Glastonbury best performances: from David Bowie to Stormzy to Beyonce
Glastonbury tickets sold out within an hour on Sunday, leaving hopeful festival goers both elated and desperate.
Glastonbury confirmed that all tickets available from 9am on the day had been snapped up just 57 minutes later, with the festival apologizing to those who missed out and saying ‘demand far exceeded supply’.
As ticket sales increase speculation about who will headline Glastonbury in 2024, MailOnline revisits some of the most iconic performances to take place at Worthy Farm over the years.
From David Bowie’s accidental headline to Jay-Z’s brilliant response after being criticized by Noel Gallagher, read on below for the most eye-catching sets on the Pyramid Stage.
T Rex (1970)
Founder and organizer Michael Eavis had initially booked The Kinks as headliner, before throwing a spanner in the works by pulling out at the eleventh hour. Luckily Marc Bolan (photo) and T Rex were there to save the day
Glastonbury, or the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival as it was then known, was in for an unwelcome surprise at its first event in 1970.
Founder and organizer Michael Eavis had initially booked The Kinks as headliner, before throwing a spanner in the works by pulling out at the eleventh hour.
Determined not to disrupt the festival, Eavis called T Rex’s lead singer, Marc Bolan.
As he was about to play another show at a Butlin’s in nearby Minehead, he agreed to fill in for The Kinks and although fewer than 2,000 people attended the festival that year, it heralded the birth of a music mecca.
New Order (1987)
While New Order were famous for the inconsistency of their live performances, their 1987 set, broadcast live on Radio One, was thrilling from start to finish.
For anyone who hasn’t heard the bouncing, groovy synths of Temptation, this live version perfectly captures the euphoric feeling as it’s played in front of thousands of people who would no doubt have felt privileged to be part of such an amazing set.
Johnny Cash (1994)
Famous for its iconic yet simple introduction of ‘hello’, Glastonbury was Johnny Cash’s country home from then on in the summer of 1994.
Running through his back catalog of hits, including Ring of Fire, Cash so impressed Michael Eavis that he considers it one of the best Glastonbury sets of all time.
‘He was enchanting, bloody brilliant. That was one of my best bookings of all time,” said Michael Eavis NME in 2013.
‘That was one of my best bookings of all time. This was when Johnny wasn’t nearly as fashionable as he was after ‘Hurt’. Some young people thought I had gone crazy because they thought I had to constantly book new stuff. They thought he was just a crazy old country singer. But he was so good. I can’t pick just one song as my favorite, I would have a shortlist of 100.”
While Britpop ruled the British music scene in the first half of the 1990s, the failure of one iconic group threatened to throw matters into disarray until another stepped in and saved the day.
Stone Roses was originally scheduled for Pulp’s slot, before guitarist John Squire had a cycling accident from which he was unable to recover in time to perform, much to the grief of millions of people in the UK.
Pulp’s result catapulted them to even greater heights, with a triumphant win from the Sheffield band cementing their status as one of Britpop’s big boys.
David Bowie (2000)
David Bowie is seen here performing on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury on June 25, 2000.
In what was a sign of what was to come due to the interest and hype surrounding Glastonbury headliners, it was reported that Bowie would be headlining the first edition of the festival in the new millennium before he had even signed on to do so.
Although tickets did not sell out in 57 minutes, the speculation surrounding Bowie’s booking made him perhaps the first ‘accidental’ headliner at Worthy Farm.
Although many fans worried that his set would be too experimental and miss a plethora of previous hits, Bowie played classics from start to finish, in what was considered one of the best performances Pilton has ever seen.
Jay Z (2008)
No stranger to the ability to respond to criticism in a resounding manner, Jay-Z delivered the perfect response to former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher, who infamously commented: “I don’t have any hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong’.
Jay-Z responded by sending the Pyramid Stage wild with a rendition of Wonderwall ahead of his hit 99 Problems.
His ode to British music also included covers of The Prodigy’s Smack My B**** Up and Amy Winehouse’s Rehab.
For someone who was told in no uncertain terms that his genre would be ‘wrong’ for Glastonbury, Jay-Z only proved Noel Gallagher wrong.
While many critics were skeptical about the idea of a pop artist headlining Worthy Farm, Beyonce put on a show that immediately proved her doubters wrong. Pictured: Beyonce performing on the Pyramid Stage in 2011
Although Jay-Z and Beyonce’s relationship hasn’t always been smooth sailing, they both managed to silence their critics thanks to their headlines at Glastonbury slots.
While many critics were skeptical about the idea of a pop artist headlining Worthy Farm, Beyonce put on a show that immediately proved her doubters wrong.
From Destiny’s Child songs to the cover of Kings of Leon and Prince, Queen Bey was in disbelief at the response she received from the crowd.
In conversation with the BBC, via NMEshe said, “Tonight was a dream: I felt like a rock star.”
Dolly Parton (2014)
The Sunday ‘Legends Slot is a relatively recent term associated with the festival.
Tony Bennett is widely credited with popularizing the term, taking to the Pyramid Stage between two acts that were more modern at the time.
Tony Bennett performed between the sets of Space and Sonic Youth in 1998, walking so Dolly Parton could run.
She wowed the Glastonbury audience – and millions more – to such an extent that an audience of 2.6 million people, or a 13.4 percent share of people watching TV in Britain at the time, tuned in to see the set from the country legend, according to ratings advice. firmly attentive.
Pictured Stormzy at the Glastonbury Festival. He later revealed that his in-ear monitors broke down 20 minutes into his headline performance at the Glastonbury Festival, making it the “hardest” thing he has ever done.
Stormzy’s 2019 performance marked the extent to which grime music resonated with listeners in the UK and was one for the ages.
Stormzy was not only content to deliver a crowd-pleasing performance – which he managed to do with his trademark exuberance and swagger – but also used his set as a platform to raise awareness around important issues of racial and social injustice.
He also referenced a number of names that influenced his career – and who he said helped change the British music scene – such as Skepta, AJ Tracey, J Hus and 67.
It was a poignant example of an artist using his status and platform as an influential figure to draw attention to broader issues beyond music.