PILTON, England (Reuters) - Pop star Beyonce Knowles fulfilled her dream on Sunday, romping through songs old and new to the delight of a huge crowd at the close of this year’s Glastonbury music festival.
The 29-year-old “Crazy in Love” singer was making her debut at one of the world’s biggest live music events, three years after her husband Jay-Z proved the doubters wrong with a set that helped put hip-hop on the Glastonbury map.
“I want you all to know right now you are witnessing my dream,” she called out to tens of thousands of people crammed in front of the main Pyramid stage, including Jay-Z.
“I always wanted to be a rock star and tonight we are all rock stars ... I want you to get lost in this music tonight.”
Introduced by fireworks, she produced more on stage to lift the spirits of festival goers who have struggled through rain and mud to see their favorite acts over the last three days.
Wearing a short gold sequin jacket, she performed a string of hits starting with Crazy In Love and including “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” and “Naughty Girl.”
“I still can’t believe I‘m performing at Glastonbury,” she said to a sea of screaming fans.
Beyonce matched her dancers step for step in a slick, high energy set, which only fell slightly flat when she performed songs from her new album “4” released this month.
There were nods to Annie Lennox with “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” to Prince with an ultra-slow version of “The Beautiful Ones,” to Lady Gaga with their duet “Telephone” and her former band Destiny’s Child with a medley of their hits.
Around 180,000 people crammed on to Worthy Farm in picturesque southwest England for the festival, and the abiding memory for many this year will be the mud.
Heavy rain on Friday and before turned the 900 acre site into a giant bog, although raincoats were swapped for bikinis on Sunday when the sun broke out on a scorching day.
Friday night’s headliners U2 impressed critics with a string of their greatest hits performed in the driving rain.
A small pressure group called Art Uncut inflated a large balloon with the words “U Pay Tax 2?” in protest against the band’s decision several years ago to relocate its operations from Ireland to the Netherlands for tax purposes.
Campaigners complained of rough handling by security guards who forced them to take the balloon down, but festival founder and dairy farmer Michael Eavis shrugged off the criticism, saying the story had been exaggerated.
“It was only one balloon,” he said. “It was all churned up as being a huge thing, but it wasn’t at all.”
Coldplay played the main Pyramid stage slot on Saturday, cheered as they worked their way through a mixture of familiar hits and less well known tracks from their upcoming album.
Pulp were surprise guests on the smaller Park stage, and drew a record crowd there of around 30,000. London rapper Tinie Tempah was one of the most popular performers this year, as were the Chemical Brothers, blues veteran B.B. King and Elbow.
Casting a shadow over the event, Christopher Shale, chairman of West Oxfordshire Conservative Association, was found dead in a portable toilet in the VIP camping area on Sunday morning.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he and his wife Samantha were “devastated” at the loss of their friend.
Glastonbury has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Eavis’s dairy 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.
There will be no festival in 2012, but Eavis said he already had three major acts lined up for 2013.