Mumford & Sons may not be new to Glastonbury – they’ve played every single festival since they formed almost six years ago – but this is their first Pyramid Stage slot. And not only is it their first ever gracing of the iconic stage, it’s only the closing set of the whole damn weekend. Despite their love of Americana, the whole thing seems deeply, brilliantly English – the grassy farm, the tangy stench of Somerset cider, Glastonbury Tor in the distance, and moody grey skies primed to doomy, epic perfection by penultimate act Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds.
Bringing strings, brass and their all star mates onto the stage with them – namely Vampire Weekend, First Aid Kit and The Vaccines, featuring Marcus Mumford’s old flatmate Justin Young – for a massive finale of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ was a highlight. “I think we all owe a massive thank you to Michael Eavis and his family just for having us here an letting us be complete idiots on their farm for a couple of days,” says keysman Ben Lovett.
Idiots? Hardly. The hushed ‘Timshel’ and poignant opening to ‘Lover’s Eyes’ are just as powerful as the band’s walloping breakthrough hit ‘Little Lion Man’ – complete with huge singalong – and raucous ‘Lover Of The Light’ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ as well as the mournful brassy beginning to ‘Thistle and Weeds’.
The whole thing may not have had the attitude The Arctic Monkeys’ set had on Friday, or the pure bombast of The Rolling Stones on Saturday but this was a band playing to their strengths. Since their first time on Worthy Farm a few million people around the world have bought their albums, but they still harmonise in a tight line as if they’re playing Kilburn Luminaire. It feels like a wonderfully intimate affair.
Another reason to celebrate is the fact that bass player Ted Dwane is fighting fit after his brain surgery. “We’ve celebrated the fact that Ted is alive here together. Shall we sing together?” suggests Marcus before ‘Awake My Soul’. With that in mind, and the Pyramid stage getting to christen a new headliner, that sounds like an excellent plan.