A 40-minute blast of pure, undiluted zeitgeist. A gigantic crowd stretching away over hill and vale. A generation’s prejudices and expectations overturned like a flick of dust off the shoulder. A setlist chiselled into quicksilver by Zeus and carried to the stage by a choir of winged roadies. Or maybe just the Dalai Lama, blowing out the candles on a birthday cake.
These are just a few of the reasons why a gig playing out on the hallowed grounds of Worthy Farm might go down in Glastonbury folklore – one of those iconic moments that don’t just make the weekend, but mark out the evolution of pop culture. Glastonbury is where musical history is made and cultural colossi are crowned on a near-annual basis.
So, as the festival approaches its 49th year this month and with headliners Stormzy, The Cure and The Killers hoping to storm into the uppermost vanguard of Glastonbury legends, here’s our rundown of the sets that almost toppled the Tor.
Click through the gallery to see the 20 greatest Glastonbury performances, ranked