The world's most famous music festival may be renowned for its sprawling size, hosting 210,000 people over its many fields, but what really makes Glastonbury the hottest ticket in town is its smorgasbord of sound, welcoming artists from all backgrounds, genres and sonic philosophies. Over the years, Glastonbury has seen everyone from Dolly Patron, David Bowie and Radiohead to Pulp, Metallica and Amy Winehouse take on the Farm, and this year served yet more sets that'll doubtless go down in history.
So, with that all said, here are the 10 performances that defined Glastonbury 2023.
On a weekend littered with historic sets and unforgettable moments, it really did seem like Glastonbury saved the best until last. Elton John's first (and last) Glasto performance was the stuff festivals are made for, pulling the biggest crowd in the festival's history for an emotional celebration of one of music's greatest songwriters. John even made sure to tip his cap to the next generation of potential future headliners, Rina Sawayama and Stephen Sanchez amongst the special guests to come out and join the party.
Even given that everyone and their mum knew weeks in advance that 'The Churnups' were really the Foos in disguise, the Worthy Farm favourites were greeted ecstatically as they strode out on stage in the blazing afternoon sunshine on Friday. The rockers showered Glasto with classic hits such as The Pretender and All My Life, as well as new, heart-wrenching songs from the recently-released But Here We Are. While the UK may not be the Foo Fighters' official home, seeing the band return to Glastonbury to a field full of elated people singing out into the sun, arm in arm, felt very much like they were returning to where they truly belong.
Queens Of The Stone Age
"Let's dance!" smirked Josh Homme before ripping into a stage-shakingly heavy Go With The Flow. He might have more accurately proclaimed, "Let's dance, jump, mosh and bang our heads off", because Queens Of The Stone Age's festival-closing set on The Other Stage produced the wildest scenes of the whole weekend. Competing against a legendary Elton John set they may have been, but Queens didn't so much hold their own as make it clear that they play second fiddle to absolutely no one, producing one of The Other Stage's all time great performances in the process.
The Last Dinner Party
The Last Dinner Party may have only one officially-released single to their name (with another to come very soon), but that didn’t stop hoards of early-risers heading out to Woodsies to watch their slot at 11:30am on Saturday morning (which is pretty early, as festival clocks go). In fact, following their set, the stage’s compere announced that they managed to pull in the largest crowd for that opening slot that Glastonbury’s ever seen, which is quite the feat. The band swirled in white flowing frocks to a sound that’s one-part Siouxsie Sioux, another part Queen; wonderfully thespian and richly-indulgent, stealing the show before the day had barely begun.
After the festival had spent half a week in blinding heat, Pennsylvania’s Weyes Blood ushered in a soft breeze just in time for the clouds to turn to grey and the atmosphere to settle down into a wistful hum. Blending chamber pop, psychedelic folk and soft rock, Weyes’ voice melted out into the skies like a lower-pitched Kate Bush, as she skipped and pirouetted in an ivory cape, orbited by a stage full of tall candles. A performance of deeply mesmeric and tear-inducing celestial beauty.
With energy beginning to wane on Glastonbury’s final day, London duo Nova Twins fired out a feast of earth-shattering riffs to remind us all that the party was far from over. As Georgia South’s buzzing bass supplied an underbelly of meaty warps to vocalist/guitarist Amy Love’s herculean riffs, together they conjured a sound that felt perfectly at home on a platform as large as The Other Stage. As they leapt together while kitted out like glossy video game characters, spitting and punching out every line and lick with a militant, almost-animated precision, Nova Twins looked and felt as rehearsed as a band three-times their senior, but still powered by youthful spunk, grit and determination.
If you've somehow managed to miss Skindred on the festival circuit, either you don't know how to party, or you're one of those people that frequent their weekend by being zonked out in their tent. For some time now, the Welsh reggae-metallers have been cementing themselves as royals of the summer scene, boasting a catalogue of chaotic bangers that can send dormant crowds into unruly pits; it was long overdue that they were finally called to claim their place at the world's biggest music festival. Despite sound issues cutting out any noise from the guitar for the first few songs, the band powered through, whirring up Glastonbury's far east corner into the late hours. Benji Webbe proved exactly why he's the orchestrator of this whole thing, garbed like a glittering heavy metal king with all the quick-witted humour of a court jester. It was non-stop fun from a band who quite frankly, never miss.
While her nu metal drops and calling out of 1975 frontman Matt Healy made the headlines, alt pop provocateur Rina Sawayam's whole set was simply magic, from its sparkling celebration of queerness to its delightfully over the top theatrics. None of it would matter if Rina didn't have the songs to back it all up, however; luckily the likes of STFU!, Beg For You and This Hell are all top tier pop bangers, beefed up by a killer live band and given extra thrust by Rina's effortless command of a stage. Headlining Woodsies might have been the last time we see her indoors at this festival.
Melding Latin flair with fuzzy psych-rock and and woozy surf guitar, instrumental quartet Los Bitchos provide the perfect soundtrack for a sunny, boozy afternoon - which is exactly what they did when they rocked the Park Stage on Friday. Dishing out cuts from their excellent 2022 album Let The Festivities Begin! as well as recent EP tracks, they were as charming as they were propulsive, setting the tone for a weekend of great weather and even greater music in style.
Bringing some Mongolian folk metal to West Holts on Sunday afternoon, The Hu provided both one of the heaviest and one of the most unique sets in recent Glastonbury memory. Sparking mosh pits, jigs aplenty and even some singalongs from those that have been rinsing the band's two studio albums, the impressive-looking eight-piece created an atmosphere that felt somewhere between a pre-battle rally and a medieval party. They even threw in a Metallica cover for good measure.
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