Here are 20 of the best things we saw at Glastonbury 2023

The best of 2023 down on Worthy Farm

Words: Ali Shutler, Jamie Muir.
Photos: Patrick Gunning, Jamie MacMillan, Scarlet Page.

There are loads of things to see at Glastonbury. Hundreds of all genres. So much, so obvious. With loads of secret sets, legendary artists and buzz bands, here’s the very best things our eyes on the ground saw in 2023.

Arctic Monkeys

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Friday Night. Glastonbury 2013. As the opening kicks and riffs of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ (out at that point for a matter of days) lights up Worthy Farm, it signalled the start of a bold new era for a band that could have called it quits there and then and still stood as one of the all-time most influential British acts. Ten years on, Friday Night at Glastonbury 2023, an era-defining night sets this apart – however you choose to judge it – as Arctic Monkeys crowning glory.

It’s not just that Arctic Monkeys are the British band who have – arguably – defined this century. It’s hard to sum up their influence and legacy, yet they’re still carving their own path far removed from any nostalgia show. It’s written across the Pyramid tonight. 

‘Sculptures Of Anything Goes’ isn’t how most would kick off a festival headlining set, but it throws any expectation aside. What follows is a production of Arctic Monkeys viewed through the here and now.

‘Brianstorm’. ‘Snap Out Of It’. ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I Moved Your Chair’. ‘Crying Lightning’. ‘Teddy Picker’. The opening section pulls from across all corners of their star-studded career to date. Alex Turner’s stage presence may have gone through various forms over the years, but tonight it’s nothing short of captivating. Part James Bond villain, part Vegas crooner, he stalks the stage, every word commanding attention. The uncompromising, swaggering innovation is there for all to see – a band who firmly believe in every decision they make, regardless of what anyone else might think.

They may have already been on the road playing massive arena shows, but Glastonbury will always be a moment for any artist. Whether it’s the crunching riffs of ‘Arabella’, the singalong licks of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, the grounded rawness of ‘There Better Be A Mirrorball’ and ‘Perfect Sense’ or the sheer pandemonium of ‘505’, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and closer ‘R U Mine?’ – there’s enough in there to call it a greatest hits set from a band who, even when recalling their past glories, never want to abandon their present.

Refusing to take the easiest route, when cuts like ‘Mardy Bum’ or ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ come, they arrive from the perspective of a band who’ve lived on the top of the pyramid (pardon the pun) for over fifteen years. In full command of who they are and what they’re about, it’s a confident headline turn that lesser bands would shy away from.

There have been many Arctic Monkeys moments through the years, yet tonight at Glastonbury feels different. A crowning return from a band who will go down in the history books as one of the all-time greats and one who shaped music culture whilst firmly sticking to their own path – their headline set at Glastonbury 2023 may prove divisive to some looking for an echo of a different time, but it’s also playing out exactly as they intended.

‘The Monkeys Are Back On The Farm!’ proclaims Alex Turner halfway through the set. Friday Night. Glastonbury 2023. Arctic Monkeys can still stake a claim as the most important band of the 21st century. There’s no arguing with that.


Photo credit: Jamie MacMillan

Speaking of Arctic Monkeys, it’s been nine years since Alex Turner had the first and last word on that ol’ rock’n’roll is dead debate with that smirking BRIT Award speech. Still, this weekend is proof that the next generation of guitar heroes are thriving.

The likes of Nieve Ella and Coach Party continue to grow into undeniable forces to be reckoned with over on the BBC Introducing stage, while Dork faves Pale Waves take to the Woodsies stage with the swaggering confidence of a band who now knows exactly where they fit into the scene.

It’s perhaps Dylan who shines brightest, though. She may introduce ‘Girl Of Your Dreams’ as her “wannabe rockstar” song and ask the crowd to go nuts for its sneering guitar solo because her dad is in the audience, but there’s not a moment of her fiery 30-minute set on the BBC Introducing Stage where she doesn’t look every part the swaggering rockstar. 

From the achingly powerful ‘Lovestruck’ through the venomous ‘Someone Else’ to the sleek, bombastic hammer of ‘Every Heart But Mine’, Dylan effortlessly dances between classic rock and polished pop. New, currently-unreleased song ‘Liar Liar’ is more chunky than anything she has released so far, and sees polished vocals wrestle with fierce drums and snarling guitar. It already feels very special. “What do we think,” she asks the crowd with a smirk. 

