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LONDON – The 2013 Glastonbury music festival has drawn mostly positive reviews from British critics and media thanks in part to the fest’s first-ever appearance of The Rolling Stones and mostly sunny weather.
Attendance by Prince Harry and various celebrities, including Kate Moss, soccer star Wayne Rooney, actress Sienna Miller and The X Factor host Dermot O’Leary also helped the event generate buzz in the British media all weekend.
The 43-year-old music festival, the U.K.’s biggest, wrapped Sunday night with a performance by Mumford & Sons, who played the main Pyramid Stage a night after the Stones and after opening night headliners Arctic Monkeys.
“There were plenty of standout moments at the festival this year, but it was dominated by one band” — the Stones, the Guardian‘s review said. “And, in contrast to many former headliner acts, it was the Stones’ ramshackle raw energy that made their set an unforgettable Glastonbury experience.”
The Guardian also quoted Glastonbury organizer Michael Eavis as declaring this year’s edition of what is known as the world’s biggest greenfield festival “the best festival we’ve ever done.”
“What a stonker it’s been!” the Telegraph‘s Glastonbury blog said at the end of the fest. “Gorgeous weather, rock gods, power folk.”
And The Independent argued that the Stones’ long-awaited performance gave the event a special feel. “The notion that this is a Glastonbury moment to compare to Jay-Z‘s momentous 2008 showing, or Radiohead’s famous 1997 is helped by the vast, vast swathes of people,” it said.
Media reports over the weekend had mentioned that the festival grounds on a farm in Somerset, England, featured a sign that said: “Queue here to complain festival is not as good as it used to be.” Nobody lined up, according to several reports.
Day one, Friday, started off with drizzling rain before the weather turned nice.
“Dizzee Rascal was the hit of the opening day with his big smile, speedy rap and chunky beats,” the Telegraph said. “He set off the festival’s first fireworks and generally put a hip-hop banger up rock and roll’s aging posterior.”
The day’s headliners drew some Twitter complaints from attendees about the U.S.-tinged accent of singer Alex Turner, but their overall performance drew praise.
“The Arctic Monkeys responded with a set that had all the paraphernalia of stadium rock — spectacular lights, guitar anthems, smoke and lasers — but delivered with a 21st century ironic wit,” the Telegraph said.
And the Guardian commented: “The Arctic Monkeys’ performance eradicates memories of their previous attempt at topping the Glastonbury bill in 2007, which fell surprisingly flat, not least because their insouciance looked troublingly like indifference.”
Also on Friday, a performance from Portishead drew more mixed reviews. Listeners “come back looking slightly shell-shocked by the harrowing intensity of Beth Gibbons‘s performance and the fact that the accompanying visuals climax in a giant image of [British prime minister] David Cameron‘s face with red lasers shooting out of his eyes,” The Guardian noted.
Other performers on Friday included Bill Wyman‘s Rhythm Kings, Alt-J and Chic with Nile Rodgers.
Saturday night was all about the Stones, with other acts including Public Enemy, rave dance duo Chase & Status, Primal Scream, The Strypes and Azealia Banks.
The rock legends’ set lasted two hours and 12 minutes and featured 20 songs in front of a crowd of more than 100,000. The British newspapers deemed the show a success with most giving the performance five out of five stars.
The Telegraph‘s critic said that the Stones “blew the stage apart” as they “thrilled festival goers,” pulling off “one of the greatest rock and roll sets that Glastonbury has ever seen.” He added: “The Rolling Stones restaged their claim to be acknowledged as the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”
The Guardian‘s review said: “Rolling Stones steal Glastonbury from other debutantes.”
The Independent described the band’s performance as “a dream Saturday night headline set from the biggest rock band in the business,” noting it was “a tough act to follow” for the artists and bands turning out Sunday for the music festival’s final day.
“Mumford & Sons were greeted with loud cheers as they took the stage,” the Belfast Times reported. “There had been fears the band would have to cancel their performance after bassist Ted Dwane was recently taken to hospital after suffering a blood clot, but those worries were unfounded.”
Fans held up candles as night set on the festival. “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,” Marcus Mumford was quoting as telling the crowd.
He later addressed the health of his bandmate, saying: “Ted’s fucking alive isn’t he!” The comment drew cheers from the crowd.
Overall, the band, which has played Glastonbury several times before but finally nabbed a headline slot, closed the festival on a more low-key note, critics noted. “The band took to the stage at 9:45 p.m. to a crowd that was dense, but notably smaller than that for The Rolling Stones last night,” NME reported.
Mumford keyboard player Ben Lovett brought things full circle, addressing the headliners of the night before. “So we’ve been a band for coming on six years, The Rolling Stones have been together for a lot longer than that,” he said, according to NME. “The big difference between them and us is we’ve played Glastonbury four times.”
Performances by Editors, Kenny Rogers, Rufus Wainwright, The xx and Vampire Weekend rounded out the final festival day.
This year’s surprise guest appearance came early on Friday in the form of Liam Gallagher‘s Beady Eye. “Tonight I’m a rock’n’roll star at 11:30 in the fucking morning,” Gallagher quipped.
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