23 June 2022

The 10 most iconic Glastonbury performances

As Glasto returns for the first time in two years, HUNGER runs you through all of the festival’s legendary performances.

It’s only been two years, but it feels like a lifetime. Finally, Glastonbury returns this week with over 200,000 guests set to step foot on Worthy Farm.. 

As the biggest and most recognisable festival in the UK, Glasto has seen its fair share of breathtaking, absurd and incredible performances over the years. Here, HUNGER takes you on a trip down memory lane with our top 10 most iconic Glasto performances…

Kanye West (2015)

While in reality there were things that West certainly hadn’t planned for, (Comedian Lee Nelson running on stage) it only made the set more iconic. The Chicago superstar ran through his myriad of hits with the presence of someone who knows they’re the GOAT.  While in his Yeezus era, Ye personified the rockstar aesthetic he adopted at the time and had the whole place going. A man with that many hits couldn’t really fail but Yeezy well and truly outdid himself. It was an era-defining moment as hip-hop continued its Glasto takeover.

Dolly Parton (2014)

Our beloved ‘Jolene’ hitmaker filled the prestigious tea-time Legends slot and it did not disappoint. One of the highest-attended sets in festival history, Dolly Parton gave fans everything they wanted and more, from rapping about the mud to playing the Benny Hill theme song backwards. Decked out in a white spangly outfit, the country legend truly soared when she performed her original version of ‘I Will Always Love You’, which was popularised by Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard soundtrack. 

Oasis (1994)

At a time when Oasis had burst onto the music scene, everyone was waiting to see what the Gallagher brothers had to offer. They didn’t disappoint. A young and cocky Liam Gallagher strolled along the stage and confronted the crowd: “Are you lot gonna wake up for some proper songs?” Safe to say everyone was well and truly awake at this point. The Britpop icons ran through their 1994 album Definitely Maybe and put their stamp on UK music history forever.

Jay-Z (2008)

In 2008 was when rap fully infiltrated the UK festival scene. Noel Gallagher wasn’t happy but the crowd definitely was. Who could ever forget Hov mocking the Oasis frontman with a rendition of ‘Wonderwall’? Shortly after that impromptu showing, Jizza burst into ‘99 Problems’ as well as classic after classic. Not every UK music purist may have liked it but what’s more rock and roll than that?

Sir Paul McCartney (2004)

The legendary artists first ever UK festival performance was the singalong to end them all. Effortlessly transitioning through iconic tracks like ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Get Back’, McCartney cemented his name into Glasto folklore forever. He returns once again to headline this year, and if it’s even half as good as his previous performance he’ll go down as one of Glasto’s best-ever performances (not that he needs it with all of his respective accolades).

Kylie Minogue (2019)

Arguably, the greatest comeback story in UK festival history, In 2005, Kylie was forced to pull out of her Pyramid Stage headline slot due to her cancer diagnosis — a wrenching decision  for fans and artist alike despite Coldplay’s spectacular replacement set. When she finally honoured the booking 14 years later, for 2019’s Legends slot, she pulled out all the stops, putting on a headline-worthy show rammed with her biggest hits. There were celebrity guests, too, including Chris Martin on ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ and Nick Cave for ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’.

Beyonce (2011)

Pregnant with her first child at the time and appearing after her husband Jay-Z headlined, Beyonce delivered Glasto’s best pop performance to date. Performing monstrous hits ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Crazy In Love’, the star also provided a sensational cover of ‘Sex On Fire’. Heartfelt ballads sung while she knelt  on white grand pianos sent the audience into a frenzy.

The Killers (2017)

The Killers invigorated the New Tent early on the Saturday evening of 2004, with the audience spilling far out beyond the confines of the canvas. The Las Vegas rockers treated their earlier fans to ‘All These Things that I’ve Done’ and certified floor-filler ‘Mr Brightside’. Ready to recapture some of that magic years later, the band returned to the stage (now named the John Peel Stage) for an even better secret set in 2017. Oh yes, the calibre of these surprise acts is hardly shoddy…

Pulp (1995)

It was a nightmare for original headliners the Stone Roses when poor John Squires broke his collarbone in a cycling accident in San Francisco, forcing the entire band to pull out of their much-anticipated headline set. Few knew who was replacing the rockers until Pulp walked on stage, but they  saved the day after they were suddenly promoted to the coveted headline slot with just a few hours’ notice. They produced an excellent performance and of course, they played ‘Common People’, which was released earlier that year and set to become their signature song.

Stormzy (2019)

Not only did Stormzy become the first Black British solo artist to headline Glasto, but he was also the first British rapper to do so as well. After only releasing one album (Gang Signs & Prayer) Stormzy pulled off a heart-stopping performance only a veteran could dream of. Donning a Union Jack stab-proof vest, designed by none other than Banksy, Stormzy gave a level of energy rarely seen on the Pyramid stage. Chris Martin, Dave and Fredo all joined him on stage in a performance that gave British rap the platform it had been longing for.

Related Content