The Cure might have been headlining the Pyramid Stage, but Glastonbury’s final day was all about envelope-pushing pop divas.
Billie Eilish, Janelle Monae and Christine And The Queens played across the site, bringing with them messages of liberation, empowerment and acceptance.
Monae, who headlined the West Holts stage, delivered a potent mix of sex and politics, encouraging the crowd to embrace their sexuality by declaring: “Say it loud, I’m dirty and proud”.
A field away, Christine and the Queens’ Heloise Letissier was also preaching tolerance, pronouncing the Other Stage “a safe space – because if there’s no judgment, then anything can happen”.
Both artists identify as queer or pansexual – and their placement at the top of the bill felt like an affirmation.
“I have to say it’s quite emotional for me to be here,” said Letissier, “because I didn’t grow up used to winning. It feels like I’m winning something here and it scares me a little bit.”
She revealed that as a child, unsure of how to fit in, she escaped into theatre, where she could dream her own universe into existence.
“So now, if I want to sing for four minutes and I’m a man, then it’s true because I believe it.
“And that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” she said, launching into iT – a song about how she felt it necessary to adopt masculine characteristics to survive in the music industry.
Monae also discussed her inability to fit in as a “queer black woman growing up in America”.
“I almost didn’t make it here,” she said. “But something told me that we have to spread more love [because] the balance is off.
“In darkness, you choose love.”
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Monae’s set was full of colour and joy, the formerly buttoned-up performer shooting water guns into the audience and letting loose with big, goofy dance moves.
During the delirious funk work-out QUEEN she even waggled her tongue like a latter-day Gene Simmons.
Letissier’s set was more theatrical, but no less sensual, as she tussled with dancers and ripped open her billowing red shirt.
But it was her vulnerability as she performed The Walker alone, under a single spotlight that really left an impression.
Earlier on the same stage, teenage newcomer Billie Eilish opened up with her hit single Bad Guy – a song that turns the tables on sexual politics – her every word reflected back by hordes of delirious fans.
The 17-year-old had been bumped up the bill, having originally been booked for the John Peel Stage, before her career took off at the start of the year.
“Damn, there’s a lot of you,” she declared, but Eilish was supremely comfortable playing to thousands – even lying flat on her back to sing When I Was Older.
She was watched from the side of the stage by fashion designer Stella McCartney (who dressed the star in a jumpsuit themed around The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine) and festival organiser Emily Eavis, who, on the basis of this performance, could be eyeing Eilish up as a future headliner.
The one person who wasn’t satisfied was Eilish herself. “There’ve been a lot of technical issues, which is why I look angry,” she told the audience before she played Bury A Friend. “I’ve been angry the whole show. Thank you for not leaving. You could have.”
The line-up of strong female performers on Glastonbury’s closing day also included Kylie Minogue, Stefflon Don and Miley Cyrus.
Cyrus gave a crowd-pleasing set spliced her own hits with a series of well-judged covers, including Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, and Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black – which she performed with Mark Ronson.
She also brought out her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, and rapper Lil Nas X to play the viral hit Old Town Road – one of the overall highlights of the festival.
Immediately before her, Kylie drew the biggest crowd of the entire weekend for a joyous, emotional set of pure pop.
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But none of this is to denigrate The Cure, whose dreamy, transformative indie pop was the perfect antidote to weekend of hedonism and heatwaves.
They drew a massive crowd to the Pyramid Stage and played almost every hit you could ask for, from Pictures Of You, In Between Days and Just Like Heaven.
But they really pulled out the stops on the thrilling seven-song encore.
“It’s difficult to translate what we do,” frontman Robert Smith told the crowd as he walked out for the final part of the show, then he stopped himself.
“Hang on… it isn’t that difficult. The next half-hour is Glastonbury.”
From there, they rattled through Lullaby, The Caterpillar, The Walk, Friday I’m In Love, Close To Me and Why Can’t I Be You, before finishing on a euphoric Boys Don’t Cry.
“That was good fun,” said Smith, looking visibly moved. “Thank you… And see you again.”
And with that, Glastonbury was over for 2019.
The festival returns next year, when it will mark its 50th anniversary.
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