Last Night: Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Somerset

Crooners play up Glastonbury final day's feel-good factor

Elisa Bray
Monday 30 June 2008 00:00
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Despite their status as songwriting legends, two of the most-eagerly anticipated performers of the festival's final night were Glastonbury virgins – Neil Diamond and Leonard Cohen.

He may have spent years in rock's home for the terminally unhip but Diamond drew fans of all ages for what was the most feel-good set of the festival. Flanked by a brass section on his left and gospel singers to his right, the 67-year-old showman captured the happy vibe of the festival. "I'm A Believer", written for The Monkees and the anthemic "Sweet Caroline" saved for the end, triggered the biggest sing-along of the weekend.

Cohen, dressed in a sober grey suit, was the big hero of the night, putting the crowd in raptures with "Bird On A Wire". Doffing his hat between each poetic song, this was a rare, gentlemanly performance.

It was the perfect wind-down before The Verve rounded up the festival with their indie rock anthems, leading the crowd through a sing-along of their hits before fireworks burst into the sky.

Over on the Other Stage, Lily Allen appeared with superstar producer Mark Ronson. Friday's bill of traditional mainstream radio-friendly rock bands and pop acts including The Fratellis, Editors and Kings of Leon, was trumped by Saturday and Sunday's diverse line-up.

The most talked-about headline act, Jay-Z, won over a massive crowd on Saturday night. Strutting on in an oversize jacket, scarf and customary shades, he commanded the stage, delivering track after track of explosive hip-hop. His energy was matched by that of the crowd who fulfilled all his requests for singing and "bouncing", even forming bling "diamonds" with their hands. His performance will go down in Glastonbury history.

A video was played before he came on, chopping between clips of his biggest critic Noel Gallagher and world leaders and members of the public apparently commenting, and then his touché launch into Oasis's "Wonderwall" which sent the crowd into giggles and an arm-swaying sing-a-long. He then put on his most serious scowl, saying: "I've got one thing to say," and the band erupted into "99 Problems". Performing several versions of well-known hits such as Rihanna's "Umbrella", and with his Linkin Park collaboration "Numb" as his encore, his rapping was compelling and masterful.

Delighted as the crowd were with the appearance of Amy Winehouse, her set was disappointing. While her choice of songs was entertaining, notably Dandy Livingstone's "A Message To You, Rudy", Sam Cooke's "Cupid", and her own "Rehab", her voice lacked strength.

The Park was where some of the best music was to be found, from Dizzee Rascal to the lush folk of rising band Mumford and Sons – a treat for the small Sunday morning crowd. This stage's surprise guests included Franz Ferdinand and The Last Shadow Puppets. A beaming Alex Turner and Miles Kane performed a shambolic set that lacked the sheer luminosity of Arctic Monkeys. Pete Doherty was the other unexpected gem at The Park, performing a set of the Libertines' greatest hits.

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This year's rise of new Brooklyn bands was represented by Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend and MGMT. The latter, playing twice over the weekend, came up trumps with the song to soundtrack the festival as fans sang the gloriously catchy synth riff to "Kids" after their set had finished.

Crowded House on the Saturday afternoon summed up the vibe with the gorgeous sun-kissed harmonies of their classic songs. The Finn brothers were on top form, and as they built up to "Take the Weather With You" they recalled last year mocking the rain and mud at Glasto while playing a set from London's Hyde Park.

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