Lewis Capaldi at Glastonbury: A Vulnerable Performance Sparks Support From Festival Goers As Singer Steps Back From Spotlight
by Ally McLaren
It was an emotional scene at Glastonbury 2023 as a struggling Lewis Capaldi was helped through his set by thousands of adoring festival goers.
The 26-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter made a live comeback at the Pyramid Stage on June 24 after cancelling gigs in Glasgow, Dublin, London and Norway in the weeks leading up to the iconic festival in order to rest and recover for his health.
He opened his highly-anticipated set with Forget Me, the lead single from his second studio album Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, which became one of the fastest-selling albums of the year. As Lewis continued to perform, he began to experience tics and struggled with his voice, symptoms of his Tourette’s syndrome. Capaldi first revealed that he was diagnosed with Tourette’s in September 2022, and has since been open with how the condition causes him to make involuntary sounds and movements, particularly an uncontrollable shoulder twitch.
Lewis gave an incredible performance to the crowd, showcasing his stellar vocals and witty charm. Yet after performing his hit song Bruises, Capaldi told the crowd that he was starting to lose his voice and that he needed them all to sing with him so that he could keep going until the end of his slot.
As he ended his set with his biggest hit Someone You Love, Capaldi appeared overcome with emotion as the adoring crowd finished the song for him. There has been massive support for Lewis from the festival audience, fellow artists, and those who also suffer with mental health issues, with many praising him for being so open and raising awareness and visibility of the condition. The acceptance and empathy of the crowd was incredibly heartwarming, showing how kindness and understanding can go such a long way in supporting someone through their hardest times.
Lewis shared more about his mental health and experience with fame in the Netflix documentary Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling, which premiered in April 2023. Fame is still relatively new to Capaldi, whose career skyrocketed in 2018 when his single Someone You Love received 28 million streams worldwide, making him the fastest unsigned artist to reach that number. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength, with sold-out tours, Glastonbury performances, and two best-selling studio albums under his belt.
But the pressure of fame has taken an unquestionable toll on his mental health, causing him anxiety to the point that he has suffered with panic attacks and exacerbated Tourette's symptoms, including a debilitating shoulder twitch which he has received botox treatment for. He has revealed that it is the pressure of his career that causes his mental health to suffer, and it is a trade-off that causes him both success and damage at the same time.
On stage at Worthy Farm, he announced to the crowd: “I’ll be taking another wee break over the next couple of weeks, so you probably won’t see much of me, for the rest of the year maybe even. But when I do come back, when I do see you, I hope you’re all still up for watching.”
Following his set he posted to Instagram to confirm to fans that he would be taking a break from touring for the foreseeable future, stating: “Playing for you every night is all I’ve ever dreamed of so this is the most difficult decision of my life. I’ll be back as soon as I possibly can.”
It is devastating that Lewis’s health has impacted on him living out his dream, but his undeniable reach on raising awareness about Tourette’s and anxiety is another achievement to be incredibly proud of. Showing that someone who is perceived as confident, successful, talented and famous can still feel so vulnerable and suffer with their mental health to the point of taking time off work makes the discussion around mental health much less taboo. Seeing his tics visibly while he’s performing and the acceptance of the crowd supporting him will be vital for so many in need of representation.
When he does feel ready to come back, his fans will be waiting for him with open ears and open arms.