Glastonbury glory: Best of the festival

It was the sunniest weekend in years. But who were the hits? What did the fans wear? And what were the stars Tweeting about on Worthy Farm?
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The Independent Culture

The hits & misses



Damon Albarn rediscovered the wonder of being in a great pop band with old friends, and wasn't the only one left in helpless tears.


Madness proved they're still vital with new songs, and offered their majestic back-catalogue to massed ska-stomps from a multi-generation crowd.


The expressive Bronx soul singer was an unspoken tribute to the great black musical world Michael Jackson came from.


Dizzee rapped irrepressibly and his growing pop stockpile – "Jus' a Rascal", "Sirens", "Bonkers" – seemed the most natural music for a Somerset farm.


The young Scot played his increasingly popular retro tunes with roguish eccentricity.



The Seattle band's harmonies and rustic sound were stately, but to be admired more than loved.


"This is another love song," the London band honestly proclaimed. But their would-be spirited indie guitar plod felt pretty vacant.


Leicester's best are moving towards something very like a groove. But they were merely a middling warm-up act for the Boss.


Sound problems made Pharrell Williams and co late and dislocated. He was pretty good, but the damage had been done.


Terry Hall looks great, but the forcing out of the band's creative core Jerry Dammers makes this feel like a fraud. Nick Hasted

The surprise guest stars

Every year Glastonbury is awash with rumours about which superstars will perform an impromptu bongo set in the Green Fields to an audience of 12. This year was no exception: Justin Timberlake was rumoured to be appearing, as were The Libertines, though neither materialised (Carl Barât and Peter Doherty were at the festival in individual capacities). Some on the press team were even chinwagging about Michael Jackson being scheduled to brave Worthy Farm's mud (nice try).

In truth, the guest appearances were more anodyne: Jarvis Cocker popped up on bass and Jamie Cullum on keyboards during Spinal Tap's Saturday set. Cullum was booed, presumably for not being rock'n'roll enough; Phil Daniels had a knees-up during Blur's joyous "Parklife" on the final night; and Bruce Springsteen cranked out a guitar solo on on "The 59 Sound" with fellow New Jersey outfit The Gaslight Anthem on the bijou John Peel stage just hours before his Pyramid headliner.

There was also a performance by Jack White with his new band The Dead Weather in a last-minute addition to Friday's line-up. White was joined by new bandmate, The Kills' Alison Mosshart for Van Morrison's "You Just Can't Win" and Bob Dylan's "New Pony". Rob Sharp

The ones to watch

At Glastonbury 2008, it was Brooklyn's psychedelic synth-pop band MGMT who went down as one of the festival's hits, leaving fans singing the catchy riff of "Kids" long after their set at the John Peel Stage was over. This year it was Passion Pit's turn. The geeky-looking Bostonians won over the crowds at the same stage with their melodic synth-pop, to the extent that the dancing crowds were repeating the riff to "Sleepyhead" after they left the stage.

Another highlight at the stage dedicated to the late DJ was The Gaslight Anthem, New Jersey rockers who played their song "The '59 Sound" with none other than Bruce Springsteen – at The Boss's request. A pleasant surprise for the fans gathered which will ensure the band's name is remembered long after the tents are taken down.

It was La Roux whose rocketing success was proven by the crowds flocking to the Dance Arena. Not surprising, since she has secured the third biggest-selling single of the year, "In for the Kill", that the many fans spilling out of the tent were unable to catch a glimpse of Elly Jackson. Over at the Park Stage, north London teenage indie-rock band Bombay Bicycle Club drew fans young and old. Elisa Bray

The best Tweets

If there's one thing Twitter is good for, it's stalking celebrities, and they were online in abundance for Somerset's finest festival. Making waves were the 'Gavin and Stacey' actor Mathew Horne who was moaning about the weather before he even arrived, urging Michael Eavis to take action over what then was set to be a wash-out. "It's been like this for 10 years," he Tweeted. "Stop being stubborn and move the dates." Lily Allen, ever the queen of the understatement, tweeted a picture of the helicopter that flew her to Worthy Farm, while Sarah Brown described how she was "sitting with Michael and Emily Eavis in the Tree Café onsite", before praising the Water-Aid-branded wellies that were widely available. Mr Hudson, the Oxford-educated songsmith who collaborated with Kanye West on his hotly-tipped album, said he chatted with Lady Gaga backstage before VV Brown asked for his number (wishful thinking?). And as proceedings wrapped up on Monday, Peaches Geldof was in an emotional mood, saying how she "had to leave glastobury [sic] because the mud started to really freak me out." Rob Sharp

What the stars wore...

Glastonbury is more known for its sludge than its sartorial flair but while the headliners this year were grungy guitar heroes, the dress code was more glam rock. Pop princess Lady Ga-Ga changed five times, from an S&M biker ensemble into a transparent bubble coat. The crowd cheered when she spun round and revealed her bare posterior, and when sparkling flames shot from her bra-top. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs sported a fluoro headress and lobster-print cape, while Florence Welch wore flowers and fringing. Her gravity-defying heels may not have stood up to some of the deeper puddles, but she looked more at ease than Bruce Springsteen, whose knee-high workman's boots were the first thing he mentioned.

"They're the kind of thing you never want to wear again," he moaned during his set. Perhaps he should have tried the £250 limited-edition Jimmy Choo wellies that were seen caressing the calves of Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley. Harriet Walker

...and what the punters wore

What's the most hilarious thing you can do at Glastonbury? Throw toilet roll over the crowd at the Other Stage? Go up to people and shout, "This is amazing", really loudly? Or perhaps dress up as a Smurf?

Blue complexions were definitely in this year, as were people donning monks' habits, nuns' wimples and 1970s tennis-wear. Fruit was another costume straight out of leftfield with some revellers dressing as bananas. One poor lad in a banana costume walked around with a woefully miserable demeanour; as such his photograph was widely distributed by the press team.

In the serious fashion stakes, it was all about novelty Wayfarers, which are likely to stay in the general public's wardrobe for the next 10 years or so, lace-up or animal-print wellies, bikini tops for ladies when the sun shone and novelty T-shirts for the lads. And we should also mention those outfits that were tailored to the acts people were seeing. Cue Afro-wigs for Tom Jones, and one or two Seventies rockers turning up to pay homage Spinal Tap. This was less popular with Lady Gaga – firework bras are in short supply. Rob Sharp

Who was there

Whether it was the threat of torrential rain, the need to be seen at Wimbledon or just general laziness, the celebrity count this year was rather low. Whether you count Radio 1 DJs as genuine celebs is still open to debate (the likes of Zane Lowe and Jo Whiley tend to bestride the worlds of showbiz and media), so apart from the musicians, it was all a little Z-list. Naomi Campbell whizzed in and out, but beyond that, it was the Geldof sisters getting a bit tipsy, Jaime Winstone looking miffed, Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud (who weren't playing) and Andrew Marr. Kate Moss stayed away, presumably aware the glamour factor would extend to Harry Enfield getting photographed backstage. All in all the journalists outnumbered the people they wanted to write about. When the scandal broke about the number of BBC employees attending (407), they started writing about each other. Rob Sharp