The Greatest Glastonbury Acts Of All Time

View of glastonbury festival over worthy farm


With many people left disappointed as Glastonbury Festival postponed its anniversary event for another year, why not have your own mini swah-RAY at home. Celebrating 50 years of the greatest festival in the world, we cover some of the greatest performances from the start and the ultimate Glastonbury playlist. Providing you with the perfect listening material for your weekend – sit back and enjoy!

  • 10 ‘Must see’ Performances

#1 David Bowie (2000) – Let’s Dance

Regarded as one of the greatest performances in Glastonbury history David Bowie dropped his stage name Ziggy Stardust and played an astounding set to a quarter of a million people. As they crammed onto Worthy Farm to watch it there, the BBC stopping airing some of his performance, giving you a real sense of envy as people say ‘you had to be there’. Bowie had only ever played at the festival in 1971 but his performance in 2000 can’t be beaten.

#2 The Killers (2019) Mr Brightside

Playing at the last Glastonbury Festival this iconic performance has now set the record for the loudest ever set with Brandon Flowers and co hitting 106 decibels. Originally playing in 2007 the band returned with an epic career-spanning tour highlighting their profound music influence throughout the noughties. Joined by Johnny Marr from The Smiths’ you can’t fight singing along to this show-stopping finale.

#3 Beyonce (2011) Crazy in Love

Since the start of Glastonbury, there have only been four female solo artists to headline the event, with many people forgetting Suzanna Vega in 1989. When Beyonce took the main stage in 2011 there was such an exhilarating sense of female power as she took complete control in her iconic gold sequin outfit and super smooth choreography setting the main stage on fire.

#4 Pulp (1995) Common People

If you want something enough it will happen

In 1995 when The Rolling Stones dropped out of headlining at very short notice, Pulp stepped up and out onto the stage to much confusion, but absolutely no disappointment. As Jarvis Cocker casually talks to the thousands of people their performance is nothing but magical. While performing Common People you can see the waves of the crowd rippling, with his electric dance moves, completely consumed in the moment his energy radiated over everyone.

#5 Florence and the Machine & Dizzee Rascal (2010) You Got The Dirtee Love

In 2010 when Dizzee Rascal bounds back onto the stage during the encore from his Pyramid stage slot he instantly ignites everyone with the opening chorus. Joined by Florence and the Machine the duo were total crowd-pleasers as they glowed in the afternoon sun. Dizzee continues to argue that he should be given a headlining slot due to his maximum energy and the reaction from the festival-goers but we will have to wait and see.

#6 Lizzo (2019) Juice

When Lizzo stepped out in her sequin purple leotard she took complete control of the stage, ironically stating that the last time she performed at Glastonbury only 20 people showed up to watch her. As Lizzo owned her performance she became one of the most talked-about acts of the year, with many A-listers taking to social media to congratulate her on winning over Glastonbury.

#7 The Rolling Stones (2013) I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

As Mick Jagger strutted out onto the stage in his green sequin jacket everyone knew that they were about to watch a legendary performance from one of the world’s greatest bands. As Glastonbury owner Eavis was heard saying ‘he had waited a long time’ and Jagger joked to the audience that ‘they finally got round to asking us’ there was a feeling that this had been a long time in the making. As Jagger marched up and down the catwalk stage the crowd rallied up. Playing I Can’t Get No Satisfaction in the encore is one you can’t miss.

#8 Jay Z (2008) 99 Problems

You can’t have a Glastonbury run down without mentioning the controversy of Jay-Z’s headlining performance in 2008. Playing on the Saturday night between Kings of Leon and Verve, Jay Z was the first rapper to headline the event. With negative critics saying it was an indie and alternative music festival and the likes of Noel Gallagher’s saying ‘he’s not having hip-hop at Glastonbury’ Jay -Z famously walked out with a guitar in hand singing Wonderwall. As the crowd chanted his name he broke into 99 problems and put on an unforgettable performance.

#9 Blur (2009) Parklife

After initially debuting Parklife at Glastonbury 1994 Blur returned to the festival after a decade and performed on the Pyramid stage giving the crowd that 90’s nostalgia they had been waiting for. With the crowd enthusiastically defying gravity in a pogo manner, everyone embraced the reconnection of the band. As they played Parklife with Phil Daniels the crowd turned into that cockney geeza, signing the words everyone knows so well.

#10 Adele (2016) Hometown Glory

I was 16 when I wrote this, never did I ever think I would be here doing it like this.

Making the shortlist of female headliners Adele came on in her usual witty, bubbly manner talking away to the crowd. Playing her beloved list of anthems including Skyfall which had recently featured on the James Bond Film everyone mellowed in ore of her vocals. The crowd and flags swayed away to her stunning performance as the air filled with red mist.

Written by Holly Thompson

Featured Image Credit – @glastofest 

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert