Is Springsteen right for Glastonbury?
The Boss will be headlining at Glastonbury. But, says Elisa Bray, young festival-goers may not be thrilled
Wednesday 25 February 2009
It's official. Bruce Springsteen is headlining this year's Glastonbury Festival. What does he have in common with last year's headlining act Jay-Z? Well, they are both American, and they both support Obama – as festival organiser Emily Eavis points out. (Then again, which act would admit otherwise? Rock and pop stars are traditionally left-of-centre, aren't they?) But other than that, not much.
The Boss is one of the great songwriters and performers of our time. A legend. But he is also a safe bet. After last year's first experimentation with hip-hop top of the bill, Glastonbury seems to have quickly reverted to its rock roots. Not only that, but Springsteen, great as he is, is the kind of artist that could be put in the "dad music" category. And if the festival's founder and organiser, Michael Eavis, was working hard to change the image of Glastonbury, which has had increasing numbers of silver foxes attend in recent years, this wouldn't be the way to go about it. Especially if rumours that Neil Young will be headlining another night turn out to be true. He is definitely in the "dad music" category. Springsteen is 59, Young is 63. Even (most of) Blur, also rumoured to play, are in their forties. They will be a nostalgia-fest for all twenty- and thirtysomethings. It just seems an odd choice to go for the safe bet. What about Radiohead? They are more cutting edge.
Last year it was the veteran acts Neil Diamond and Leonard Cohen who stole the show. The 73-year-old Cohen's set was one of the most celebrated. Neil Diamond provided some of the best singalong moments of the festival. It takes time to become a legend.
By 2007, Glastonbury had found itself criticised for becoming middle-aged. The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and The Who had headlined. But the demographics made it look like fewer youngsters were attending, replaced by festival-goers twice their age. Even Michael Eavis said so. They had to do something to rejuvenate the festival image. So they brought in Jay-Z. Tickets for the 2008 event took ages to sell. And the financial climate – though the credit crunch was just beginning – was nowhere near the recession we face today. Some blamed the weather. Others blamed Jay-Z.
When his Saturday night headline show was a triumph, proving those who disputed hip-hop as a Glastonbury headline act wrong, the festival had succeeded in boosting its image to show that it could be more cutting edge and not stick to the predictable safe rock acts. Whether people were interested in hip-hop or not, they turned up in their masses to watch Jay-Z play the most talked-about Glastonbury set for years. It became the greatest publicity stunt. And so tickets for 2009 have sold out.
But I wonder how many of those who have bought tickets on the back of last year's success are under 25, and I wonder for how many of them Springsteen is relevant.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Contemporary art is a fraud, says top dealer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture