It was far from sunshine and lollipops for U2 as they made their much anticipated and delayed return to a festival stage with their headlining slot at Glastonbury on Friday night. Performing in driving rain, the band received mixed reports, with some critics attacking them for performing a lackluster set that felt like they were going through the motions, although others argued that they performed a set full of hits, with a few ill-judged inclusions of songs that weren’t well known.
It wasn’t only the armchair critics that they band had to worry about however – protestors were determined to ensure the band copped criticism for their decision to move their commercial operations to the Netherlands for tax purposes, where song royalties incur virtually no tax.
Protestors unfurled an inflatable banner in front of the stage which read ‘U pay your tax 2’ which was eventually removed by security in a scuffle with protestors. Protest organisers Art Uncut released a statement saying “If they can get away with it, the wealthy establishment tend to hire heavies to crush dissent. We wanted a dialogue with U2, on an issue that is crucial for international development. Instead we got heavy-handed security tactics; our highly visible expression of conscience was pulled down after just a few minutes – where are the festival’s radical roots now, we ask?”
A spokesperson for festival organisers countered by saying “There was an agreement for them to have their banner inflated and for it to be seen as long as it wouldn’t obstruct the audience view of the performance. We requested them to take it down after two songs and security deflated the balloon: there was no instruction of heavy-handedness or restriction.”