Sunshine follows rain to lift spirits at Glastonbury

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The Independent Culture

The sun finally emerged over the muddy fields of the Glastonbury Festival yesterday giving punters an upbeat finale to one of the most waterlogged events in years.

The sun finally emerged over the muddy fields of the Glastonbury Festival yesterday giving punters an upbeat finale to one of the most waterlogged events in years.

A line-up of James Blunt, Jools Holland, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson and Basement Jaxx on the main Pyramid stage saw the crowds basking in a warmth that went some way to making amends for the damp conditions that have hindered safe passage since Friday's dramatic storms.

Even Michael Eavis, the festival's founder, organiser and eternal optimist, admitted the weather conditions were so bad at the opening that he feared the BBC would pull coverage. The broadcaster's on-site sets were devastated by the floods and the opening programmes were delayed after generators failed.

Mr Eavis said he would consult neighbours over ways to avoid flooding in future years. The area worst hit was next to a disused railway embankment that runs along the edge of Mr Eavis' dairy farm.

"We can't tear other people's farms about, that's the problem," he said. "I said to my neighbour, we need to put a really big drain through the railway line."

But the festival electricians, whose 35 years' experience of crisis management is now so finely tuned it is used in Afghanistan and Iraq, had helped them survive what was "a bit of a nightmare", Mr Eavis said.

The final result was "pretty damned good", he said. His own highlight was Coldplay. "I realise a lot of people probably went to see Razorlight or Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel but for me it was Coldplay. Chris Martin has come up with something really new and powerful and clever."

Martin's wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, was watching as the band won a rapturous reception from the crowds for a set that included the Kylie Minogue number "Can't Get You Out of My Head" as a triubute to the Australian singer. Minogue pulled out of the festival after being diagnosed with breast cancer in May.

There was the usual Glastonbury mix of celebrity guests, topped by Keira Knightley, and performers from Nigel Kennedy, the violinist, through two members of the Wainwright family (Rufus and Martha), to firebrand political speakers such as George Galloway. The model Kate Moss, a regular, was on hand to support her wayward boyfriend Pete Doherty, whose band Babyshambles played a shambolic set on Friday. True to the rebel spirit of the festival, the couple were understood to have got "married" in the Chapel of Love and Loathing in the fields known as Lost Vagueness - a stunt rather than a legally binding ceremony.

Sergeant Frazer Davey, of Avon and Somerset Police, said the festival had been "extremely safe" with recorded crimes, excluding drugs, down 40 per cent on last year to 84 offences by yesterday morning. Drugs offences had risen from 76 last year to 183, but this was due to more pro-active policing. Drugs are being investigated as a factor in the death of a festival-goer, Benjamin Shepherd, 25, from nearby Street, on Friday night.

Conditions improved massively yesterday after diggers helped remove water and some of the mud from the worst-hit patches, and Somerset fire service pumped out nearly 3 million litres of water. The liberal distribution of straw also helped.

Duncan White, from the fire service, revealed that at the height of the downpour on Friday, the service searched 200 tents because they feared festival-goers might be trapped as water rose rapidly to eight feet.

There will be no festival next year to give the fields time to recover. But Mr Eavis said several young bands on this year's programme, from Kaiser Chiefs to Razorlight and Bloc Party, could headline the event by 2007.

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