Dua Lipa live at Glastonbury review: the pop powerhouse rises to the headliner challenge


Ahead of this year’s Glastonbury, there have been a quite few line-up grumbles, between a slightly safe record fifth slot for Coldplay (at this point, Chris Martin may as well live at Worthy Farm) and coolly-received third album Radical Optimism from Friday night’s headliner Dua Lipa early this year. Accordingly, the British pop star rocked up at the Pyramid with something to prove.

By the time the first flurry of fireworks started popping off during Levitating, five songs in – and ahead of the first of many costume changes – there was little convincing left to be done.

Meticulously well-rehearsed, the choreo-heavy production rarely let up – aside from in a number of interludes, in which Dua stripped things back to address the crowd directly. Speaking in the calming, hypnotic register of an audiobook narrator, she spoke of manifesting this night from childhood, and her gratitude to the tens of thousands of people belting out her songs at Worthy Farm.


"I have written this moment down,” she said. “I've wished for it, I've dreamt, I've worked so hard in the hopes that maybe one day I'll get to do it and I can't believe I'm here." She also added that she would be sticking around to spend two more days partying at “the best place on Earth” – admittedly, it’s doubtful that she’s pitched up a tent with the normies, but you never know.

Over the years, during all of those aforementioned diary scribbles, Dua clearly put a huge amount of thought into exactly how to finally pull the feat off; while previous pop headliners such as Billie Eilish have slightly missed the mark, hauling out a straightforward replica of their regular tour show, Dua instinctively understood the Glastonbury brief. This was an entirely original, bespoke production, crafted with the TV cameras in mind just as much as the huge crowds at Worthy Farm.

The set opened with the spoken word sample from Primal Scream’s Loaded – ”We’re gonna have a party!” – and frequently incorporated Nineties rave symbolism into the visuals as a nod to the influences behind Radical Optimism. While that album’s breezy, low-key sound fell flat on record, it made far more sense in the surreal surroundings of Worthy Farm – and aside from the slightly rogue decision to end on Houdini, Dua frontloaded most of her third album singles into the first half of the set. The best of the bunch was a live debut for the euphoric dance-pop anthem Falling Forever.

As is tradition, she welcomed on a special guest – her collaborator Kevin Parker, who appeared in an out-of-place jeans and t-shirt, and performed Tame Impala’s psychadelic banger The Less I Know The Better – and also played her Elton John cover Cold Heart (though sadly there was no performance from Rocket Man himself).

During Be The One, Dua Lipa made her way down to the front barrier to greet fans, and was speechless at the spectacle of the whole field belting out the song’s chorus acapella. New Rules was another highlight, incorporating elements of dance duo Bicep’s song GLUE. Most joyful of all, though, was the nu-disco strains of Future Nostalgia: from the stomping Hallucinate to the jubilant Don’t Start Now, it was a reminder – if anybody needed it – that she has hits for days.

Dua Lipa gave every moment her absolute all; it was a masterclass in how to adapt glossy pop perfection for the one-of-a-kind surroundings of Worthy Farm.