PILTON, England (Reuters) – British folk band Mumford & Sons brought the annual Glastonbury festival jigging to a close on Sunday, capping three days of music, good-natured mayhem and minimal mud.
The bluegrass-inspired set completed a trio of headline acts after British indie band Arctic Monkeys and veteran rockers the Rolling Stones played to crowds on the site attended by up to 150,000 music fans on Friday and Saturday.
Rain held off over the 900-acre (365-hectare) farm in southwest England, part of the Vale of Avalon in English folklore, where festival organiser Michael Eavis first hosted 1,500 hippies in 1970.
Mumford & Sons’ appearance at the festival looked uncertain until last week, when the band said bassist Ted Dwane had recovered from emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain.
Dwane, distinctive with his full beard and broad-brimmed hat, appeared in fine fettle on Sunday as the four-piece band belted out hits “The Cave” and “I Will Wait”.
“We’ve danced together, we’ve celebrated the fact that Ted is alive together, shall we sing together, Glastonbury?” frontman Marcus Mumford asked a cheering crowd.
For their final number, a cover of the Beatles classic “A Little Help from my Friends” accompanied by fireworks, Mumford & Sons were joined onstage by American indie rock band Vampire Weekend, British group The Vaccines, British acoustic trio The Staves and Swedish duo First Aid Kit.
“It’s a great way to end a festival,” said Toby Gugolz, 28, from Stevenage in southeast England.
“COMPLETE IDIOTS ON THE FARM”
In the lead-up to Sunday’s headline slot, crowds basked in the sun watching 85-year-old British TV presenter and all-round entertainer Bruce Forsyth or country music’s Kenny Rogers.
“It’s not usually my bag but he’s great,” said Kevin Watt, a 32-year-old computer games tester, as he watched Rogers play hits including “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Just Dropped In”.
The average age of ticket buyers has gone up to 36, and the lineup reflects the range of ages.
Forsyth said: “I’ll try to do a program that will suit every one of you,” before impersonating Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger to chants of “We love you, Bruce!” from the crowd.
The main headline act was the Rolling Stones who played to more than 100,000 fans on Saturday in a two and a quarter-hour Glastonbury debut described by Eavis as the highlight of the festival’s 43-year history.
Organizers said the event had run smoothly despite rain on the first day temporarily turning the site into a mudbath, but the downpours stopped on Friday and festival-goers dispensed with their waterproofs.
“We watch every year on TV and say we’re going to go but this is the first time we have,” said Louise Vickery, 49, from Taunton in southwest England, who went with her husband Mark and daughter Alex.
“The atmosphere has been great. It doesn’t matter about the acts – the weather makes all the difference!”
A team of about 300 police officers were on duty at the site, and they reported a 30 percent drop in crime since the last Glastonbury festival held in 2011.
Mumford & Sons keyboardist Ben Lovett thanked organizers for the festival, which included zany pastimes such as a tomato fight and laughter workshops as well as the music.
“Having us here and letting us be complete idiots on their farm for a couple of days – it’s really very kind.”