Glastonbury: Kanye West delivers headline set

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment reporter, Glastonbury festival

media captionUS rapper Kanye West's Glastonbury performance divided opinions, as Lizo Mzimba reports

US rapper Kanye West has delivered his highly anticipated Glastonbury festival set, telling fans he is "the greatest living rock star on the planet".

West's headline booking had caused some controversy and his performance divided opinion among the crowd on site.

He opened with number one hit Stronger and performed on a largely bare stage with a bank of white lights above.

But his set was briefly interrupted by a stage invasion by British comedian and prankster Lee Nelson.

image copyrightAFP
image captionLee Nelson briefly joined West during the song Black Skinhead
image copyrightAFP
image captionNelson's T-shirt bore the slogan Lee-zus - a reference to West's nickname Yeezus

The prankster, real name Simon Brodkin, wrote on Twitter: "Some people were saying Kanye shouldn't headline Glastonbury so I thought I'd give him a hand."

But he was swiftly bundled off stage by a security guard and West resumed his song Black Skinhead.

At one point, he left the stage to travel above the heads of the crowd in the cradle of a cherry picker for the songs Touch the Sky and All of the Lights.

His performance came after more than 134,000 people signed a petition objecting to his booking, and Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis had death threats on Twitter from a disgruntled fan.

image copyrightGetty Images

The view from the Glastonbury crowd:

  • "It was incredible. It's not often you see a guy who clears out the entire stage just for himself underneath a light show and totally and utterly delivers." Patrick Rennie
  • "It was a disappointment. He didn't give it his all. Some of his old songs were very enjoyable. I enjoyed the aesthetics of the stage. It looked pretty cool, but aside from that I was a bit upset." Shayna Fonseka
  • "I quite liked it. There was a huge expectation but he played all the hits. It was a good show. He was quite abrupt though." Aimee Creasey
  • "It was amazing. I don't think he needed to prove himself. The people that wanted to see him turned up to see him and the people who were doubting... No doubters any more." Will Cooper
  • "Absolutely awful. He played far too much new material - his old stuff's decent. He's lost it now." John Edger

The view from the critics:

  • "If you didn't like West before this, he may well have confirmed all your worst suspicions. If, like me, you are a fan, he was as mad, infuriating, daring, electrifying, ridiculous, original and unwilling to compromise as we perhaps should have expected." The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick.
  • "Few people could pull off performing on such a sparsely designed set for an hour and 45 minutes, but Yeesus and his unshakable confidence in his own talents just about manages it." The Independent's Emily Jupp.
  • "During the troughs he is in effect performing to himself and even highlights as strong as Jesus Walks and Touch the Sky, which he performs from a crane, can't elevate this uncompromising set to a triumph when he won't let the crowd in." The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey.

Kanye West's appearance was one of the weekend's biggest talking points.

He is one of the biggest names in popular music, with 21 Grammy Awards under his belt and 11 million albums sold in the US alone.

However he is notoriously erratic and uncompromising, comparing himself to figures including Jesus and Leonardo Da Vinci, and occasionally launching into long mid-set rants.

But he kept his mid-song chat relatively short at Glastonbury.

He did not directly address the pre-show debate, simply telling fans: "Thank you for coming out tonight."

The online petition had called for him to be dropped from the Glastonbury bill and be replaced by a rock band. But the rapper has labelled the petition "an insult to music fans all over the world".

At one stage West was joined on stage by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to perform their song Lost In The World.

And afterwards, the rap star revealed that the song had been inspired by his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who was watching the show.

He said: "This song was extra special for me. I was trying to explain to a girl I loved so much how much I loved her. She brought this poetry out in me that became the lyrics and she ended up becoming my wife and she's here tonight."

But he put the focus firmly back on himself when, before introducing one of his biggest hits, Gold Digger, he said: "I'm going to say this tonight because 20 years from now, 30 years from now, 40 years from now, I might not be able to say it, but I can say it tonight... You are now watching the greatest living rock star on the planet."

image copyrightAP
image captionPharrell Williams warmed up for Kanye West with a feelgood set
image copyrightAFP
image captionPaloma Faith drew a big crowd to the Pyramid Stage
image copyrightPA
image captionSinger Adele is among the celebrities backstage

Kanye West followed hitmaker Pharrell Williams, who played crowd-pleasing tunes including Happy, Blurred Lines and Get Lucky on the Pyramid Stage.

He was joined by a group of children on stage to dance to Happy.

Other acts performing on Saturday included Burt Bacharach, George Ezra and Paloma Faith.

Celebrities spotted at the festival included Adele, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, Lewis Hamilton, Stella McCartney and James Corden.

The weather on the Somerset site brightened up on Saturday following Friday's rain, but showers scattered the site on Sunday morning.

Rock veterans The Who will close the festival on Sunday, Lionel Richie will perform in the festival's now-established Sunday afternoon legends slot and Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama will visit the festival's Green Fields.

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