Motormouth rap icon Kanye West may be hogging the column inches ahead of his headline performance at this year’s Glastonbury Festival on Saturday night, but a few hundred metres away from the towering Pyramid Stage, a London klezmer outfit will be playing a set that’s more East End than West Coast.
The genre-bending Yiddish Twist Orchestra – who’ve dubbed their unique sound ‘London retropolitan’ – are an eight-strong dance band who mix traditional klezmer with calypso, rock ‘n’ roll, ska, cuban and R&B influences as part of an act that wouldn’t look out of place in the swinging capital of the fifties and sixties.
Led by livewire vocalist Natty Bo and featuring a host of accomplished instrumentalists who count Elton John, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Jools Holland among their past bandmates, the YTO will revive der shvitz – the infectious mix of styles pioneered on both sides of the Atlantic by the mysterious, semi-mythical “lost legend of rock ‘n’ roll”, the Jewish beatnik Willy Bergman – at the Somerset festival’s big-top Avalon stage at 6:45pm on Saturday night, playing their own compositions and a selection of lost classics from the 1920s and 30s.
Having been described by the Guardian as “enormous fun”, the sharp-suited combo recently released a new album, and will no doubt treat muddy revellers to an upbeat and unforgivably dad-danceable set telling what they call “tales of Soho scoundrels” and “secret London dives”…and it’s unlikely that any death threats will be sent to septuagenarian festival boss Michael Eavis over this Saturday night booking, as they were after the divisive rapper West as a headliner.
Despite being named one of the ten most unusual acts playing this year’s festival, the Yiddish Twist Orchestra aren’t quite the most high-profile Jewish acts at this year’s incarnation of the festival, which takes place at Eavis’ Worthy Farm in Pilton and will attract over 200,000 people over three days.
Uptown Funk star Mark Ronson will play the Other Stage at 9pm on Friday, while 87-year-old Oscar winner Burt Bacharach, famous for classics such as ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat?’, will make his long overdue Glastonbury debut on the Pyramid Stage at 4:30pm on Saturday.