Published Jun 26, 2011Ghosts abound at Glastonbury 2011. On day one, Method Man and the rest of Wu-Tang eulogized Ol' Dirty Bastard at every turn. The next day, Britpop and a recently passed sax guru got some posthumous love. Oh, and the sun came out.
In 2009, when Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon guest starred at Bruce Springsteen's Pyramid Stage headlining slot, he was purportedly terrified until recently departed saxophonist Clarence Clemons gave him a pep talk and reassuring thumbs-up.
During Gaslight Anthem's Saturday main stage gig, Fallon fondly remembered the moment before launching into standout, "The '59 Sound." Otherwise, the blue-collar rockers drew heavily from the album of the same name, delivering four-chord rock with particular gusto. More recent numbers, including a dubbed-down "The Queen of Lower Chelsea," and a new cut fared well with the afternoon crowd. It didn't hurt that many an attendee was stuck in the mud.
Later, the clouds dispersed for a special guest appearance from Britpop superstars Pulp. On the Park Stage, the recently reinstated combo ran through a greatest-hits set, mining various sections of their canon. With a slew of warm-up shows under their belts, Jarvis Cocker and co. were spry and jovial, giving tightly coiled takes on "Misshapes," "Disco 2000" and natural closer "Common People." The highlight, though, was Jarvis himself, who tossed out signed Frisbees, danced maniacally, told Storytellers-worthy tales and looked generally dapper.
On the darker side, gloomy synth-and-guitar outfit the Horrors holed up at the John Peel tent for an atmospheric slot defined by fun house keys, spiky guitars and measured thumping. Mixing a number of new cuts with Primary Colours burners like "Who Can Say" and "Sea Within a Sea," it was creepily enthralling.
Still, on a day when the weather finally turned, it was a sunny showcase from Janelle Monáe that stood out. With a black-and-white-clad big band, string section and backup dancers, the sci-fi songstress went huge, running through choreographed dance routines, piggy-backing into the crowd, painting on canvas and generally stealing the day. By the quick-hit conclusion of "Tightrope" and "Cold War," she had an oft-ignored field writhing. And she covered "I Want You Back," which never hurts.