Are these the best Glastonbury headliners of all time?

4 April 2019, 16:54

Arctic Monkeys, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, Adele and Pulp at Glastonbury
Arctic Monkeys, David Bowie, Foo Fighters, Adele and Pulp at Glastonbury. Picture: Ian Gavan/Mick Hutson/Dave J Hogan/Hayley Madden/Redferns/Getty Images

Playing the Pyramid Stage is something only the biggest bands and performers are lucky enough to do. Here's the very best of them.

  1. Radiohead, 1997

    OK Computer had only been released a month before the band played the Pyramid Stage, but this was a band at the height of their powers and they performed a spellbinding set in front of a crowd that had suffered through torrential rain. Twenty years later, the band have returned to the site of their triumph in somewhat better weather.

  2. Coldplay, 2016

    Chris Martin and co have done the treble on the Pyramid Stage, but it was 2016's appearance that triumphed over the others. Flashing wristbands! Confetti cannons! Barry Gibb! Staying Alive! Michael Eavis singing My Way! But it was the band's heartfelt tribute to Viola Beach that hit home. The young band died in a car crash earlier in the year and Coldplay allowed them to "headline Glastonbury for one night" by covering their track Boys That Sing.

  3. Adele, 2016

    One of the greatest British success stories of the Millennium, Adele Adkins strolled onto the Pyramid Stage like she owned the place. And what a voice.

  4. Arctic Monkeys, 2013

    They had headlined back in 2007 but 2013 saw the Arctics really prove their mettle on the Pyramid Stage. They opened with Do I Wanna Know, the first time the track had been played live in the UK.

  5. David Bowie, 2000

    Bowie headlined the second ever Glastonbury Fayre, back in 1971. He returned in 2000, having completed his transformation into a superstar with a set that saw him embrace his back catalogue and take command of the Pyramid Stage.

  6. Foo Fighters, 2017

    Dave Grohl’s broken leg caused a cancellation in 2015, but the Foos returned two years later to tear down the place. Probably the most hyperactive headline set ever seen at Glastonbury, and they even covered Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie. How’s THAT for a headliner?

  7. Rolling Stones, 2013

    Expectations were high for the Stones headlining Glasto - the crowd at the Pyramid Stage was one of the biggest in history. The legendary group didn't disappoint, with hits Satisfaction, Brown Sugar and Gimme Shelter given a rapturous response.

  8. The Smiths, 1984

    Johnny Marr has since admitted the band were out of their element - so decided to treat the festival like a normal gig of their own. It was all going so well...until the sound got a bit mangled in the last 10 minutes. Johnny still hasn't forgotten that.

    The Smiths live onstage in 1984
    The Smiths live onstage in 1984. Picture: Martin O'Neill/Redferns/Getty Images
  9. Jay-Z, 2008

    Noel Gallagher was an outspoken critic of Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury, the first hip hop act to do so. But the rapper fired back, opening his set with a cover of Wonderwall. A game-changer for the festival, which until then had been a guitar-rock stronghold.

    Jay-Z live at Glastonbury, 2008
    Jay-Z live at Glastonbury, 2008. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images
  10. Metallica, 2014

    Was Glatonbury ready for a heavy metal headliner? The answer during Enter Sandman was a resounding yyyyyyyyeeearrrrrrrgh! (That's yes in metalspeak.)

  11. Pulp, 1995

    When the Stone Roses were forced to pull out of their headline slot, the organisers gave Pulp a chance and Jarvis didn't disappoint. Great jacket too.

  12. Beyonce, 2011

    Another sign of the times - as Glastonbury got bigger and more famous, US stars found the headline slot an attractive proposition. And nobody owned the stage more than the former Destiny’s Child singer when she headlined in 2011. An amazing, show-stopping performance. Showbiz finally made it to Worthy Farm.

  13. Blur, 2009

    Marking their first triumphant comeback after their hiatus, Blur gave a raucous show that show reviewers claimed was the best headline slot of the 2000s. And who are we to disagree?

  14. Muse, 2004

    It was still a big gig in Muse's career when they had the honour of gracing the Pyramid Stage, but the trio are never daunted and gave an electric performance. The show was marred, however, with the death of drummer Dom Howard's father backstage on the night.

  15. Paul McCartney, 2004

    The Beatle legend seemed a bit out of his depth among the "Glastonburgers", but he soon pulled out ever Fabs and solo hit he could think off, which only the most cynical festival-goer could deny. The highlight was the firework spectacular during Live And Let Die.