Instead of wallowing over the festival’s cancellation, look back at its best, worst, and most memorable moments
Earlier today (March 18), the news we’ve all been dreading came in: Glastonbury has been cancelled amid coronavirus concerns. In a joint statement, Michael and Emily Eavis said: “We were so looking forward to welcoming you all for our 50th anniversary with a line-up of fantastic artists and performers. We’re so sorry that this decision has been made. It was not through choice.”
While obviously the right decision given the current crisis, Glastonbury’s cancellation will be devastating for its organisers, crew, volunteers, and the 135,000 people lucky enough to get tickets. The statement added: “There will also inevitably be severe financial implications as a result of this cancellation – not just for us, but also the festival’s charity partners, suppliers, traders, local landowners, and our community.”
Although those who have already secured a ticket for this year’s 50th anniversary festival can roll their £50 deposit over until next year, there’s still a long time to wait for more Glastonbury memories. With this in mind, we’ve outlined a few of the most iconic moments from the festival over the years – from the 1998 poo explosion (yep) to Alex from Glasto’s infamous improv just last year.
Sit back, put your headphones in so you don’t disturb your housemates working from home, and remember a time when we weren’t all so miserable.
THE HEDONISTIC 80S AND 90S
ORBITAL ON THE NME STAGE (1994)
Orbital’s 1994 performance on Glastonbury’s NME stage was a defining moment both for dance music and the festival itself. Televised for the first time, the duo’s set introduced a whole host of new fans to dance music, and was so successful that the following year Glastonbury launched its first official dance tent, Silver Hayes – now a dedicated dance area.
PULP REPLACING THE STONE ROSES (1995)
After The Stone Roses’ John Squire fell off his bike and broke his collarbone, the band had to pull out of the festival just a week before the event, leaving Pulp to fill their shoes. The group’s resulting set has since been described as “career-defining”.
RADIOHEAD ON THE PYRAMID STAGE (1997)
THE POO EXPLOSION (1998)
You’re lucky there’s no imagery for this one. In 1998, Glastonbury suffered one of its most infamous logistical nightmares to date – after the dance tent became home to six inches of mud, organisers made the decision to suck some of it out with a toilet truck. Except, the truck was set to ‘blow’ instead of ‘suck’, resulting in a literal shit storm that covered the entire tent. Luckily for festivalgoers – and TBH organisers – the tent was empty at the time, and was later closed for 24 hours while it was disinfected. Stunning.
UNDERWORLD ON THE OTHER STAGE (1998)
DAVID BOWIE’S HEADLINE SLOT (2000)
JAY-Z PERFORMING WONDERWALL (2008)
When it was announced that Jay-Z was going to headline Glastonbury in 2008, many people criticised the booking, suggesting hip-hop doesn’t have a place at the festival. One of these people was Oasis’ Noel Gallagher, who complained: “Sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. Glastonbury has the tradition of guitar music… I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.” So, when it came to headline day, Jay-Z knew exactly what he was going to do. In one of the most iconic moments in the festival’s history, the rapper opened his Pyramid Stage slot with “Wonderwall”, before giving the audience what they really wanted: “99 Problems” and the rest of a legendary rap set. Sorry, Noel.
EVERY SECOND OF BEYONCÉ’S SET (2011)
DOLLY PARTON’S LEGEND’S SLOT (2014)
MUD, MUD, MUD (2016)
If getting the disastrous Brexit results while at Glastonbury in 2016 wasn’t enough, that year was also one of the worst in history when it came to mud. Although the show went on, as someone who watched my friend fall face first into five inches of sludge, spent hours trudging between stages, and had to scoop cups of water out of my tent, the mud did kind of dampen the mood. At least I can say I was there when Glastonbury set “a new mud record”.
OH JEREMY CORBYN (2017)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was met with cheering crowds at Glastonbury, just weeks after his party obliterated the Tory’s majority in the 2017 general election. Discussing world peace and the climate crisis on the festival’s Pyramid Stage, the leader of the opposition enjoyed chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” from a newly-energised, left-wing crowd. Boris Johnson could never.
STORMZY’S HISTORY-MAKING HEADLINE SLOT (2019)
KYLIE’S LGBTQ+ CANNON EXPLOSION (2019)
Having been forced to cancel her headline slot 14 years ago after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Kylie Minogue finally took to Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage in 2019, this time performing in Sunday’s Legends slot. Along with guest appearances by Nick Cave and Coldplay’s Chris Martin – who also joined Stormzy on stage two days before… does he live inside the pyramid? – Kylie treated fans to three costume changes, non-stop pop hits, and an LGBTQ+ rainbow confetti cannon. A legend indeed.
DAVE BRINGS OUT ALEX FROM GLASTO (2019)
In one of the most wonderful moments from Glastonbury 2019, Dave told his Sunday evening crowd that he wanted to bring one of them on stage to perform his AJ Tracey-featuring track, “Thiago Silva”. After scouring the front few rows for a suitable collaborator, Dave locked eyes with Alex Mann, a 15-year-old boy aptly dressed in a Thiago Silva football shirt. What happened next was history, leading to ‘Alex from Glasto’ making all kinds of TV appearances and even releasing his own track, “What Ya Know Bout That Bro?” – a critical flop, but objectively a banger IMO. Relive the moment above.