Glastonbury Festival 2020 Cancelled: Look Back at Past Highlights Amidst COVID-19

If you thought Coronavirus was a joke, then it really, really isn’t funny anymore.

The outbreak of Coronavirus from China’s wet meat markets has sent the world into overdrive and chaos. A futuristic society of being ordered to stay inside, fear for the lives of loved ones, deaths of the vulnerable, and a class crisis of empty food banks.

The struggles of daily life are made easier by the prospect of a summer filled with travel, opportunity and fun. However, life has all of a sudden come to a halt. It is imperative that we put the safety of others first (don’t be a Vanessa Hudgens a very fragile world). Unfortunately, festival season is currently on hold. Glastonbury, the jewel of the UK summer, announced the cancellation of their 50th Anniversary because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here, we look back at some past highlights of Glastonbury as we dream of the explosive return in 2021.

Jack White, Pyramid Stage 2014

Firstly, Jack White’s Pyramid Stage performance is one of glorious mess amidst passion. Despite being given two out of five stars by The Guardian, White perfectly balanced solo songs with crowd favourites of The White Stripes, something that solo artists struggle with today. An opener of ‘Icky Thump’ set off a perfect setlist of mayhem met with an ending of ‘Seven Nation Army’. This not only excited the audience, as White fell literally head over heels over the drum kit and took the poor drummer down with him. An excellent watch and true highlight.

Idles, The Park 2019

There really isn’t anything like an Idles crowd or a Glastonbury crowd. Therefore, the two together is an electric Glastonbury highlight. The setlist of hope included the likes of ‘1049 Gotho’, ‘Faith in the City’, and crowd favourite, ‘Danny Nedelko’. Mark Bowen skipped around in his boxers as a result of aggressive mosh pits, but most magically of all, you have Joe Talbot. Talbot speaks to the crowd as if it was today’s climate; “I think that’s one of the best things you can do, for people in distress, is make them feel like they’re part of something else”. In times of uncertainty like these, just remember you are never alone.

Arctic Monkeys, Pyramid Stage 2013

They’d come a long way since their 2007 Pyramid Stage debut, but 2013 trumped their Dizzee-Rascal-invaded set. A better constructed setlist, a sharper look, and awaiting the release of one of their most revolutionary albums. Arctic Monkeys, above all, looked so in place at the heart of the biggest UK festival. An array of tracks from Humbug, Favourite Worst Nightmare, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not and AM, Arctic Monkeys were most noteworthy in showing not only their development as artists, but staying true to their roots.

Primal Scream, Pyramid Stage 2013

Bobby Gillespie’s suit. That’s all.

Not just the suit, but it really was stunning. The Guardian gave their set five out of five stars. Their performances of tracks from Screamadelica certainly transport you back to the 90s and allow you to just lose yourself. You can only imagine how hypnotic it must’ve been to experience it, and not just Bobby Gillespie’s suit.

The Flaming Lips, The Park 2017

A performance of balloons, fire, strobe lights, a giant unicorn, an inflatable orb, unlimited confetti, a giant rainbow and, most importantly, a David Bowie song. It was as if someone had written down their strangest dreams and crammed it into a set at Glastonbury. Wayne Coyne sounded angelic, the staging was beautiful and completely matched the essence of The Flaming Lips, the magic and mysterious world further came to life in a stunningly unique form. Truly feel-good.

The Cure, Pyramid Stage 2019

The Cure really are magical. Something about them just makes them impossible to dislike, if anyone has ever even considered disliking them. Robert Smith donned his trademark smudged lipstick and flipped between visionary masterpieces Three Imaginary Boys, melancholic Disintegration, and fairytale Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The audience were transported back the the 80s with a feeling that anything was possible and it was beautiful. Smith stood in black and sung ‘Friday I’m in Love’. A true juxtaposition.

Catfish and the Bottlemen, Pyramid Stage 2016

Love them or hate them, Catfish and the Bottlemen gave a full 110% effort into their Pyramid stage debut back in 2016. It is exceptionally rare to keep an audience entertained by singing the majority of just one album but they managed it. They were note perfect in sound, they debuted new songs from The Ride (released in 2016), and Van McCann smashed his guitar up. Certainly one of the greatest Pyramid stage debuts yet.

Until next year, those are some of the fondest Glastonbury moments from over the years. To live in amongst a global pandemic is daunting, but above all, we should continue to support each other. Meanwhile, we will continue to be in awe of Glastonbury over the past years amidst these times of uncertainty.

Please stay safe.

Words by Erin Allwood

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