The initial line-up for the UK’s flagship festival has been released relatively early this year, and as usual brings with it the usual mix of eleation and complaints from both those with and without tickets.
For every person that’s excitedly counting down the days until Glastonbury, you’ll find another moaning about it. Whether its ‘not like it used to be’ or just a ‘hipster love-in’, there’s always someone ready to knock it. Naturally, this is even more prevalent once the music is announced.
From the outside, largely fuelled by media (specifically TV) coverage, the general perception is that of a regular music festival with three or four stages, solely filled by well-known bands. Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth, and indeed the majority of Glastonbury goers are far less concerned about specific bands than the incredible experience as a whole.
As for the actual acts announced so far this year, on the whole it’s the usual eclectic mix. Muse, Coldplay and Adele attract the attention as headliners, with Foals, LCD Soundsystem and New Order likely to be the alternatives. Wolf Alice return for the third year in a row, and, along with fellow returnees Years & Years, will progress to bigger slots this time around.
Jack Garratt, Bastille, The Lumineers, Jess Glynne, Jake Bugg, The 1975, Ellie Goulding and Bring Me The Horizon will keep the Radio 1 listeners happy, while festival regulars can look forward to Guy Garvey, Richard Hawley, Beck, PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros, Mercury Rev and Underworld. And, of course, Glastonbury stalwart Fatboy Slim.
Two Door Cinema Club, Blossoms and Chvrches also jump off the list, and, with old-timers Jeff Lynne’s ELO, ZZ Top and Art Garfunkel, make a very rounded initial line-up. Without the context of times and stages for each act, it’s very hard to make judgement on the bands, but it certainly looks like everyone is well catered for musically.
A Word On The Headliners
Obviously when it comes to Glastonbury baiting, the easiest target is the headliners. For serious observers though, there’s no doubt Adele will triumph at Worthy Farm. From interviews she has given over the years, you can tell how much it means to her to headline the festival, having refused to do so before due to nervousness over her act working in such an arena.
The effort that she will put into making it an incredible performance – that don’t forget will also be seen by millions on TV – should result in it being one of the great Glastonbury performances.
Indeed, for most bands playing Glastonbury is an honour. It’s also worth remembering that as a charitable event the festival doesn’t pay its acts anywhere near the same amount as other festivals around the world. While headlining Reading can earn you millions, playing Glastonbury isn’t about the cash, and as a result you’ll never find all the current huge names there at once in any given year.
Which brings us onto Muse and Coldplay, headlining for the third and fourth time respectively, in only 14 years. There is much to be discussed here, at no fault to the bands, but a greater issue for festivals everywhere. Whatever your criticisms though – which in this case will be aimed mostly at Coldplay – both are consistently great live acts and won’t disappoint those watching at the Pyramid Stage.
It is a shame, however, that – much like Coldplay were in 2002 – more rising acts aren’t given the chance to shine in a the top slot. The blame can’t be fully put on Glastonbury though, but on the music industry as a whole.
The simple truth is that with the way the music industry works now, bands who perform and write their own songs are very rarely given that opportunity to naturally become ‘greats’ slowly over time; they are either instantly overhyped or cruelly dismissed, neither of which are suitable credentials to becoming established enough to headline one of the world’s greatest festivals.
What’s Still to Come
Of course, the best thing about this announcement is that it’s just the start. As anyone that’s visited Pilton in the last weekend of June will know, Glastonbury is about so much more than the music. With literally thousands of performances by a whole array of acts from across dozens of stages, tents and other performance spaces, there’s far more to see and do than you can imagine.
Musically, there’s probably a couple more surprises to be added before June, and with the announcement of the stages and schedules within the next few weeks it’s likely to be the usual fun build-up to the festival itself.