Words: Ciarán Howley
Images: Glastonbury, BBC, Rex Features
Reminisce with us over some of the most absolutely bonkers moments to take place at the 52 year old festival.
Summer is well and truly upon us; and with it one of the most anticipated periods in the Gregorian calendar; festival season. From Irish staples like Forbidden Fruit, Body & Soul and Altogether Now to international favorites like Primavera Sound Barcelona and Sziget in Budapest, music festivals are an Irish rite of passage.
However, none are more coveted than the madness, mayhem and music of British festival Glastonbury, beginning this weekend. With an impressive line-up of Paul McCartney, Wolf Alice, Kendrick Lamar, Billie Eilish and many more, 2022 marks a bold return for the festival which has been postponed since 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Oft-considered the crown jewel of festivals for hosting some of music’s biggest name’s, Glastonbruy has had its fair share of incredible moments. From surprising covers to performances we’ll never forget, let’s get in the festival spirit with some of Glastonbury’s maddest moments.
When Jay Z was announced as a headline act in 2008, many were excited to see the ‘99 Problems’ legend perform. However, there was criticism from festival-goers who felt Glastonbury was a rock music festival first; Noel Gallagher of Oasis being one of them. In fact, the Mancunian guitarist-songwriter even expressed concerns about low attendance that year on account of Jay-Z performing.
“I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.”
The rapper got his own back at Gallagher by serenading the crowd with a tongue-in-cheek rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ and as you can see above, the crowd went ballistic.
There was excitement when U2 announced they would make their long-awaited Glasto debut at Worthy Farms in 2011. However, the performance was marred by torrential rain and a balloon-inspired protest against the band’s shielding tax arrangement with the Netherlands.
Lo and behold, Bono and Co. braved through the turbulence with a rollick through thirty years of bops, and a cameo from an astronaut directly from the International Space Station. The band enlist his help to spell out the lyrics to ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’ onscreen, as a delighted, if not soaked, crowd chant along.
Louboutins. Manolo Blahnik. Jimmy Choo. All luxury footwear brands that supermodel Kate Moss did not wear at Glastonbury in 2005 (for obvious reasons). Instead, Moss styled herself in practical Hunter wellington boots with a trimmed black waistcoat, booty shorts with a belt draped across.
Kate Moss shocked the world by revealing that indeed, like us, she did not want to get her feet muddy over the weekend. In doing so, she not only created the quintessential festival look, but lifted Scottish footwear brand Hunter Boots Limited out of bankruptcy.
Yet again, Kate Moss found herself at the forefront of trendsetting, transforming boots one might associate with your farmer uncle to a sartorial staple for festival-goers around the world. Seen alongside then-beau Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty, Moss heralded a new age of festi-fashion with a more get-up-and-go sensibility.
David Bowie made music history in 2000 when he performed at Glastonbury for the first time in twenty-nine years. Headlining on the Pyramid Stage, Bowie played to over a quarter of a million people, a substantial number of which had gatecrashed to see the Thin White Duke. Or so organizer Michael Eavis reckons, forced to up the ante on security due to the sheer volume of sneak-ins that year
For the ‘Bowieligious’ however, it was a night of nirvana – to the tune of hits like ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Starman’, ‘Fame’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes.’ The Starman brought back guitarist Earl Eavis from their Ziggy Stardust days, reviving their touring rituals like warming up the crowd before Bowie descends. With a cigarette between his fingers, Bowie performed what’s considered one of the best sets in Glastonbury history even long after his untimely passing.
For those well-versed in Ye’s controversial moments will remember this performance as merely a footnote. However, in the Glasto history books, Kanye’s rendition of Queen’s iconic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will surely go down as one of the worst covers of all time. Mind, few would ever have considered much of a powerhouse vocalist but this attempted cover hits none of the right notes.
The crowd were not to be dissuaded and chanted the lyrics back to Kanye before segueing into his own ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ track. Queen were not the only musicians to get a look in that night, as West brought on folk band Bon Iver to perform his ‘Lost in the World’ – an interpolation of their track ‘Wood.’
Despite the backlash and a bizarre stage invasion, Kanye came through with a set that pleased diehards and blow-ins alike, traipsing through a decade of hits, remixes and mash-ups. Though strangely enough he hasn’t been seen covering Queen since…
Elsewhere on District: Festival Eating: What to eat when you’re on a cocaine come down