Heavens open for soggy Glastonbury
SOME 150,000 fans descended on Glastonbury yesterday. The festival opened its gates and so too did the heavens with rain swamping the fields, transforming the massive site into a mud bath.
Hard though the rain fell, the prospect of hearing U2 and Beyonce alongside a bewildering choice of smaller acts was enough to keep spirits glowing.
Now in its fifth decade, the event has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Michael Eavis's Worthy dairy farm in 1970, each paying £1 and receiving free milk, to a giant five-day celebration of music costing £195 (€218) for a basic ticket.
The main talking point in the build-up to the festival is the weather, and the outlook this year is more mixed than the sun-baked 2010 edition.
The downpour guaranteed shin-deep mud, leaking tents and sodden crowds, but the Met Office is predicting sunshine and light rain at the event, which ends on Sunday.
The biggest shows kick off tomorrow, when the main Pyramid stage will host blues guitar legend BB King and contrarian Manchester singer Morrissey in the lead up to U2, the opening headline act.
The band had been scheduled to perform in 2010, but were forced to cancel when Bono injured his back.
Drummer Larry Mullen Jr said the set, before a crowd of some 100,000 standing on a grass slope leading down to the stage, posed a new challenge for the group.
"It's not the 360 Degree show, we're out of our comfort zone and that's important for us," he told BBC Radio. "Despite everything we have something to prove and it's about the songs.
"It's about a band being able to get up and play the music and there aren't bells and whistles necessarily. That's a challenge for us and we've got something to prove."
Coldplay, who fill the headline slot on Saturday night and release a new album soon, confessed to some nerves, despite, like U2, being one of the biggest bands on the planet.
Glastonbury is part of an increasingly crowded live music calendar in Britain, but remains the "mighty mother of all festivals" in the words of music website Pitchfork.
Pop pundits have singled out performers including Tinie Tempah, Plan B, Paul Simon, Primal Scream, Mumford & Sons, The Chemical Brothers, White Lies, Queens of the Stone Age, Cee Lo Green and Ke$ha as the ones to watch across the dozens of stages.