Some 29 years after his first appearance at Glastonbury, David Bowie and his band, which included Earl Slick after an absence of 17 years from the Bowie camp, returned on 25 June 2000 to headline the festival.
Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis, paying tribute, hailed Bowie as one of the “world’s greatest ever rock stars – up alongside Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.” Eavis described Bowie’s set as “…absolutely fantastic. He promised me the show of a lifetime and he delivered it.”
The critics, too, were in raptures: “a master-class in super-stardom,” declared the Mirror, reporting that “Other big-name acts watched open-mouthed.” The NME raved about “the breadth and intent of his fantastic performance,” while the Times believed that “it will be remembered as the occasion at which Bowie won new respect.”
So many people clamoured to see one of Britain’s most pioneering musicians live – with scores of gatecrashers storming the site – that the crowd swelled to an estimated 250,000 fans, putting the future of the festival in jeopardy.
But the ramifications went much further. After a couple of years of security breaches, 2000 was the year that nearly killed Glastonbury Festival.
While around 100,000 people had tickets and duly went through the gates as usual, by Friday night the rudimentary fence erected to keep gatecrashers out was breached in several places as fans clamoured to enjoy the festival experience, and David Bowie in particular.
The festival had to take a break to take stock, and organiser Michael Eavis was forced to come back with an entirely new mega-fence, 12ft high and double-thick strong.
The festival came back bigger than ever with beefed up security but it was a close-run thing. For months afterwards, Eavis was engaged in a huge battle with local council chiefs over the size, scale and security at Glastonbury Festival, with many calling for the festival to never happen again.
It was a far cry from Bowie’s first performance at the Worthy Farm site, when he was aged 24 and turned up on foot to play the festival to play for free to a crowd of about 6,000 people.
Full set-list from Bowie’s Glastonbury Festival headlining set
- Wild Is The Wind
- China Girl
- Life On Mars?
- Absolute Beginners
- Ashes To Ashes
- Rebel Rebel
- Little Wonder
- Golden Years
- All The Young Dudes
- The Man Who Sold The World
- Station To Station
- Hallo Spaceboy
- Under Pressure
- Ziggy Stardust
- Let’s Dance
- I’m Afraid Of Americans
Bowie’s band at the Glastonbury Festival 2000
- David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
- Earl Slick – lead guitar
- Mark Plati – rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals
- Gail Ann Dorsey – bass guitar, rhythm guitar, clarinet, vocals
- Sterling Campbell – drums, percussion
- Mike Garson – keyboards, piano
- Holly Palmer – percussion, vocals
- Emm Gryner – keyboard, clarinet, vocals