Best Glastonbury Performances Ever

As Pilton prepares itself for an influx of revellers, we take a look at five of the best Glastonbury performances ever

It’s only been a wait of two years, but whenever the Glastonbury festival does not take place, its absence is sorely felt.

Thankfully, the biggest festival of them all returns this week! As we dig out our tent, and pack our waterproofs, we take a look at five of the best Glastonbury performances ever.

Orbital – 1994

Back in 1994, dance music was still very much a ‘left-field’ concern (no pun intended…). The electronic music that made its way to the wider public’s ears tended to be a bit, well, dumb.

When Orbital played at Pilton Farm back in 1994, however, they showcased a more intelligent electronic musical form, informed equally by the likes of Kraftwerk and rave culture. A whole new musical world was opened up to millions, as a result.

Radiohead – 1997

Picking the definitive Radiohead performance at Glastonbury is a task in itself. However, ‘97’s performance, following the release of breakthrough album OK Computer, is certainly a standout.

With a set list built around many consider their finest album, but peppered with classics from The Bends, too (and cramming in Creep, to boot), this set ran the full gamut of musical emotion.

Pulp – 1995

Pulp had actually played Glasto back in ’94, but their headline performance in ’95 would prove to be a defining one. The band had been drafted in at the last minute- The Stone Roses had to cancel following John Squire’s cycling injury (apparently his Les Paul wielding guitar pyrotechnics aren’t possible with an injured collarbone. Some people… 😉 )

Best Glastonbury Performances - Pulp '95

It had already been a big year for Pulp- ‘Common People’ had been a huge hit, somewhat surprisingly. But with the best part of a decade’s-worth of great, alt-pop creations to draw on, the band had been ready for this moment for years. Jarvis Cocker’s unique and charismatic persona was more than big enough for the biggest of stages.

Elbow – 2008

It could be argued that 2008 was the year that the lads from Bury finally, after years and years of producing incredible music that seemed to escape the attention of the public, broke through into the wider consciousness.

It was in no small part due to ‘One Day Like Today’. This uplifting anthem would stand up against just about any track ever made for sheer feel-good factor, but its case was certainly helped by its adoption as the BBC’s track of choice when celebrating the British team’s achievements during the Beijing Olympics.

With a backdrop of great weather (for once), their performance at Pilton stamped their transition from indie favourites to national treasures.

Brian Wilson – 2005

Brian Wilson. Playing Good Vibrations. At Glastonbury. Do I need to say anything else? As a recipe for a perfect musical moment, this one really took some beating. The legendary Beach Boys songwriter didn’t disappoint either, with a set that perfectly matched the giddy, euphoric vibe of the crowd.

Well, it was always going to be in the list of best Glastonbury performances, wasn’t it?

Will 2013 provide any more classic sets to join this list? We certainly hope so…

Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.