Irish rockers U2 pulled it off with their Glastonbury music festival debut, critics said on Saturday, but the fallout from a protest over the band’s tax status continued to rumble.
Bono and co. raced through U2 classics like “Mysterious Ways,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Pride” late on Friday on the main Pyramid stage, generally satisfying a crowd of tens of thousands of rain-lashed listeners.
The band admitted beforehand that the rare festival outing was a step away from the comfort zone of their record-breaking 360 Degree tour, and not everyone at Glastonbury was convinced they were the right opening night choice.
U2 had been due to play Glastonbury, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious music festivals, in 2010, but an injury to Bono’s back forced them to pull out.
“On unfamiliar ground, they reach for that fierce hunger and it’s that sense of urgency – even a hint of nerves – rather than triumphalism that makes this such a charged and memorable set,” wrote Dorian Lynskey in the Guardian.
Nick Hasted of The Independent gave a more mixed assessment.
“For all his songs’ over-reaching grasps at wonder, Bono remains an uncharismatic performer, a great rock star by profession, not nature,” he said.
Protesters angry about the group’s decision to move operations from Ireland to the Netherlands for tax purposes raised a large inflatable with the words “U Pay Tax 2.”
The balloon was forcibly removed, causing a brief scuffle, but witnesses said the incident was relatively minor and went unnoticed by most of the crowd.
COLDPLAY, BEYONCE TO COME
U2 passed the baton to Coldplay, the main act on Saturday night, although as ever there was a huge choice of alternatives from Spliff Richard and Alfred Lord Telecom performing in Bella’s Field to Glasvegas on the John Peel stage.
London rapper Tinie Tempah is in action on Saturday, as are Elbow, Friendly Fires and Chemical Brothers.
Reviews landed for many of Friday’s key performances that included festival favorites Radiohead and legendary blues guitarist B.B. King who still had what it took at the age of 85.
Radiohead to Play Surprise Glastonbury Set
The closing headline act on Sunday night is Beyonce, following in the footsteps of her husband Jay-Z who won over the Glastonbury doubters with a rousing set in 2008.
Paul Simon appears a few hours earlier on the Pyramid stage, while Kaiser Chiefs and Queens of the Stone Age are on the Other Stage on Sunday.
The abiding memory for many of the festival’s 150,000 paying customers will be the mud, caused by heavy rain this week.
Forecasters have predicted warmer, sunnier weather on Saturday and Sunday, when Glastonbury closes, but it is unlikely to be enough to dry out the shin-deep mud.
Turned into a giant camping site most years, Britain’s most famous music festival is now in its fifth decade.
The event has grown from a humble gathering of 1,500 people on Michael Eavis’s Worthy Farm in 1970, each paying one pound ($1.60) and receiving free milk, to a giant celebration of music costing 195 pounds for a basic ticket.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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