Unsung victims of the pandemic part 435: the Glastonbury rumour detectives, those secretive online sleuths who scour every major band’s June tour schedule for summer solstice gaps that might signify a potential headliner or secret Park appearance. For the past 15 months they’ve been shut down, resorting to grassing up lockdown rule breakers and hacking video cameras at the Department Of Health And Social Care for kicks.
To add to their woes, Daft Punk, the rumourlords they rely on when times get tough, split up. In the wake of Prince, their world was falling apart at the seams – would any major star ever retweet them with a wink emoji again?
Nature, however, is healing. Last week, on the very day we were all supposed to have been stuffing our faces with ostrich arse burgers and swan-diving blissfully into a long drop to celebrate being back on Worthy Farm for the first time since 2019, CSI Pilton spotted a gaping hole in Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road final tour, between Bristol and Cardiff, over the weekend of Glastonbury 2022. A thrill of anticipation swept hippy Twitter, not necessarily at the idea of seeing Reg doing his pub singer version of ‘I’m Still Standing’ in the flesh but at the near certainty that we’re very nearly through this – that nothing short of a killer Druid Variant could stop Glastonbury 2022 going ahead. And, most likely, being the greatest festival the world has ever seen.
For 2021, Emily Eavis had promised to roll two festivals into one, carrying over the surprises and celebrations planned for 2020’s 50th anniversary event (perhaps whacking a Coldplay or two on top?). It stands to reason, then, that 2022 will essentially be three Glastonburys in one. Considering the fallow year in 2018, this will be just the second Glastonbury in five years, and virtually all of the regular big bangers are back in the frame.
Thwarted 2020 headliners Taylor Swift and Macca have both kept busy over the pandemic and are rumoured to remain in the running for 2022, and the Pyramid Stage stalwarts with an album out since 2020 that might potentially line up to join them read like a BBC Glast-home-bury schedule compiler’s wet dream. Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Kings Of Leon, The Killers, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Kylie, any number of Gallaghers… virtually the only Glastonbury headliner of the past 10 years or so that we can almost certainly rule out are Mumford & Sons. Thank God.
Rumourmongers might even stretch to throwing Lady Gaga and Bob Dylan into the mix, and what of Biffy Clyro, always the bridesmaids at Glastonbury to date but now boasting their third Number One album in a row? Meanwhile, numerous acts have ascended to the brink of headliner status since Glasto 2019: Wolf Alice, Royal Blood, Lana Del Rey, Yungblud, Slowthai, IDLES, Haim, J Hus, Celeste and The 1975, among others, have all notched up UK Number One albums in the interim.
And that’s not even to mention the huge acts with albums still set to drop in 2021 – Billie Eilish, Lorde, Chvrches, Damon Albarn – all, perhaps, determined to get ahead of the imminent Adele record, closing in on the music industry like an on-target missile and potentially set to be a Glastonbury 2022 game-destroyer. And what’s that? The first Cure album since 2008? We’re gonna need a bigger farm…
Then there’s the threat to the future of many smaller festivals due to the Government’s refusal to provide insurance or timely guidance. Not to mention the lingering uncertainties for acts booking global album promo tours that will make the idea of high-profile one-off festival headline slots – even at a significantly reduced fee – seem the safer and more appealing option for their big comeback push. Glastonbury 2022’s starting to look like the biggest paper jam of major talent ever imagined.
So far the online rumour mill is limiting itself to Macca, Taylor, Elton, Lorde and Diana Ross for the Sunday legend slot, but the possibilities are clearly unprecedented. So how to accommodate it all? Well, how about the first four-day Glastonbury? Open the gates on the Tuesday to ease the influx, start the music on the Thursday and soak up 33 per cent more pent-up post-pandemic brilliance. Even then, there’s likely to be more A-list acts eager to play than any number of secret sets at William’s Green can fit in. So why not drench the entire site with them?
Anywhere there’s room for a crowd of 10,000 or so, bung on an international megastar. Dave Grohl rocking a market junction from atop a rotisserie chicken stall. Kanye West rising from a holographic bonfire in Strummerville with a neon ley line for a microphone lead. Springsteen headlining the acoustic field; Lana gracing Avalon with her sultry retro atmospheres; Slowthai leaping from stone to stone in the Sacred Space in his underpants. Although that might easily be mistaken for any normal stone circle Friday night – at least for the NME team.
It might well make for a schedule clash nightmare and worse crowd-flow problems than when Electric Six emptied an entire 10,000 capacity tent at Reading 2003 by following ‘Gay Bar’ with a Queen cover, but by spreading crowds across the site, it might also allow us to get closer to the stars and rack up more unrepeatable Glastonbury experiences than ever before. The Eavises have got one shot at creating the undisputed festival of a lifetime; let’s hope they make all our wildest rumours come true.