the best moments of the saturday festival
Teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s climate emergency speech may have been earnest and timely, but in festival parlance it was a complete disappointment, man. Luckily, Haim raced straight onto the Pyramid stage in his wake, launching into a cheerfully joyful set of wonderfully harmonized and groovy swaggering pop rock to lift the festival’s collective spirits. It’s the end of the world as we know it… but hey, let’s get the party started.
Bringing sunshine vibes from Los Angeles, the trio of Haim sisters have become true Glastonbury favourites, and this uplifting, exciting and exuberant set demonstrated exactly why. Dressed identically in bikinis and leatherette flares, they shared lead vocals and swapped instruments with a spirit of playful glee that was a joy to behold. No matter how big the crowd was (and this one was big), Haim really looked like he was having more fun than the audience.
Bassist Este (the older sister) growls so furiously while playing that she seems to be trying to manipulate the sound with her teeth. Lead guitarist, occasional drummer and younger sister Danielle plays with the full-body power of a heavy metal ax hero, but somehow weaves that hard rock instinct into deeply groovy pop songs that sound like what you could get if you crossed Fleetwood Mac with the Sugababes. Meanwhile, younger sister, multi-instrumentalist, keyboardist, guitarist and percussionist Alanna fills every space with sound while occupying stage space as if she were the star of the show.
It’s rare to have a group with three people this strong without obvious tensions and ego clashes, but somehow this brotherhood manages to balance the spotlight and present a truly united front. The way they swap lead vocals is a total delight, picking up each other’s lines, criss-crossing and harmonizing. It surely helps that they have such elastic and melodic songs to play with. My only complaint with Haim is that they rock so much harder live than they do on record. They’ve come this far creating some really nifty modern pop with some old school harmonic flavors, but one of these days I’d really like to hear them go wild in the studio and crank the dial up to 11.
It is, however, difficult to dispute their progress. Almost a decade ago, in 2013, I saw Haim make their Glastonbury debut and described them as future headliners. I stick with that. It took a decade to climb to No. 3 on the Saturday Night Pyramid Stage bill, but they still look and sound like a band on a mission. Chaim Rock. And they’ll rock all the way to the top spot…as long as the world doesn’t stop first. Neil McCormick