It’s been a long time since the Glastonbury Pyramid stage saw a crowd of the size gathered tonight for the Rolling Stones. Quite possibly it’s not been this busy here since the night when the Levellers played to a rammed field the year the fence came down and the whole site groaned under the weight of extra numbers.
Bursting with energy that belies their years the Stones start as they mean to go on – with an exuberant flourish. ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and ‘Only Rock’n’Roll’ kick off a two-and-a-half hour marathon at a blistering sprint, and Jagger’s swagger never leaves him throughout the show.
“They finally got round to asking us“, grins the stick-thin soon-to-be-septuagenarian, knowing full well that getting the band to play has been an ambition of Michael Eavis‘ for probably as long as the festival has been going.
But apart from the odd one-liner the patter between songs is kept to a minimum so the band can plunder the deepest corners of their back-catalogue.
Amongst the more obvious and to-be-expected numbers (‘Honky Tonk Woman’ and ‘Paint it Black’ being a couple of fine examples), the band take the opportunity to throw in a few more esoteric tracks, along with last year’s single, ‘Doom and Gloom’.
‘Two Thousand Light Years from Home’ is sprung as a psychedelic surprise, and as a special treat Jagger reworks ‘Factory Girl’ into ‘Glastonbury Girl’ with appropriate festivalesque lyrical references to tipis, yurts and wet wipes.
The other treat for the night is the return of Mick Taylor, Ronnie Woods’ predecessor in the band, who guests on ‘Can’t you hear me Knocking’ and ‘Midnight Rambler’, a great song that gives Sir Mick a chance to show off his harmonica skills to full effect.
Sadly the much-anticipated flaming animatronic phoenix that has been sat poised and waiting atop the Pyramid stage all weekend is something of an anticlimax, more detracting from the otherwise excellent ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ than adding anything special to the moment.
A two-song encore follows a nervous minute or so where worried fans wonder whether that’s it, after Mick and Co. rather abruptly leave the stage as ‘Brown Sugar’s closing notes still echo across the field.
Joined by The London Youth Choir and the Voce Chamber Choir for ‘You can’t always get what you want’ and rounding off perhaps predictably (but who’d want it any other way?) with ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’ – complete with giant confetti canons and fireworks – the feeling is that yes, it may have taken all these years for the Stones to finally appear at Glastonbury, but it was worth the wait.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
Paint It Black
Doom and Gloom
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
Honky Tonk Women
You Got the Silver
2,000 Light Years from Home
Sympathy for the Devil
Start Me Up
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
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