01 Pulp, 1995
I grew up at a time when there were barely any festivals at all: Reading was just gangs of bikers throwing bottles of piss at each other and Glastonbury just seemed to be made up of fields full of wizardy old hippies. So I never went to Glastonbury until the first time I worked it in 1995. It was the coming of Britpop. Following The Stone Roses’ cancellation, it was the year of Pulp. And although people were willing them to do well, there was a slight apprehension in the air as to whether they could pull it off. But they were absolutely marvellous. I think in a way Jarvis had been rehearsing for that moment for over a decade. He’d become so good at holding a crowd in his hands, which he’d been doing in tiny little venues for years. It was magical.
02 Blur, 2009
I’m sure amazing things happened at Glastonbury between 1995 and 2009 but Blur’s performance in 2009 was so moving. I’d knocked about with them back in Colchester when we were all nothing, written about them for the NMEwhen they put their first record out, followed them all that way. They split, reformed and did a couple of warm-ups, one at Chappel and Wakes Colne [at the East Anglian Railway Museum] where they played their first ever gig. Chappel was about five miles from where I grew up. The train station is half a mile from where I used to go fruit-picking in the summer to make money to buy records. It was so good to see them looking all so happy again. Even I don’t think I anticipated just how moving, jubilant and emotionally powerful their Glastonbury performance was going to be. It was such a brilliant celebration. There’s footage of Damon virtually in tears at the end. Everyone could feel it.
03 The Flaming Lips, 2010
A year later, Damon’s on the Pyramid Stage with Gorillaz, while Flaming Lips played The Other Stage. The crowd was a bit thinner than you would expect at the start. But The Flaming Lips brought all the great drama and hope that their gigs always provide. Wayne Coyne is an amazing showman, in a different way to Jarvis. He launched himself into the crowd with his hamster bubble thing, it was great theatre. He provides you with a kind of dream. As the set progressed, more and more people started coming back from The Pyramid Stage and the crowd just got bigger and bigger. When you’re watching a band you love, it doesn’t matter how big they are, you always want them to do well, particularly when they’re up against the odds. And that was one of those nights where they beat the odds.
04 David Rodigan, 2013
I discovered reggae for the first time around 1978, I started listening to the [John] Peel programme when I was about 13. There’s so much amazing reggae to be found if you look in the nooks and crannies of Glastonbury. It’s 2013 and again, it sounds like I’m being contrary, but that was the year that The Rolling Stones were playing the Pyramid Stage. Headlining on one of the stages in the dance arena was David Rodigan. It feels like the whole site is in front of the Pyramid Stage so you have a bit of space to dance but as his set went on, you could see people going past and starting to dance as they’re walking then turning around and looking at the strange man in the hat on stage. Rodigan’s set was perfect as well. He basically did the story of reggae coming out of Jamaica and how it fractured and changed and evolved, played some jungle, it was just great.
05 Idles, 2019
For a lot of people, Glastonbury is going to be one of the highlights of their career. It’s probably something they talked about in rehearsals when they first got going, particularly if you live in the West Country. So, Idles last year on the Park Stage. The field full of their fans was one of the friendliest audiences I’ve ever been in, strangers talking to each other because they know they’ve got a bond in this group. They’re a terrific live band but they were absolutely on fire at Glastonbury. They’d been ignored for so long. They eventually get a break, spend two-and-a-half years virtually non-stop on tour, they arrive back home with friends and family in the audience who haven’t seen them for ages. You could see how moving it was for them. It was one of those moments where crowd and band are as one and I think that’s what makes a festival. I stood there watching the effect they were having on that crowd, how powerful their music was. They’d worked so hard and this was their reward – that Glastonbury moment.
Steve Lamacq will take part in The Glastonbury Experience from June 25-29 – the BBC’s celebration across TV, iPlayer, radio and Sounds to mark what would have been the festival’s 50th anniversary.