are these the 10 best glastonbury performances of all time?

It’s that time again! You scrambled online in the bid for tickets and then when you missed out you headed straight to eBay before resorting to begging/borrowing/stealing passes from your mate’s brother’s girlfriend who works at that label or something...

by Francesca Dunn
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26 June 2015, 8:40am

Kris Williams

T-Rex, 1970
Back in 1970, the Worthy Farm Pop Festival was little more than a jokes idea that young farmer Eavis had in attempt to get himself out of his overdraft - something we can all only dream of ourselves. The Kinks were billed to headline but dropped out last minute, being replaced by T-Rex, who were about to hit #1 with Ride A White Swan. When Marc Bolan rocked up to the farm in a velvet-covered car, rumour has is that Michael Eavis stroked it to screams of "Don't touch my car!" For just £1, attendees got a bottle of milk and a fastpass to the start of something legendary. T-Rex blew minds and the festival put poor Mikey further in the red. "I wouldn't say it was a disaster, but it hasn't been as good as I hoped." he told a BBC reporter at the time. Unfortunately we don't have footage of their actual set, but this is a good watch, trust us.

The Smiths, 1984
Moz and his mates caused a bit of upset when it was announced they'd be playing the almighty Pyramid stage back in '84, with diehard Glasto-goers complaining that the festival was no place for mainstream artists. Their set obviously ended up being a huge success, resulting in a Hand In Glove stage invasion and a change in musical direction for Glastonbury. Watch this rather lolly video of the revolutionary, wild and dangerous frontman question the very essence of hippiedom.

Pulp, 1995
When the Stone Roses dropped out last minute (usually how the best situations arise, it seems), Eavis called on Pulp to save the day. Camping onsite with the Common People, Jarvis et al. took to the Pyramid stage like they were born to do it, gave some sage words of advice and turned their new single into an anthem. "If you want something to happen enough then it actually will happen. And I believe that. In fact, that's why we're stood on this stage today… if a lanky git like me can do it then you can do it too!"

Orbital, 1994
After an evening of guitar music, the NME stage blew minds with brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll aka Orbital. The festival hadn't yet ventured into the realms of dance music, so this was truly something special that would bring techno and drum & bass to the masses, and lead to first a dedicated dance tent, and now of course, the Dance Village. "At the end we did the dance we used to do when we were little kids and naked and about to get in the bath," said Paul, "banging our bottoms together and laughing. It was just brilliant. It was like, we've made it." Lol.

The Prodigy, 1995
Anybody who arrives on stage in a giant inflatable ball has to make this list, right? Back in their pre-Firestarter days, The Prodigy moved around like they'd forgotten their Ritalin, with Keith Flint humping speakers and making a fucking impression. There are so many great looks in this video. Stay punk. 

Radiohead, 1997
Just a couple of weeks after they released OK Computer, Radiohead headlined the big G. Michael Eavis described it as "the most inspiring festival gig in 30 years," and everybody bloody loved it.

David Bowie, 2000
Almost thirty years after his first Glasto appearance (he played the second ever edition) Bowie was back and, though "very fearful", he was on great form despite the laryngitis he had earlier that week. "If I give out and any of you know the words, for gawds sake join in!" he joked ahead of Life On Mars. They did.

Jay Z, 2008
When it was reported that J would be headlining, serial grump Noel Gallagher had something to say about it. "Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music… I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong," he famously said. Jay Z responded by opening his now infamous set with a spot of Wonderwall karaoke before silencing haters with an incredible show. He went on to shout of the festival in his Best International Male acceptance speech at the BRITS that year.

Beyoncé, 2011
Over to wifey now, when three months pregnant with baby Blue, Bey rose up through the stage and into our hearts with her unrivalled performance standard. Backed up by Les Twins and the cast of You'll Never Dance As Well As Us Stop Trying, she wowed the world and kept her cool as every single firework in the world exploded around her.

Dolly Parton, 2014
"Howdy, you guys!" And with that, our Doll brought rhinestones, glamour and the sing-a-long we all needed to get us through Sunday afternoon. "Can I get an amen?" she called out to what seemed like all of the 200,000 people at the festival. Peppered with amazing stage chat, the classics never stopped coming and she even invented her very own Glasto song in which she rapped about mud as the sun went down on an awesome weekend. "I've been waiting a lifetime for this," she beamed. And so had we.

Credits


Photography Kris Williams

Tagged:
Festivals
david bowie
Jay Z
Beyoncé
Radiohead
Dolly Parton
Glastonbury
Pulp
The Prodigy
Orbital