Is Springsteen right for Glastonbury?

The Boss will be headlining at Glastonbury. But, says Elisa Bray, young festival-goers may not be thrilled

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.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones