“I need you to love me more,” she sings, arms outstretched to the crowd, a neutral expression etched across her face. You suspect she could play as happily to 10 people as to 10,000. But with an intensely loyal fandom, she has enough people here at The Park stage to keep the vibes strong.
“Working For the Knife” follows, its huge guitar line slicing through the evening air. It’s here that Mitski starts to break out some of the poised – occasionally louche – dance moves that have become a signature of her live performances. She moves like a marionette, with a choreography that is somehow both childlike and graceful – and completely absorbing.“Washing machine heart” follow sends a ripple of appreciation through the crowd., while “Nobody” – a song that spawned a long series of Tik Tok memes – sets the crowd into motion as the night pulls in. “You’re so beautiful. And it’s not even raining! Are you ready to get warmed up?” Mitski says, launching into “Townie”. The bruising “The Only Heartbreaker”, with its driving drumbeat and devastating lyrics, hits as hard as a breakup text. The only omission from her set is “Heat Lightning”, another of the singles from her latest album, Laurel Hell.
At the first Glastonbury to host a 50/50 split of male and female artists, it is Mitski’s music that stands out as some of the most engaging. The tell is in the way she constructs her sensitive pop songs using unsteady, shifting chord sequences that underpin so many of the 31-year-old Japanese-American’s biggest hits. This gives her music a capricious, unsettled quality, and is the same thing you hear in, for instance, Bowie’s most interesting work.
Some may find her demeanour a little standoffish, but Mitski makes some of the most interesting, sophisticated pop music around – and maintains a stage presence as enigmatic as her art.