David Bowie Closes Varied Glastonbury Festival

More than 100,000 attend 30th annual, three-day concert in England.

SOMERSET, England — When David Bowie played the first Glastonbury Festival in 1971, he and the other artists performed for about 3,000 people and stayed at the farmhouse of organizer Michael Eavis.

But Sunday night, when he played the closing set of the 30th annual, three-day gathering, the crowd stretched as far as the eye could see in the racetrack-sized field before him, and a BBC television audience followed along at home.

Glastonbury 2000 featured a wide range of music, from the gentle rhythms of Willie Nelson and Ladysmith Black Mambazo to the bone-crushing aural assaults of Nine Inch Nails and Methods of Mayhem, former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee's new project. Glastonbury has become one of the world's best-known music festivals, perhaps second only to Woodstock. But while the Glastonbury Festival is known for its tent thefts, drug-fueled raves and beer-fueled fights, it has so far avoided the rioting and sexual assaults that plagued Woodstock '99.

For the past five years, Eavis has limited attendance to 100,000 paid guests and as few gate-crashers and wall-jumpers as possible. Though a few thousand made it over the wall in time for Saturday's headliner, Travis, the crowd was noticeably more peaceful than in years past.

Glastonbury 2000 could be the only place in history where people could hear both Nelson and the Pet Shop Boys perform "Always on My Mind." The Pet Shop Boys treated the pre-Travis crowd Saturday night to their greatest hits, including a performance of "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" (RealAudio excerpt), assisted on vocals by Cerys Matthews of Catatonia. Nelson sped through his greatest-hits set, cutting from one tune to another as if he had a plane to catch.

Friday night, the closing acts were the Chemical Brothers and Nine Inch Nails. Dwarfed by the giant Pyramid Stage and ducking behind their equipment, the Chemical Brothers set seemed more like a video, said Gavin Guinane, 27, from Madrid, Spain, who was standing a few hundred yards back. Meanwhile, at the somewhat smaller Other Stage, NIN thrashed out a set that climaxed with "Head Like a Hole" (RealAudio excerpt), "Starfuckers Inc.," "Closer" and an encore of "Hurt."

Techno, Acid Dub And Tommy Lee

Besides the Pyramid Stage, covered by a giant pyramid, there were two other huge outdoor stages and three more under tents, plus countless other venues. Chris Vincent, 20, from Nottingham, was parked outside the cavernous Dance Tent, waiting for his favorite dance bands Bentley Rhythm Ace and Fatboy Slim to come on. Most of his time was spent hanging around another dance-music stage called the Glade. Saturday night, Steve Hillage's System 7 played a techno set in the Glade, while Leftfield played a dub-influenced electronic set on the Other Stage right around the corner.

Michael Heymann, 24, of Newcastle said he loved Zion Train's acid-dub set in the Firestarter Tent. "I saw four bands there last night," he said. Five years ago, he came to his first Glastonbury to see Orbital, Oasis, Pulp and the Cure, but he doesn't remember much. "I used to take loads of drugs then."

Many acts worked cover tunes into their sets. The Bluetones did a slow and bluesy version of "Turn the Beat Around." Counting Crows did a piano-fueled ballad version of "Live Forever" before doing their own "A Long December." Bowie did "All the Young Dudes," which he wrote for Mott the Hoople but never recorded himself (except as a demo). The Beta Band mixed a version of Harry Nilsson's "One" into their dubbed-out set. New Jersey imports Yo La Tengo did a tongue-in-cheek version of an old disco song by George McRae, featuring synchronized dance moves by guitarist Ira Kaplan and bassist James McNew. Travis turned the irony up to 11 with an acoustic version of Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time."

The French group Rinôçerôse ended a 40-minute set in the Dance Tent with a crowd-pleasing version of their club hit "La Guitaristic House Organisation" (RealAudio excerpt). Meanwhile, G. Love & Special Sauce played their second set of the weekend on the Jazz Stage, having filled in the day before for no-show Eagle–Eye Cherry. At the Pyramid Stage, Ocean Colour Scene played their power pop for the afternoon crowd.

Not all the entertainment was musical. Philadelphia's Bloodhound Gang told jokes and staged contests between songs. When two shirtless boys pulled from the audience declined a dare to take it all off for $20 and a T-shirt, Tommy Lee ran out from backstage and dropped trousers. He won the T-shirt. Then the band launched into current hit "The Bad Touch" (RealAudio excerpt), mixed with a few lines from "Forgot About Dre."

The Morning After

Sunday morning at the stone circle — a miniature Stonehenge considered to be sacred ground by the locals — a woman in her late 20s danced a naked ode to the sunrise as dozens of guys sat around her pounding their drums. All around the circle lay charred firewood and empty beer cans — party souvenirs from the night before. Those too stoned to find their tents lay asleep in the grass, some using newspapers to block the light.

Jeff Banks, 22, of London was sitting in the grass waiting to see Yo La Tengo, who were slotted to play the New Bands Tent despite a 16-year career. "I haven't heard of them before today," he said, so perhaps in this part of the world they are new.

For the closing Bowie set, the entire Pyramid field was awash in smoke from thousands of torches carried by fans. Clearly in a nostalgic mood, the long-haired Bowie broke out a string of chestnuts, including "Rebel Rebel" (RealAudio excerpt), "Golden Years," "The Man Who Sold the World," and "Changes," which he said he'd written just weeks before performing it at Glastonbury 1971.