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Glastonbury 2020: a virtual line-up to end all virtual line-ups

GLASTONBURY! What a year it’s been for the festival’s 50th anniversary year. All that mud, all that traipsing around, all those Pyramid headline extravaganzas, all those hippies in the Green Fields, all the weirdos in Shangri La — all on telly and online of course.

But thanks to the media frenzy around the festival it has been so well documented that the Eavises, and the organisers of almost every stage and area of the festival, have curated a virtual line-up to end all virtual line-ups.

For starters there’s a BBC Glastonbury channel featuring a mash-up of all the best headline sets, from Beyonce to Bowie, with the star man’s famous 2000 set broadcast in full for the first time.

Those who want to take a time-machine back to Britpop’s mid-90s heyday — and laugh at some of the fashion crises of yesteryear — can watch Pulp’s barnstorming 1995 headline set or Oasis on the NME stage in 1994.

More recently, anti-pop hero Billie Eilish’s stage show from last year proves to be as forward-thinking as her music as she appears wearing a surgical face mask while her drummer performs behind a perspex screen.

There’s the holy trinity of album dance acts — Orbital, Underworld and the Chemical Brothers — who each give memorable performances over the years as well as legendary slots from Love and Arthur Lee, performing their classic 1967 album Forever Changes, and Brian Wilson playing from his much-lauded album — 35 years in the making — Smile.

Seemingly undecided as to which Nick Cave set to broadcast, the Beeb screened both the 1998 and 2013 performances from the doom-laden poet.

And for the diehards in denial who want to relive the experience at home, or for those who just want to torture themselves, there’s a 2020 playlist of artists who would have been performing. If you close your eyes and take enough drugs it is as if they really did play after all.

Yet this year’s “festival” isn’t all just pre-recorded.

An open ceremony organised by the Green Fields is broadcast live at noon on Thursday, featuring opera singer Louise Kleboe, which ditches the fireworks to instead invite viewers to take part in a “global meditation at home.”

There are also live performances aplenty across Facebook and Youtube including dance classes from Glasto Latino, theatre and circus shows, poetry videos and plenty of DJ sets and virtual parties hosted by the Greenpeace Field, Unfairground, the Wormhole, Arcadia, Glade, Shangri-La and Block 9.

For film buffs, Cineramageddon screens Julien Temple’s two documentaries on the festival, Glastonbury and After Hours, as well as a Q&A with the director himself.

Over on the Green Futures Speakers Forum, the government’s former chief scientific officer Sir David King hosts a webinar — From Global Pandemic to Climate Change — and gives a withering attack on the government’s response to the coronavirus and global warming.

The Left Field stage, not wanting to be left out, hosted two webinar debates. The first, Life And Lockdown: Hope, Solidarity and Allyship, also warns of the threats of the climate emergency.

Labour MP for Coventry South Zarah Sultana said: “The climate crisis is a capitalist crisis, and the climate struggle is a class struggle without borders.

“So wherever you are, if you’re working class you will suffer the worst effects of floods, fires, draughts and devastation. That grim future is our future unless we take bold, political action.

“And right now with the coronavirus crisis we’re witnessing what happens when warnings are ignored. We’re seeing what happens when a complacent and uncaring ruling class ignores the needs of people.”

Ayeisha Thomas-Smith, co-founder of KIN network for black activists, says that we’re seeing a “critical moment in the movement for black liberation” across the world and stressed the importance to build on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Definitely a contender for the best Glastonbury ever, I’m sure Michael Eavis would agree.


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