Miley Cyrus at Glastonbury, review: At her best, something quite special

Miley Cyrus has always been more talented than people give her credit for. Frequently written off either as a manufactured former-tween Disney star or as a twerk-obsessed provocateur, she tends to get short shrift, her charisma, voice and propensity for experimentation too often overlooked.

But at her best – and, admittedly, she strays from this not infrequently – the 26-year-old is something quite special. She is, in the words of Mark Ronson in a recent Independent interview, “part Dolly Parton, part Joan Jett”. She brings both of those influences to today’s Glastonbury set – a playful, inflammatory, self-assured performance.

After arriving on stage flanked by footage of her seductively eating, sucking and licking fruit – the sounds turned up to 11, a misophonia-sufferer’s nightmare – she points at someone in the crowd and yells, “Nice titties!” Dressed in a thin blue crop top, leather trousers and a Gucci belt that reads Glastonbury in gold lettering, she seems quite enamoured with her own, too – more than once, she flashes the handheld camcorder following her around the stage.

“Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”, her brilliant Mark Ronson collaboration, leads into a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”. Ronson joins her onstage, as he did King Princess earlier in the weekend, but his appearance is low-key. Cyrus is the star. And she knows it.

For “Mother’s Daughter”, from her forthcoming album She is Miley Cyrus – a song that straddles a line between her pop-heavy Bangerz sound and the country-leaning one of her 2017 album Younger Now – the singer grabs her crotch and writhes up and down the mic stand. Later, she does the splits and bounces in that position, then does a shoulder stand, legs spread. A faithful cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, which showcases Cyrus’s low, raspy voice, is an altogether gentler affair.

After a brief intermission, she returns in a purple wig, and performs “On a Roll”, the fictitious, so-bad-it’s-good single from her Black Mirror alter-ego Ashley O, which has racked up nearly nine million YouTube views. It goes down a storm.

For all her risqué onstage theatrics, Cyrus insists that she isn’t as fearless as she seems. “I ask the universe every day, ‘Give me something that scares the f**k out of me,’” she says. “Today that’s motherf**king Glastonbury.” Fear suits her.