Glastonbury 2013 lineup proves: you can always get what you want


If it's anything like their flatly brilliant 50th anniversary shows last year, the Rolling Stones' success in the Saturday night slot at Glastonbury looks guaranteed.

Anyone who enjoyed the guest appearances by former members may note with interest that Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings are also performing at the festival, on the Acoustic stage.

Nevertheless, the Stones are a slightly surprising booking for the festival. For one thing, Glastonbury famously doesn't pay the kind of sky-high fees that you can expect at similar events; and the Stones are famously keen on the business of making money. For another, you would expect the band to have started taking a rather dim view of festivals with an ostensibly hippyish aura to them around the time they launched into Sympathy for the Devil at Altamont in 1969.

Even so, perhaps the most striking thing about this year's Glastonbury bill isn't so much the appearance of Mick Jagger on Worthy Farm as its sheer diversity. You could argue that the main-stage lineup feels a little safe, majoring in mainstream guitar rock, pop-rap and singer-songwriters, with Kenny Rogers in the traditional elder statesman slot.

There certainly isn't anything there destined to cause the kind of controversy provoked by the appearance of Jay-Z or Beyoncé in previous years. But the sheer size of Glastonbury means you seldom get the most out of it by staying put in front of the main stage for the weekend. This year's bill rather invites you to head off and explore.

If you think the appearance of the Stones represents an unacceptable capitulation to nostalgia, you can always take yourself off to see post-dubstep stars Chase & Status on the Other stage.

If you find Mumford & Sons' brand of tweed-clad, bunting-strewn folk rock a little too twee for its own good, and the notion of them headlining over Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds too much to bear, then provocative and adventurous R&B auteur The Weeknd is playing at the same time on the West Holts stage, an impressive booking, given that his next UK appearances are in arenas.

Furthermore, the experimental electronic duo Fuck Buttons – whose thrillingly intense music exists resolutely outside the mainstream, despite its unexpected appearance during the Olympics opening ceremony – will be over on the Park stage.

If Arctic Monkeys don't appeal, then you've got a choice of, among other things, disco pioneers Chic or Portishead, the latter a genuinely superb live band whose music has become ever more leftfield over the years.

Elsewhere, the dance lineup is strong (Disclosure, Rudimental and Skream and Benga) while the festival's take on pop tends to the admirably skewed: Beyoncé's younger sister Solange and AlunaGeorge are artists unafraid to experiment. Hip-hop is never normally Glastonbury's strongest suit, but this year it variously boasts Nas, Azaealia Banks and the Odd Future frontman Tyler, The Creator – as well as the dancehall act Major Lazer.

You'd be hard pushed to argue the lineup is anything other than eclectic: armed with a certain resolve and a willingness to tramp around the vast site, you can always get what you want, whatever Saturday night's headliners may tell you.

Powered by article was written by Alexis Petridis, for The Guardian on Wednesday 27th March 2013 21.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010