There are Glastonbury regulars – the likes of Billy Bragg, Lily Allen and that peculiar protest naked bloke – and then there are Glastonbury icons. Florence Welch fits firmly into the latter camp. The dreamlike, ever so slightly mad, wonderland held on a weekend of or around the summer solstice at Worthy Farm is the singer’s spiritual home. Playing the Queens Head tent in 2008, the John Peel Stage in 2009 and Other Stage in 2010, she’s worked her way up through the ranks, and even when she’s not been booked to play can always be found gallivanting around the site, cider in hand and beatific look on her face.
If anybody encapsulates the Glasto vibe of utter escapism and not giving a shit about what anybody thinks, it’s Florence. In the testosterone-fuelled midst of this year’s rumoured headliners – AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Noel Gallagher and Muse – we can’t think of more suited person to top the Pyramid Stage bill.
This week has seen Florence gracefully emerge from the velvet-lined cave where we assume she resides in order to herald the release of her eagerly anticipated third album. You can watch the first track she’s revealed, ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’, below. That she’ll be swooshing across the world this summer is no secret. A string of festival appearances have already been revealed, from Coachella, Governors Ball and Bonnaroo in the States, to Hurricane, Oya and Way Out West in mainland Europe. A UK date however, is yet to be announced. Here’s hoping the Eavis have made her an offer – and if we know Florence, there’s no way she’d turn a once-in-a-lifetime show like this down.
Not only will she let loose those powerhouse vocals, which will most probably interrupt whatever emo-electronica act is mooching about miles away on the Park Stage, but she’ll bring a vivid, much-needed sense of the theatrical. Florence’s shows are as dramatic as her music, whether she’s scaling the rigging – as she did back in 2009 – or wafting across the stage in a couture bodysuit in spotless white complete with one giant poufy sleeve like in 2010. I mean, we can hardly see Dave Grohl attempting a fashion statement as fabulous as that.
It’s been half a decade since Flo last played Glastonbury. In those five years she’s conquered America and released the Number 1 album ‘Ceremonials’. Her new LP will most likely drop before June, meaning she’ll be bringing an extra two albums worth of songs with her since her last appearance, not to mention the many covers she’s often found dabbling in, from MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’ all the way to Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’. Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay have all headlined Glasto with a hell of a lot less material in their back catalogue.
It also hardly needs mentioning that since its inception in 1970, there have only been five female-fronted or solo acts to headline the main stage. There was Suzanne Vega in 1989, Sinead O’Connor in 1990, Shakespears Sister in 1992, Skunk Anansie in 1999 and Beyoncé in 2011, meaning it’s been a whopping 16 years since a homegrown singer’s taken the top spot on the Pyramid. Florence + The Machine – your time is now.