Later, Dylan performs a joyous cover of Harry Styles’ ‘Kiwi’ and her own ‘You’re Not Harry Styles’, which today is a glorious kiss-off to an ex who’s currently sat at home while she plays her very first Glastonbury. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ closes out the set in thunderous fashion, with a little synchronised dance routine thrown in for good measure. That rock & roll, eh?

Maisie Peters

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Taking to the Pyramid for the first time can be a whirlwind of pressure – the sort of big-time statement many only dream of reaching. From the first note, Maisie Peters seems perfectly at home. A powerhouse set of effortless pop perfection, it turns an early festival slot into a headline turn of her very own, from an artist ready to become that bonafide superstar she’s always been born to be. ‘Cate’s Brother’, ‘Body Better’ and a bouncing ‘Lost the Breakup’ are pure bolts of electricity as Maisie embraces the biggest of stages with ease. As she notes during ‘Rockstar’: “the irony is Glastonbury, who’s the rockstar now?”. There’s only one answer. Maisie Peters is ready to takeover.


Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Back in 2019, CHVRCHES closed out the cycle for ‘Love Is Dead’ at Reading & Leeds Festivals. The gig was as electrifying as that pop-facing album demanded, but backstage, vocalist Lauren Mayberry told Dork: “This is probably the first time in the band where I feel like I want a fucking break,” following a load of internet hate for the band daring to suggest that maybe collaborating with someone with a long history of violence towards women wasn’t the best thing for another artist to be doing. 

Even ‘Final Girl’, the centrepiece to follow-up album ‘Screen Violence’, saw Lauren admit that she’d considered chucking it all in. On Friday, CHVRCHES ended their ‘Screen Violence’ era at Glastonbury’s Other Stage, and they couldn’t look more sure of themselves. From the snarling ‘He Said, She Said’ through the brooding ‘California’ to a viciously emo ‘How Not To Drown’, it’s clear that CHVRCHES fourth album is their most accomplished, with the trio weaving their pop, rock and electronic influences together beautifully. It’s a polished performance, but the band haven’t lost their punk scrappiness either. A wardrobe malfunction causes the band to restart the defiant ‘Final Girl’, with Lauren later using it to her advantage. “There are optional crowd participation moments in the next song,” she says before a triumphant ‘Never Say Die’. “I just got really embarrassed on the BBC, so it would be nice if you did.”

A brief interlude follows before she returns to stage dripping in fake blood, with the band’s usual glitter now doused in gore. A final trio of ‘Asking For A Girl’, ‘Clearest Blue’ and ‘The Mother We Share’ sees the band end their set in euphoric fashion. “Be good, but not too good,” Lauren encourages, with the band ending this cycle at the peak of their power.

Foo Fighters

Photo Credit: Scarlet Page

Yes, The ChurnUps were the Foo Fighters all along. Surprise? Not really. But with a crowd that ranks up there with Worthy Farm’s most impressive, they’re a band on a mission. It might not go down well with some to suggest it, but giving Dave Grohl and co a tight hour to smash out some hits is a triumph. There’s no time to overly extend those iconic songs when you’ve got a lot of material to fit into a much shorter timeframe. It creates an urgency and emotion that feels like a release. While the Foos have played live since the passing of Taylor Hawkins, including some seriously emotional tribute shows, Glastonbury’s magic ground always adds an extra significance, even for a band from the other side of the pond. They’ll be back, Dave promises. Soon too. While he pushes a 2024 tour, you can read the subtext.

Carly Rae Jepsen

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

While the indies and rockers of Glastonbury may spark discourse, there’s but one undefinable truth on Worthy Farm. We do not deserve Carly Rae Jepsen. With a set that sparkles with pure pop perfection, she’s an antidote to an avalanche of opinions and hot takes. There’s only one line with Jeppers – unadulterated brilliance. Kicking off with ‘Surrender My Heart’, ‘Run Away With Me’ is an early win. ‘Call Me Maybe’, arriving halfway through the set, is enough to get Ed Balls emotional (no, really), while ‘I Really Like You’, ‘I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance’, and an impossibly fun ‘Beach House’ all land flawlessly. As ‘Cut to the Feeling’ blows the doors off, Arctic Monkeys may have factually headlined the Friday of Glastonbury 2023, but can you really claim that Carly Rae Jepsen didn’t?


