IT’S safe to say Sir Michael Eavis is a popular man in these parts.

The Glastonbury Festival founder and dairy farmer, 88, performed in front of thousands of people at The Park stage yesterday afternoon (Thursday).

He reeled off a set of retro hits with his extensive band in just over 20 minutes in a show that has become a festival staple.

This was his first sing-song at Worthy Farm since he received a knighthood at Windsor Castle in October – something the crowd recognised with shouts of ‘we love you, Sir Michael’.

The festival founder waved enthusiastically and was met with rapturous cheers as he entered the stage in a red jumper, his usual denim shorts and a wheelchair.

“Hello again. Fire away, then,” he said as he got to the microphone, next to a singer who helped him follow the lyrics from sheets of music on a stand.

He clapped and waved throughout the set, which saw him perform three songs by Frank Sinatra (Love’s Been Good to Me, It Was a Very Good Year and My Way), plus Neil Young’s Journey Through the Past and Suspicious Minds by Elvis.

Thousands of people watched the festival founder sing Sinatra, Elvis and Neil Young.Thousands of people watched the festival founder sing Sinatra, Elvis and Neil Young. (Image: Ben Birchall/PA)

At one point, he laughed as the crowd burst into a chorus of ‘oh, Sir Michael Eavis!’ to the tune of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.

When Sir Michael left the stage to more applause, his band stayed behind to keep the crowd entertained into the early evening.

After the set, his daughter Emily told the PA news agency: “It was wonderful.

“It’s the best start for me to see him on the stage, and his voice sounded better than ever.”

She added: “He was raring to go. He’s had a few rehearsals, and he was really up for it.

“It’s just so good to see him out there and receive all that love.”

Sir Michael Eavis on his knighthood

The festival founder spoke to the Glastonbury Free Press newspaper before the event got under way on Wednesday.

Discussing his knighthood, he said: “I actually always thought I’d turn it down if I was offered it, because I already liked being me.”

He also said his festival has been “going from strength to strength”.

“It’s so important that this festival stands for something,” he explained.

“That’s the guts of the event, really. It’s why we’ve backed the CND (Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament) since 1981.”

Terminal 1, a new venue at Glastonbury Festival.Terminal 1, a new venue at Glastonbury Festival. (Image: Newsquest)

Among the new venues this year at Glastonbury is Terminal 1, described as a “re-purposed airport celebrating migration”.

“We can be friendly to these unfortunate people in the boats,” Sir Michael said.

“It’s demonstrating, the whole festival is, really, that you can get on with your neighbour. And they’re putting all of that into a show. Isn’t that amazing?”