Rolling Stones at Glastonbury 2013 – review

After all these years, the Stones rise to the occasion of their Glastonbury debut – and clearly take huge pleasure in playing an extraordinary set together


The Rolling Stones

Where and when

Pyramid Stage, 9.30pm

Dress code

Glittery dandy (Mick), 1980s pirate (Keith), dapper gent (Charlie)

What happened

"After all these years they finally got round to asking us," deadpans Mick Jagger, wrily acknowledging Michael Eavis's annual efforts to get the Stones to the Pyramid stage. Having finally succumbed, the Stones are smart enough to rise to the occasion rather than treating it as just another gig. Jagger even sings a song he claims to have written the previous night, Glastonbury Girl, a charmingly daft ditty about wet wipes, wellies and MDMA. He prances across the stage with a playfully imperious air, secure in the knowledge that he's learned a trick or two over the past 51 years. Keith Richards is clearly not the guitarist he once was, but Ronnie Wood is much better than he was so it kind of balances out, and they still, after all these years, seem to take huge pleasure in playing these extraordinary songs together.

After going in hard with surefire hits like Jumping Jack Flash and Gimme Shelter, they stretch out in the middle with fan-friendly showcases for Richards (You Got the Silver) and ex-guitarist Mick Taylor (Can't You Hear Me Knocking), which thin the crowd a little but, frankly, if you can't stomach the Stones getting bluesy for a couple of songs then they're probably not the band for you. There's no shortage of diversity anyway: Miss You and the rarely performed 2000 Miles From Home show how they could get a handle on disco and psychedelia respectively.

The final stretch is simply staggering. During Sympathy for the Devil the scrap-metal phoenix at the top of the stage raises its wings and spurts jets of fire, while flares in the middle of the crowd produce suitably infernal red smoke. You Can't Always Get What You Want, with its soaring choir, is hugely moving, an anthem to acceptance which draws celebration from resignation. A raucous, extended Satisfaction sounds like one of rock music's holy relics. It drives home the realisation that the most patiently pursued headliners in Glastonbury's history have finally made it, and they're right here in front of us, and they're very, very good.

High point

Sympathy for the Devil. Phoenix. Fire. Woo-woo.

Low point

Midnight Rambler puts the emphasis on the rambling.

In a tweet

You can sometimes get what you want.


Dorian Lynskey

The GuardianTramp

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