Tor Blimey! – Glastonbury’s 2023 Line-up

The long, cold nights of winter can be difficult to get through. However, there are also joys like festival line-up announcements that serve as reminders that summer is approaching and give us something to look forward to. No line-up announcement carries as much anticipation and expectation for music fans as the first wave for Glastonbury. For (extremely lucky) ticket holders, it reveals all that is to come. For those without the sought-after fun coupons, it can be crushing to see what you’ve missed out on. However, this year, it seems those without may have come away with a rare victory. 

There are highlights of course – Glastonbury can attract artists that other festivals simply can’t. Elton John playing his last ever UK concert at the Pyramid Stage is a star attraction, although this was announced way back in December. Arctic Monkeys and Guns’n’Roses will provide the other two headline sets, both of whom are hugely popular within the genres they originate from. Other artists like Lizzo, Lana Del Rey and Lil Nas X also catch the eye as they rarely perform other UK dates.

However, there is no doubt it is disappointing. The lack of any female headliners is extremely strange for a festival that regularly promotes itself on diversity and inclusion. Lizzo takes the place on the top line usually reserved for the Sunday ‘legend’ to spare the blushes. Either that, or Yusuf/Cat Stevens is such an underwhelming legend that he doesn’t get such a billing. With the headliners, Guns’n’Roses have a reputation for being patchy in quality and plenty of Arctic Monkeys fans aren’t keen on their more recent output. The rest of the line-up appears to be a weird, lukewarm blend of Wireless, Reading & Leeds and Radio 1 Big Weekend with a couple of DJs chucked in.

The line-up is also much weaker than previous years. My last visit to Glastonbury was in 2013 with a stacked line-up including The Rolling Stones, a pre-AM Arctic Monkeys and Mumford & Sons, along with plenty other stars of pop and indie. Last year had Diana Ross in the legend slot along with Megan Thee Stallion and some of the biggest names in indie all making the trip to Somerset. 

Here lies the problems Glastonbury has with this line-up. It has no clear focus and doesn’t have the big names you would expect running through the announcement. Granted, this announcement is smaller than usual by about 20 artists, but it seems unlikely the quality would improve vastly if it were larger. Of course, Glastonbury is not just about the music; the atmosphere of the festival is unrivalled, and some would say that the days before the ‘action’ starts are the best. However, when tickets are now more than £330 and a complete farce to acquire, you can’t really justify the price tag on vibes alone.

You expect Glastonbury to have the cream of the crop in terms of line-ups; it has the reputation for being the biggest and best festival in Britain and appeals to so many because of it. However, I get the impression that fans of most genres would be better served by other, much cheaper festivals this year. Like indie? Go to Truck Festival or Tramlines. Is pop your thing? There are loads of one-day festivals that will probably serve your needs better (some of these are genuinely great, and there are more and more emerging since COVID). Rap fans will always be best served by Wireless, which makes Glastonbury’s pivot towards it even more confusing. If you want vibes that don’t cost you £330, maybe this is the year to try Lost Village, Wilderness or Boomtown.

My own personal suggestion for those that want a Glastonbury-type line-up with big names and exciting new acts from top to bottom; Go to Europe. Many offer four days of music as opposed to the usual Friday-Sunday in Britain, and there are some that look very good propositions. For the person usually attracted to the big indie and alternative names at Glastonbury (like myself), investigate Rock Werchter and thank me later. For now though, it seems Glastonbury needs to do some soul searching and identify what festival it wants to be in the next decade.

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