PILTON, England — The Rolling Stones lived up to their reputation as one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands when they played to more than 100,000 revellers on Saturday during their first performance at Glastonbury, the world’s best-known music festival.
Despite an average age of 69, the four band members strutted, strummed and shrieked their way through a set lasting over two hours that began with “Jumping’ Jack Flash” and ended with fireworks exploding off the stage during “Satisfaction.”
The crowd cheered and sang along as the band that celebrated 50 years in the music business last year rocked through a playlist of old and new hits while security staff tried to block entry to the overcrowded field.
“It’s great to be here doing this festival. After all these years they have finally gotten around to asking us,” said rubber-lipped frontman Mick Jagger, who turns 70 next month.
Glastonbury began as a hippie retreat in 1970 and has become known for its megastars over the years with Beyonce, U2, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie among the headline acts. The Rolling Stones were the most notable absence from the lineup.
Festival founder Michael Eavis, who holds the festival on his 900-acre farm in southwest England, has publicly delighted in finally persuading the band to play at the three-day event that drew 150,000-plus music fans by Saturday.
From the outset, the Rolling Stones showed there was no generation gap, as they got the crowd cheering to “Honky Tonk Woman” and then singing along to “Miss You.”
Five songs into their set, Jagger introduced a new number, “Glastonbury Girl,” that he said he wrote for a girl he met at the festival on Friday night when he joined the audience to watch the headline act Arctic Monkeys.
As they played “Sympathy for the Devil,” a metallic phoenix rose from the top of the stage, wings flapping and eyes flashing, amid shooting flames.
“I want to thank you for coming to our shows for 50 years,” yelled Jagger, who bounded across the stage after introducing his band mates, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards.
“If this is the first time you have ever seen the band, do come again,” joked Jagger, who earlier in the day said he would keep performing as long as his fans wanted him.