Glastonbury Festival and secret sets go hand-in-hand. Barely a year will pass without the timeless rumour of a ‘Daft Punk secret set at the Stonebridge Bar in the wee hours’, or a mystery headliner trekking up to The Park for a mid-afternoon show.
Emily Eavis spent the last few months fanning the flames by teasing a “really big” secret set somewhere at the festival, and punters weren’t disappointed. But there remained a few big rumours which amounted to nothing.
Here’s a rundown of the Glastonbury secret sets that did and didn’t happen in 2017.
The rumours that came true
What happened: After releasing ’80s-nodding juggernaut ‘The Man‘, a massive Glasto appearance built on the momentum. Announced on the Sunday (June 25), Brandon Flowers and co. turned up for a heroic show on the John Peel Stage. It attracted one of the fest’s biggest crowds.
What happened: Friday’s much-talked-about Park Stage slot was either going to be Arcade Fire or Elbow. It turned out to be the latter. The band kicked off their set with ‘The Birds’, before playing ‘Bones Of You’, ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ and ‘Mirrorball’. Frontman Guy Garvey maintained a regular dialogue with the people up on the hill looking down on The Park arena. At one point, he asked those gathered on the hill to stand up, wave, and donate £10 to Greenpeace.
The rumour: The Manchester Artpop troupe played William’s Green, airing material from new album ‘A Fever Dream’. Frontman Jonathan Higgs kept chatter to a minimum and thanked the thousands of fans for coming out to the secret show.
What happened: Before playing The Other Stage on Friday, the group showed up for the second William’s Green show. It was basically Glasto’s worst kept secret.
The rumoured sets that never happened
Guns N’ Roses
The rumour: The band were heavily rumoured to be headlining this year’s festival, but likely priced themselves out of a slot at Worthy Farm. They never showed up in the end, not even for a low-key secret set.
The rumour: The departing indie-heroes just started a farewell tour. A perhaps premature post on the EE website said that the band “will be playing one of their final farewell shows before they disband” at the festival. Despite this, the group didn’t make an appearance.
The rumour: They’re playing festivals off the back of new single ‘Everything Now’ and recently played a secret set at Primavera Festival. Huge rumours circulated ahead of their set, including the below tweet from band member Richard Reed Perry – but nothing amounted. That might have had something to do with their UK exclusive agreement at Isle of Wight Festival.
— Richard Reed Parry (@ParryReed) June 20, 2017
The band really wanted to surprise fans at Glastonbury, but they will honor an @EverythingNowCo commitment half a world away instead.
— Arcade Fire (@arcadefire) June 23, 2017
Manic Street Preachers
The rumour: The Welsh legends played a show in nearby Bristol on the Thursday (June 22), but it was their only show of the month.
The rumour: A few suggestions that they could be the “really big” secret have emerged on social media – but nothing of real note linking them to the festival. Nothing happened – not surprising considering that they’re billed as an exclusive for Reading & Leeds this August.
The rumour: Noel’s a Glastonbury regular, but this year he’s heading down to The Farm with a purpose – as he introduces a screening of Oasis documentary Supersonic. He milled around the site for a couple of days, but didn’t end up playing.
The rumour: There were whispers she could be headlining the festival this summer, but she was nowhere to be seen on the lineup poster. In October, she told NME that she didn’t “have permission to say anything about that”, suggesting that she could feature in some capacity. She was a strong rumour, but there was no show.
The rumour: With rage-filled new single ‘Yuk Foo’ announcing their return, they could have made a triumphant return after playing the Pyramid last year. Maybe next time.