the Glastonbury bill soon. If you want a couple of acts that were underrated but gained a huge reaction then ROSALÍA and Cat Power (see her performance here) definitely took some beating. The former is a rising Pop artist who blends in sensual rhythms and fire and definitely stands aside from her peers. If Cat Power’s set was more emotive in terms of tone, both women caused shivers and huge excitement. Again, I hope both have a chance to headline in the future. I have sort of raced through names – and I would urge people to check back on Friday and Saturday’s performances to see some great women I have missed out! I do apologise to any big artist that has slipped through.

That is the thing, though: there are so many great female artists that it is a bit dizzying taking it all in. If we have already seen some iconic sets so far, Sunday is going to be about the women. Apart from The Cure headlining this evening, it is a day for eclectic and inspiring women to take to the stage. Little Simz is on the Park Stage later and I know a lot of eyes will be on her. Her album, GREY Area, was released earlier this year and it is one of 2019’s very best. If Stormzy can headline after one album I do think one must recognise Simz and note that she is ready to headline. I know she will perform a huge set this year but I hope Glastonbury keeps her in mind for potential headlining soon. Although she is eighty next month, Mavis Staples is still performing and will showcase songs from her new album, We Get By this afternoon on the Pyramid Stage. If you have not heard Staples perform then try and catch some of her performance (if you are there) and there will be chances for people at home to check her out. I have not even mentioned Kate Tempest (watch here) and Sharon Van Etten (catch her set here) - but both women are at the top of their field. I am a big fan of both and I know they have received big acclaim for their sets. Both gave these wonderful sets and, as I keep saying, there is headline potential in both. Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow is new as is Tempest’s The Book of Traps and Lessons – both albums are in the running for the best of the year.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Kylie Minogue/PHOTO CREDIT: Roy Rochlin/WireImage

Kylie Minogue takes on the teatime ‘legends’ slot today and it will be an emotional performance. She was due to headline in 2005 but was diagnosed with breast cancer and was unable to perform. I cannot wait to see which songs she brings out because, since the 1980s, she has been changing Pop and giving us these incredible hits. I know she will gather a huge crowd and, if she is not unlucky enough to suffer sound problems (can lightning strike three times?!) it will be a performance to remember for years. The weather is right and I know she will slay it the same way Lizzo did! Miley Cyrus is also playing later today and, whilst many might wrinkle their noses, her music is far richer and more appealing than a lot of the Pop out there. She recently appeared in an episode of Black Mirror and I cannot wait to see her perform. I imagine there will be pretty big sets and she is going to go all-out regarding design and lighting! Billie Eilish is another young talent that is destined to headline one day. Her album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, gained a big reaction and many noted how she stayed away from the traditional Pop format. Her songs are more intense and experimental; how, as a teenager, she has this incredible confidence and ability. Expect her to give an outstanding performance and I know she will enjoy many more years at Glastonbury!

 IN THIS PHOTO: Christine Héloïse/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Christine and The Queens is on the Other Stage later tonight and it will be a great time for her to shine and explore. With Chris (2018) still fresh in many people’s minds, I know Christine and The Queens will bring it. If you have not seen her live shows then make sure you catch her at some point! Like Lizzo and Sheryl Crow, she is a performer that engages and gets in with the audience. Her performances are hugely impressive and I expect her to make it higher up the bill very soon. Hollie Cook is also playing today (this afternoon) and that will be a real treat. Also check out the amazing women who will be playing today. I have mentioned some of the best but, to be truthful, there are many more who have made Glastonbury so much richer. You can see Kylie Minogue today and then, later this evening, enjoy Janelle Monáe at the West Holts area. I think she will rival Lizzo when it comes to standout sets and I know her latest album, Computer Blues (2018), will get an airing. Monáe is a stunning live performer and she has so many big hits in her locker. There will be many new and established fans that will flock to see her and it will be a memorable set for sure. I have not even mentioned Neneh Cherry (she her performance here) and her fantastic set. You can catch up on iPlayer if you want to see Cherry’s set. Glastonbury is making big strides when it comes to gender equality and, with 42% of the acts female, they are heading in the right direction. As we have seen already – and will see today – the best women in music right now…

 IN THIS PHOTO: Neneh Cherry/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

ARE a force to be reckoned with.