Cancelled Glastonbury to livestream May concert from farm site

·3-min read

The Glastonbury Festival announced Wednesday a livestreamed concert featuring Coldplay in May at its famous farm site in southwest England, after the coronavirus pandemic led to the blockbuster event's cancellation for the second consecutive summer.

The five-hour virtual show will also include performances by Wolf Alice, Haim, Michael Kiwanuka and others from well-known stages around Glastonbury's Worthy Farm, including the Stone Circle and Pyramid field.

Organiser Emily Eavis, who announced in January that the annual event was cancelled for a second year, said it would be "like the festival but without people".

"We're very excited to be able to show the farm in a way that people have never really seen it, with these incredible artists," she told BBC radio.

The May 22 event will be livestreamed or played on delay across four international time zones and tickets will cost £20 ($28, 23 euros), with Eavis adding there will be "a number of unannounced surprise performances".

"Very excited to announce that we'll be performing," the group Wolf Alice tweeted. "We’ve always had such an incredible time at Glastonbury so we feel very lucky to be able to perform for you again."

The UK government is winding down its latest Covid-19 lockdown, and the concert is billed to take place on the first weekend after outdoor performances are allowed to resume in England from May 17.

The timing of the Glastonbury event, when many smaller venues will be hoping to reopen, drew criticism from others in the music industry.

- Not so Swift -

"I think what the live industry really needs right now is some collective, collaborative, joined-up thinking," Mark Davyd, founder and chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, wrote on Twitter.

"Announcing the world's largest online event for the first weekend on which limited actual in-person events are permitted really isn't that," he said.

Jay Taylor, a promoter at the Night and Day Cafe in Manchester in northern England, called the decision "short-sighted", saying it "flies in the face of all the conversation and cooperation across the live sector this past year".

The virtual Glastonbury event also clashes with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, which responded that it will be "a bit busy on that night".

"We're just happy to see more and more live music coming back," the kitsch competition added on Twitter.

Glastonbury, held on a dairy farm in Somerset, southwest England, was forced to cancel in 2020 -- the year of the event's 50th anniversary -- because of coronavirus restrictions after some 135,000 people had already bought tickets.

Headliners were meant to include pop superstar Taylor Swift and Beatles icon Paul McCartney.

Organisers had hoped to stage the event in 2021, but reversed course after England entered a third lockdown at the start of the year following a surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

Other music festivals such as Reading-Leeds plan to go ahead this summer, but many in the industry are urging the government to step in and underwrite their insurance bills in case of further lockdowns.