Billie Eilish review, Glastonbury 2022: History-making set is 90 minutes of noir-pop catharsis

Welcome to the red room. With flames erupting like panic attacks and lasers blasting through the sky, Billie Eilish bounces down a massive ramp, lights blood red and begins to inhabit a pyramid-like metaphor for her internal turmoil.

“Are you ready to have some fun?” she asks, between songs about suicide (muted, tribal opener “bury a friend”) and obsession (ghost disco song “my strange addiction”). Still, she soon asks us to yell at “whatever is bothering you” during a compulsive rendition of “you should see me with a crown”. What we really need to prepare for is 90 minutes of noir-pop catharsis.

In his way, Eilish’s headline set is just as important as Jay-Z or Stormzy’s. Not because she’s the festival’s youngest-ever movie star, though it certainly lifts the roof of any bedroom Tik-Tokker’s teenage dreams of glory. But because it marks the rise of alternative pop: a homemade, personalized imitation of the mainstream that is much closer to the actual teenage experience of 2022. -in-the-tooth Swedish production teams. Alternative pop tones are dark and downbeat, the emotions raw and broken, the worries fraught with doom. Fame is caused by insecurities, sex is regrettable and drugs, if any, are generally prescribed for anxiety.

As always, there is a lot of fear and uncertainty running through Eilish’s set, from the dim mambo of “GOLDWING” to fantastic nighttime groover “Therefore I Am”. Midway through, she mourns the destruction of Roe vs Wade (“a dark day for women in the US”), prior to an acoustic duet with her song-writing brother Finneas on “Your Power.” Ahead of “Everything I Wanted,” a song about the hassle of fame, she references climate anxiety, the subject of her new film overheated and the theme of her recent six-night run at the O2.

But while stylistic ancestors like Frank Ocean and The xx delivered understated, menacing festival headline shows that grew into a dramatic crescendo, Eilish expertly conducts a deeper and more dynamic experience. Blessed with a debut album of stuffy pop bangers and a richer, more introspective sequel – the Happier than ever — she easily jumps between starting visceral pity parties with “tummy ache” and a fantastic “bad guy”, charms us with her childhood home videos about “Getting Old”, pausing the show for a self-help therapy session.

Billie Eilish Performs On The Pyramid Stage During Day Three Of Glastonbury Festival At Worthy Farm

(Getty images)

Harry Styles’ much-notorious guest appearance does not feature, but would likely have been overshadowed by the all-out rock’n’roll climax of “Happier Than Ever”. Alternative pop has arrived, with an almighty bang.

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