Coldplay at Glastonbury 2024 review: a wildly uneven set from Worthy Farm's prodigal sons

Coldplay headlined for the fifth time (PA) (PA Wire)
Coldplay headlined for the fifth time (PA) (PA Wire)

If there’s one thing Coldplay know how to do, it’s craft a stadium banger. Viva La Vida. Clocks. The Scientist. They’re all grandiose masterpieces, designed to be sung along to at full pelt. Or howled, depending on your state of inebriation.

So on that basis, they’re the perfect candidate to headline Glastonbury (in fact, this is their fifth turn in twenty years, setting a new record). And what better crowd is there than a field of roughly 100,000 light-up wristband wearing revellers, ready and waiting to sing along to all of the hits?

What unfolded was not two hours of wall to wall stadium bangers. Instead, it was a very uneven two hours in which the classics gave way to impassioned monologues, improvised ditties and a lot of entreaties for peace and love. Did it land? That depends on how much you like Coldplay.

It started so well. The first song out of the gates was Yellow, which lit up the Pyramid Stage and the crowd’s LED wristbands in bright gold. It was followed in quick succession by Higher Power, Adventure of a Lifetime and Paradise.


Then came Clocks, followed by Hymn for the Weekend (for which Rihanna, sadly, was not present). The first hour closed with a soaring rendition of Viva La Vida that had arms reaching for the sky, and those wristbands twinkling like a field of stars.

So far, so good – but then things started to go off piste. Martin brought a certain zany screwball energy to the proceedings, gallivanting around stage, and stopping the performance to ask people to put away their phones.

“I look around and I just see amazing, wonderful people from all over the place and that’s what makes Glastonbury the greatest city on Earth,” he said, before celebrating the people in the front of the audience and how long they’d been waiting to see Coldplay perform: “it’s amazing that none of you had to pee.”

He then delved into the less well-known side of Coldplay’s back catalogue. There was the unreleased track We Pray – for which Little Simz appeared unannounced, fresh from playing the Pyramid Stage herself earlier in the day, and vanished after one brief verse.

There was guitar track Sparks, from the band’s first-ever album Parachutes. There was the bland BTS collab My Universe, which beamed pics of them across the sides of the stage in lieu of actually having them there. There was Arabesque, for which Martin didn’t seem to sing at all.

Coldplay to break record with Glastonbury 2024 headline performance (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)
Coldplay to break record with Glastonbury 2024 headline performance (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

And there was a prayer to send love across the world: “you can send it to Israel, you can send it to Palestine, you can send it to Myanmar. You can send it to Ukraine, you can send it to beautiful Russia.” There were undoubtedly good intentions behind it, but it felt patronising as hell.

The energy flagged here: we had come to see Coldplay. What we got instead was a self-indulgent romp through whatever they seemed to feel like playing. And that was before Martin paused the end of the set to single out people in the audience and compose ditties about them.

No doubt some people found it charming. I found it a bit painful, at least until Michael Eavis came on screen, to be joined shortly after by Michael J. Fox with his guitar in hand.

The band got things back on track with a rousing final chorus of Fix You, which won the more fairweather fans back around. Amazing... only it wasn’t the final song. That honour went to feelslikeimfallinginlove instead, an unexciting new release that got the fireworks treatment.

That was Coldplay all over. Wildly exciting in parts, tonally deaf in others. The diehard fans loved it; but it lost the less dedicated along the way. Still, there’s little doubt that they’ll be back soon enough for round six.

Coldplay and other Glastonbury gigs can be watched on BBC iPlayer