Archive for July, 2013

Stones in Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

Stones in Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

A week after the Rolling Stones played a much hyped show for Glastonbury, they were back in London to make history, returning to Hyde Park 44 year and 1 day after the free concert they played in 1969, that has subsequent gone down in UK rock folklore as one of the most iconic ever. Swathes of older rock music loving Londoners still refer to this event with reverence as an “I was there” moment in their lives. Did its 21st century “history making” counterpart also live up to its billing. Well mainly yes.

The Rolling Stones for a second time in Hyde Park , Saturday 6th July 2013

The Rolling Stones for a second time in Hyde Park , Saturday 6th July 2013

The ‘69 concert was not held in exactly the same spot as 2013 being located much nearer to the Serpentine but although it was called “The Stones in Hyde Park”, like the ’13 version it was in fact a one day festival comprising other bands including King Crimson and Alexis Corner’s new Church. The contemporary version also saw it fair share of promising acts such as the Vaccines, the exquisite Temper Trap , trendy new band of the moment Palma Violets and the promising Tribes who were like a more upbeat version of Primal Scream in their 90’s heyday.

But there the similarities end.

The 2013 event ground was as about as opposite as you can get from 1969’s free event with its distinctly hippy feel. The 2013 version felt more some weird gawdy fairground attraction surrounded on many parts of its periphery by false mock bars imitating the style of different countries complete with grossly inflated prices with queues seven or eight deep. Don’t even get me started on the merchandise stalls dotted around the site.

What you may ask does this has to do with the music? Well, I don’t’ know whether it was the Stones or their connections; or indeed the sponsors or organisers but they succeded in giving the events an air of corporate elitism to a degree I have seldom witnessed at any other events. The people willing and able to afford to pay several hundred pounds for their tickets were accessed in to a “golden circle” area that I estimate nearly took up 1 quarter of the site (or least that what it felt like) cloaked one side by the biggest corporate stands I have seen at any London festival. Even if you had managed to get to the front of the “cheap” (£95 per ticket) area, it still felt like being at the back of a giant arena looking at the minute stage in the distance. So the 50,000 crowd although being far less than 250,000 plus number that attended in 1969 were penned to a smalled area than previous events on the same site.

So far so negative but the redeeming factor was the music. Back in ’69 the Stones themselves admitted they pretty badly although the setlist included classics that were also played at the 2013 concert.

The concert set list from 1969 read as follows:-
“I’m Yours & I’m Hers,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Mercy Mercy”, “Down Home Girl”, “Stray Cat Blues”, “No Expectations”, “I’m Free”, “Loving Cup”, “Love in Vain”, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Honky Tonk Women”, “Midnight Rambler”, “Street Fighting Man”, and “Sympathy for the Devil”.

So the music actually transformed the atmosphere and it didn’t even seem to matter about the poor viewing. Giant screens were up to make you feel you weren’t so far from the stage. A video came on at the start of the show with some references to the ’69 concert. Then band’s appearance and Mick Jagger’s in particular sent a bolt of electricity and as if on cue, the sounds of the Stones 1983 hit “Start Me Up” went ringing through the ground swiftly followed by “It’s Only Rock and Roll”.

We were off and running . You could taste the e excitement. Jagger looking unbelievably trim, swaggered around the stage and well – moved liked Jagger belying the fact he is about to turn 70. Ronnie Woods who is well known in London as a type of serial gig crashing jammer and Keith Richards looked like they having fun. Charlie Watts looked business like.

The positive vibe just built from then on. There were also nice touches with Gary Clark Junior, one the support acts during the day, being brought on to play on “Bitch” the 1971 flip side of “Brown Sugar” and in the encore with the London Youth singing the opening of “You can’t always get what you want. Keith Richards also took lead vocals for a few numbers like “Miss You”.

Confetti send off - The Stones at Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

Confetti send off – The Stones at Hyde Park, July 6th 2013

But the real crescendo was reached at the end of the main set with anthems -“Jumping Jack” , a spectacular rendition of “Sympathy for the Devil” to rival 1969 if not in duration then certainly in quality and “Brown Sugar. This is when I witnessed what the Stones could do to audience even at a ripe old age. Old and young danced around me, strangers even taking hold of one another. The atmosphere even at the distance we were standing was incredible. The evening was rounded off “Satisfaction” by which time, I had had plenty. I doubt that at the prices that are generally charged for a Stones concert I’ll shall ever go again. But make no mistake, in spite of the difficulties with the facilities, this was an awesome concert – one that will live long in the memory. The crowd dispersed into the night with many still chanting ooh, ooh. History in the Making , maybe?


Hyde Park 2013 Setlist

Start Me Up ; It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) ; Tumbling Dice; All Down the Line; Beast of Burden; Doom and Gloom ;Bitch ; Paint It Black; Honky Tonk Women; You Got the Silver ; Before They Make Me Run; Miss You ;Midnight Rambler ; Gimme Shelter ; Jumpin’ Jack Flash ; Sympathy for the Devil ; Brown Sugar
Encore: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Play Video ; (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

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The Boss at London's Hard Rock Calling, Sunday 30th June 2013

The Boss at London’s Hard Rock Calling, Sunday 30th June 2013

In a 3 hour show that never paused for breath, Bruce Springsteen, who, last year at the same festival, had the plug pulled somewhat ignominiously by overzealous official for having gone over his allotted time, produced an uplifting show that veered between American powerhouse and tunes that almost had a spiritual edge like opening number “ Shackled and Drawn”. The concert saw Springsteen reprise several tracks from 2012’s album “Wrecking Ball” – the title track. As a sports fan as well as a music lover I could feel the powerful nostalgia generated in the lyrics for the famous Giants stadium that was demolished in 2010 as well as enjoy the tinges of Irish folk music in the song.

The mid-section of the concert was devoted to playing arguably Springsteen best known international album “Born in the USA” and with such anthemic tunes like “I’m on Fire”, “Glory Days”, “Dancing in the Dark” and “My Hometown” , only someone completely devoid of musical appreciation could have failed to be stirred. The finger salutes, the dancing and the foot stomping blended perfectly with the beautiful sunset over the main stage and the Olympic 2012 velodrome and some glorious crowd singing. This was a triumph.
The nice thing about Bruce Springsteen is that although a global rock giant his humanity shines out, demonstrating as he does, a closeness and lack of pretention with his audience that is rare among performers of this stature. Many times his went down the ramp to be close with the crowd and at one point took a girl on his shoulder up onto the stage. Member of his family were also included with Springsteen doing at one a jam with his sister and a waltz with his mother.

Mum and Son, Springsteen waltzes delightfully with his mother, Hard Rock Calling festival, June 30th 2013

Mum and Son, Springsteen waltzes delightfully with his mother, Hard Rock Calling festival, June 30th 2013

Highlights in the encore, included, “Jungle Land”, a magnificent rendition of “Born to Run” and a full-on Irish knees-up celebration of emigration in “American Land”. This rip roarer contrasted sharply to the low key final acoustic of “My Luck Star”.
This was the first time I had ever seen Springsteen in concert. What I saw was a genuine entertainer who draws in the crowd with the sheer joy of sharing his music. The E-street band was also fabulous and the jamming intercourses between the musicians and Springsteen were a sight to behold. It is not hard to see why he is rightly called The Boss.