Can Florence + The Machine Save Glastonbury?

17 June 2015, 11:52 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

florence and the machine v festival
Liam Dryden

By Liam Dryden

As Foo Fighters drop out of the Friday slot, Glasto's replacement could be a big game-changer for headliners everywhere.

Glastonbury have announced that Florence + The Machine will be stepping in for headlining band Foo Fighters, after frontman Dave Grohl's injury forced the Foos to pull out of their Friday slot at the festival.

After Dave severely broke his leg during a gig in Sweden (during which he kept playing while getting a cast fitted like a badass), the band have had to cancel their remaining tour dates: including the slot on Glasto's Pyramid Stage.

"The most important thing now is for me to recover from the surgery," explains Dave in a blog post. "Which means, and it kills me to say it…..the doctors have told us to cancel shows."

Dave Grohl in a Wheelchair

"You know I hate to do it, but I’m afraid it’s just not physically possible for me at the moment. We’re doing our best right now to work out a plan, so bear with us. You know we’re good for our word." 

Florence Welch and her band, who were previously supporting the rock legends, will now be taking over the 150-minute closing slot on the Friday of the event. Fortunately she has the hype of her new album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful to carry her through the massively extended play time.

Justin Young of The Vaccines recently touted Florence as a more worthy headliner, believing that having a newer, lesser-known act close the event would have been a "big statement".

"I know she's playing anyway," he said to Digital Spy last month, "but people are complaining about the lack of women at the top of festival bills and the lack of new artists."

Young's suggestion of Florence followed his criticism of the decision to have The Who headline Sunday as "such a safe booking". And he's not the only one - calling in the rock legends to close the festival has failed to enchant attendees in the way that the Glasto organisers probably hoped, after the controversial decision to book Kanye West for the Saturday slot polarised public opinion.

Along with rival event Reading Festival settling for Metallica and Mumford & Sons as their big drawing acts, and Scotland's T In The Park announcing The Libertines as their major player, the reality seems to be that festivals are increasingly struggling to inspire with their headliners - and in a way, it's their own bloody fault.

Most are creating a self-destructive loop wherein they overlook rising artists on every stage (you have to scroll a bit in Glasto's official schedule before finding anyone like the Vaccines, Run The Jewels or Years And Years), in favour of the same "safe" mega-bands. As a result, they curb the new acts' chances of becoming "headliner material" until at least their next album, resulting in, once again, no new or exciting headliners the following year.

It may also have something to do with the way the consumption of new music is changing, as the advent of the streaming age massively affects the amount of time and attention that consumers spend on one artist; but as people have trouble focusing on new artists to follow, festivals can work as an excellent divining rod to showcase the new big-hitters. Headlining can work wonders for an artist's career, but not if they're still supporting a rock band that has existed for decades.

Booking Kanye was a bold move from Glastonbury that has divided attendees, but will no doubt electrify the audience at the Pyramid Stage. But with massive shoes to fill following Foo Fighters' drop-out, hedging their bets on Florence and her new music could prove to be a massive opportunity for Glasto to show that they can still make some game-changing decisions.