It was more like a "Rickover" than a "Rickroll" at Glastonbury Festival on Saturday when Rick Astley and UK indie rock band Blossoms covered The Smiths. The 16-song surprise performance included hits such as "This Charming Man," "Bigmouth Strikes Again," "Girlfriend in a Coma," and "How Soon Is Now?".
It's not the first time Astley and Blossoms have covered The Smiths. Back in 2021, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr commented on one of their first two performances, calling it "funny and horrible at the same time."
Before taking the stage this weekend, Astley told NME in an interview:
"I've never met Johnny Marr and I daresay our paths may never cross, but I get it. I don't know how I'd feel about it if I was Johnny Marr. What can you say? It's his work and his life, but it doesn't seem like they're ever getting back together – so there are either bands who go out there and do it, or… It's a difficult one, but I did it from a place of absolute joy and love for those songs."
He continued: "If we burn in hell for doing it, then we'll have to live with that. The audiences that we've done it for in the past have always got it, got involved and loved it. You're either a Smiths fan or you're not, and if you are then it's very hallowed ground. Learning the songs reaffirms how great but individual they were as a band."
The Glastonbury audience and reviewers loved it. Guardian's Jenessa Williams was there and said the set was "admirably tight," and, in reference to Morrissey being a right-winger, says, "Astley banishes any sense of moral queasiness at listening to these beloved songs."
The Woodsies tent…fills a good 45 minutes in advance, and nobody seems to be wringing their hands with dilemma or having any terse chats about separating art from artist. At Glastonbury, and in the safe medium of full-band karaoke, we can apparently all ease a collective sigh, comfortable in the knowledge that although Mozza will surely be recouping his fair share of royalties, we're not really paying directly in. (Or are we?) With this logic, singing along with giddy delirium to Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is not only morally permissible but actively encouraged, in the spirit of having a good old festival time.