For the next three days the entire music industry’s eyes are going to be glued on one thing and one thing only: Glastonbury.
The new issue of Music Week marks a huge celebration of its return after a fallow year, with Jo Whiley, Clara Amfo and Steve Lamacq giving us the inside story of the BBC’s plans for the event, while elsewhere Emily Eavis tells us how the line-up came together and Two Door Cinema Club prepare for their set.
But before we find out who delivers the show-stealing performances this weekend, we asked a host of top names in the business to pick their favourite ever Glastonbury sets. So, without further ado…
"The standout one for me was Dolly Parton. It’s great that Kylie’s doing it, but I think Dolly really set the benchmark, and after that I think everyone else had to step up to the plate. For me, that one was the one that really stood out. She has an amazing set of songs, but every song had an appeal and they fitted the time of day. And it worked for the radio as well."
JEFF SMITH, HEAD OF MUSIC, BBC RADIO 2
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
“Queens Of The Stone Age headlined The Other Stage in 2011 and it was the one thing I promised myself I would see. A band at the height of their powers, a huge audience and one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen in my life. What a band they are, it was a crowning moment. I was right at the front, it was carnage.”
JAMES STIRLING, HEAD OF CONTENT COMMISSIONING, BBC MUSIC
“The anticipation was peak. Nobody was moving, everybody had found their spot in the field, then those big eyes came on… I remember she was a tiny bit delayed and I had the gallery in my ear saying, ‘Can you just fill for a bit longer?’ I was like, ‘Yes, she’s been seen in Tesco allegedly….’ They told me she was ready and then it was ‘Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Adele…” That was such a fun moment, there was so much excitement about her return. She’s the nation’s sweetheart, so to be able to have that moment with the audience was really special.”
CLARA AMFO, DJ, BBC RADIO 1
"My first Glastonbury , it was before I was working for Mercury, so I didn’t get a free ticket, I had to pay like everyone else. But it was the wettest they’d had in years. I did stupid things like putting my jeans over my wellies because I had no idea what I was doing. But, at the time I thought Arcade Fire were the best band in the world, they’d just released Neon Bible and it was insanely exciting, and they played the Other Stage, second top, and then Bjork headlined it. So I think that was the best night I ever had, it was incredible."
MICHAEL RIVALLAND, GM, VIRGIN
“It was the wettest Glastonbury on record for 40 years a couple of years back. We were trying to get up to Arcadia to watch Disclosure do a DJ set. It was so muddy, you literally had to pick up each foot with your two hands and pull it out of the mud and take the next step. It took us 90 minutes to get up there and Charlie Sloth had pulled his groin. We were just making this pilgrimage up to the Arcadia half carrying Charlie, then we got there and it was this big moment. Disclosure started and it was like, I don’t know. It was crazy. It felt like we had made it to the promised land.”
DJ TARGET, JOINT MUSIC LEAD/DJ, BBC RADIO 1XTRA
BOY BETTER KNOW
“Seeing Boy Better Know play the Pyramid Stage in the middle of the day in 2016. It was when urban music, in my mind, started to become part of mainstream culture. Seeing the guys on stage is a definite Glastonbury highlight for me.”
SAFIYA LAMBIE-KNIGHT, LEAD, URBAN, SPOTIFY
“It’s hard to get over the memory of my first Glastonbury with the BBC in 1997. It was muddy hell. On day one we were told The Other Stage had sunk. This was very challenging for us as a new team. Glastonbury was awash not only with mud, but with rumours [about who was appearing]. I’d forgotten the power of rumour. We were able to join Radiohead, who were absolutely peaking, with OK Computer having come out weeks before, we joined them live, just before they went into Paranoid Android. That sense of a live event, joining a band in excelsis during one of the great Glastonbury sets at just the right moment… It’s a story that doesn’t get old for me.”
MARK COOPER, HEAD OF MUSIC, BBC STUDIOS
"Beyoncé, because it's Beyoncé! She came on to Crazy In Love and you can't think of a better song to come on to really, it was just incredible. She is an unbelievable performer: everything from the voice to her choreography and showmanship. It was like, 'That's how you headline'."
PREETI RAJAN, SOCIAL MEDIA AND CONTENT MANAGER, AEG PRESENTS
“For Coldplay was a real standout one. Before they started their set they had the crowd going ‘woah-oh-oooh-oooh-oh’ from Viva La Vida and throughout the set, the crowd kept on doing it – that is the sign of legacy songs. It was like, ‘Oh my God, they’re doing it unprompted!’ Watching them do Fix You was incredible, and then there was one part in the set when Chris made a mistake and it was so hilarious. He started the song and said, ‘We completely fucked up at Glastonbury – no big deal’ – and they did it again.”
RUTHANNE CUNNINGHAM, SONGWRITER
"My fave moment has to be the first time that Chic played on the West Holts Stage in 2013. Get lucky had not yet become huge and there were many in the crowd who didn’t quite know/understand the magnitude of the act they were seeing. Chic were incredible that night, I had bought a cigar too and it lasted for nearly the whole gig. Myself and the Mrs danced the night away and I predicted nearly every song that they were going to play by Nile playing the opening two notes of each song warming up before hand, and that’s how much of a fan I am. It was epic. What I also loved was that we got a great position to see them. I love Glasto surprise performances that shake the festival, and that was one of them."
KWAME KWATEN, MD, FEROCIOUS TALENT
BILLY BRAGG/RALPH MCTELL, 2017
"Watching Billy Bragg and Ralph McTell the year before last. They were performing at the same time that Jeremy Corbyn was on the main stage, and I chose to watch Billy Bragg and Ralph McTell and it was awesome, it was absolutely awesome. It was a little piece of what Glastonbury is, 100%."
MELVIN BENN, MD, FESTIVAL REPUBLIC
BRING ME THE HORIZON
“Last time Horizon played, 2016 I think, that was a really big moment. We weren’t sure how we were going to go down, that was the first time on That’s The Spirit that I felt we were starting to cross over into a slightly different world. We came on to that stage that day not really knowing what to expect, but it was absolutely massive. It was a fantastic show.”
CRAIG JENNINGS, CEO, RAW POWER MANAGEMENT
* For more on Glastonbury 2019, see this week’s special edition of Music Week, available now, or click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.