Music News

Glastonbury 2024: Nostalgia meets current chart-dominators in diverse lineup

As the sun set over Worthy Farm, Glastonbury 2024 closed out an eclectic mix of music, culture and camaraderie. Headlined by Coldplay, Dua Lipa and SZA, this year's festival proved to be a celebration of diversity, nostalgia and artistic prowess.

Emily Eavis (the daughter of Glasto founder Michael Eavis) has already confirmed that the festival will not take place in 2026. The last time the festival had an official fallow year was in 2018.

Reflecting on this year’s Worthy Farm event, Eavis said: “It’s got to be the best one yet. Every single one of our vast, incredible crew is crucial to making this event work. And, of course, it simply wouldn’t exist without the participation of the kind, brilliant, respectful festival-goers.”

Eavis also defended Glastonbury’s line up this year after receiving criticism for a perceived lack of rock acts on the main stages:

“I think the line up reflects what’s happening in the music world at the moment – there aren’t a lot of new rock acts to choose from if I’m honest,” she said. “Hopefully that will emerge again, my heyday was 1995 with Pulp and Oasis and Radiohead – and that was great, but music changes all the time and right now this is where we’re at.”

Following criticism of last year's all-male lineup of headliners (Guns N’ Roses, Arctic Monkeys, and Elton John), the 2024 Glastonbury Festival made a concerted effort to balance broad appeal this year, although maintaining the festival's signature eclecticism.

This year, the festival boasted one of the most diverse and globally representative lineups in the British festival calendar. For the first time, two women were among the three Pyramid Stage headliners: UK pop singer Dua Lipa and American singer SZA – who became the first black woman and the first R&B artist to headline the Pyramid Stage since Beyoncé in 2011. 

Additionally, the coveted Sunday legend slot was taken by Shania Twain.

the line up reflects what’s happening in the music world at the moment; there aren’t a lot of new rock acts to choose from. Emily Eavis

Dua Lipa made a much-praised debut on the Pyramid Stage as the Friday night headliner, sharing the bill with Glastonbury veterans LCD Soundsystem and PJ Harvey. The pop sensation brought an electrifying vibe to the stage, commanding the audience with her chart-topping hits, including crowd-pleasers Training Season, New Rules and Levitating.

The British singer told the crowd that she’s always dreamed of playing the iconic music festival’s Pyramid Stage:

"I have written this moment down. I've wished for it, I've dreamt, I've worked so hard in the hopes that maybe one day I'll get to do it and I can't believe I'm here," she said.

"You know when I wrote it down, I was very specific, I said I really wanted to headline the Pyramid stage on a Friday night because then I knew I could party for the next two days in the best place on Earth.”

Coldplay became the first act to headline Glastonbury five times.

Some accused the festival of playing it safe with their choice of Saturday headliners in Coldplay, who became the first act to headline Glastonbury five times, although anyone watching their spectacular 90-minute set packed full of sing-along stadium anthems couldn’t deny that the festival was in a safe pair of hands.

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis was among the special guests watching stage-side, while Tom Cruise, Gillian Anderson and Simon Pegg were also seen enjoying the set from a viewing platform.

Taking to the Pyramid stage, which held more than 100,000 of the 210,000 people present at the festival, Coldplay delivered a mesmerising performance that spanned their illustrious career, including opening number Yellow, Clocks, Adventure of a Lifetime, The Scientist, Paradise, Viva La Vida and Higher Power – while the crowd was also dazzled by fireworks, confetti cannon, a drone flying overhead, flashing electronic bracelets and lasers.

At one point, actor Michael J Fox joined them to play guitar on Fix You. Frontman Chris Martin explained that the star’s 1985 film Back To The Future was "the main reason why we're in a band".

For the first time, two women were among the three Pyramid Stage headliners.

Headlining on Sunday was American artist SZA, who made her Glastonbury debut following Sunday sets from Burna Boy and Janelle Monáe.

Arguably a much bigger star in the US than in the UK (and with likely an overwhelmingly Gen Z fan base), when she was announced as a headliner, many Glastonbury fans confessed they were not familiar with the four-time Grammy Award winner, and it was reported that crowds at her set were unusually sparse for a festival headliner.

However, many noted that her set clashed with Justice on the West Holts stage, James Blake on Woodsies, London Grammar on Park Stage and The National on Other Stage.

