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Saturday 22 October 2016

Glasto braces for West controversy

Published 23/06/2015 | 17:51

News of Kanye West's appearance at Glastonbury has had a mixed response from fans
News of Kanye West's appearance at Glastonbury has had a mixed response from fans

Glastonbury Festival is preparing for one of its most controversial years yet when Kanye West takes to the famous Pyramid Stage to perform on Saturday.

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Around 90% of the 135,000 campers are due to arrive at the five-day festival tomorrow, before the live music begins on Friday.

News that the abrasive hip-hop artist had been booked to headline prompted a backlash from many fans who felt he was too much of a departure from the festival's roots.

A petition on Change.org describing West as a "musical injustice" who has been "very outspoken on his views on music" and should not play has received 134,548 signatures.

Co-organiser of the festival Emily Eavis, who made the booking, revealed that she had received death threats and online abuse since announcing the line-up.

It echoes the response by some fans ahead of performances by Jay Z and Beyonce, who managed to win over the crowds despite criticisms that the festival was becoming too commercial.

Ms Eavis said: "All of this, we have had this every year since I can remember, scrutiny, speculation and now, since Twitter, people are trolled all the time.

"Kanye is so fired up for this gig, his plans are really exciting. He knows about it, a lot of people have probably told him about it and he has the right attitude. He's not worried about it."

The festival suffered a late blow when Foo Fighters were forced to pull out, with Florence and the Machine promoted to headline on the opening night.

Veteran rockers The Who, whose rock and roll credentials include a famed performance at Woodstock in 1969, will restore natural order when they close the festival on Sunday night.

Glastonbury has again been unable to escape its infamous forecast of rain, with showers predicted on Friday and Sunday.

But temperatures are expected to remain at around 21C or 22C for the five days with dry weather expected on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Other musical highlights include Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, George Ezra, Motorhead, Lionel Richie, Alt J and Paloma Faith, wh ile off stage, physicist Professor Stephen Hawking will make a guest appearance for families at the Kidz Stage.

New this year is a viewing platform to give a different perspective of the transformed 1,000-acre farm.

Organisers have also increased the number of compost toilets from 300 last year to 1,200 this year, which is good news for the environment and campers, who are promised a much better smell than the alternative "long drops".

The event's technology and communications partner EE is this year expecting around 200,000 Power Bar swaps, which let mobile users trade in used battery units for recharged ones.

This compares with 32,000 swaps last year, meaning the festival is more likely than ever to swamp social media.

Last week Ms Eavis revealed the future of the festival has been left open, admitting she and her father have had "many discussions" about relocating the most popular music event in the UK.

But while founder Michael Eavis is keen for "one last risk", his daughter and co-organiser is more reluctant to see the event change.

Press Association

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