IF there was one overriding emotion to accompany the 50th anniversary year of Glastonbury Festival it was sheer joy... and relief.

That half century celebration of the inaugural 1970 bash had been postponed twice and some wondered whether it would ever happen again. It certainly seemed unlikely in those dark locked-down days of elbow bumps, obsessive handwashing and isolation. After all, this excitable mass of more than 200,000 souls breaks every rule in the social distancing book.

Read more: Oxford's bands and artists go down a storm at Glastonbury with rapturous response

But return it did, along with relieved punters, artists and those who rely on the music industry for a living.

Wheatley lad Gaz Coombes of Supergrass was unable to contain his excitement at being back after two cancellations. The band won over a new generation of fans with their mix of superlative songwriting, cheeky charm and rollicking rock abandon. And as they took the traditional bow, they looked visibly moved – which for a band who have seen and done as much as those Britpop survivors is quite something. But then it has been a long couple of years.

Oxford Mail: Glastonbury Festival. Picture by Tim Hughes

Supergrass take a bow. All pictures by Tim Hughes

Glass Animals – the St Edward’s School alumni who somehow went from the intimate Jericho Tavern to the world’s biggest stages in the blink of an eye – were also relieved.

Frontman Dave Bayley, sporting playful white dungarees emblazoned with cherries which matched those on the huge Pac Man video game screen projected behind him, grinned his way through a tropical, sun-dappled set of dreamy indie-pop looking every inch like the cat who got the cream.

It was impossible not to smile along with him. Stealthly becoming world's most successful bands hasn't tarnished their enthusiasm and sheer joy. It was a tonic to behold - a refreshing reposte to so many of their scowling, posturing, studiously dour contemporaries and elders.

Music is fun so you might as well blinkin' enjoy it - which they most certainly do - and were.

Oxford Mail: All smiles from Glass Animals after their sunny Other Stage set

Glass Animals show their delight

Even former Jericho indie-rockers Foals – a swaggering, muscular, bullish band who were born stadium-ready – also couldn’t hide their joy at not just being back, but convening on their biggest stage at Worthy Farm so far: the Other Stage.

Oxford Mail: Glastonbury Festival. Picture by Tim Hughes

Foals played the most incendiary show of the festival

Frontman Yannis Philippakis talked about “the emergence of the world” and called on people to “come together”.

The invitation was accepted and the band received a riotous reception for the most incendiary show of the weekend – dark, moody, punchy and loud... with a killer light show and explosions of purple clouds of confetti.

Talking to the BBC before their set, Yannis nonchalently shared his understated, but heartfelt, excitement, he said: "This is out sixth time and it should be a celebration. I just want to enjoy it."

On the unique spirit of Glastonbury, he said:

"It's the first we are playing for three years. It's just the best.

"It took me a couple of goes to figure out it's a different [kind of] festival. But the more we travel and see other festivals... it's just better here. It's bigger, lovelier and more magical. It's not just a festival, it's the fact it doesn't follow the norms."

Oxford Mail: Glastonbury Festival 2022. Picture by Tim Hughes

A frenzied reception for Foals on the Other Stage

He went on: "You are in Arcadia - some alternative version of Britain where things aren't repressed or bleak or pernicious or corrupt. You are actually somwehere where you are humans together in a big communal setting surrounded by music and humanity. And I think that's exactly what we need right now."

He's right of course. We have never needed it more.

Kansas-born, Oxford-adopted singer-songwriter Piney Gir was also bouncing back and playing the biggest stage of her life, providing vocals and percussion to Oasis icon Noel Gallagher with her trio The Roxys.

She joined the High Flying Birds on the Pyramid Stage ahead of Paul McCartney’s blockbuster headline set.

“Singing with Noel is an incredible experience,” said the artist who established herself as a familiar face at the county's Truck Festival in Stevennton.

“There is so much love for him and his music and it’s amazing to be a part of that.

"Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage was the largest crowd I’ve ever played to and that was such an honour.”

Oxford Mail: Glastonbury Festival 2022. Picture by Tim Hughes

Piney Gir and YSee joined Noel Gallagher on the Pyramid Stage with The Roxys.  Marc West, right, helped produce the festival’s popular Block 9 area

Marc West, from Chipping Norton, was among a team running Glastonbury’s late night destination Block 9 – a corner of the farm miraculously transformed into a decaying New York street, complete with drag queen club, kosher butcher’s shop and bar fronts, and IICON – a 20-metre-tall head with 360° sound serving as the hottest dance stage of the festival.

He said: “Being back in this magical place was a more emotional experience than ever – especially as we finally came together to celebrate 50 years in a field.”

The quirkiest Oxford artist though showed no emotion at all. Aid-Da Robot – a visual artist powered by artificial intelligence, created by a team led by Oxford art dealer and gallery owner Aidan Meller, was painting images of Glastonbury’s headliners.

Oxford Mail: Aida Robot at Glastonbury Festival. Picture by Tim Hughes

Ai-Da Robot painted the headline artists

“She is such a star,” said Aidan as he showed off a striking image of Kendrick Lamar as the festival drew to a close on Sunday.

“She is a global superstar and it’s been so exciting to have been at Glastonbury with her. It’ s been an incredible experience – and, after all this, I’m even more excited about the future!”

And after the 50th anniversary of this massive, freewheeling circus of creativity, I think we all are. And after a bleak couple of years and troubles as far as we can see, that is no mean feat - and certainly something to celebrate.

Here's to the next 50 years, Glastonbury!

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