Festival Team-up Flashback: Rick Astley x Blossoms (Glastonbury Festival, 2023)


Perhaps an unlikely 21st century meme/hero, Rick Astley stormed the Glastonbury Festival this year with two hit-filled sets. However, they weren’t necesarily his own hits. As well as his own iconic Together Forever and, of course Never Gonna Give You Up, he belted out a surprising cover of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on the Pyramid Stage. Later, in a “surprise” set on the Woodsies stagee, his rock-turn continued as he teamed up with Stockport’s finest indie band, Blossoms, for covers performance of a selection of hits from The Smiths.

While this setup was not unique to the festival, having previously occured at two special shows in London and Manchester in 2021. However, the Glastonbury stage brought it a certain kind of magic that undoubtedly could not be created anywhere else. Really, it worked so well because both acts are aware that they are *not* The Smiths. In particular, Astley did not try to ape Morrissey’s unique vocals in the same way that so many tributes or covers to his music do. Instead opting to show off his recognisable deep vocal abilities at their very best, while performing some of the finest songs of all time.

Although Astley was certainly at the forefront of this performance, and has recieved the bulk of the press attention for it, Blossoms’ contributions should certainly not be ignored. With Smiths-esque jangle rock becoming more prevalent in their recent 80’s-inspired albums, it is no surprise that they are perhaps the perfect band to endeavour on such a collaboration, expertly nailing translating every note into a fun, breezy live setting – proving exactly why they’re one of the country’s best live acts currently.

But will this Smiths tribute collaboration appear again? Ultimately, I think both acts will be careful to not be boxed into performing for nostalgia, especially with Blossoms currently working on their fifth studio album. But as it is, the magic of Glastonbury was certainly present in that surprise evening, and long may it continue.



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