Dua Lipa at Glastonbury review – headliners are rarely this hook-laden and fun

Dua Lipa at Glastonbury review – headliners are rarely this hook-laden and fun

According to the most intriguing bit of her between-song chat, Dua Lipa’s headlining Glastonbury slot came about as a result of an act of childhood manifesting. The singer claims she wrote out her desire to top the bill on the Pyramid stage in detail, up to and including what night said event should take place on: a Friday, so she “could spend the rest of the weekend partying”. And now here we are: watching a slightly peculiar video of Dua Lipa signing her name and writing the words “GLASTO 24” on a pane of glass, then licking it.

Whether you buy the stuff about manifesting or not, Dua Lipa has clearly spent a lot of time carefully studying and absorbing how a successful Glastonbury headline set works, and putting what she’s gleaned to good use. The announcement of her appearance led to a degree of consternation, particularly after her most recent album, Radical Optimism, failed to replicate the kind of world-beating success afforded its predecessor, the lockdown smash Future Nostalgia. But she already has a stockpile of inescapable hits, from New Rules to her Elton John collaboration Cold Heart, which is half the battle won. And furthermore she throws everything she has at her set in order to lend it a sense of event, rather than it being simply another pop show transposed to a field in Somerset, another stop-off on a world tour that happens to be on a farm.

There are confetti canons galore. There are pyrotechnics – so many of them during Levitating that you wonder what they can possibly do for the finale, although they just about manage to top it. There is a crowd-pleasing reference to the festival’s hedonism, albeit not from the lips of the singer herself, who largely confines herself to asking the audience how they’re feeling: instead, she takes the stage to the famous clip of Peter Fonda in the 1966 biker movie The Wild Angels informing the squares that he wants to get loaded and have a good time. And there is an equally crowd-pleasing guest appearance by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker – his jeans and T-shirt at odds with the main attraction’s constant costume changes; a moment where the pair fluff their vocals and laugh at odds with the show’s tightly choreographed feel – performing not one of his Dua Lipa collaborations but his own biggest hit, The Less I Know the Better: 1.6bn streams and counting.

Hallucinate makes some of Lipa’s more recent efforts look a little wan by comparison. House-fuelled and thrillingly hook-laden, it may well be one of the best pop singles in recent memory – which is not a claim anyone is going to make on behalf of the serviceable but unexceptional Houdini, nor Training Season. There are a couple of less impressive songs from Radical Optimism thrown into the mix: the pass-aggy Happy for You; the acoustic guitar-driven These Walls.

The latter was the solitary track on said album which vaguely suggested the Britpop influence she spent a lot of time talking up prior to its release, but listening to it tonight, it sounds more like the other stuff that sold millions in the 90s. It’s not a huge stretch to imagine it sung by Texas or Natalie Imbruglia or even the Corrs. But the set tucks these songs away amid the hits so successfully that you scarcely notice. There’s always another cast-iron banger on the way: Levitating, Physical, Illusion.

“It’s a lot, innit,” she gasps at one point, surveying the full extent of an enormous crowd, who moreover stay put throughout: there’s none of the wastage that signals a Glastonbury headliner getting it wrong and driving their audience towards the festival’s other manifold delights. It’s an unequivocal success.

Dua Lipa will hit one of the high points of her career this weekend when she becomes Glastonbury 2024’s first headliner. The popstar is only 28, but she can add the huge achievement to an already long list of pinch-me moments during her incredible rise to fame. However, it seems like her stardom might not be such a surprise to Lipa herself, who told Time back in 2017 of her ambitions: “I’d like to take over the world… If I could.” The Don’t Start Now singer is well on her way to that goal – here’s how her success has looked so far.

Lipa was born in London to Kosovan and Albanian parents, who moved the family back to Kosovo in 2006. She returned to London alone at 15 to study for her A-levels and live with a family friend, recently telling Elle: “I said to my parents, I don’t know how you let me do that. But I knew that I didn’t have the same opportunities that I would have in Kosovo. I was so determined.” I think my parents saw parts of themselves in me, and that allowed for them to be so open-hearted and generous with that trust.

It was a trust that paid off, as Lipa began working as a model for Topshop, landed a job singing in an X Factor advert for the 2013 series, and in the same year signed her first contract. Lipa began releasing music in 2015 and has an incredible catalogue of hits to her name from the last nine years that gives her plenty of choice for what to include in her Glastonbury set. Early singles include Be the One and Blow Your Mind, and she had her first number one with New Rules in 2017. She clocked up another number one single the following year with Calvin Harris collaboration One Kiss, and although 2019’s Don’t Start Now only reached number two, it ended up being the longest stay in the top 10 for a British female artist. More recently, Lipa has had hits with Levitating, Dance the Night and Houdini.

Like any self-respecting star, Lipa hasn’t just confined her career to one area – she cemented her status as a triple threat after adding movie credits to her singing and dancing skills. In 2023, Lipa appeared as mermaid Barbie in Greta Gerwig’s smash hit film Barbie, and was also behind the movie’s signature song Dance the Night which was nominated for two Grammy Awards, including song of the year. Lipa went on to feature in 2024 spy action comedy Argylle, alongside Henry Cavill and Bryce Dallas Howard. Her varied portfolio earned her a place in the Sunday Times Rich List this year, where her estimated net worth was £90 million.

Huge stars including Sir Elton John and Mick Jagger are champions of Lipa, and now she is joining them in a huge career bucket list item by performing at Glastonbury. Lipa is the Friday night headliner for 2024 and is sure to set the tone for the festival’s weekend with her upbeat hits. “I’ve got to figure out a way to make 150,000 people feel like they’re in a small little nightclub,” she told the BBC. “That’s the goal, and if there’s one place to do it, it’s got to be Glasto.”

Source: The Guardian, County Gazette, Manchester Evening News, Evening Standard

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