Technical glitch blights virtual Glastonbury festival

Fans enjoying the actual Glastonbury Festival in 2019, as Liam Gallagher performs on the Pyramid Stage. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - A technical fault on Saturday (May 22) left frustrated fans unable to access Glastonbury Festival's livestream concert at the famous farm site in southwest England, after the coronavirus pandemic led to the blockbuster event's cancellation.

The five-hour virtual show includes performances by Coldplay, Damon Albarn, Wolf Alice, Haim and Michael Kiwanuka from well-known stages around Glastonbury's Worthy Farm, including the Stone Circle and Pyramid field.

But ticket-holders, who had paid £20 (S$37) to access a stream of the event, complained on Twitter that their access codes were invalid.

"You've got thousands and thousands of us tweeting you saying we can't get in due to invalid codes. Almost 10 minutes in and we've all missed the start," wrote Twitter user Aimme Young.

Event producers Driift Live tweeted: "Hello! We're looking into the issues of invalid codes urgently.

"If you're having issues with the live stream please do not fret, you'll be able to rewind once you're in. Thanks!"

Organiser Emily Eavis, who announced in January that the annual event was cancelled for a second year, said had hoped the event would be "like the festival but without people".

"We're very excited to be able to show the farm in a way that people have never really seen it, with these incredible artists," she told BBC radio.

The event will also be played on delay across four international time zones, with Eavis adding there will be "a number of unannounced surprise performances".

Paul Dugdale, the event's director, said he hoped to recreate the event's sense of adventure.

"The overarching vision of it was to... just try and take people on a bit of a journey.

"Glastonbury is an adventure, and you never quite know what's around the corner and often the best parts of the festival are the parts you weren't expecting, and that's really fun," he said.

Britain is gradually opening up after its latest Covid-19 lockdown, and the timing of the Glastonbury event, when many smaller venues will be hoping to reopen, drew some criticism.

"I think what the live industry really needs right now is some collective, collaborative, joined-up thinking," Mark Davyd, founder and chief executive of the Music Venue Trust, wrote on Twitter.

The virtual Glastonbury event also clashes with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, which responded that it will be "a bit busy on that night".

Glastonbury, held on a dairy farm in Somerset, south-west England, was forced to cancel in 2020 - the year of the event's 50th anniversary - because of coronavirus restrictions after some 135,000 people had already bought tickets.

Headliners were meant to include pop superstar Taylor Swift and Beatles icon Paul McCartney.

Organisers had hoped to stage the event in 2021, but reversed course after England entered a third lockdown at the start of the year following a surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths.

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