This year’s Glastonbury has so far featured Florence and the Machine covering Foo Fighters and Kanye West delivering an unexpected “Bohemian Rhapsody,” yet Patti Smith may be responsible for the fest’s biggest surprise. During Smith’s Pyramid Stage set, the Horses singer brought out the Dalai Lama himself so that festivalgoers could wish His Holiness a happy 80th birthday.
“We are grateful to him for all his love of humanity and making people aware of the importance of saving the planet,” Smith, who has often appeared at the annual Tibet House Benefit Concert, told the crowd before reading a poem dedicated to the Dalai Lama. Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis then ushered the Tibetan spiritual leader onstage to join Smith, where she led the crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” while he sliced into a birthday cake, NME reports.
Remarking on the appearance of Smith and her band, the Dalai Lama quipped, “Those singers, musicians, most of you [have] white hair, but their voice and their physical action, they look very beautiful, very forceful. So that gives me encouragement. Myself now 80 years old, but I should be more like you – more active.” (The BBC also noted that the Dalai Lama indirectly served as Lionel Richie’s opening act on the Pyramid Stage.)
The Dalai Lama didn’t just travel to England to check out Smith’s performance, which featured classics like “Redondo Beach,” “Gloria,” “People Have the Power” and a set-ending cover of the Who’s “My Generation.” (The Who will close out Glastonbury Sunday night.) The Guardian reports that earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama participated in a panel where the Tibetan leader called upon the United States and Russia to scrap their nuclear weapons and demanded that nations begin to view the environment as a global issue.
In another Glastonbury appearance, the Dalai Lama delivered an impromptu speech to hundreds of festivalgoers gathered at the “Stone Circle.” “In this very moment, in some parts of the world, like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and some other places – they’re killing, human to human being. Unthinkable. And the worst thing [is that] conflict, killing each other, in the name of their faith,” the Dalai Lama said while also redefining the word “jihad” as constructive emotion to combat destructive emotions. “I daily use it in my five hours of meditation, this kind of jihad.”
Even spiritual leaders are susceptible to the festival’s often-wet weather, and much like the thousands in attendance, the Dalai Lama used a Glastonbury t-shirt as a makeshift umbrella to shield himself from the rain.