Mumford & Sons enlisted an all-star choir to help bring Glastonbury 2013 to an emotional climax.
Their barn-storming Sunday night set – the band’s first show since bass player Ted Dwane had surgery for a bloodclot on his brain – concluded with a version of The Beatles’ "With a Little Help from My Friends," featuring members of Vampire Weekend, the Vaccines and folk-rock groups First Aid Kit and the Staves. The Joe Cocker-style version saw the vocals being shared around the various bands, while the fire-breathing mechanical phoenix on top of the Pyramid Stage that featured in last night’s Rolling Stones performance also made another appearance.
"It’s a huge moment for us," said frontman Marcus Mumford as he introduced the finale. "We knew we were closing out the festival so we thought we’d do an appropriate song with the appropriate people."
The surprise cover version prompted one of the weekend’s biggest singalongs and capped an emotional appearance for the band, which has long been a Glastonbury regular, but was making its debut as headliners.
"We’ve been a band for going on six years," keyboard player Ben Lovett told the huge crowd as he introduced "Roll Away Your Stone." "The Rolling Stones have been a band for much longer than that – the big difference between them and us is that we’ve played Glastonbury five times now. You bring us back every year – Glastonbury, thank you for everything."
"We feel very much that we didn’t do anything very special to get here," added Mumford later in the set. "But we’re proud and honored to be here and we truly feel that you got us here."
Dwane, wearing a hat to cover his scar, showed no ill effects from the surgery that caused the band to cancel its U.S. tour earlier this month. The band made only one reference to his illness, with Mumford joking, "Also, Ted’s fucking alive, isn’t he?" to loud cheers from the crowd.
Other highlights in the 90-minute set included "Little Lion Man," "The Cave," "I Will Wait" and "Dust Bowl Dance," after which Mumford appeared on the verge of tears.
Mumford & Sons’ headline slot wrapped up three days of music at Glastonbury, the U.K.’s largest festival. Arctic Monkeys headlined on Friday night, with the Rolling Stones playing a hit-laden set on Saturday. A full festival round-up will be on RollingStone.com on Monday.
"I Will Wait"
"Whispers in the Dark"
"White Blank Page"
"Little Lion Man"
"Lover of the Light"
"Thistle & Weeds"
"Ghosts That We Knew"
"Roll Away Your Stone"
"Awake My Soul"
"Dust Bowl Dance"
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
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- Marcus Mumford