Dua Lipa hits all the right notes at Glastonbury

By Mark Savage, Music Correspondent • Annabel Rackham, Entertainment reporter

grey placeholderGetty Images Dua Lipa gives the crowd a lookGetty Images

Dua Lipa headlined the Pyramid Stage for the first time

Dua Lipa did not come to mess around.

The pop star stormed through her first ever headline slot at Glastonbury with an ambitious and dynamic performance that was stacked with smashes from beginning to end.

She took to the Pyramid Stage shortly after 10pm, opening with a flawless run of five songs: Training Season, One Kiss, Illusion, Break My Heart and Levitating.

Each one had the breathless choreography of an award show performance – and the pace didn’t let up all night.

grey placeholderA picture of Dua Lipa in a large belt

Dua had five costume changes on the night, with heavy studs and leather a constant theme.

She played 15 top 40 hits, including Don’t Start Now, Physical and New Rules, as well as her collaborations with Elton John (Cold Heart) and Mark Ronson (Electricity).

Strangely, however, she chose not to play her Barbie smash Dance The Night, which was consigned to a video interlude during one of the star’s five costume changes.

Her raspy mezzo-soprano cut cleanly through the warm Somerset air, particularly on the dramatic ballad Happy For You, and the purring, sensuous Houdini, which closed her set.

The 28-year-old even paid tribute to Shakespear’s Sister, one of Glastonbury’s first ever female headliners in 1992, wearing a t-shirt bearing the cover of their album Hormonally Yours.

On stage, she repeatedly talked about how she had manifested this very moment, having dreamt of headlining Glastonbury before she even recorded her first album.

“I’ve written this moment down and wished for it and dreamt it and worked so hard,” she told the crowd.

She recalled one of her first gigs, playing to 10 people who “only came because we offered them free drinks” – and seemed overwhelmed by how much that audience had grown.

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Dua Lipa was able to create a nightclub-like atmosphere through her choreography

Almost 100,000 people watched her play, with fans stretching all the way back to Rowmead, an area that used to be reserved for campers, but which has been opened up in 2024 to allow bigger crowds to the Pyramid Stage.

“It’s a lot, innit? A lot to take in,” Lipa said.

“Little me would just be beside herself right now.”

It was a tiny moment of vulnerability in an armour-plated set. No song was left unpolished, no vocal left unharmonised, no hair left untossed. Dua hit every mark with the precision of someone who’d been building towards this moment for years.

But if that makes it sound clinical and sterile, it wasn’t the case.

Take the moment she ran down to the barriers to join the crowd as they sang along to her early hit Be The One.

It wasn’t entirely spontaneous (in fact it riffed on a moment from her last Glastonbury performance in 2017) but the joy on the star’s face as she climbed the fences and stood face to face with her fans was genuine.

grey placeholderGetty Images Dua Lipa embracing Kevin ParkerGetty Images

Dua Lipa was joined on stage by collaborator and Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker

Shortly afterwards, she brought out Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker – a collaborator on her new album Radical Optimism – to sing the band’s song The Less I Know The Better.

Freed from the iron grip of choreography, she simply vibed out with him on stage, giving a glimpse of the person behind the tightly-controlled public persona.

“Tonight I get to pretend I’m in Tame Impala,” she beamed.

If there was a criticism of her set, it was that such moments were few and far between.

The show sometimes felt aimed at the global TV audience as much as the people in front of her, and the aerobic dance routines – while undoubtedly impressive – didn’t allow for much spontaneity.

But the audience’s attention never wavered. Even the less familiar new material was cleverly sequenced, so that you were never more than 3 minutes away from a certified banger.

New Rules mash-up

Before the show, Lipa said her goal was to turn Glastonbury “into a nightclub” and she kept to her word.

All the songs were given a sonic overhaul – adding sounds from the 90s rave scene or beefing up her beats with trunk-rumbling sub bass.

Her breakout hit, New Rules, was even combined with the festival staple Glue, by Northern Irish dance act Bicep.

The result was a show that felt like the VIP room of a gritty European nightspot, only delivered on a gigantic scale.

grey placeholderGetty Images Dua Lipa performs on a second, smaller stageGetty Images

Its not often that a Glastonbury headliner gets their own second stage, but then again not everyone is Dua Lipa…

Even the outfits were planned to complement the club theme, with Dua’s fashion choices blending in with (rather than standing out from) those of her dancers – from a chunky studded belt, to red-and-black flamed hotpants.

Notably, she also wore flat shoes to facilitate the dancing – enhancing the feeling that we were joining her on a night out, rather than watching an untouchable pop icon.

With fireworks and confetti throughout the set, it felt like she was staking a claim on Glastonbury immortality. And, watching from the front row, she more than succeeded.

This other acts at the top of this weekend’s bill – including five-time headliners Coldplay – have their work cut out to match her ambition.

Dua Lipa’s Glastonbury setlist

  1. Training Season
  2. One Kiss
  3. Illusion
  4. Break My Heart
  5. Illusion
  6. These Walls
  7. Be The One
  8. The Less I Know The Better (Tame Impala cover)
  9. Be The One
  10. Falling Forever
  11. Love Again
  12. Pretty Please
  13. Hallucinate
  14. New Rules
  15. Electricity
  16. Cold Heart
  17. Happy For You
  18. Physical
  19. Don’t Start Now
  20. Houdini
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Sugababes performed hits including Overload, Hole In The Head and About You Now

Other sets on Saturday came from dance collective Jungle, rock band Idles and Jamie xx – who packed out the Woodsies tent, and rewarded fans by reuniting with his bandmates Romy and Oliver from The xx for an emotional performance of You’ve Got The Love.

He was also joined on stage by Swedish pop star Robyn, playing their new collaboration Life.

Surprise guests were the order of the night, in fact.

Anne-Marie introduced Aitch to The Other Stage to perform Psycho, and Bombay Bicycle Club were joined by Damon Albarn to play Blur’s Tender and Heaven – which featured on Bombay Bicycle Club’s 2023 album My Big Day.

Albarn also urged people to vote in next week’s general election, and appeared to criticise Thursday night’s debate between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, saying: “Maybe it’s time we stopped putting octogenarians in charge of the world.”

Chaotic scenes

Dance star Fred Again popped up in the Stonebridge Bar, causing chaos as thousands of fans tried to cram into one of the festival’s smallest venues.

There were similarly chaotic scenes at the West Holts stage earlier in the evening, as Sugababes brought the field to a standstill.

Organisers had to enact a one-in, one-out policy – reminiscent of the band’s last performance, which shut down the Avalon Field in 2022.

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Fontaines DC provided a more nihilistic alternative to Dua Lipa’s set

Elsewhere, Irish band Fontaines DC delivered a bleakly beautiful headline set on The Park Stage.

“Do you wanna go on holiday?” asked frontman Grian Chatten, prowling the stage in a skirt as he played hits like Boys in the Better Land and Rolling Stone magazine’s single of the year, Starburster.

Perhaps it was less visceral than the band’s last appearance at Glastonbury two years ago, but the pay-off was a more polished sound and a richer vocal performance from Chatten.

Preceding Dua Lipa on the Pyramid Stage were indie disco punks LCD Soundsystem, who were a surprisingly perfect pairing for the sunset.

The New Yorkers leaned into their more emotional material – Home, I Can Change, Someone Great – before closing with a euphoric All My Friends.

Die-hard fans at the front of the audience were whisked back 20 years to the band’s heyday, while younger afficianados were simply awed by their longevity.

“Imagine how many parties they’ve been to,” said one next to me. “Imagine how many drugs they’ve taken.”

“Unbelievable.”

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