Awesome – Jay-Z beats Noel’s rap – Glastonbury headliner turns tables on Noel Gallagher after Oasis frontman had lambasted choice of US rapper as top act

Awesome – Jay-Z beats Noel’s rap – Glastonbury headliner turns tables on Noel Gallagher after Oasis frontman had lambasted choice of US rapper as top act

Rowan Walker and Anushka Asthana
Sunday June 29, 2008
The Observer

The rapper Jay-Z’s position at the top of the Glastonbury bill has notoriously riled the likes of Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who implied it was the sort of thing that would never have happened in his heyday. ‘I’m sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance,’ guitarist Gallagher complained in April. ‘Glastonbury has the tradition of guitar music … I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.’

Last night, before an adoring crowd, Jay-Z gave his response. As he took to the legendary Pyramid stage, vast video screens played images of Gallagher’s criticism of the rapper, triggering a massive chorus of jeers aimed at the Mancunian guitarist. That was only the beginning. The rapper’s opening track was a cover of Wonderwall, arguably Oasis’s most famous track. Some sang along, most just chanted the rapper’s name. ‘How good was that intro?’ said Liz Walters, 25. ‘He’s amazing.’

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The next tour de force was a cover of Rehab by Amy Winehouse. ‘For those that didn’t get the memo my name is Jay-Z and I’m pretty fucking awesome,’ hollered the triumphant rapper.

Earlier, ticket holders at the 150,000-strong event had suggested that Gallagher, 41, was out of touch and ‘did not know what he was talking about’. Many were excited to hear that Jay-Z, the first rapper to headline in the event’s 38-year history, planned to launch his set by broadcasting Gallagher’s comments.

‘Glastonbury is not just about white men with guitars,’ said Jess Carter, as she trudged through the thick, sticky mud left over from Friday’s heavy rain. Smiling as the sun finally came out, her friend Rohan Sethi, 17, said he expected the artist to put on the ‘best show ever.’

From the fields filled with back-to-back tents to those lined with stages, market stalls and bars, many felt the same way. ‘Jay-Z is not like your typical gangster rapper,’ argued Rupert Acton, 26, an aspiring hip-hop artist. ‘He is the best in the world.’

Hugo Driscoll, a 16-year-old who was desperately searching for his friends, added: ‘Who is the better role model? Jay-Z or Amy Winehouse?’

Others said they would not be watching the artist but were still glad he was headlining. ‘There are different types of music and it is good that they are showcasing them here,’ said Londoner Atticus Pappin, 17.

But others were less ready to welcome the star. ‘Rock is the essence of this festival,’ said Anil Ahir, 43, a production director. ‘Jay-Z is not the man for the job. Put him on a smaller stage, but not the Pyramid.’

Others were less moderate. Lewis Armstrong, 18, and his friends planned to shout abuse at the American. ‘There has been tension brewing,’ he said.

The controversy around Jay-Z appearing as the headline act at Glastonbury has been going on for months, ever since the line-up was announced. The decision to stage him has been blamed for the fact that tickets for the festival failed to sell out well in advance for the first time since 1992.

Gallagher added his voice to the storm but the rapper has since hit back: ‘When someone makes a judgment like that, they are kind of ignorant. Yeah, I’ve heard Noel’s music but I’ve never seen him or Oasis play so I can’t say whether his show is rubbish. Until I see him perform I can’t really give an opinion of him, but I don’t think he has ever seen me perform – I should send him a ticket.’

Plans by the artist to broadcast Gallagher’s comments during his live set were dismissed by the Oasis guitarist, who also criticised the sound system. Yesterday, he was reported as saying: ‘Blaring out? I fucking doubt it. There aren’t enough speakers. Well, I guess it’ll make the first five minutes interesting.’

Meanwhile, festival organiser Michael Eavis revealed yesterday he has been plagued by sleepless nights amid fears that this year’s event was set to make a £5m loss, with tens of thousands of tickets still not sold in the run-up to the festival. ‘I was really, really scared,’ he said. ‘I woke up at three in the morning sweating. I’m not joking.’

Eavis thought it would be the first time in years the festival would not be able to offer £2m to charity. But on Friday, tickets finally sold out.

James Turner, spokesman for Greenpeace, said: ‘We were a little worried about sales because Michael’s generosity to charity is dependent on the number of people buying tickets.’ But, by the end of last night, the charity donation was safe and Jay-Z was the undisputed star of Glastonbury 2008.

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