The 2023 Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is done and dusted. We saw epic sets from Blondie and WizKid, danced to Carly Rae Jepsen, moshed to Guns N’ Roses and swayed to the sounds of Lana Del Rey (eventually).
But there’s so much going on that you can never catch everything, even if you have six screens simultaneously beaming the BBC iPlayer feeds into your eyeballs.
So here are 15 of the best bits we saw on air, around the site and in interviews over the past five days.
1) Lana Del Rey does one final song
Who among us hasn’t turned up for work half an hour late with our hair a mess and smoking a vape?
Lana Del Rey has. The US singer’s tardy arrival on The Other Stage ended in disaster, as she careered past the midnight curfew and had the plug pulled six songs before the end of her set.
With her microphone cut off, she tried to address fans by shouting from the lip of the stage.
“Bare minimum, can we at least do Video Games together?” she asked, prompting a beautiful a capella rendition of her breakthrough hit.
After that, she climbed into the pit to chat with fans, sharing hugs and condolences. It was a beautiful moment, which made you mourn the moment it could have been if she’d been able to finish what had been, up to that point, a magical show.
2) The dawn of RickAstonbury
You wouldn’t get this with any other guy…
Rick Astley was the undisputed king of Glastonbury, playing a ridiculously affable set on the Pyramid Stage that saw him covering Harry Styles, playing the drums to AC/DC and responding to the messages on fans’ flags.
It culminated in a gigantic singalong to Never Gonna Give You Up, accompanied by hula-hoopers and leotarded dancers, which brought new meaning to the phrase “life-affirming”.
This was, incredibly, Astley’s first ever time at the festival. “I’ve dropped my daughter off a number of times, but I’ve never been myself,” he told us.
He definitely made the most of it, playing a second, secret show with Stockport indie band Blossoms consisting entirely of The Smiths covers.
Fuelled by a toasted crumpet and a beer, which he scoffed on Blossoms’ tour bus, it was an even more unexpected triumph. They emerged to the Coronation Street theme, played Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and This Charming Man, and left waving bunches of gladioli.
“Obviously I’m getting on a bit and the guys are a lot younger than I am, more in my daughter’s sort of age range,” he said afterwards.
“But we have an absolute shared passion for those songs and that band, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.
“It’s just been an amazing experience,” he concluded. “Today has been off the hook.”
3) Anyone got a light?
Towards the end of their headline set on Saturday, Guns N’ Roses pulled a bunch of stadium ballads out of their back pocket, allowing Slash to do his whole “mountaintop guitar solo” thing for approximately 15 minutes.
As Axl Rose got to the line “The lights are shining bright”, most people held aloft their phone lights. Not this guy, though. He went old school and got a lighter out. Then irony happened.
4) Cate Blanchett throwing shapes
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Lydia Tár made her Glastonbury debut – sort of – when actress Cate Blanchett, who earned an Oscar nomination earlier this year for playing the character, joined Sparks for their Friday night set on The Park Stage.
Her surprise appearance was a live recreation of the band’s video for The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte, in which the star twirls her arms and bangs her knees in an oddly compelling act of interpretive dance.
It was one of the weekend’s most surreal and brilliant cameos. And Blanchett wasn’t the only member of Hollywood royalty on site.
Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in Rocketman, watched the star’s set from the side of stage; Kate Hudson was dancing to Blondie’s (incredible) Sunday afternoon show; and Andrew Garfield was spotted checking out Sophie Ellis Bextor.
Best of all, though, was Rami Malek, who was offered a seat by a security guard and protested: “But I’m just an ordinary man.”
5) Look who Churned Up
It was the worst-kept secret of the weekend. A “mystery band” billed as The ChurnUps turned out to be Foo Fighters, to literally no-one’s surprise.
Dave Grohl and co came out at tea time on Friday and delivered one of the weekend’s most pulverising rock sets: Everlong, The Pretender, Best Of You, All My Life. Wall-to-wall bangers.
But best of all, the band got to the festival on an 11:00 Great Western Railway service from London to Bath Spa on Friday morning, followed by a quick transfer in a minibus.
6) This headcase
Alex from Taunton spent the past five years – FIVE YEARS – perfecting his headgear for Elton’s performance. It’s a replica of the Pyramid Stage, with 3D-printed rockets and a ruby piano as a special Glastonbury tribute to his musical hero (represented here in Lego form).
He was one of the diehard fans who got up at 04:00 to reserve their space at the front of the crowd, and predicted “absolute fun and bedlam in the pit”.
Let’s hope the hat survived.
7) Louis Theroux’s cunning disguise
Louis Theroux was having a blast this weekend, turning up at sets by Raye, Digga D, Arctic Monkeys and Elton John.
“I wanted to try a bit of everything from the buffet,” he told Lauren Laverne and Clara Amfo on BBC One.
But how did he move around the site without being stopped and asked to perform Jiggle Jiggle every five minutes?
“A snood,” he revealed. “I won’t put it on, it takes too long, but basically the snood goes over my face and then the hat goes on.
