Published Jun 26, 2010In a country that has an inherent prejudice against redheads (aka "gingers"), it's particularly remarkable that scarlet songsters dominated the first official day of the UK's flag-bearing music festival.
Closing the Other Stage, orange-clad Oklahoma pop circus, the Flaming Lips, played the set of the day. The Lips appropriately entered through a psychedelic vagina with singer Wayne Coyne, entrapped in a clear bubble, rolling out across the crowd as confetti cannons fired into the air. They played music, too. Relentlessly jubilant, even in moments of sociopolitical proselytizing, the band — led by Coyne and his reddish coif — flew through an ebullient slate of songs, like fan favourites "She Don't Use Jelly," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1" and "Do You Realize??"
While the Lips would eventually take stage accoutrements to new highs, earlier acts also employed their fair share of apparatuses, such as La Roux's inflatable beach toys, orange Gumby-like hairstyle and Thom Yorke's sweatband (that counts). In fact, Yorke turned up prepared for the heat at a surprise Park Stage appearance, which included a smattering of Radiohead songs, some solo work, Johnny Greenwood and a ginger beard.
Also, gone-solo — though imprudently brunette — Libertines co-conspirator and former Dirty Pretty Things frontman Carl Barat took over the diminutive Leftfield stage, shedding clothing, debuting some of his new cabaret-inspired solo material, and running through classic Libertines cuts (i.e., "A Time for Heroes," "Don't Look Back Into the Sun" and "Music When the Lights Go Out") to emo-level audience participation and only occasional shouts of "where's Pete?"
Though gingers — sorry, um, redheads — were popular, so too were sound problems. While the atypical Glastonbury heat limited sludge, adorable Canadian outfit Tegan and Sara endured a muddy mix on the John Peel stage. Nevertheless, the perseverant twins stayed upbeat, playing a mixture of catchy acoustic-driven old tracks — "Living Room" particularly shone — and synth-infused new cuts.
Like Tegan and Sara, redheaded upstart Florence Welch (aka Florence and the Machine) suffered sound-related setbacks on the Other Stage. A watershed opportunity for the exploding band, foot-traffic swelled. Early, radio-friendly fare like "Dog Days Are Over" soared, as Welch's operatic lilt reaching out to the food-stands. However, near the set's conclusion the sound tragically flitted out, then back in, out, in, and so on, dampening a should-have-been-big moment.
Regardless of day one's grandeur, one of its finest sets came on the low-tier side stage, the Queen's Head, which saw Brit-folk revivalists Fanfarlo play a romping show that included mini-hit "The Walls are Coming Down," a misplaced clarinet, plenty of trumpet and moody strings, albeit a relatively low ginger count.