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Janelle Monáe at Glastonbury: An absolute treat

In a one-hour set, the 'Tightrope' singer gave a performance filled with stunning vocals, killer moves, and on-point political messaging

By Alastair James

Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe (Image: Aaron Parsons Photography)

I didn’t envy Janelle Monáe. Not that we should compare crowd sizes, but the size difference between that for the ‘Tightrope’ singer and Shania Twain, who proceeded on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage, is remarkable. Sadly Monáe’s set clashed with that of Avril Lavigne, as well as, perhaps more tragically, the football.

However, Monáe (who uses they/them pronouns as well as she/her) didn’t seem fazed whatsoever. In a punchy one-hour set, they gave a performance that was filled with stunning vocals, killer moves, and on-point political messaging.

“The queers can do whatever the fuck they want to do” – Janelle Monáe

She entered the stage in some Midsommar-inspired fashion where she broke into ‘Float’ before ditching the flowery coat as she moved into ‘Champagne Shit’. Throughout their set, they oozed a cool confidence, sass, and sex appeal.

They also made time to recognise that, even on the last day, it’s Pride month and that the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups need to stand together in solidarity in the face of oppression. “The queers can do whatever the fuck they want to do,” she screamed to a roar from the crowd, who despite small in scale were mighty in volume. Monáe, who identifies as non-binary and pansexual, also paid tribute to icons of the LGBTQ+ including Martha P. Johnson, Freddie Mercury, and Grace Jones.

In songs like ‘Django Jane’ and ‘Electric Lady’ Monáe demonstrated their jazzy rap stylings as well as their powerful voice. She continued her sexy confidence and sex positivity with songs such as ‘Lipstick Lover’ and the infamous ‘Pynk,’ in which they appeared in the iconic trousers from the music video.

“I’m obsessed,” gags one person behind me which feels like the general consensus of the crowd. Monáe brings their set to a close with ‘Make Me Feel’ and ‘Tightrope’ where she again demonstrates both her singing abilities as well as her dancing. It was exactly what one would expect from an artist and performer that has so consistently demonstrated how much thought and consideration goes into everything and uses that to elevate the performance.

It’s a shame more people weren’t able to enjoy the set given the scheduling conflicts but for those who did, as well as those watching at home, it was an absolute treat.