Glastonbury, Britain’s biggest music festival, saw 2,000 acts perform to 135,000 people – but for many it was all about one band: The Rolling Stones. We look back at the highlights of the weekend.
Michael Eavis, 77, who holds the musical extravaganza on his farm in rural Somerset, said the two-hour performance by the Stones – complete with fireworks and a burning phoenix on top of the stage – was worth the wait. He had tried to secure the band, celebrating their 50th anniversary, for years and said he was not sure how next year’s headliners, who have already been booked, would live up to the Stones:
“It was 43 years in the making, 50 years for them, and we’ve finally come together. We’re on the same page at last,” Eavis said, on the third day of music at the festival… It’s the whole razzmatazz of the occasion – the two of us finally getting together at long last. I had to prove myself to them. We were a bunch of hippies; it’s hardly a Rolling Stones set up, is it?”
The capacity of the Pyramid area was expanded for the first time for the Stones, meaning a festival record of 100,000 saw Sir Mick Jagger strut his stuff.
He led the band through their classics, starting with an energetic ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’ and ending with a soulful ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, before crowd-pleaser ‘Satisfaction’. Jagger was said to have been concerned about sound quality ahead of the gig, but his fears were unfounded.
The mechanical phoenix created by Joe Rush, which came to life during ‘Sympathy For The Devil’, was a labour of love with health and safety officials voicing concerns, Eavis said. He laughingly claimed the ornate moving sculpture cost almost the same as the Stones’ fee for their set.
A BBC Two spokesman said its coverage of The Rolling Stones peaked at 2.5 million viewers, compared to the peak of 2.2 million for Coldplay who headlined on the Saturday night at the last Glastonbury festival in 2011.
Other highlights of the weekend have included the opening headline set from the Arctic Monkeys, Portishead on the Other Stage, Foals and Dizzee Rascal on Friday, and an early morning performance from Liam Gallagher’s band Beady Eye.
Elsewhere there were memorable performances from Elvis Costello – who caused some controversy with a rendition of his anti-Thatcher song just two months after her death – Primal Scream, who were joined by members of HAIM on stage, and disco legends Chic, who kick-started a mass on-stage dancefloor.
There was even an appearance from showbiz veteran Sir Bruce Forsyth, who attracted 2,500 people to one of the smaller stages, to watch him sing, play the piano and tap dance.
Last night’s headliners, Mumford & Sons, were greeted with loud cheers as they took the stage for their set. There had been fears the band would have to cancel their performance because of bassist Ted Dwane’s illness, but those worries were unfounded.
Fans held candles aloft as the night set in, with the band’s country-style tunes giving rise to impromptu hoe downs in front of the stage as they played hits like ‘Little Lion Man’ and ‘I Will Wait’.
Hollywood star Carey Mulligan, who is married to band member Marcus Mumford, was among those watching the band backstage.
Mumford told the audience: “I would like to give a massive thank you to Michael Eavis and his family for having us here and letting us be complete idiots in his field for a couple of days.”
Performances by Editors, The xx and Vampire Weekend rounded off the festival’s entertainment.