Banksy lets loose inflatable 'migrant' boat during controversial IDLES Glastonbury set

-Credit: (Image: Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
-Credit: (Image: Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)

Banksy lets loose an inflatable 'migrant' boat during a Glastonbury gig. Rock band IDLES stirred up controversy with a series of political statements during their explosive Glastonbury performance - which also included leading the crowd in a mass chant of 'F*ck the King'.

Taking to the Other Stage, the Bristol-based band also labelled Nigel Farage a 'fascist' in scenes that were broadcast live on the BBC on Friday night.

Later in the performance, a black dinghy filled with what appeared to be small children surfed the crowd during a pro-immigration song, which was let loose by Banksy. The five-member band - fronted by pink-haired vocalist Joe Talbot - played a series of hits during their Friday night headline set against a backdrop that read 'Ceasefire now' and say they were unaware of the stunt.

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The antics made it onto the BBC's iPlayer coverage, despite the broadcaster being subject to strict impartiality rules, reports the Mirror.

A spokesperson for the BBC told the Mirror: "Like in previous years, our live streams and programming reflect the artists' performances as they happen."

Lee Kiernan of Idles crowd-surfs during their headline set on the Other Stage during day three of Glastonbury Festival 2024 at Worthy Farm, Pilton -Credit:Getty Images
Lee Kiernan of Idles crowd-surfs during their headline set on the Other Stage during day three of Glastonbury Festival 2024 at Worthy Farm, Pilton -Credit:Getty Images

Friday's display is not the first time that Banksy, believed to be public school-educated Robin Gunningham, has made his pro-migrant views known. Banksy was involved in rescuing migrants making crossings as early as September 2019, when he emailed German-born activist Pia Klemp who has captained a number of NGO rescue ships.

However, the contentious actions were applauded by viewers who watched the set go out live on BBC4 on Friday night. "This'll upset the right people. On the BBC. God I love IDLES," one viewer praised. "IDLES the band that you are," another admired, lauding the group for "making tens of thousands of people in the crowd chant 'f*ck the king' and 'ceasefire now' as it was broadcasted on the BBC."

"IDLES have clearly thought of every way to completely send the heads of the BBC into an absolute spin in an hour set list," another viewer chuckled.

On the first day of Glastonbury 2024, the rock stars were not alone in utilising their stage time to express political opinions. Other performers like Damon Albarn and Charlotte Church also capitalized on the opportunity to voice their political views.

The Blur frontman, Damon Albarn, debuted on stage during the performance of indie band Bombay Bicycle Club. Met with tremendous applause, Albarn didn't shy away from sharing his political sentiments.

Opening his speech, he started with a thank you: "It's very nice to be here thank you - thank you to Jack and everybody," before diving into three distinct issues: "Three things - you have to show me how you feel about it - are you pro-Palestine? Do you feel that's an unfair war?"

Charlotte Church didn't hold back either, as she sang 'free Palestine' amidst a crowd of hundreds, echoing political statements. She kicked off by greeting her fans: "Hiya babes - lots of love from Wales my darlings. I sort of want to give you the mic today... there's so much untapped singing potential in you guys which we're going to explore."


Then, leading the crowd in unscripted chorus, she exclaimed: "It's Friday at Glastonbury, all the adventures you're going to have and the things you'll see, music, dance and sing. The spirit of expression... and now you can say that you performed at Glastonbury, sing it to me now."

The song concluded with Charlotte voicing: "And I'm going to give some love and feeling to Palestine. To all the people and all the mothers and the children - we are thinking of you, we carry you in our hearts. Free free Palestine, free free Palestine, free free Palestine, free Palestine."

In the meantime, festival organiser Emily Eavis participated in a seven-minute silence at the Pyramid Stage, advocating for peace.