Blur at Glasto? Arctic Monkeys at Reading and Leeds? Stone Roses at Spike Island? Here's a run down of the 50 greatest ever festival performances, to remind you of those giddy times when you left a little part of your brain somewhere in a field in Pilton/ Yorkshire/ Cheshire (delete as applicable)... alright.

50Basement Jaxx

After Kylie pulled out due to health reasons, naysayers wondered if the Brixton duo could come up with the required spectacle (or the gold lamé hot pants) which would equal the Aussie pop princess. Well they did and then some, thanks to a troupe of Brazilian drummers, dancers dressed as monkeys and singers decked out like brides.

49Arcade Fire

"Anthemic", "triumphant", "There’s the Napoeon Dynamite guy!" are words regularly associated with Arcade Fire festival shows, but this was one of the first to evoke such a response. A euphoric performance which more than matched the mood of debut album ‘Funeral’.


Hot on the heels of their breakthrough album ‘Bricks Are Heavy’, L7 brought their own brand of,um, ‘grunge’ to Reading festival. In the L7 book the way to deal with a restless, mud-throwing crowd was to bark “eat my used tampon, fuckers!” and chuck said sanitary product at jeering audience. 50 Cent could have taken a note on how to deal with festival hecklers.


Orville, Mr Blobby, Leona Lewis. Puppets in music haven’t had a very distinguished lineage. That was until Mr Hansen kitted out his V stage with marionette version of himself and his band for a hit-tastic set which included tracks from his ‘Odelay’-like album ‘The Information’. This time it was 2 turntables, a microphone and some carefully placed strings.

46David Bowie

An early special performance from The Dame, which saw him play acoustically at dawn (5 am), strumming out such future classics as ‘Changes’ and ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’.


Friends of conservative middle America and the two most infamous rock stars of the early noughties were united, as Marilyn Manson teamed up with Marshall Mathers for a version of the blonde one’s ‘The Way I Am’. It was also notable for the odd juxtaposition of a one minutes silence in honour of the recently departed Aaliyah with some cartoon interludes.

44Grace Jones

Sexagenarians aren’t meant to be seen hula hoping (unless they are on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’) but then Ms Jones isn’t like any other 60 something. Along with the hula hoop skill show, she played with a career encompassing set list, a bit of ‘kooky’ onstage banter (“Wow! Am I on the moon?”) and a few gravity defying hats.

43Led Zeppelin

Drummer John Bonham promised a performance that would show the band playing “as they’ve never heard us play before”. The audience responded rapturously to a set that included ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Immigrant Song’ and closed with a medley of old time rock and roll classics (including ‘Johnny B.Goode’ and ‘That’s Alright Mama’).


Will history look kindly upon two men wearing year zero optician headgear pumping out beats to a gurning massif? Who knows, but there’s no doubt that this '94 performance was a pivotal moment for dance music.

41New Order

A final festival hurrah from the New Order we knew and loved. They hadn’t released a new album since 1993’s ‘Republic’ and it was Gillian Gilbert’s final performance with the band. The gig saw the band bust out the hits as well as tracks by Joy Division. Also included Bernard Sumner’s ‘dad’ dancing. Eek.

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