Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Glastonbury 2023: Highlights From The World’s Biggest Music Festival

Artists, creatives, and music lovers from around the world flock to Worthy Farm every year in a dedicated celebration of life, laughter, and live music itself for Glastonbury Festival

Whilst listening to all the genre-defining and change-making performers can be challenging, all performances can be enjoyed remotely through BBC Sounds and iPlayer, making the weekend’s highlights a now unmissable setlist for re-watching.




Female artists dominated the Pyramid Stage, from Texas celebrating nostalgic Scottish rock with their crowd-pleasing track ‘Inner Smile’, to newbie soaring artist Maisie Peters sharing hits from her smash-hit album ‘The Good Witch’. Canadian sweetheart Carly Rae Jepsen gave a pop-pink rendition of ‘I Really Like You’, which perfectly accompanied the playful party spirit of Los Bitchos on the Park Stage.


Even artists new to the charts had the power to captivate listeners, including contemporary essential-listening R&B artists FLO and Gabriels, who both naturally shone on the stage in their harmonising and enchanting stage presence.


Heart and soul were at the forefront of Friday’s performances, as illustrated in the intimate performances of the folk-rock track ‘Jackie And Wilson’ by Hozierheartbreak anthem ‘Caught Out There’ by Kelis and Yusuf / Cat Steven’s soothing vocals during ‘Wild World’.


In a surprise twist, ‘The Churnups’ scheduled on the setlist concluded with an exclusive Foo Fighters appearance which revitalised the electric energy towards the evening. In typical Glastonbury fashion, where expecting the unexpected is a given, Cate Blanchett was also found interpretatively dancing alongside Sparks’s ‘The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte’.  


Bringing the night to a close were Wizkid and Stefflon Don, two artists whose bars have gained them global recognition and respect amongst their competitors in the R&B scene. Glastonbury-raised indie staple Arctic Monkeys played the final chords of the evening, including a rare performance of their festival favourite ‘Fluorescent Adolescence’.



Kickstarting the Saturday festivities, Rick Astley surprised fans at the Pyramid Stage by drumming, sambaing, and providing a synth cover of Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’ on guitar, before finishing with his 80s classic record ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’; accompanied by a mass of choreographed dancing by security officials at the front of the stage.


Astley continued the party spirit with Blossoms later that afternoon, providing a full set cover of The Smiths’ greatest hits, with the many fans dubbing the festival ‘RickAstonbury’ after the artist’s performances were an undeniable success in pleasing listeners across the nation.  


As Amadou & Mariam lead the crowd in a jam session on the Pyramid Stage, the Other Stage was a Havana of emergent and established artists, with Generation Sex setting the rebellious, crowd-surfing tone of the stage with their performance of ‘Dancing With Myself’. Italian rockstars Måneskin continued the raw, wild passion into the afternoon, whilst the Pretenders delivered a nostalgic performance of ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ as Paul McCartney watched from the side of the stage.


Songwriters undoubtedly took the crowd-favourite place for Saturday’s performances, with talent effervescent across all the stages. Raw emotion and authentic groove were key to RAYE’s performance as she performed to an enamoured audience, continued with Lewis Capaldi uniting the crowd in a chorus of voices during his latest track ‘Forget Me’.


Lizzo continued this high standard with her high-energy, highly anticipated performance of tracks from her latest album ‘Special’. Whilst her outfit may have shimmered purple glitter over the crowds, it was her outstanding vocals which shone through her performance, with body positivity and self-love soaked into every verse of ‘Soulmate’.


Culminating in the free-sprit, wild rock and roll attitude of the day, headliners Guns N’Roses executed a headbanging and throat-retching performance of their biggest hits, including ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. As the sun set during their time on stage, their iconic genre-changing guitar riffs drew Saturday’s antics to an end, with the sheer volume of their multi-decade discography leaving audience members with a rock-infused ecstasy.




Bands were at the heart of Sunday’s events, with queens of country The Chicks heralding Southern charm with their record ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’. Emergent bands also began to carve their identity in the energy-fuelled stages, including punk-metal alt-duo Nova Twins and electropop storm Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul.


Candi Staton and Blondie brought the authentic 70s groove of the disco scene to the stage, immersing listeners in a soulful world of funk and groove reminiscent of Studio 54’s glory years. Whilst ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ was a definitive crowd-pleaser, Debbie Harry’s vocals during ‘Atomic’ concentrated the fun, feel-good emotions of the day.


In a career-defining moment, Elton John brought an end to the festival with his last-ever UK performance, enriched with surprise appearances from Brandon Flowers and Rina Sawayama. From the creative cursing in ‘Bitch Is Back’, to the melancholy melody of ‘Your Song’, to the closing notes of ‘Rocketman’, John’s consistency in his expansive career was celebrated and ended at Glastonbury that evening.


Overall, the weekend was a wild success for both fans and performers. To summarise the passion and emotions of the weekend experienced at Worthy Farm and from listeners around the world, as iterated by the likes of the Courteeners, Generation Sex, and Lewis Capaldi, “I fucking love Glastonbury”.


Alanya Smith 


Image: Glastonbury 2023 Line-Up Poster

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