It’s hard to argue that Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and Elton John aren’t (at least mostly – Ed) a good set of festival headliners but going into Glastonbury, it felt like giving Lizzo the top slot would have made things great. Today, she proves she’s more than ready for the most commanding slots without ever really trying. The stage show is flawless; the messages of self-love, community and empowerment speak to that magic Glasto vibe and pop bangers like ‘Juice’, ‘Good As Hell’ and ‘2 Be Loved’ are absurdly brilliant when sung by tens of thousands of people. There’s even a snippet of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ for good measure. She sets a bar so high Guns N’ Roses really didn’t stand a chance, and even Elton John needed to bring out the big guns to make sure he wasn’t schooled by this fiercely poptastic show.

The Last Dinner Party

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Plenty of other artists have their sights set on Glastonbury’s top slot as well. Yes, The Last Dinner Party may only have one song to their name, but their giddy, 45-minute set on the Woodsies suggests the best is very much yet to come. ‘Burn Alive’ is a suitably theatrical opener, ‘Feminine Urge’ is playful yet venomous, while upcoming single ‘Sinner’ is jaunty but comes with a devilish glint in the band’s eye. The brooding ‘Lady Of Mercy’ is tinged with sadness, while ‘Godzilla’ couldn’t be more wonderfully outlandish if it tried. The Last Dinner Party are delicate one moment, thunderous the next. By the time they launch into the already-commanding ‘Nothing Matters’, it’s obvious that this group are something very special indeed.

It’d be easy for a new band to stumble in the spotlight of one of the world’s biggest stages, but The Last Dinner Party are beaming throughout. They’ve been waiting for a chance like this to show the world what they can really do. Still, it doesn’t feel like they are ever trying to prove themselves. They know what they can do and other people will catch on in their own time.

After leaving the stage, the band burst into tears of triumph while the Woodsies long-serving compare explains how Coldplay played the same slot, on the same stage, many years ago and even they hadn’t pulled a crowd of today’s size.


Photo credit: Jamie MacMillan

Things go up a dial when Shame jump in for a mid-afternoon stormer of a set that finds them at their most complete as a band. New album ‘Food For Worms’ already marking out as a future Album Of The Year, their full-throttle live show remains as incendiary as ever – the likes of ‘Fingers Of Steel’, ‘Concrete’ and ‘One Rizla’ lighting up a jam-packed Woodsies stage that spills out into the fields around it. With gold hot pants and a sprawling sound, today is the crowning moment that Shame have been pointing to for a while. As ‘Gold Hole’ rings out, their reputation as both a great live band and a leading force in modern guitar music in general also stands loud and proud. Hot pants included.

Maggie Rogers

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Further up the bill, Maggie Rogers’ sunny slot on The Other Side is a moment of sheer Glastonbury magic. Her 2022 album ‘Surrender’ was recorded just up the road, with Maggie and her band even making an impromptu winter visit to Glastonbury for inspiration. The Feral Joy tour that followed felt viciously defiant in the search for a good time, but today feels more like a victory. From the epic ‘Overdrive’ through the flickering ‘Want Want’ to the fiery ‘Shatter’, Maggie and her band twist uncomfortable emotions into pure euphoria while a reworked ‘Alaska’ is simply astounding. The reflective burn of ‘Fallingwater’ is similarly emotional before the final ‘That’s Where I Am’ feels like a big, communal purge that we’re still thinking about days later.

Rina Sawayama

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

It feels like Rina Sawayama is on another level to the rest of the festival entirely, though. Her impassioned, visceral speech about racism and control will rightly be the biggest takeaway from her 60-minute set, but let’s not gloss over just how phenomenal the entire show is. From the impressive boxing ring-meets-industrial-rave stage set-up through the electrifying dance routines, the various costume changes and the weaving arching narrative, Rina’s set is theatrical, flawless and fucking stunning.

It needed to be to match the commanding back catalogue Rina’s built over her past two albums. From the soaring ‘Hold The Girl’ through the hammering ‘Dynasty’ to the sheer ferocity of ‘STFU!’ and a cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’, every song feels like a moment, while a giddy run of ‘Beg For You’, ‘Comme des garçons (Like the Boys)’ and ‘XS’ is untouchable. Despite the scale of the show, Rina doesn’t get lost in the bombast either, with a smirking onstage costume change allowing her to gently mock the crowd for being “too quiet” while the closing ‘This Hell’ is transformed into a bellowing call-and-response. It’s a slay of the highest possible level. To further drive home that superstar message, she joins Elton John on the Sunday night to perform ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ and once again, steals the show entirely.

