He was tricked into it, but this is how Bowie rose to his last ...

Ideas

He was tricked into it, but this is how Bowie rose to his last great gig

His show at Glastonbury in 2000 was a triumphant comeback, but it also meant the end of an era

James Hall

In May 2000, David Bowie was sitting at home in New York in some confusion. “I really don’t remember why I agreed to close this year’s Glastonbury Festival in the first place,” he wrote in his diary. “It couldn’t be more inconvenient.”

Bowie, then 53, and his wife Iman were expecting their first child together that August, so he had put his future live shows on hold – apart from Glastonbury in June. On top of that, the famously anti-nostalgic singer had spent a decade avoiding playing his own hits. Glastonbury’s high profile made that difficult. As well as 100,000 ticket holders, millions would watch live on the BBC. In his diary, Bowie reluctantly accepted that “big, well-known songs shall litter the field this year at Glastonbury”.

What Bowie didn’t foresee is just how revitalised he would be by embracing his past. In front of a crowd swollen to 250,000 by fence jumpers, he played 21 classics from the Pyramid Stage like a soul awoken. In a nod to his 1971 Glastonbury appearance, in the Hunky Dory era, he wore Oxford bags, an Alexander McQueen brocade frock coat and long wavy hair. Pop’s great chameleon had dressed as himself. “Oh Glastonbury, you’ve got a very lucky face,” he told the crowd...

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.