Glastonbury is not just about the music (the mud is another highlight), but every year the announcement of the festival line-up seems to attract delight and scorn in equal measure. It remains to be seen whether this year’s festivalgoers will recall with nostalgic pride that they were there when the Foo Fighters or Kanye played Glastonbury in 2015, but if you were at any of the following performances, you can certainly claim bragging rights:
The Cure, 1986
Watching The Cure perform their green laser show during a spectacular thunderstorm was electrifying, but the goth stars would have been incredible in any weather. They headlined Saturday night, prompting not one, not two, but three encores.
Johnny Cash, 1994
Many questioned the booking of a country singer for Glastonbury in 1994, but Cash’s performances will go down among the greatest performances in the festival’s history. Cash’s career revived several years later, but he always maintained that the reaction of the crowd at Glastonbury was a high point in his career
1994 was a good year for Glastonbury. Boosted by the introduction of Glastonbury to TV (via Channel 4) the electronic dance act from Kent showed dismissive rock fans and the rest of the world that dance music was not going anywhere.
Despite the apocalyptic weather (even for Glastonbury), Radiohead delivered a career high in Glastonbury 1997. Fresh from the release of their iconic OK Computer album, they ruled Saturday night with their trademark mix of emotional subtlety and epic rock.
Muse was another act that initially had people scratching their heads, but ultimately blew people’s minds. The triumph of Muse’s performance was tempered by tragedy, as drummer Dom Howard’s father suffered a heart attack while watching the set and died later the same night.
The Stooges, 2007
It’s hard to believe that Iggy Pop is the only surviving member of The Stooges, when you consider the explosive performance the band delivered in Somerset in 2007. The mud-soaked, rain-lashed field became a battleground for their particular brand of screaming blues-punk— complete with memorable stage invasion.
Arcade Fire, 2007
The first truly triumphant performance on the Other Stage belongs to Arcade Fire, who played a set packed with anthemic moments and great singalong (if wordless) choruses. “Wake Up” marked their most anthemic and magnificent moment.
Leonard Cohen, 2008
At 73, you don’t expect stage triumphs, but that’s what Leonard Cohen delivered in 2008. Cohen’s unmistakable gravelly tones drifted out on the warm evening sun, in a set of greatest hits and a “Hallelujah” complete with choruses from the adoring crowd.
The queen of crowd pleasers, Beyoncé was triumphant in 2011. She rose up through the stage and immediately charged into “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” accompanied by enough fireworks to be seen from space.
Rolling Stones, 2013
The Stones and Glastonbury are a rock ‘n’ roll marriage made in heaven. 2013 was their year, with Mick owning the stage in all his supercharged skinniness. Showing the young folk how it’s done, the band played a triumphant set that lasted well over two hours, starting and finishing with two of their biggest crowd-pleasers, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”