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Is This The Worst Glastonbury Headline Set Ever?
New Order's Bernard Sumner comes a cropper on the Pyramid Stage in 1981.
One band. A lot of alcohol. And a lead singer that has trouble standing up. Watch it in horror.
With Glastonbury around the corner (again), we've been thinking about who the best headliners have been. And occasionally, who were the worst? Back in 1981, New Order were THE big act for Glastonbury, and got to grace the Pyramid Stage. And they played an absolute stinker.
In those days, booking a band like New Order was quite a coup for the Eavises. Having gained huge acclaim as Joy Division, the band had reconvened after the death of singer Ian Curtis and were in the process of recording a debut album under their new name.
For New Order’s Bernard Sumner, the pressure was on. Curtis was a hugely charismatic frontman, and replacing him was a huge task for the guitarist, who now had to sing, play and try and gain acceptance for a whole audience of Joy Div fans who wanted to hear Love Will Tear Us Apart… but weren’t going to get it.
His solution? Get pissed, of course! Drummer Steve Morris later told The Guardian : “Unfortunately Bernard rather over-imbibed on Pernod and halfway through one song just completely fell over and started playing guitar on his back. As a performer you have to draw the line between enjoying the festival and keeping yourself in a fit state to play.”
Performing New Order’s then-new single Procession, Sumner wooped, shouted and yelled obscenities before hitting the deck. Thankfully, it wasn’t broadcast live on the BBC. But there WAS someone on hand to video the whole sorry spectacle - it also features some eye-opening shots of just how small the festival was back then.
Things weren’t much better in the audience as the “New Wave” fans came into close contact with the hippie contingent. YouTube commenter Andrew Watson recalls: “This was my first and last visit to the Glastonbury festival. Hawkwind were headlining and a hippy in front of me kept shouting for them during New Order's set.
"I reasoned with him; he ignored me; I hit him on the head with a plastic scrumpy flagon; he headbutted me in the nose - good job I had as much sense and feeling as Barney that night.”
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