Lewis Capaldi struggled to complete his Glastonbury set on Saturday evening, with vocal problems leaving him almost unable to sing his final songs.
The show was supposed to be a comeback, after Capaldi cancelled three weeks of shows to “rest and recover” amid concerns for his health.
But despite a warm reception from the crowd, his voice quickly faltered and he left the stage looking dejected.
“Glastonbury, I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’m a bit annoyed with myself.”
The audience lent him their vocal support, willing him along and belting out the words. They wanted him to know it was OK, that they were there for him.
It was a wonderful, communal display of both the Glastonbury spirit, and the genuine public affection for Capaldi, who walked around the stage, singing when he could manage, and taking in the view.
By the end of the set, the star suggested he would need to take more time away from public life to recuperate.
“I feel like I’ll be taking another wee break over the next couple of weeks. So you probably won’t see much of me for the rest of the year, maybe even.
“But when I do come back and when I do see you, I hope you’re still up for watching us.”
As his band played Someone You Love, the singer largely stayed silent, with the crowd carrying him along on an affectionate wave of support,
“I genuinely dreamt of doing this,” he said as he walked off. “If I never get to do it again, this has been enough.”
The singer has been remarkably brave in discussing his struggles with anxiety and the pressures of fame.
Last year, he announced that he’d been given a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome, and he recently appeared in a candid Netflix film documenting his mental health issues.
“When I have a panic attack, it feels like I’m going insane, completely disconnected from reality,” he told the director, Joe Pearlman. “I can’t breathe. I can’t feel my breath going in. I get dizzy. I feel like there’s something happening in my head. I’m sweating.
“The big thing for me with it is, I’m always going to feel like this now, this is me.”
On 5 June, he posted a statement on social media saying he was scrapping all of his tour dates in the run-up to Glastonbury to recuperate.
“The last few months have been full-on both mentally and physically,” he wrote, “I haven’t been home properly since Christmas and at the moment I am struggling to get to grips with it all.”
“I need to take a moment to rest and recover, to be at my best and ready for Glastonbury, and all of the other incredible shows coming up so that I’m able to continue doing what I love for a long time to come.”
He was given a hero’s welcome when he walked out onto Glastonbury’s biggest stage, drawing a crowd to rival the one that watched Arctic Monkeys on Friday.
After playing Forget Me and Forever (interrupted, unexpectedly, by a fly past from the Red Arrows), the audience started chanting, “Ohhh, Lewis Capaldi” to the tune of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.
“That’s enough,” he scolded. “I don’t need Jack White making money off this situation.”
But as the chorus continued, he began to feign exasperation.
“All of you, I imagine, would make terrible lovers. You’re so keen. Let me tease you a little bit, please.”
And tease he did, introducing Pointless with a bit of banter about how he’d written the song with “fellow ginger” Ed Sheeran.
“So ladies and gentlemen,” he announced. “Ed Sheeran… is not here.”
But by the fifth song, his voice began to sound raspy and fractured.
“I really apologize. You’ve all come out and my voice is really packing in,” he said, in the first of many apologies.
He soldiered through, but the issues were clearly agitating him and the symptoms of his Tourette’s began to become more visible.
Although he was visibly upset, the audience was firmly on his side throughout.
When he announced towards the end of his set that he might only be able to finish two more songs, the woman next to me stretched out her arms and whispered: “You just play as many as you want, babe.”