“The main reason why we’re in a band is because of watching Back to the Future”: Coldplay bring on Michael J Fox to play guitar during emotional Glastonbury performance

Coldplay Glastonbury
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Coldplay’s set at Glastonbury this weekend was remarkable for many reasons.

For starters it’s the fifth time they’ve now headlined – more than any other act - and it won them the best reviews they’ve received for years. But it also featured an unexpected guest star in the form of Michael J Fox.

The actor, who has Parkinson’s Disease, played guitar on encore songs Humankind and an emotional Fix You, during which Chris Martin addressed Fox and said: “The main reason why we’re in a band is because of watching Back to the Future.”

Coldplay - Fix You (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube Coldplay - Fix You (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube
Watch On

He thanked Fox, calling him “our hero forever and one of the most amazing people on Earth.”

It’s not the first time Fox has guested with the band. He joined them on stage in 2016 when they played – what else? - Johnny Be Goode, which the actor performed at the climax of his famous film.

Fox thanked Coldplay for their Glastonbury invitation on Instagram. He told his followers that the experience was "f*cking mind blowing," adding that "there is a time for every band and a band for every time. This is Coldplay's time."

Coldplay’s set also included guest slots for Femi Kuti, Little Simz - who rapped on new track We Pray - and Laura Mvula, who sang Violet Hill.

Coldplay - A Sky Full of Stars (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube Coldplay - A Sky Full of Stars (Glastonbury 2024) - YouTube
Watch On

Unbelievably, it’s a quarter of a century since Martin and co first played Glastonbury, back when they were indie fledglings that had recently signed to Parlophone/EMI. 

They’ve come a long way. In the early days their only visual accompaniment was the lit-up globe that usually sat on top of Chris Martin’s piano. Now Coldplay shows habitually arrive with fireworks, confetti, lasers and an A-list guest list; Fox aside, Saturday’s included Tom Cruise, Gillian Anderson and Stormzy.

Another regular feature these days are the LED wristbands, which had been handed out on site over the weekend and make for an impressive visual spectacle after dark. And yes, in line with the band’s green credentials, they are all fully compostable.

Elsewhere at the festival, the weather held and there were memorable sets by the reformed Sugababes, who packed out the West Holts stage on Friday, and Idles, whose Other Stage set included the launching of an inflatable migrant boat with dummies in orange life jackets, which, reputedly, had been designed by Banksy. 

SZA’s Sunday night set was dogged by technical issues and a sparser than expected crowd, but Shania Twain’s Sunday afternoon ‘Legends’ slot predictably went down a storm. There was no live horse carrying her onstage, just a procession of decorative horses heads on raised sticks. 

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025