There is a first time for everything, even if you are the Rolling Stones.
The rock rabble-rousers, who formed half a century ago, played Britain’s Glastonbury Festival on Saturday, their debut appearance at the country’s most prestigious rock music event.
A majority of the 135,000 festival ticket-holders crammed into the fields in front of Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage for the gig, which opened with a rousing Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
As on recent tour dates, the Stones gave fans a fistful of classic hits — including It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It), Paint it Black, Wild Horses and Gimme Shelter — as well as some newer songs.
Singer Mick Jagger, who turns 70 next month, has lost none of his swagger, strutting the stage in a sequined green jacket, a satin-lined black cape — on Sympathy For the Devil — and other eye-catching outfits.
He thanked fans who had followed the band for five decades, and told newcomers: “Do come again,” before giving the crowd what it had been waiting for — an encore of Satisfaction.
In a pre-show BBC radio interview, Jagger gave no clue about whether the band he started with Keith Richards in 1962 will ever call it quits.
“I’ve no idea,” he said, before telling an interviewer that he would probably continue as long as he was wanted.
The band recently played a string of North American dates on its “50 and Counting” tour and is due to play two concerts in London’s Hyde Park next month.
The Stones turned down offers to play Glastonbury for years, but appeared to embrace the down-to-earth spirit of the festival, held on a farm in southwest England. On Saturday, Jagger tweeted a picture of himself outside a yurt, a Mongolian-style felt tent where he reportedly spent the night.
He told the crowd he had been to see Friday night’s headliners, Arctic Monkeys.
Guitarist Richards said ahead of the show that the band was “destined to play Glastonbury.”
“I look upon it as a culmination of our British heritage, really,” he said. “It had to be done.”
The Glastonbury Festival was founded by Michael Eavis in 1970 on his Worthy Farm near Pilton, 193km southwest of London. It is famous for its eclectic lineup — and the mud that overwhelms the site in rainy years.
Other performers on Saturday included Elvis Costello and Primal Scream. Yet for many festival-goers, the Stones were the main event.
The three-day festival was to wrap up yesterday with a headlining set from Britain’s Mumford & Sons.