I can’t think of a better time to put this up than late August.
When Radiohead hit Glastonbury it’s huge, summer-defining stuff. The 1997 set is engrained in Glastonbury folklore and 2003 isn’t far behind. So when people say that the best rock band in the world is playing Glastonbury this weekend, you wonder how people knew they were turning up, (well, half; the important half)because they obviously don’t mean Muse.
There are the usual whispers around all Park stage’s infamous guest spot. The most outlandish suggests none other than Paul McCartney is going to show up. That would be nice; it’s just that the memory of waiting for something big – if not necessarily good – like The Libertines or Coldplay to show up last year and just escaping a Klaxons show still haunts me. In troubled nights I can still hear the obnoxious punctuations of ‘DJ!’ (Oh! Oh! Oh!) and air-sirens as I fled past those less fortunate.
This year, spying the stage with trepidation from a casual distance, sharing Twitter intel with others, it soon becomes clear the Radiohead shout has some weight. The quiet corner the Park Stage occupies starts to get awfully crowded; a Gibson EG gets pulled out and set up, followed by a sunburst Telecaster. It’s on.
Eavis comes on to seal the deal and suddenly they’re playing Idioteque as sunlight splinters over Glastonbury and the heat finally relents. It’s a wonderful, euphoric moment you can’t help but grin even after the giddy excitement of the reveal has died down; the enthusiasm is such that a well-versed crowd shows a keen ear and voluntarily fills in Ed’s absent groans in a performance of Arpeggi and launches into the reverie-like refrain of Karma Police (For a minute there, I lost myself) unprompted after a rousing performance, much to Thom’s amusement who seems more than relaxed, playfully remonstrating with himself (declaring ‘Fucking amateurs’ after stumbling over the Black Swan intro) and grinning at the audience.
It’s half a Thom Yorke solo show and on paper they better as Radiohead at Reading last year, but it doesn’t matter. After seven years absence it’s the spectacle of a seminal band reasserting themselves at the start of another decade of Glastonbury that trumps it and produces a spontaneous and truly communal event. The special, surprise nature of the show, taking place in the one of the quietest, sequestered corners of Glastonbury, only adds to the spectacular nature of the proceedings.
Naturally, it’s over too soon and a deliriously happy audience filter back into the body of the festival. Outbursts of song ripple through the crowd and people share breathless reviews over the phone like excited schoolchildren. It’s hard to imagine a mightier Glastonbury performance this year. Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine them more awe-inspiring in ’97 and ’03.