Ian Gavan/Getty Images

JUMPING Jack Flash proved no better way to open the two hour set from rock ‘n’ roll greats, The Rolling Stones. But it was an hour in, when the phoenix rose from the top of the pyramid stage, fire blew into the crowd and confetti reached the great depths of the farm that it was clear this wasn’t just a moment in history, it was a Glastonbury performance that will be impossible to beat.

As the set opened up, the crowd were treated to It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)Paint It Black and Gimme ShelterPaint It Black being particularly atmospheric, as the screens turned monochrome showing the antics on stage in black and white. It was a cinematic moment and an effect that managed to capture the darkness of the song in the middle of a field. As the theatrical performance from The Stones continued throughout this classic track, the crowd were down-right awe-struck in-between their screams.

Gimme Shelter was extra special, with New York’s Lisa Fischer strutting about the stage in away that could have only been beaten by Jagger himself. Her amazing vocals doing Merry Clayton proud, who originally recorded the powerful track for The Stones. This song has one of the most shivering introductions in the history of rock ‘n’ roll and as the bass line kicks into this song live, its earth shatteringly good. Jagger’s aggressive lyrics work in harmony with the chorus ‘war, children, it’s just a shot away’. This was the part of the set that had seen rumours soar of who would join the rock ‘n’ rollers on-stage, Florence Welsh and Adele amongst the favourites. But this was The Stones at Glastonbury and they didn’t need any special guests.

Next saw Jagger perform a reworked version of Factory Girl. He introduced Glastonbury Girl as a song he had penned the night before. The crowd went mad for this one with poetic lyrics about the Glastonbury experience really touching the hearts of the crowd. The line: “Waiting for a girl, helped her put up her tee-pee, Waiting for a girl she took all my ecstasy, now she’s off with Primal Scream, Waiting for a Glastonbury girl, Still waiting for my Glastonbury girl” saw smiles form on everyone’s faces as they stood with friends and lovers in a moment that is almost impossible to put into words.

Personally though, I am most thankful for Charlie Watt’s grumpy pre-Glastonbury chat of how he didn’t like playing outside and didn’t really want to play Glastonbury at all- for it was his genuine smiles throughout the set as he clocked the out-of-control hip thrusts of Jagger that really warmed my heart. There were also the intimate moments from Ronnie Wood, smoking a fag hands free as he played the guitar in his down-with-the-kids trainers. The BBC recording only seemed to catch Keith Richards looking sombre and regimented throughout the set, this couldn’t be further from what actually happened. His smile lit-up the farm as he caught a glimpse of the crowd going monumentality mental, or as Jagger shook his hips in a criminal fashion. The four of them soaked up the Glastonbury performance as if it were there last ever, and everyone in the crowd felt their joy.

Wild Horses was the first of the emotional performances, as friends and couples throughout the crowd grabbed onto each other swaying lovingly from side to side. Giving The Stones a chance to catch their breath a little, this was a nice emotional addition to the fired-up set.

Doom and Gloom, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and Honky Tonk Women were up next, with all three played delightfully well. It also gave way for an outfit change from Jagger. After earlier throwing his bespoke embellished emerald green trophy jacket- as its called in the fashion world- into the crowd. Going from a green to red jacket, Jagger set the mood perfectly well with his outfit choice.

You Got The Silver was a great choice from The Stones, especially as a warm-up for the proceeding track Happy which saw Richards really own the stage taking lead vocals. The guitarist endearingly wears his signature over-the-shoulder scarf, and as the wind catches it as he smoulders around the stage he is a pleasure to watch. As the fast paced drum kicks in for Happy, the crowd erupt. It’s a tune that the crowd celebrate as smiles fill the faces of the crowd all around me. But then again, there hasn’t been a track from this set list that hasn’t delighted the crowd in a way that only happens with a five year old on Christmas.

As the opening hook of Miss You is sung from Jagger, the crowd begin in unison with the doo-doo-doo’s. The Rolling Stones aren’t just a rock ‘n’ roll band; they speak a language of love and life that is understood and appreciated by the 130-thousand-odd that have chosen to spend their evening with them and their anthems.

An extended Midnight Rambler and 2000 Light Years From Home are belted out by the band who are showing no signs of tiring. This leads the set nicely into crowd-pleaser Sympathy For The Devil which is so powerful it sends shivers down your spine. This sees Jagger ditch the red trophy jacket and don a floor length gorilla coat. The phoenix affixed to the top of the Pyramid Stage begins to flap its mechanical wings and fire is blown into the crowd. There’s no better song for this experience, and as the crowd around me continue to dance and sing away- the disbelief, shock and sheer happiness on the faces make every second of this experience scarily special.

Start Me Up’s opening chords are met with immediate screams. The universally-enjoyed track has fitting lyrics for the occasion and are chanted throughout the crowd. The track has the most perfect line for this moment as Jagger yells “you make a grown man cry”. There’s tears rolling down the cheeks of the fans who have been there from the start and those who are lucky enough to be seeing them for the first time. Each experience with stark contrasts, but equally as special.

Tumbling Dice paves the way for Wood to show everyone the swagger he shares with Jagger as he loses himself in the music between rifs that put bands of today to shame. A powerful rendition of Brown Sugar is the perfect way to break for an encore, and as the band make a brief exit from stage it gives the crowd a chance to appreciate the spectacle that has been this evening.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want is a touching song and the song’s emotion is in full-force this evening. After all, this is The Stones at Glastonbury. And even Michael and Emily Eavis who are standing in the wings of the stage can’t believe it is really happening.

As (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction begins, cheers of relief fill the crowd- thankful that this one has been included in the Glastonbury set. Air guns catapult red floral confetti into the crowd, and as it lands on the faces and shoulders of the crowd, its symbolism is wealthy.

It’s been an undoubtedly strong set, full of power, joy and appreciation on both sides of the stage, It was The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury and I am thankful for every thrust, wink exchanged between the band and special smile that lit up the darkness of Worthy Farm. It was a moment in history and a highlight of a lifetime for everyone with the golden ticket of Glastonbury 2013.

Words: Nadine Walker

The Rolling Stones Set List in full-

‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’
‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)’
‘Paint It, Black’
‘Gimme Shelter’
‘Glastonbury Girl’
‘Wild Horses’
‘Doom And Gloom’
‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’
‘Honky Tonk Women’
‘You Got The Silver’
‘Miss You’
‘Midnight Rambler’
‘2000 Light Years From Home’
‘Sympathy For The Devil’
‘Start Me Up’
‘Tumbling Dice’
‘Brown Sugar’

‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’