"They're not half paying us bad to play," says John Lydon. "But if you ain't playing along, it's not worth it," he growls with what seems like genuine petulance as the crowd remain subdued in the face of his hectoring.

These are strong words for an audience used to classy headlining sets from bands who know how to whip up a crowd - the Who, Muse, Bowie and the Rolling Stones have all played the festival in recent years. The long-term LA resident, inevitably, has plenty more to say, musing about England and raging about today's "poxy homo bands". This does at least help fill the Sex Pistols' ambitiously long Saturday set, which is ripe with drab filler. The standards, played as hard and fast as they have to be, remind you of the band's greatness, but their performance gives only the occasional pleasure.

Still, no doubt cheered by a weekend of unexpected sunshine, the audience are in a decidedly upbeat mood, giving the less-than-legendary Scouting for Girls and the Kooks' winning retro pop a hearty welcome. Iggy Pop, meanwhile, on with the Stooges a few hours before the Pistols, is everything they are not. I Wanna Be Your Dog is brilliant and savage, pop's wild-man act as compelling as ever. He trashes amps, screams, gibbers and heads again and again into the arms of the crowd, banging his head on the stage each time he returns. The Kaiser Chiefs are almost as fun, airing a few urgent new songs that nod to new wave and suggest that, while the band aren't about to abandon their Britpop blueprint, they are at least willing to evolve. When singer Ricky Wilson scales the rigging to orchestrate a predictably raucous I Predict a Riot, it is hard to think of many acts more suited to the festival circuit.

Most of the punters, however, are here for the old fellas. The Police are drawing towards the end of what Sting and co claim will be their only reunion tour, and on Sunday they mix vintage pop-reggae with more complex power trio fare, Andy Summers letting his guitar rip over Can't Stand Losing You and Stewart Copeland ferociously moving through gongs and cymbals and back to his drumkit. Every Breath You Take is a splendid focal point, prompting a mass singalong as Sting grins wolfishly from behind his greying beard.


James Smart

The GuardianTramp

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