The Mumfords’ performance was the Grammy-winning folk-rockers’ first since bassist Ted Dwane had surgery for a blood clot on his brain earlier this month.
The banjo-wielding balladeers got a warm reception, especially when they launched into “I Will Wait,” one of their biggest hits, for their second number.
“We came for a party,” said frontman Marcus Mumford.
The huge crowd obliged, though for many the high point of the thee-day festival was The Rolling Stones. Festival founder Michael Eavis declared the band’s Saturday night show “the high spot of 43 years of Glastonbury.”
“It’s the whole razzmatazz of the occasion – the two of us finally getting together at long last,” said Eavis.
The Stones, joined by ex-member Mick Taylor on guitar, played for more than two hours on the festival’s main Pyramid Stage, giving fans a clutch of hits, from opener “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” through to encores of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Organizers estimated 100,000 of the 135,000 festival ticket-holders watched the Stones, including celebrity music fans Prince Harry and Kate Moss.
The gig was a coup for the festival, which has been trying to book the band for years, although there were grumbles from TV viewers because the band agreed to let the BBC air only an hour of its set.
If the music of the Stones, who formed in 1962, is familiar to the point of parody, many in the audience felt it retained plenty of power.
Reviewer Dorian Lynskey in The Observer newspaper noted that the band members “look like fabulous caricatures of themselves: Jagger a prancing dandy, Keith Richards a mummified pirate, Charlie Watts a dignified gentlemen’s tailor somehow tricked into drumming.” But he said the band’s blues-soaked rock music and relaxed virtuosity remains “extraordinary.”
The show was another landmark for Glastonbury, the most myth-encrusted of music festivals.
Founded in 1970 as a hippie happening on Eavis’ Worthy Farm in southwest England, it long ago shed its counterculture cachet. But it remains known for its electric atmosphere, its eclectic lineup – and the mud that overwhelms the site in rainy years.
This year, the sun shone after some early showers, and the lineup included everyone from Vampire Weekend, Bobby Womack and Kenny Rogers to Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, Public Enemy and Elvis Costello.
Police said crime was down by a third from the last festival in 2011, with 220 reported crimes, including 61 drug offenses and 106 thefts from tents. Avon and Somerset Police said 154 people had been arrested as of Sunday afternoon, but there were no major incidents.
The Stones, meanwhile, are gathering no moss in their sixth decade as a band. They recently finished a string of North American dates on the “50 and Counting” tour and are due to play London’s Hyde Park July 6 and 13.