Kanye West, Jay Z, Beyoncé – Glastonbury is as renowned for its controversial headline acts as it is for torrential downpours. But while high-profile figures from Noel Gallager to Dizzee Rascal have, in the past, criticised the festival for veering too far from its hippie, guitar-music roots, Edith Bowman sees the unconventional line-ups as a sign that the muddy five-day extravaganza is in ruder health than ever.
“I think it’s very narrow minded of people to be so judgmental about artists and who they are and what they do,” says Bowman who is appearing at the Radio Times Festival to reflect on her favourite festival moments, and grill Annie Nightingale on her stellar radio career.
“That’s what festivals are about, they’re about pleasing you but also pushing your boundaries as well. Glastonbury’s done that. It’s such a snobby way to approach music to have a go at a festival for their line-up. Glastonbury has taken the brunt of that over the past few years whether it be with Kanye or Jay Z but it’s always taken risks with the people on the bill.
“Also, if you think about how much attention Glastonbury got for putting Kanye on the line-up this year, it’s the best press campaign you could hope for.”
So who would Bowman like to see on the festival’s hallowed Pyramid Stage next year?
“I love Taylor Swift and I think she’d be amazing at Glastonbury. Some people say pop acts don’t cut it at festivals but I saw Pink at Isle of Wight five years ago and it was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. That’s how a pop performance is done. She bunjee jumped out of a crane suspended above the crowd and came out on wires over the crowd and you could hear that she was singing live the whole time. It put loads of other pop acts to shame.”
With two young sons (she is married to Editors frontman Tom Smith) Bowman has less time to festival-hop these days and has learnt to be selective.
“Latitude’s a great festival, Glastonbury is obviously a beast of a festival but then you have small up-and-coming festivals like Festival No. 6 [in Portmeirion, Wales] and End of the Road [Wiltshire]. But for me it all depends on the line-up. At the moment I absolutely love the Maccabees and The Weekend and then something old school. I was lucky enough to see Fleetwood Mac but I would love to see David Bowie at a festival.”
Edith Bowman is appearing at this month’s Radio Times Festival. Tickets are available here.