'So if this were your birthday party you might be excused for a weary smile as you blew out your candles. '
Yes argues Alison Kerry
Yes – Absolutely. Why wouldn’t it be? Having such big name headliners at Glastonbury each year has always been a bonus. The line-up isn't announced until after tickets go on sale and 150,000 tickets are usually snapped up in a few hours, which proves that people want to be there regardless. There's a good reason for that: the Eavis' know how to produce an amazing event.
U2, love them or hate, really are the biggest live band in the world. They have never played a festival. What a fitting debut: the 40th anniversary of arguably the best festival in the world. Don't want to see U2 on Friday? There are big headliners on other stages at the same time like The Flaming Lips and Mos Def.
Muse, having won many awards for their live show, are deserved headliners for Saturday. If you don't fancy them, George Clinton headlining the West Holts – formerly the Jazz World Stage – is sure to produce something extra special.
Stevie Wonder couldn't be a better ending on Sunday night. The man's career has spanned more than four decades and out of any of the performers this year, has most certainly had the biggest impact on musicians and music fans alike.
The headliners are only a few of the hundreds of bands performing over the weekend. Old favourites like Fatboy Slim, Ash, Gomez, The Black Keys, even the Bootleg Beatles make an appearance this year. Young new artists like Beth Jeans Houghton, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Drums are there. Sparkling performers like Scissor Sisters and Florence And The Machine are there. Open your mind and check out Willie Nelson or even Snoop Dogg. Anyone who saw that other controversial booking, Jay-Z, two years ago, knows he was in fact quite good even if you've never listened to a Jay-Z record.
Most of us are lured to festivals for the music and most festivals are by and large are genre based. The Glastonbury Festival, being independent, is so much more than just music. Everyone is catered for here. In the Theatre and Circus Field you can find yourself part of an impromptu performance. In the Green Fields you can learn traditional crafts and find out what your carbon footprint is. You can catch a political debate in the Leftfield or simply relax in the sacred space, home of the Stone Circle, and survey the festival down below. You could easily attend this festival, not see any of the main stage acts and still have the time of your life.
If it is just the music you want to, rest assured every genre is covered this year, even more so than in previous years. From ravers to shoegazers, indie kids to dad rockers, jazz buffs to folkies, this line up has it all. Have a little faith in Michael Eavis. He has pulled out the all the stops once again for his 40th gathering down on Worthy Farm. This is going to be an amazing year for the Glastonbury Festival.
No says Christopher Swindells
In Coppola’s gangster paradise, Glastonbury is the Don of all music festivals, sat at the head of the mob family table. So why when it comes to celebrating its 40th anniversary could Vito Corleone throw a birthday bash with far bigger fireworks?
Worthy Farm may still the be the festival Mecca for the masses and no doubt it won’t go without worthy event this year, but the Eavis family are kidding themselves if they think the line-up proves to be anything more than the traditional Glastonbury fanfare.
U2 and Stevie Wonder are the noteworthy steals, but as the Glastonbury virgins they are, both seem risky choices and everything hinges on the hardened festival stalwarts accepting them into the fold. Muse will fight to meet high expectations after a 2004 show Matt hailed ‘the best gig of our lives’ and if nerves weren’t running high in the Muse camp, they’ll be reminded of the show’s significance as drummer Dominic Howard returns to the site where his father tragically died from a heart attack six years ago.
If you take a step back and look beyond these experienced, if contentious, headliners the line-up doesn’t stand up to much interrogation; Scissor Sisters play the slot Kasabian so gracefully owned last year, any comparison? In fact the Pyramid Stage seems to comprise of acts trailing off in the latter half of their careers, Faithless or The Lightning Seeds anyone?
Truly what real-life legends are really lucky enough to be getting a helicopter drop off onto Somerset soil this year? Jack Johnson, Paloma Faith and Corrinne Bailey-Rae, when only last year festival-goers were treated to The Specials, Madness and Tom Jones. Hard to believe Michael Eavis himself said of it: “The most staggering line up to match the 40-year reputation of the festival.”
I know I’m being naive and narrow-minded; Glastonbury is all about the choice and variety. Still I can’t help but struggle to see a speck of that; the Other Stage is a like a wasteland of its former self. Where once the Sunday night was made for euphoric triumphal sets from the likes of the Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers this year crowds will surely run for cover and audio mercy when the nineties lightshow snooze-fest that is Orbital fires up.
If there is something that does seem familiar too about this year’s line-up it’s probably because there is; between the Pyramid, the Other and the John Peel stage over 22 acts will play the festival for the second time in three years. But maybe regular festival-goers would excuse the familiarity if they were treated to some true Glastonbury legends likes Rolf Harris, Robert Plant or Radiohead. Indeed of those it would seem an appearance from the latter’s Thom Yorke and his new pet-project ‘Atoms For Peace’ would make perfect sense, to bring together the super group for their first British show. I guess not everyone can get what they wish for – even if it is their 40th birthday.
So if this were your birthday party you might be excused for a weary smile as you blew out your candles. At least if you’re turning forty you don’t expect to have to share some of your cake, but Glastonbury punters better get used to sharing, Ray Davies, Muse, Snopp Dogg and Stevie Wonder all booked for other UK appearances. One thing their big rivals Reading and Leeds festival don’t seem to have to worry about, having bagged exclusive Blink 182, Libertines, QOTSA, Arcade Fire and G’N’R performances.
If there’s one statement that does ring true about Glastonbury it is “not all about the music.” And undoubtedly as always this will be an unmissable weekend; but from T. Rex in 1970 to Jay Z in 2008 everything about the festival has been ‘where were you’ musical moments. So for the sake of this unique, much loved festival let’s hope on this occasion it can produce even more musical tales to treasure for the next forty years.