‘I discussed the weather with Janet Jackson’: The Glastonbury Festival I’ll never forget | Glastonbury Festival

“Glastonbury has shaped my life”

Lauren on stage with Kenickie in 1997. Photography: Martyn Goodacre/Getty

I first went to Glastonbury to play in a band [Kenickie], then with friends, then for work. I’ve covered every event since 2002 and it’s a huge privilege to bring the festival into people’s homes. Glastonbury has shaped my life. I went from staying up all night to cutting my teeth on my first live show with John Peel. He scraped his knees rushing after watching Kanda Bongo Man. I made a cheeky remark and he was like, “You’re made for this shit, aren’t you?” Callow young as I was, I took that as a huge compliment. Now that I’m 44, I can see that maybe it was more of a showbiz commentary. But I thought, since he thought I was good (and knew everything), I had better try this new job – and I’m very happy about that.

Now my husband and I take our children, who also grew up with Glastonbury. I wonder how they will feel for years to come knowing they were there watching Paul McCartney perform Get Back? Sometimes it’s only afterwards that you realize you’re part of fleeting magic. I was in Bowie’s audience as a punter in 2000. I marvel at these images, knowing that I was in the crowd, somehow sharing a moment in his extraordinary life. Lauren LaverneTV and radio host (Catch Up Thevernes 6 Music Glastonbury 2022 programs on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer)

“Janet Jackson’s brow furrowed at the sight of my sunburn”

Chris Godfrey and Michael Cragg with Janet Jackson
Guardian journalists Chris Godfrey and Michael Cragg with the real Janet Jackson at Glasto. Photography: Courtesy of Michael Cragg

There are always rumors swirling backstage at Glastonbury: such a fact a secret placed by a dustbin in the hidden field of Babylon, or a hologram of Tupac joining Coldplay on stage for a rendition of Fix You. So when, in 2019, the gossip started that living legend Janet Jackson was keen to meet a few reporters backstage, I assumed it was nonsense. Then a text came in from his PR: “Meet me at the press tent ASAP.”

Fast forward 10 frantic minutes and there she was, standing in front of me in a makeshift living room, her expression a mixture of beatific smile and furrowed brow at the sight of my untreated sunburn. As other reporters introduced themselves, Ms. Jackson and I had a quick chat about the weather and, I think, the wonders of Stonehenge (the probable heatstroke had made my head feel weird). For our photo, I mentioned that when I met Lady Gaga (I know) she was in a chair to be as tall as me for a photo. So Janet asked the same thing. The resulting photo manages to not only capture my excitement, but also my concern at the thought of Janet Jackson falling off a chair and breaking her ankle. Michael Craggmusic journalist

“I’ve never felt such love before – it was truly electric”

“Something I could only have dreamed of as a child”… Mahalia on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury 2019. Photography: Richard Isaac/Shutterstock

My favorite moment at Glastonbury was the second time I played at the festival, in 2019. There was a heat wave over the weekend so we were all incredibly excited and I was playing the John Peel stage, but I had no idea what awaited me. Behind the scenes, I panicked when I realized how many people would be in that tent. My manager had told me it would be a crowd of around 6,000, but when I looked up from the stage, it looked like there were 60,000 people. I had never felt such love before – it was truly electric. Being there at that time, on that magical, sunny weekend, was something I could only dream of as a kid. It was so good, we decided to stay for a few days and had the best time. Mahaliasinger-songwriter

“I went straight into the long drop toilet”

Laura's Glastonbury leg, with a purple bruise
“The next day I had a brutal purple bruise” … Laura’s Glastonbury leg. Photography: Courtesy of Laura Snapes

I hated my first Glastonbury in 2011. It was incredibly huge and I’m terrible at directions. I worked for NME and our office was a damp, cramped bus. On Saturday evening, in somewhat elevated condition, I encountered my first long-drop toilet. I didn’t realize you had to crouch in front and hover over the hole. Instead, I climbed onto the wooden platform, standing on either side of said hole. Then I went straight down.

I have an unfortunately lucid memory of what happened next. A little mercy: my mid-thigh was about the circumference of the opening, so I only got that far. And the long drop is thankfully long, so my foot was dangling over the horror lake below. I pulled myself up – God knows how, given that my 22-year-old biceps were honed from punching and holding pints. And then… I backed straight up.

The next day I had a brutal purple bruise with rows of scratches. My boss made me pretend to do something stupid outside the bus for the benefit of our colleagues. They were relieved that I was not dead and he knew that I had suffered enough. (I also had my ankles raw from throwing off my pantyhose to go barefoot in my boots.) I composed the review I was to write (5/5, very moving) and went to the tent to first aid (no more little graces), where they sanitized me and said it was the worst thing they had seen all weekend.

For a while after, I had nightmares about being submerged in the depths of the long drop. In time they faded, along with the bruise, and I returned to Glastonbury to create cherished memories that were entirely unshitty. Laura Roguesassistant music editor

Jan G. Gilbert