Glastonbury 2016: The view from the sofa

Glastonbury festival is one of the UK’s biggest cultural institutions and one of the most popular and most talked about festivals in the world. With the festival attracting bigger and bigger names each year, all eyes were on Worthy Farm to see if 2016’s line-up would deliver. 

Tickets for Glastonbury are notoriously difficult to come by, so the fact that a great deal of the festival is broadcast by the BBC makes it a lot easier to stay up to date with everything that goes on over the weekend. If you, like me, prefer to watch the performances from the comfort of your own home, the BBC’s coverage is ideal. You can pick and choose which performances you want to see, skip the ones you don’t, and enjoy the festival atmosphere without even leaving the house. 


If you go to a festival (especially in the UK), you kind of expect to encounter some mud. However, due to the very wet June we’ve had, this year’s festival-goers had to deal with the ‘worst ever mud’ Glastonbury has ever had. If you combine that with the travel chaos the festival caused last Wednesday, where every major route to the festival site came to a standstill and people were left queueing to get into the site for up to 12 hours, this year’s visitors have had more than their fair share of Glasto problems. If you then add Thursday’s EU Referendum and the subsequent Brexit into the mix, it’s a wonder that the festival ran as well as it did. 

If anything, the bad weather and general mood of the country did the opposite of dampening Glastonbury’s spirits. Performers and fans alike seemed intent on carrying on regardless, and banded together to promote a feeling of solidarity at odds with the current political climate. Glastonbury has always been a transcendent hotspot of the weird and wonderful, but this year its roots shone through more than ever. 

This year’s headliners were Muse (Friday night), Adele (Saturday night) and Coldplay (Sunday night). Back when the headliners were announced, a lot of people were querying whether songstress Adele was the right choice for a Glastonbury headliner. In scenes reminiscent of rapper Kanye West’s controversial headline set last year, Glasto fans were asking if Adele would be a success. After all, being a headliner at Glastonbury is no small feat. 


It’s just as well, then, that Adele was well aware of the doubters. Using them to stoke the fire of her performance, she put on an incredible show on Saturday night at the Pyramid Stage. One of the best things about Adele, songs aside, is her personality. It’s that surprising yet charming contrast between Adele the singer and Adele the person that really makes her unique. Even following her rise to success, she is incredibly genuine, down to earth, and just plain likeable. She quite happily plunges into the crowd between songs, emerging with a fez and a stuffed toy, invites one emotional Brazilian fan onstage for a chat and a selfie, and addresses everyone as ‘my darling’. She’s also remarkably self-aware, pointing out during her set that she ‘doesn’t have a lot of happy songs’. But that doesn’t matter. The set was comprised of all her biggest hits, and the audience were more than content to lap up ballad after ballad, belting out the lyrics along with Adele. Following a stunning rendition of ‘Someone Like You’, arguably her most successful track, she leaves the stage. There’s no encore, because she simply doesn’t need one. After that performance, I hope she’s managed to silence her doubters for good. 

The job of headlining Sunday night and closing out the 2016 festival fell to Glastonbury veterans Coldplay. 2016 marked the band’s fourth time headlining the show, a record-breaking figure, and it’s not hard to see why they keep being invited back. On the whole, Coldplay are one of those bands everyone loves to hate; a title which I’ve always personally felt is rather unfair and undeserved. 


In fact, tough as it was to beat Adele, in my opinion Coldplay delivered the best performance of the entire weekend. From start to finish, their sheer energy and gratitude to be back at ‘the best place in the world’ was clear to see. Theirs was an interactive, feelgood, sing-a-long set, and the atmosphere was so electric it managed to seep not only through the captivated crowd, but also into the homes of everyone watching live across the country. Even a piano malfunction couldn’t stop the rainbow rave – instead frontman Chris Martin improvised with a solo version of ‘Everglow’. Coldplay also played tribute to the band Viola Beach, who were tragically killed earlier in the year, with a touching performance of their song ‘Boys That Sing’ which allowed Viola Beach to ‘headline’ Glastonbury.

In a slightly bizarre turn of events, former Bee Gee Barry Gibb joined Coldplay on stage for a rendition of ‘You Don’t Know What It’s Like’ followed by, as Martin introduced it, “the greatest song of all time” – or ‘Staying Alive’. The crowd went wild, singing and dancing along, waving flags, drinks, and even a couple of inflatable flamingos (don’t ask me why – it’s Glastonbury!) As if all that wasn’t enough, they were joined during the encore by festival founder Michael Eavis for a mass karaoke rendition of ‘My Way’ (again, because Glastonbury!)

Explosions of colour, fireworks and confetti, and a really imaginative and effective use of light-up wristbands in the crowd added to the celebratory atmosphere. What were they celebrating? As Chris Martin said, “we came here a little scared for the state of the world. But to see Glastonbury makes you believe together we can do anything”. 

What did you think of Glastonbury this year? Let us know in the comments below!