By Paul Sandle and Sarah Mills
GLASTONBURY, England – Music boomed across the fields of Worthy Farm in southwest England on Friday as the world’s biggest greenfield festival returned for the first time since 2019 with 20-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish the main draw on its first day.
The American singer-songwriter recently told Apple Music 1’s Matt Wilkinson that playing the Pyramid stage was a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, adding that she was “stoked” to be the youngest ever headliner.
Festival goer Gabby Sergeant, a 24-year-old sales executive from London, said the seven-times Grammy winner was a must-see.
“I definitely want to see her,” she said. “I think she’s got some big songs like ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Bad Guy’.”
Organiser Emily Eavis, the daughter of festival founder Michael Eavis, said in announcing Eilish in October: “This feels like the perfect way for us to return and I cannot wait!”
Glastonbury is famous for its eclectic line-up. Rock group Foals and electronic musician Four Tet are just two of scores of alternatives late on Friday.
Rachel Austin, a 43-year-old engagement officer from Lincoln in eastern England, said no one could prepare you for all the experiences on offer.
“It’s just amazing, the pictures don’t do it justice at all,” she said.
‘CONCENTRATION OF FREEDOM’
Friday was kicked off by rock band the Libertines on the Other stage, one level down from the Pyramid.
Before that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed via videolink to the crowds, urging them to spread the truth about Russia’s invasion.
“Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom these days and I ask you to share this feeling with everyone whose freedom is under attack,” he said in a recorded message that drew cheers.
Other acts playing on Friday include Wet Leg, Arlo Parks and Primal Scream.
Glastonbury returned for its 50th anniversary two years later than planned after the pandemic scuppered the 2020 and 2021 events.
More than 138,000 tickets were sold for the festival, held since 1970 on Eavis’s dairy farm.
Paul McCartney headlines on Saturday, a week after his 80th birthday, while Diana Ross and Kendrick Lemar top the bill on Sunday.