“I’m more-or-less incognito. I look like someone in a witness protection programme or a drill artist who’s very worried about the police catching up with him.”
Laverne responded: “Spiritually, that’s kind of the sweet spot where you sit.”
8) Sophie Ellis Bextor’s anniversary confession
“This is a very special day,” Sophie Ellis Bextor told the huge crowd who’d gathered to see her on Sunday morning.
“Firstly, I get to perform here on the Pyramid Stage, which is pretty flipping exciting. But it’s also my wedding anniversary.”
She went on to admit that she’d committed a major gift-giving faux pas, before dedicating the gorgeous ballad Young Blood to her husband of 18 years, Richard Jones.
“I should have known better because he’s always better at this stuff than me,” she told me afterwards.
“We decided we weren’t really going to do presents, so yesterday I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get him a card’, and I chose this really terrible, funny-bad card.
“And then today he gave me a mug with a ring inside it; and engraved of the inside of my ring it says, ‘Glasto S&R 18’.
“It’s so beautiful. Very, very special. So I feel a bit ridiculous. Hopefully the dedication made up for it a little. And the drinks will be on me later.”
9) The crowd lifts Lewis Capaldi
A bit like Lana Del Rey, Lewis Capaldi found himself lifted and carried by the Glastonbury audience after he lost his voice on stage.
The Scottish singer, who had previously cancelled three weeks of shows to rest and recover, apologised as he prepared to belt out his set closer Someone You Loved on the Pyramid Stage.
“I’m going to be honest everybody, but I’m starting to lose my voice up here,” he said. “But we’re going to keep going and we’re going to go until the end. I just need you all to sing with me as loud as you can if that’s OK?”
The crowd duly rallied to his aid as Capaldi watched on, clearly emotional.
It might not have been the performance the 26-year-old had hoped for, but it was a beautiful and touching example of the Glastonbury spirit.
10) Paul McCartney’s stolen selfie
Our colleague at BBC Bristol, Chris Arnold, was up at the Glastonbury sign to take a sunset selfie when he saw a jeep pull up and eject two passengers, who posed for a photo of their own before racing back to the safety of the artist’s area.
Nice to see that the scale of the event humbles even the most royal of rock’s royalty.
11) Glastonbury’s youngest ever performer
Dave made a guest appearance during Central Cee’s set on The Other Stage, with the duo performing their number one smash Sprinter.
But he wasn’t the only special guest. Central Cee also brought out the toddler who stars in the song’s music video, who looked suitably cute and confused. Awww, bless.
12) A tent with a double bed
Let’s face it, no-one really likes camping. Especially at Glastonbury, where the ground is about as level as a cattle grid, and you’re never more than two minutes away from someone tripping over your guy ropes.
So huge kudos to the anonymous festivalgoer who came all the way to rural Somerset with what everyone assumed was an Ikea bed and built it inside their cavernous tent – complete with mattress, sheets and pillows.
“Five trips from car to campsite. Six miles walked in the blazing sun, but oh my God it was worth it,” they wrote on Twitter.
On Monday, they issued a stern clarification that it was in fact a much posher solid wood frame from Taunt and Yeovil’s family-run Old Creamery. Consider this a clarification and apology. Hope they slept like an angel.
13) The teenage fan whose dream came true
Earlier this year, 16-year-old Eli Crossley appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss the condition Duchenne muscular dystrophy, when he casually mentioned his dream was to play Glastonbury with his band, Askew.
One social media campaign later, and he was on his way to The Rabbit Hole, the festival’s secret underground venue, where they played a 30-minute set.
“We’ve never really done a proper gig before, and Glastonbury’s a scary place to start,” he told the BBC backstage.
“But it was absolutely amazing. Next stop, the Pyramid Stage next year.”
14) A rocket man, burning up his fuel
Let’s face it, the whole festival was building to one point: Elton John, playing what might be his last ever gig in the UK.
After uneven headline sets from Arctic Monkeys and Guns N’ Roses, he delivered the goods with a tight, focused, emotional, brilliant, muscular, lyrical, jubilant, celebratory, pyrotechnic display of musicianship.
He had so many hits, he threw away Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Your Song in the first half hour, then just kept going. I’m Still Standing, Philadelphia Freedom, Tiny Dancer, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Rocket Man, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me… I could go on.
Other people might have crammed songs into a medley, or been tempted to throw in some deep cuts. But no. This was a thank you to the fans, and after 52 years on the road, Elton knows how to please a crowd better than most.
As one fan told us: “That was the most epic headlining slot that anyone has ever, ever produced on that stage, ever, and no-one will ever beat that. Ever.”
15) Glastonbury’s roller girl
However, arguably the biggest legend of the weekend (OK, very arguably) was the fan who was interviewed by BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson about arriving on the site on the first day with rollers in her hair.
She thought he was referring to the wheels on her luggage trolley. Confusion, hilarity and viral immortality ensued.
Amazingly, Colin found her again on the final day to find out how her hairdo was holding up. Watch above.
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