How Fred again.. stole the hearts of Glastonbury 2023
Performing at the Other Stage on Friday, Fred Gibson had tens of thousands of people in the palm of his hand.
Walking around Worthy Farm on Friday, one could hear Fred again..’s name in passing conversations everywhere. Despite Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters (as The Churnups), Kelis and The Chemical Brothers all performing at Glastonbury that day, it was clear that the Other Stage was the place to be when the 29-year-old electronic music producer was due.
Whatever you think of Fred again.. and his music, there’s no denying he is exceptional at captivating a crowd. Tens of thousands of dancers swarmed the arena for his set, erupting in cheers as he walked silently onto the stage and struck two emotive notes on a virtual piano with his Novation MIDI keyboard. Softly, he transitioned into Kyle (I Found You), and the audience instantly bopped along in unison with infectious energy.
In his usual humble and awkwardly over-grateful fashion, the London-born producer overlays messages on the stage screens to fans: “this is my favourite place on EARTH!… Glastonbury is the place I always dreamt to play.” Shortly after, he hops on the mic and thanks us all for coming to his “magical” set. “Can you believe this evening? It’s so beautiful. This doesn’t feel like real life – not one bit,” he adds later on. His emotional demeanour, which he strongly channels in his music, resonates intensely with the crowd, who can’t help but woo whenever he speaks. It gets a little overzealous at times – and even a little cringe-worthy – but, in fairness, it seems to only intensify the depth of the set.
He might’ve been tugging at fans’ heartstrings but he didn’t hold back on getting their feet moving. Whipping out the Maschine – on which his expertise has sparked multiple viral moments in the past year – he plays a live version of Rumble, the genre-bending tune made with dance music icon and close collaborator Skrillex and featuring UK grime royalty Flowdan. Not a single person is stood still.
Glastonbury’s live engineers are due some credit here, too – the sound emanating from the speakers is pristine, and the basslines of Fred again..’s heaviest tracks were rattling chests across the stage.
As the Brian Eno protégé drops the hits, like his iconic 2022 tracks Jungle and Turn On the Lights Again, the crowd chants along in time with the chopped vocal samples and snippets. Soon came Danielle (smile on my face) which sent the crowd wild, along with Sabrina (I Am A Party) and Clara (night is dark), which were sublimely fitting for the mood. Kudos to him, too, for his vocal performance throughout.
The set was a relatively safe bet on Fred again..’s part. He only performed one unknown track – a newly-created one that he dedicated to his sister, and revolves around a glimmering arpeggio. It’s a starkly different vibe to the heavy tracks he spins alongside Skrillex and Four Tet (which they headlined Coachella and sold out Madison Square Garden with), but the influence of his two collaborators is clear in the sonics of his music and the creativity of his performance.
Towards the finale of the show, as the sun sets on Worthy Farm, he asks the crowd to “break the record for the number of people on shoulders.” Health and safety officers would’ve been fainting at the sea of punters clambering on their friends’ backs – Fred again.. had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Warranted or not, the Fred again.. hype is real, and you’d do well to avoid it. “I’m not done, I could do this all day,” he says to the crowd with a chuckle, as uplifting piano stabs ring out and keep the sea of dancers bouncing until the bitter end.
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