Glastonbury 2023

The most memorable moments of Glastonbury 2023

Another year, another Glastonbury done and dusted. As with every Worthy Farm get-together, plonking 200,000-odd people in a field full of tunes stirs up some considerable moments – and some instances that go beyond just the music. Here are the most memorable things about Glastonbury 2023. 

Rina Sawayama calling out Matty Healy

Rina Sawayama has often injected a degree of potency into her pop productions, but it’s safe to say her callout of The 1975’s rabble-rousing frontman Matty Healy still took everyone by surprise. Introducing her song ‘STFU!’ during her Saturday night slot at Woodsies – a track she explained she wrote because she was “sick and tired of microaggressions” – the Japanese-born singer didn’t mention Healy by name but tore into him all the same. “Tonight, this goes out to a white man that watches [porn series] Ghetto Gaggers, and mocks Asian people on a podcast… he also owns my masters… I’ve had enough.”

Sawayama was of course referring to Healy’s comments made on The Adam Friedland Show podcast last month, where he admitted to watching the ‘fetishizing’ pornography and joined in the hosts in their mockery and false identifying of rapper Ice Spice’s heritage, mistakenly saying she was of Hawaiian Inuit and Chinese heritage, and mocking each accent. Sawayama’s protestations against Healy “owning my master’s” also refers to The 1975 singer’s position as director of the same Dirty Hit label she’s signed to (a position he stepped away from in April 2023); the label is still run by The 1975’s manager, Jamie Oborne. Dirty Hit and Matty Healy have yet to respond.

This certainly isn’t one of the more joyous moments of Glastonbury 2023, but it’s memorable – and no doubt took considerable guts for Sawayama to call out someone currently still as active and prevalent as Healy. The fact she delivered the message over an interpolation of Korn track ‘STFU’ made it all the more imposing.

Dave Grohl appearing again and again and again

After playing a not-so-secret, barnstorming set under the guise of The ChurnUps on Friday evening, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl simply could not get enough of Glastonbury 2023 – and other acts, it seems, reaped the benefits. That’s because Grohl made not just one cameo appearance, but two. First, he was on drumming duties on The Park Stage with The Pretenders (who had also invited out guitar virtuoso Johnny Marr), and then he picked up rhythm guitar for Guns N’ Roses’ headline slot on closing ‘Paradise City’.

And whilst memes abounded about Dave Grohl turning-up to sets at random, there is a genuine joy to be had in seeing the nicest man in rock with a grin on his face. After the last eighteen months or so he and the Foos have had – losing their longtime drummer and friend Taylor Hawkins, as well as Dave’s mother, Virginia – there was no one you’d rather see basking in the Worthy Farm sunshine.

Rick Astley becoming Glasto’s star man

Everyone recognises an ageing star when they see one, someone living-off successes of the past, perhaps gleaned from one single, ubiquitous hit. So when an artist leans so heavily into that, embraces their foibles and makes light of their former glory, it’s a welcome inflection and a cause for a bit of pop jubilance. After all, what is pop, if not for inducing a bit of untroubled glee?

Rick Astley would be the man to provide it – not just on his solo Pyramid Stage outing, but along with Blossoms in the tented Woodsies stage. Astley and the Stockport indie-rockers have formed a covers band supergroup that’s exactly what you never knew you needed, playing entire sets of songs from The Smiths. It’s pitched at just the right level of nostalgia without self-indulgence and a bequiffed Astley channels Morrissey uncannily well, minus the questionable political views.

What made all of this more memorable was the fact Glastonbury 2023 marked Astley’s debut, marking him as a joyous vantage point from which to watch the festival anew. His cover of Harry Styles’ ‘As It Was’ – which he introduced ever-so self-deprecatingly as taking the crowd from “a song 98% of you don’t know to a song I think almost everyone of you knows” – was an unashamed nod to the new from a golden oldie. Thank god Astley never gave up on his Glasto dreams, never let us down.

Lana Del Rey getting cut off mid-sentence

Lana stans won’t want to be bogged-down by the detail of noise complaints and the licence granted to Glastonbury Festival by the local authority, Mendip District Council. Their version of events for Lana being cut-off mid-sentence falls into a history of underappreciation for one of the greatest songwriters of her generation; even Glastonbury fed into this earlier this year, by not including the pop auteur high up enough on the official poster.

What we know, or at least what we’ve been told, is that Lana explained to the crowd she was “super f*cking sorry, my hair takes so long to do”. Pre-warning them about what did indeed happen, she also said: “If they cut the power, they cut the power.” It’s as if she’d been told of the potential consequences… But whether you berate her for disrespectfully not turning up on time (I mean, she had months to sort her hair), or chastise the powers that be on The Other Stage for not even letting her finish her sentence, the aftermath was quite a spectacle.

With no mic to even instruct the audience, Lana spread the word that kicked-off a crowd singalong of her downtempo ballad ‘Video Games’. Clearly disappointed the set had to be brought to an end, and wanting to give her fans more, Lana strolled down to the front of the crowd, who spontaneously sang ‘Summertime Sadness’. It cast a relatively sombre image – but, then again, isn’t that precisely on-brand with the singer’s sad girl persona?

Lewis Capaldi receiving help from the crowd

The struggles of pop’s loveable every-bloke Lewis Capaldi have been well-documented, not least via the literal Netflix documentary, Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now. The show depicts not just the star’s out-of-nowhere rise to the top of the charts, but his struggle and diagnosis with Tourette’s syndrome. The evident anguish on the singer’s face and demeanour is hard to watch at times, as he struggles through sets with intermittent tics that result from the illness. Capaldi had even called-off a three week run of shows in the run-up to Glastonbury, which were in support of his most recent album, to give him the chance to rest and recuperate.

The issues didn’t let-up during the singer’s emotional performance of ‘Someone You Loved’, in which he was left bereft of words both as a result of the evident challenges he was experiencing and the overwhelming support of the crowd, who sang back every word with feeling. Striding across stage and soaking up the huge support, Capaldi intermittently chimed-in for the balladric number. Whatever you think of Capaldi’s output of sorrowful pop, this was a goosebump-inducing moment, for the level of humanity it demonstrated.

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