Glastonbury review: Dua Lipa knows how to party after all

Image via BBC

When her latest album Radical Optimism was miss-sold as a “tribute to UK rave culture”, many were left scratching their heads searching for the references. Turns out, she was saving the rave for Glasto.

When I first started making music, I dreamt about the day that I would get asked to headline Glastonbury.” So says Dua Lipa in a video posted to her Instagram on Wednesday, in which interviews from over the course of her career are cut together to repeat Glastonbury! Glastonbury! Glastonbury!” The point is, Dua really wanted this – like, more than anything else in the world. She wanted the lights, the crowd, the Pyramid Stage, in the slot that music legends such as David Bowie, Beyoncé and Jay‑Z played before her. She even claimed she wanted to headline the Friday night so that she can spend the rest of the weekend partying here. Let’s see if she makes it the NYC Downlow later.

Ever since the start of her career, Dua’s hits have been designed to make you dance: New Rules, Be The One, One Kiss, Don’t Start Now. Her headline Glasto set, then, should be a piece of cake.

Still, there was a stumble on Dua’s road to Glasto, that pesky third album Radical Optimism, which initially charted high but was met with lukewarm reviews. An anti-climatic drop in the ocean compared to the non-stop party of its predecessor Future Nostalgia, it made some Glasto goers nervous: could she really pull it off? Add to that a promo run that miss-sold the album as a psychedelic pop-infused tribute to UK rave culture”, and it made you wonder if Dua had even been to a proper rave in her life.

She might have just been referring to the souped-up versions of the songs. During Dua’s set on Friday, the 28-year-old reiterated many times that she writes music with the Pyramid Stage in mind, but the real highlights of her set were the segments that remixed the classics with a club-ready pulse. One Kiss was a little bouncier and bubblier; Pretty Please ended with the Midland Refix from Club Future Nostalgia; the intro to Physical sounded like it was about to break into happy hardcore; her Dance The Night vocals were mixed with breakbeats while she nipped off stage to get changed from a black leather bodysuit to tiger print hotpants. Hallucinate – a track Dua once described as her festival song – was, well, Hallucinate.


Even the new stuff sounded better on stage. As the crowd chanted Dua! Dua! Dua fucking Lipa!”, songs like Training Season, Falling Forever and Illusion felt supercharged, although they didn’t get the crowd dancing quite as much as the Future Nostalgia hits, but they did the job, mostly played true to the album versions.

Speaking of, Dua’s key collaborator on Radical Optimism, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, made an appearance midway through the set to perform his band’s massive hit The Less I Know the Better. Providing a chilled circuit breaker between the full-throttle energy of the set’s danciest tracks – and, perhaps, a bit of respite for Dua – the guest appearance was a classy call, one that provided extra cool points for Dua as Kevin casually strolled out in jeans and a T‑shirt.

I’ve dreamt of this my whole life,” said Dua as she looked out at the crowd. And it feels sooo good.” The hard work paid off, the manifestation worked, the moodboards, the choreography, the references were all diligently studied. Did she pull it off? Of course she did. She’s Dua fucking Lipa, pop legend in the making.

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