Glastonbury 2015: Lionel Richie, The Who, Patti Smith, Burt Bacharach – why this was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies

It was old codgers galore at Worthy Farm and they unequivocally smashed it

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The Independent Culture

Take the combined ages of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Burt Bacharach, Lionel Richie, Patti Smith, Lemmy, the Dalai Lama, Paul Weller, Billy Bragg and Michael Eavis (add Jamie T because he was fantastic and I was in dire need of a 29 year old), and the number you end up with, naturally, is the big, bad 666. The number of the beast and, of course, the number of rock n’ roll.

Early signs seem to show that Glastonbury 2015 will go down as the year when the legends of a bygone era creakily rose to their feet and proved that the current crop of prissy pop primadonnas just ain’t what they used to be. Kanye told audience-members on Saturday night that he was "the greatest living rock star on the planet", but really, you only needed to wait 24 hours to see the crowd pogo-ing to 'Dancing on the Ceiling' to know that Mr West was being rather liberal with the truth.

Paul Weller performs on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival

Motörhead took to the Pyramid Stage in the early evening on Friday evening and pummelled their way through an hour-long session of unapologetic rock. Lemmy, warts and all, drew an absolutely electric reaction from a crowd possibly not quite used to music so raw. Moshpits before 9pm are a pretty rare sight these days but "Ace of Spades" had absolutely no trouble kicking off some wonderfully brutal scenes up at the front.

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead performs live on the Pyramid stage during the first day of the Glastonbury Festival

Burt Bacharach played the legend's slot on Saturday afternoon and, while the voice may have faded a bit with age, the mind-blowing quality of the tunes and the knowledge that you’re watching such a luminary couldn’t help but leave anyone listening without a great big smacking smile. "Walk on By" and "Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head" were particularly touching moments and you’d be hard pressed to find a more contented crowd after any other set this weekend.

Burt Bacharach performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2015

Sunday, though, was the day when the 24 carat golden-oldies really had us all pleading that they wouldn’t be stepping into retirement any time soon.

Punk grand-dame Patti Smith was the first to step up on the Pyramid Stage and tore her way into a violent set full the of the sort of energy that seems pretty rare in this Mumford, Bastille and Sheeran-filled climate. After falling flat onto her face during opener "Privilege (Set Me Free)", she hopped straight up and announces "I’m a f***ing animal!" before tearing the strings off her guitar. No arguments there Ms Smith.

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (R) joins US singer-songwriter Patti Smith (L) on The Pyramid Stage during her performance on the fifth day of Glastonbury Festival


At one point she brings the Dalai Lama, at the festival delivering a speech at the Stone Circle, onto the stage with her. "These singers and musicians," he says, "most of you have white hair. But when you hear their voices and physical action they seem very enthusiastic." His Holiness, as per, was pretty spot on and this would only become increasingly evident as the night of the codgers progressed.

Straight after Smith came the man who drew 100,000 to the main stage - more than headliner Kanye West the previous night. It could only have been Lionel Ritchie bringing his own Californian sunshine to Sunday afternoon.  

"Glaston-berry, what the hell!," he continues to shout, "Did you come here to hear me sing or to just listen to yourself." As suggested, this is festivals biggest sing-along moment so far. His old Commodores numbers have lost none of their sass with time and "Three Times a Lady" gets to edge of tear-jerking, but then everyone’s just having a bit too much fun for that.

Putty in his hands: Lionel Richie plays Glastonbury

Mega-hit after mega-hit is thrown out by the consummate showman and his black satin jacket and, although in some ways it feels like the ultimate karaoke session, there certainly isn’t anything tacky about Richie’s performance. Naturally, everyone wished that it could have gone on "All Night Long." Sorry.

Later on we’re treated to the delights of Paul Weller who, despite performing his usual trick of denying us the old favourites from The Jam etc in favour of his new material, delighted social media by way of his sprightly appearance. The fit-looking and unashamedly grey Modfather drew praise from onlookers for not caving to the Paul McCartney/Tony Blair-style Just For Men pitfall. Quite why his bonce was such a hit only needs to be seen to be explained, and while the music might have fallen flatter than that by some of his peers, it was clearly a successful night for him too.

Paul Weller performs on the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury music festival

And with the Who ending the festival (arriving nice and early so they can get into bed for a Horlicks before 11pm) it was clear that they relished the challenge. As soon as they launched into a punch-laded, foot stopping take on "The Seeker", and a wildly brilliant "My Generation" came, the crowd swelled, showing that the people of Worthy Farm are in search of some last-minute worship at the alter of the elderly guitarists. '‘Hope I die before I get old’, sung Roger Daltrey back in 1965, thank god that never actually happened.