It was claimed that The Rolling Stones had never before been asked to perform at Glastonbury. Whether this was down to oversight, error or whatever, the wait was certainly worthwhile. Whether they would have been better in the 70’s 80’s90’s is another matter. Every decade has held it’s own internal crisis within the band. Even the current 50th anniversary tour has been hit by controversy, not the ticket price of their forthcoming London dates (are they really worth £300?), but the refusal of founder member Bill Wyman to join them in the celebratory world tour. It would have been nice had Wyman stayed that extra day after his Rhythm Kings performance on the acoustic stage to join his ageing colleagues on the boards of the Pyramid stage. With the guest appearance of Mick Taylor, the only other person missing was Brian Jones, the anniversary of who’s death was only days after the Stones Glastonbury set.
The estimated record crowd (beating The Chemical Bros 2000) erupted with anticipation as the opening chords to Jumpin Jack Flash gently drifted across the vastness of Worthy Farm as the sun set on Saturday night. I say drifted, once again the sometimes welcome breeze that sweeps through the Vale of Avalon played havoc with the sound. Every engineers nightmare, and not appreciated by large sections of the crowd, dependent on where they were standing. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It), Paint It Black, Gimme Shelter, it looked like they were getting what they came for. Glastonbury (Factory) Girl gave the media the hook they were looking for, and Jagger was more than happy to demonstrate that they had thought carefully about the long awaited performance. Up until that point The Stones had everyone hooked, but the introduction of Taylor following Wild Horses and Doom and Gloom seemed to lose the younger element of the crowd. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking went on far too long and combined with the sound problems led to a period of distraction for far too many. Honkey Tonk Woman partly re-engaged the audience, but that was soon lost with Keef’s mediocre vocals on You Got The Silver and Happy. You can forgive Mick for taking a rest considering his advancing years, as he returned with full facial and body contortions for Miss You, before diving back into the 60’s with Midnight Rambler, 2000 Lightyears from Home, and what had to be the crowds favourite, Sympathy For The Devil. Whoo Hoo echoed across the farm from the very first note as the tens of thousands anticipated the Jagger/Richards signature tune..
From then on it was pure Stones classic with Start Me Up and Tumbling Dice, then with Keith Richards chuckling and beaming as he ripped into Brown Sugar, they really turned on the turbo boost , Richard and Wood playing in unison and sharing their obvious enjoyment. The most cherished memories for me though were the the close up’s of Charlie Watts, grinning from ear to ear. Seeing Jagger on guitar and harmonica is a welcome reminder that he is equally responsible for those unmistakable Stones riffs that we all recognise. My one disappointment was You Can’t Always Get What You Want, written as a Bass led song, but no sign of Wyman and you had to strain hard to hear any bass line at all. The encore was concluded with I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. Two relevant titles to sum up their performance. There was something for everyone, and perhaps that was their only shortcoming, you can’t please all the people all the time.
Hailed as the high spot of 43 years of Glastonbury by founder farmer Michael Eavis, with an average age of 69. the Stones delivered on all counts. Jagger strutted back and forth across the specially built gangways with as much energy as he would 50 years ago. Richards played around with chords and riffs as he would have done when he met Jagger for the first time, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, holding his guitar like a sten gun strapped to his waist. They will have their critics, they did have their critics, but guitar bands of today can only stare in admiration, this is the band you owe it all to. This is the band that chose not to follow the smart clad, clean cut Beatles that my Dad approved of, and became the future of guitar music I craved. This was raw rock ‘n’ roll, but I liked it.