By Mark SavageMusic Correspondent

Getty Images Fans hold a moment of silence at GlastonburyGetty Images

The seven-minute silence took place just before PJ Harvey’s set on the Pyramid Stage

If there’s one thing Glastonbury Festival doesn’t do well, it’s silence.

But that changed on Friday evening, as performance artist Marina Abramović led a seven-minute silence from the festival’s main stage.

The interlude between musical acts was conceived as a “public intervention” to reflect on conflict and peace.

“There are wars, there is famine, there is protest, there is killing,” Abramović said. “Here, we will try to do something different.

“We can all together give unconditional love to each other. [It is] the only way to change the world.”

Getty Images Marina Abramovic on the Pyramid StageGetty Images

Abramovic said the prospect of the silence failing had “terrified” her

From the stage, the acclaimed Serbian artist encouraged thousands of festival-goers to close their eyes, put a hand on a neighbour’s shoulder, and be still for 420 seconds.

Amazingly, it worked. After a gong sounded, the field fell entirely silent.

On stage, 77-year-old Abramović stretched out her arms to reveal a dress designed in the shape of the CND symbol by Riccardo Tisci, the Italian former creative head of Burberry.

CND stands for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which has been supported by the festival throughout its history.

Admittedly, the sound of music from the surrounding stages still bled into the silence. Half the crowd hadn’t turned off their phone notifications, either.

And beside me, there was the tell-tale “psssht” of a beer can being opened.

But the overall effect was strangely moving. Setting aside the hedonism of festival life for seven minutes, thousands of people paused to contemplate their place in the world.

Audience members stood in circles and closed their eyes during the minute of silence

Some audience members stood in circles and closed their eyes

Speaking to The Guardian beforehand, Abramović explained the thinking behind her performance.

“We are really facing a dark moment in human history. So what can be done?” she asked.

“I always think protest brings more protest; hate brings more hate. I think it’s important to turn to your own self. It’s easy to criticise everything else but what can I do in my own self, how can I change?”

She admitted that asking Glastonbury’s notoriously rowdy fans to be quiet was “a big risk” and that the prospect of failure “terrified” her.

“But I want to take the risk,” she added. “Can you imagine if we succeed? It will be an incredible moment.”

BBC Glastonbury graphic

The artist’s appearance came after a crowd-pleasing set from Paul Heaton, who played almost 40 years of hits, including Song For Whoever, Perfect 10 and Old Red Eyes Is Back.

Heaton also brought out the first surprise guest of the day – in the shape of his former Housemartins bandmate Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim.

Cook happily swapped DJ decks for a bass guitar to play their 1986 indie anthem Happy Hour, and the audience surged to the front of the stage.

Another audience surge was happening simultaneously, two fields away at West Holts, where fans were gathering to watch the reunited Sugababes play a greatest hits set.

In a repeat of their packed 2022 performance at the Avalon field, the numbers swelled so much that stewards had to shut the area down, enacting a one-in, one-out policy.

Meanwhile, dance star Fred Again made an unannounced appearance at the tiny Stonebridge Bar, high in the hills overlooking the festival.

Norman Cook and Paul Heaton

Norman Cook reunited with his former Housemartins bandmate Paul Heaton

Abramović was followed onto the main stage by PJ Harvey, with LCD Soundsystem and Dua Lipa due to play later on Friday.

Lipa will be making her first headline festival appearance at 22:00 BST – with the set to be streamed live around the world on BBC.com.

Rumours have been spreading about a potential guest during her show, with everyone from Duran Duran to Cyndi Lauper and Girls Aloud supposedly joining her onstage.

However, Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis earlier told BBC Radio 2 there would be “no big surprises”.

“In case you’re expecting something else coming later that’s been rumoured, it’s probably not true,” she said.

Nonetheless, Eavis said Lipa’s performance was expected to be one of the weekend’s highlights.

“I feel like she’s born to do this,” she said. “She’s a proper festival-goer. She comes every year.

“You can really tell when someone really gets the festival and loves it, because they just put so much into it, so I’m really excited.”

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