Lil Nas X

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Sure, Glastonbury may have booked the formidable Blondie and the still brilliant The Chicks to perform before Elton John on the Pyramid Stage today, leaning into that comforting warmth of nostalgia but it’s Lil Nas X that feels most like the Rocket Man’s successor. Back in 2019, he performed his first ever international show on this very stage, joining Miley Cyrus for ‘Old Town Road’ and from the moment he returns to Glasto’s biggest stage today and launches straight into the sleek, energetic ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’, he absolutely owns it. It’s impossible to argue with the hammering ‘Don’t Want It’ and a wonderfully over-the-top ‘Old Town Road’ but Nas knows he isn’t playing to his typical crowd, with the heaving field home to clusters of people sitting in camping chairs, waiting for the main event. Leaning into this, he includes snippets of Nirvana and Michael Jackson to help ease newcomers into his world, while a dance-heavy interlude is soundtracked by pop anthems from both Rhianna and Beyoncé. The polished performance may be heavy on choreography and otherworldly creatures, but it only adds to the carnival atmosphere that Lil Nas X creates. The party then gets taken up a notch via a guest appearance from Jack Harlow for ‘Industry Baby’. It’s an outstanding hour of music that’s impossible for anyone but a legend to follow.

Caroline Polachek

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Coming directly before Elton John’s final ever UK show can be an even bigger challenge if you’re not at the Pyramid, but if there’s anyone capable of seizing that challenge, it’s Caroline Polachek. With slick, all-encompassing production, it’s pure theatre – an assured display of pop brilliance. Leaning heavily on new album ‘Desire, I Want To Turn Into You’, ‘Welcome To My Island’ sees singalongs erupt, whilst a special appearance from Weyes Blood on ‘Butterfly Net’ sets soaring vocals even higher. The result is euphoric. By the time an anthem like ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ wraps up proceedings, Caroline Polachek’s challenge is completed and more.


Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

True Glastonbury moments are easy to define. There’s a feeling of celebration and recognition of a great artist setting out their stall. On that criteria, CMAT may just claim the entire weekend, with a set that goes far beyond just another stop on her rise to ‘the top’. Bursting with a contagious energy that quickly sweeps the entire crowd, Ireland’s Best Popstar does what she does best. Soaring anthems, laugh-out-loud moments and a continuous run of brilliant songs combine to signal the arrival of a future Glastonbury icon. Dance routines, the splits, pogoing masses and more leave Woodsies beaming from ear to ear – with fresh tracks like ‘Have Fun’, ‘Whatever’s Inconvenient’ and stunning newbie ‘Where Are Your Kids Tonight?’ perfectly matching faves like ‘2 Wrecked 2 Care’, ‘I Don’t Really Care For You’ and ‘No More Virgos’. 

Drawing the crowd in, it’s like everyone is immediately best mates with the best rockstar in town – probably because CMAT, too, has been at the festival since Thursday. Yet it’s the closing moments of her set that truly reach deeper. Following a party of the highest order, with rapturous applause refusing to die down, CMAT stands in awe. She offers up an emotional reflection on playing to 5 people just 4 years ago and writing closer ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy, Baby!’ in her bedroom, crying and staring in the mirror. Now with thousands packed in just to catch a glimpse – it marks a full-circle moment of validation. There are tears of happiness on-stage and off it. That’s how you do a special moment.

Blossoms and Rick Astley

Glastonbury’s Secret Sets are the stuff of legends. Over the years some of the biggest bands on the planet have rocked up at the last minute to shock Glasto’s masses (hell, the Foo Fighters bloody did one yesterday). Yet, Blossoms andd Rick Astley reviving their The Sound Of The Smiths dream team for a special show at Woodsies on a Saturday evening may just be the most Glastonbury of Glastonbury Secret Sets.

Served firmly with a grin and a smile, what follows is a joyous celebration of one of the most influential bands of all time. With a party atmosphere bouncing across Woodsies (both on and off stage), it’s a nostalgia-soaked set where band and audience come together as one to belt along to some of the most beloved indie bangers we’ve ever seen. ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, ‘The Boy With A Thorn In His Side’, ‘Panic’ – it manages to feel both like a treasured memory in waiting for everyone gathered and a night hanging out with your mates at the same time. Arms wave in the air to ‘Girlfriend In The Coma’, Rick + Blossoms down shots of jaeger and Rick’s baby blue suit is forever ruined by sweat. You’re left with nothing but jubilation and smiles beaming from ear to ear, from a Glasto moment built firmly in fun and release.

As Rick calls for the pegs to be taken off the Woodsies tent “to blow the fucking roof”, a run of ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’, ‘How Soon Is Now’ and a drowned out singalong to ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ rounds out a performance built for Glastonbury. A guilt-free hour where taking yourself seriously is thrown well and truly to the side, it’s anything but boring. That’s something we can get behind.


Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

It’s been around a year since Lovejoy played their first shows, yet today, they are playing the biggest festival on the planet. That sort of rise doesn’t just come out of nowhere: their fizzing blend of stonking hooks and razor-sharp anthems have found a place in the hearts of millions (quite literally), with the sort of connection to fans that most bands would only dream of. Drowned-out screams ring around the BBC Introducing stage from the moment they step out, frontman Will introducing themselves as a little band from the South Coast – but what lights up from there is anything but small. Crunching riffs and cuts from latest EP ‘Wake Up And It’s Over’ bounce off whip-smart anthems sung back at top volume. Most could only dream of such a response, but for Lovejoy, it’s a reality. Their first Glastonbury is certain to not be their last, and on the evidence of the sheer hunger shown today, there ain’t no stopping them now. The revolution continues.

Nova Twins

Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Earlier this month, we saw breakout rock duo Nova Twins absolutely own Download’s Apex stage during their own set, before joining headliners Bring Me The Horizon for another impressive performance. It was a victory on home turf, with their guitar-heavy music pulling from Download favourites like Rage Against The Machine and The Prodigy. Nova Twins have never been afraid of straying outside the typical rock lane though, with 2022’s ‘Supernova’ racking up nominations for both the Mercury Music Prize and two BRIT Awards. Today, at Glastonbury’s The Other Stage, they show just how far they can go. 

The band are easily the heaviest thing performing on Glasto’s main stages this weekend, but their fusion of rave and metal never feels jarring or out of place. Set opener ‘Fire & Ice’ doesn’t exactly ease the busy crowd into the chaos that’s about to unfold, but the huge pop moments sit perfectly next to a chugging breakdown. ‘Cleopatra’ sees vocalist Amy Love confidently show off her superstar vocals while bassist Georgia South is clearly already a guitar hero and ‘Taxi’ gets the whole field jumping. The epic ‘Sleep Paralysis’ sees the band continue to toy with genre boundaries before a fiery one-two of ‘Antagonist’ and ‘Choose Your Fighter’ inspires actual circle pits with the pair running down to the front row to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Is there anything Nova Twins can’t do?

Lana Del Rey

Whilst Guns N Roses’ reputation for the unpredictable may have waned over the years, that enigmatic presence now lies with the headliner based on the Other Stage instead. Whilst Lana Del Rey’s frequency of shows here in the UK may have waned over the years, her star power has done the opposite. It’s why tonight’s headline performance feels all the more special – as thousands pack in for a look at an artist who has carved her own path. The staging feels pure grandstand: backing dancers, a lush set-up and the sort of atmosphere that you’d usually expect for royalty – Lana commands it with ease. ‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Ride’, ‘Young & Beautiful’ all the way up to ‘A&W’ and ‘Ultraviolence’ are served up like you’re watching an Oscar-winning motion picture. Yet what makes Lana so beloved is that penchant for added drops of ramshackle fun that keeps you on your toes – Glastonbury witnesses it first-hand after a half-hour delay in coming on forces Lana to end the show early, the power cut, denying her even an amplified goodbye. If any moment can define this historic night for Lana Del Rey, it’s the image of her down at the front, singing along to ‘Video Games’ as the entire field croons along with her. For most, it’d be a disaster. Instead, fans come away star-struck by a true pop icon. It’ll go down as a pivotal moment.


Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

It’s Thursday night at Glastonbury. Everyone is primed for the sort of big weekend that can’t be matched. Never has a moment more suited to the all-encompassing chaos that VLURE bring. It’s the perfect setting to show off their uncompromising and blistering live show. The first of four appearances from a weekend, ‘Cut It’, ‘This Fantasy’ and ‘Show Me How To Live Again’ lay waste in a manner only VLURE can. As fans crane their necks to look in, the sweat-dropped pill-punk sound runs from start to finish. VLURE do what they do best – pull you into a world of darkness and unbridled release, served with a dose of the euphoric and spiritual that leaves you changed. There’s no band like it. Like they say – “they fucking send it.”Photo credit: Patrick Gunning

Panic Shack

Deep in the heart of Shangri-La, Panic Shack’s early evening slot on the Truth Stage is the sort of feel-good call to attention that truly wakes up Glastonbury 2023. Crunching riffs and a penchant for the fun and mischievous ring true – whether it’s synchronised dance moves, fist-flying breakdowns or fizzing punk fury. Combined, it’s a set that lays out a marker for why Panic Shack have become not just one of the most exciting new bands, but also one of the most beloved. Mission accomplished.