PILTON, England (Reuters) - The sun shone and the good times rolled on Saturday at the Glastonbury music festival, where London rapper Tinie Tempah had a huge crowd jumping and Coldplay closed with the packed headline slot.
This year’s festival, one of the highlights of the live music calendar, has been blighted by rain and mud, but the feelgood factor was back as Glastonbury neared its climax on Sunday in the form of Beyonce on the main stage.
Manchester’s Elbow wowed an audience of tens of thousands while Pulp were surprise guests and electronic dance duo Chemical Brothers drew a large audience at the Other Stage.
“We’re so happy the sun came out for you,” said Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin during his night time set, introduced with a short fireworks display. “What it means to us you can’t even begin to imagine.”
The band behind hits “Yellow,” “Fix You” and “Speed of Sound” mixed the old and fresh, giving the crowd of over 50,000 a chance to sing along to old classics while showcasing newer works ahead of the release of a new album.
Earlier in the day, Elbow launched a charm offensive that saw lead singer Guy Garvey order beer on stage and the Pyramid Stage crowd singing the band a raucous “Happy Birthday” to mark its 20th anniversary.
“Elbow bring graceful celebrations of love and friendship and an emotional directness that floors you,” wrote Guardian critic Dorian Lynskey in a five-star review. “The crowd radiate goodwill; Elbow respond with gratitude and generosity.”
Also popular was 22-year-old London rapper Tempah, part of a wave of rap and hip-hop artists embraced in recent years by a festival best known for indie guitar music.
“Glastonbury 2011, this is officially the greatest day of my life!” Tempah shouted, and performed popular hits including “Written in the Stars,” “Invincible” and “Frisky.”
The closing headline act on Sunday night is Beyonce, following in the footsteps of her husband Jay-Z who won over the Glastonbury doubters with a rousing set in 2008.
Rumours have circulated among music journalists that former band mates from Destiny’s Child may join her on the dairy farm in southwest England where the festival is held, and possibly perform together on stage.
On Friday, the opening headline act were Irish rockers U2, who faced both driving rain and protests about their tax status but managed to put on a performance that impressed most critics.
Protesters angry about the group’s decision to move operations from Ireland to the Netherlands for tax purposes raised a large inflatable with the words “U Pay Tax 2.”
The balloon was forcibly removed, causing a brief scuffle, but witnesses said the incident was relatively minor and went unnoticed by most of the crowd.
Whatever happens on and off the stage, the abiding memory for most of the 150,000 paying attendees this year is likely to be the ubiquitous mud.
Rainfall and huge crowds reduced the 900-acre site in picturesque southwest England to a mudbath, making even the shortest journey on foot across the sprawling site a major undertaking.
“I’m going to have the strongest legs in the world,” joked Duncan from Doncaster. “I’ve never done so much exercise - lifting up two hundredweight of mud on my feet. It’s just incredible. Other than that it’s fantastic.”
The event has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Michael Eavis’s Worthy Farm in 1970, each paying one pound ($1.60) and receiving free milk, to a giant celebration of music costing 195 pounds for a basic ticket.