Glastonbury Day 3: The Verve close with a crescendo
While Neil Diamond shines in the afternoon
Photographer: Sophie Paterson30 June 2008
Following the form of the other two festival headliners, Kings Of Leon and Jay-Z, the reformed rockers showed a visible combination of awe and appreciation at being asked to top of the bill of a Glastonbury with so much at stake.
Never has the line up been under so much scrutiny, it's been years 15 since ticket sales were so slow, but Glastonbury Festival has a tendency to surprise - and this year The Verve brought proceedings to a fitting finale.
Singer Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe looked like best mates again, kicking off with a flurry of fan favourites, including 'This Is Music', 'Sonnet', 'Space And Time' and 'History'.
But the best received sequence of songs was reserved for 'Lucky Man', back to back with 'Drugs Don't Work', both prompting huge crowd singalongs before the epic 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' reminded everyone why the band left such a defining stamp on the last decade.
They hinted at a bright and confident future too, sacrificing some of their greatest hits to close their show with ambitous new single 'Love Is Noise', an inspired way to finish what turned out to be a classic Glastonbury headline set.
Leonard Cohen played on the Pyramid Stage beforehand, serenading the crowd with a stream of his greatest hits, but the low-voiced veteran failed to light up the festival, depite a moving version of 'Hallelujah' to which the crowd sung every chorus.
Perhaps because another old timer, Neil Diamond, truly stole the day. Looking completely overawed by a racous reaction from a massive crowd, the US crooner brought out the sun as the weekend's most colourful party kicked off.
Poilice danced with sunflowers stuck to their helmets, hundreds of balloons were left off and more flags towered above the Pyramid Stage crowd than any time all weekend, but most simply swung their hips to arguably the festival's most humble performer.
set list says to play a ballad, but this is Glastonbury so I'm going to play a dance song. And that's just the way
it's going to be", he beamed, before playing an extended version of 'Cherry Cherry'.
But inevitably, 'Sweet Caroline' closed the coveted afternoon slot in summery style, building up to the finale with the much covered 'I'm A Believer'.
The Pyramid, of course, wasn't the only place to be on the final day. The Park triumphed in only its second year, following from last year's wash out, Laura Marling and Mystery Jets proved two of the higlhights, performing together on the latter's 'Young Love'.
Mark Ronson and Newton Faulkner pulled massive afternoon crowds on the Other Stage, the former being joined by friend Lily Allen on stage to perform her hit 'Littlest Things' and Kaiser Chiefs cover 'Oh My God'.
The sun shone, the atmosphere cranked up another gear, as Glastonbury proved any doubters wrong that this is, and will continue to be, one of the world's leading festivals.