PILTON, England (Reuters) - British indie rock band Arctic Monkeys cranked up the volume to end the first day of the Glastonbury festival on Friday when the sun emerged after 18 hours of rain to brighten up the mood.
The band from Sheffield in northern England began by blasting their new single “Do I Wanna Know?” to about 100,000 high-spirited revelers from the main Pyramid stage at the world’s largest greenfield music festival in southwest England.
“We’re going to play all night long Glastonbury. Does that sound good?” yelled frontman Alex Turner to the screaming crowd which has been arriving at the sprawling 900 acre (365-hectare) farm site since Wednesday.
The band was the headline act of the day which started at 6 a.m. ET when Liam Gallagher, who led the 1990s supergroup Oasis with his brother Noel, kicked off three days of music with his band Beady Eye at one of the event’s 58 stages.
Beady Eye’s appearance was meant to be a surprise but ended up being one of the worst kept secrets of the 2013 festival after Gallagher was spotted arriving earlier in the week.
Despite vowing never to play at Glastonbury again after criticizing the event in 2004, Gallagher began an hour-long set with the hit “Flick of the Finger” and pulled out crowd pleasers like “Morning Glory”.
“It’s never too early for a bit of rock ‘n roll aggro, is it?” said a black-clad Gallagher wearing a pair of sunglasses despite the overcast skies.
Other acts on Friday included Sinead O’Connor, Dizzee Rascal, a red-clad Rita Ora, and up-and-coming Bastille.
The year’s main act, the Rolling Stones, will play on Saturday, with frontman Mick Jagger and his designer girlfriend L’Wren Scott tweeting their arrival on Friday, including Jagger posing outside his yurt, a Mongolian-style tent favored by well-heeled campers known as glampers.
British folk rockers Mumford & Sons will play the main stage on Sunday.
About 135,000 music fans have paid 205 pounds ($315) a ticket to attend the festival about 130 miles southwest of London. It began as a retreat for 1,500 hippies in 1970 who paid one pound and got free milk.
True to Glastonbury’s alternative roots, the festival includes music of all genres. This year there are 2,000 acts, with surprising choices including U.S. country star Kenny Rogers, octogenarian British TV presenter Bruce Forsyth, and chanting monks.
Solange Knowles, younger sister to 2011 headliner Beyonce, played one of the smaller stages on Friday. Glastonbury was not held in 2012 due to the London Olympics.
But not all the performers were so keen on the rural setting - or the 18 hours of rain that temporarily turned the site into a massive mudpit as is tradition at Glastonbury which frequently falls foul of Britain’s fickle summer weather.
British rapper Wiley arrived but quickly turned around and left, apparently abandoning his one-hour DJ-slot on Saturday, tweeting complaints about the weather and his payment.
“Ya know what .. en route to heathrow realtalk .. Lol,” he tweeted. “I don’t have to play there.”
Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Paul Simao