Towards the end of the R&B singer’s set – which included Ctrl, Kill Bill and Low – SZA informed the audience that she was “so nervous to be here,” and fans voiced their disappointment that SZA’s mic was muffled for much of her performance, reportedly rendering the singer almost inaudible.

Elsewhere, Shainia Twain made her first trip to Worthy Farm to headline the Legends spot to a sea of cowboy hats and leopard print, opening the show with the crowd pleaser, That Don’t Impress Me Much.

The 58 year old delighted the huge crowd (rumoured to be the second biggest of the weekend behind Coldplay), with hits including Man! I Feel Like a Woman, Still the One, and Don’t Be Stupid, You Win My Love and Up!.

Many noted that Twain’s voice was no longer as powerful as it once was, attributed to her vocal cords being damaged after the country singer contracted Lyme disease in 2003, and viewers once more voiced their disappointment over the sound quality during her set – unsure if Twain was out of tune or simply unable to hear herself in her in-ears (reportedly Cyndi Lauper suffered the same in-ears issue during her set).

swarms of people packed into The Other Stage in an attempt to see Avril Lavigne.

Other nostalgia acts drew unexpectedly enormous crowds at the festival on less prominent stages, with swarms of people packed into The Other Stage in an attempt to see Avril Lavigne, who rose to fame in 2002 due to the success of her debut studio album, Let Go – which is the best-selling album of the 21st century by a Canadian artist – which yielded the hit singles Complicated and Sk8er Boi, both of which an elated crowd sang along to with gusto.

Sounding and looking like almost no time has passed at all since 2002, the Canadian artist drew one of the biggest crowds The Other Stage had ever seen, opening her set with the frenzied Girlfriend, and later encouraging the entire crowd to belt out, I’m With You.

"I can't believe it's taken me 22 years to finally play Glastonbury, but it was amazing," she said.

Festival organisers were called out for underestimating how many people would attempt to see Lavigne’s set, and fans and viewers complained that the singer was placed on a too-small stage with not enough capacity to accommodate those trying to watch. Meanwhile, at the exact same time, Janelle Monae was performing on the Pyramid Stage to a barely-there crowd.

West Holts was overwhelmed by people wanting to see Sugababes; many called for them to take the Legends slot.

Another nostalgia-fuelled crowd pleaser suffering the same issue of a too-small stage were 2000s girl group Sugababes, whose 2022 set at the festival was so popular the field had to be closed off due to overcrowding.

This year it seemed festival organisers had underestimated the trio’s popularity once again, as West Holts was simply overwhelmed by people wanting to see the girl group, who should have been scheduled for a larger space; many called for Siobhan Donaghy, Mutya Buena and Keisha Buchanan to take the Legends slot next time. Festival bosses were forced to shut down a VIP bar because of overcrowding, while disappointed fans were turned away from the area due to it being at maximum capacity.

Still, the trio delighted the packed-out crowd that managed to get close with hits including Freak Like Me, Ugly, the MNEK co-written and produced, Today, Round Round, About You Now, Too Lost in You, and Overload for the day-one fans.

As ever, Glastonbury 2024 was a melting pot of musical genres and talents. Emerging artists and seasoned performers alike graced smaller stages, offering everything from indie rock to experimental electronic music. The festival's commitment to showcasing diversity in music was evident, with acts from around the globe sharing their unique sounds and perspectives.

Other performance highlights came from Little Simz, who played her biggest slot yet immediately before Coldplay, PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, the Last Dinner Party, Keane, Michael Kiwanuka, Bloc Party, The Streets, UK drill rapper Headie One, while the Pyramid stage played host to the first-ever Glastonbury appearance by a K-pop band, Seventeen, whose name refers to the number of members in the band and whose last EP, FML, was the biggest-selling in the world last year.

With Coldplay, Dua Lipa, and SZA leading the charge, the festival once again proved why it remains a cornerstone of the global music scene. As the lights dimmed on Worthy Farm, memories of this unforgettable weekend lingered, reminding us all of the power of music to unite and inspire.

Emily Eavis is already looking ahead to the next edition of the festival in 2025, and has made no secret of the fact that her dream act would be Kate Bush: “We’re already in talks with some acts for it. It’s exciting,” she said.

Coldplay image: Anna Lee