The headline acts for the 2023 Glastonbury Festival have been announced with all three being male artists, which has, as could be expected, drawn criticism from outside of the industry. Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and Elton John will take to the Pyramid Stage on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights respectively, on 23-25 June, with Yusuf/Cat Stevens playing the Sunday teatime legend slot.
There have been 54 acts in total declared, with an almost even 50/50 gender split: 52% to 48% slightly on the male side; but that wasn’t enough to stop ill-informed critics from throwing in their usual sexist accusations, without actually bothering to look into or listen to the facts, which organiser Emily Eavis had already explained. With regards to diversity, 46% of those booked for the huge event are non-white, or feature non-white members.
There has also been widespread disapproval at the significant price increase for tickets, coming in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
This year’s Festival will support Oxfam, WaterAid and Greenpeace, together with other very worthy causes, including the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.
Criticism over no female headliners
Already anticipating the over-the-top reaction to an all-male headline trio of acts, Ms Eavis went to great lengths to inform everyone of the circumstances behind the decision. She attributed the lack of viable female headliners to an industry “pipeline” problem, and she also explained that Guns N’ Roses were booked after a previously-confirmed female headliner cancelled, because she “changed her touring plans”. Unwilling to disclose the performers name, Ms Eavis did go on to say that it would be hoped that the individual in question would be secured “within the next five years.”
Organiser defends decision
Taylor Swift, who was scheduled to headline in 2020 before Covid put a stop to proceedings, had been rumoured to be a definite for this years extravaganza, but the star’s “Eras Tour” in North America has ruled her out. Defending the decision of all-male headliners, Ms Eavis went into more detail. “The music industry needs to invest in more female musicians to create future headliners, we are trying our best so the pipeline needs to be developed.” She continued to stress that it needed to begin way back with the record companies, and radio. “I can shout as loud as I like but we need to get everyone on board,” she said.
Women headliners next year
Whilst not accepting any of the unjust criticism, she did offer up some good news for those who love to play the sexist card by stating that next year’s festival should see two women headline, with it seems one having already confirmed, and the other one very close to agreeing, and excitingly, she revealed that for both acts, it would be a Glastonbury debut.
The rumour mill will immediately go into over-drive with the likes of Madonna and Rihanna being amongst the sort of acts who could justify top-billing, who have never appeared before at the festival.
Booking of Sir Elton a “massive coup”
Ms Eavis was keen to discuss one of the headline acts, acknowledging that Sir Elton is likely to be the festival’s biggest attraction this year. “It is a massive, massive coup for us to be able to get him here for the end of his tour,” she said, before explaining that she took special measures to convince him to play after trying for years to get him. “In the end, I wrote him a letter saying ‘If this never happens, it would be such a failure on all of our parts’, pointing out he had done everything else.” She explained that she finished the letter pretty much pleading with him to come and he apparently just called up and said “yes”.
Superstar thrilled to play the festival
Sir Elton seems equally excited, revealing that he has long admired the genuine and enthusiastic support for the best emerging talent, which Glastonbury constantly provides. “I have been talking to Emily Eavis about it over the last few weeks and I can’t wait to embrace the spirit of the greatest festival in the world; it is going to be incredibly emotional,” he said.
His Yellow Brick Road tour will be coming to an end around that time and he observed: “There is no more fitting way to say goodbye to my British fans, who have been beyond brilliant, and have supported me through all the highs and lows of my career.”
Impressive line-up already
Apart from the acts already mentioned, and with still many, many more to be announced, the remaining line-up so far that fans arriving from Wednesday 21 June – when the gates officially open – can look forward to seeing is:
Lizzo, Aitch, Alison Goldfrapp, Alt-J, Amadou & Mariam, Becky Hill, Blondie, Candi Staton, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cat Burns, Central Cee, Christine And The Queens, Churches,Ezra Collective, Fatboy Slim, Fever Ray, Flo, Fred Again, Hot Chip, Joey Bada$$, Kelis, Lana Del Rey, Leftfield, Lewis Capaldi, Lil Nas X, Loyle Carner, Maggie Rogers, Mahalia, Måneskin, Manic Street Preachers, Nova Twins, Phoenix, Raye, Rina Sawayama, Royal Blood, Rudimental, Shygirl, Slowthai, Sparks, Stefflon Don, Sudan Archives, Texas, The Chicks, The War On Drugs, Thundercat, Tinariwen, Warpaint, Weyes Blood, Wizkid, and Young Fathers.
Double legend treat for fans
The legend spot which Yusuf – or Cat Stevens to a certain generation – will play, has previously seen the likes of Kylie and Dolly Parton on stage and traditionally draws one of the festival’s biggest audiences. Indeed only last year, Diana Ross attracted an estimated 80,000 to her set. This year there could be a record-breaking crowd watching, because straight after his performance, he will be replaced on stage by Blondie, which could quite easily be regarded as a “double legend” booking, and a real treat for music lovers.
Criticism over price rises
Tickets were snapped up in less than an hour when they initially went on sale back in November 2022, with according to the organisers, “demand far exceeding supply”. However, those ticket prices had risen by £55 to £340 (including booking fee), which represented around a 20% increase. This was met with stinging criticism from many parts, especially in a time where everyone is feeling the pinch, in a cost of living crisis. Amongst the comments made were that it was now making the festival “exclusively for the wealthy” and effectively “pricing out ordinary people”.
Vindicating the hike in ticket pricing, Ms Eavis said they had put them up by the very minimum possible and pointed out that running such a vast show, whilst still recovering from the huge financial impact of two years without a festival because of Covid was “incredibly challenging”.
The daughter of Michael Eavis, the founder of the festival, continued to highlight that Glastonbury costs £50m to run, and they were committed to providing great value for all those in attendance.