Sunday, August 7, 2022
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Masterclass in modern pop on the Pyramid Stage

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There was a lot of “track”, as they say in the live business. Eilish is supported by just two musicians, a pounding drummer giving her often very low-key material more live dynamism and energy, and her multi-instrumentalist co-writing older brother Finneas masterminding everything from behind a keyboard, with occasional forays out to play bass and guitar. 

Eilish performs to pre-recorded backing vocals that she adds to live, albeit occasionally letting things roll ahead whilst she runs about smiling, jumping and twisting like the enthusiastic star pupil of a particularly vigorous yoga class. It’s hard to bend over backwards and sing at the same time.

During a song called Getting Older (a sensitive ballad about the changes wrought by growing up, reminding us that it is not only the old that worry about aging) some stray vocals appeared in the mix, accompanied by an audible complaint “Get that vocal out of there! Why is it playing?” Albeit, when you have an artist as self-aware and self-referential as Eilish, determined to break down the fourth wall, it is impossible to discount that this might have actually been part of the production.

Sometimes track is used as a form of subterfuge (and can be looked upon suspiciously by more old school analogue musicians and audiences) but a younger generation employ this technology unabashedly, liberated from constraints of band arrangement to create the most compelling spectacle humanly possible. And what the Glastonbury audience got was a hugely slick and entertaining show that was vividly lit, dramatically designed and sounded absolutely fantastic.

Occupying a vast stage as if she was born on it, investing her songs with warmth and passion, and interacting with her audience with twinkling, giggling spontaneity, Eilish offered a very human presence in the pop machine.

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