I’m still on a high from spending last weekend at British Summer Time in Hyde Park. The sun gods were looking down on us over the three-day duration. Blue skies and not a cloud to be seen, we were completely spoilt rotten with a sun-kissed scorcher. Every day was a sellout to 65,000 people and quite frankly that doesn’t surprise me as each days line ups were cherry picked perfectly.
The Summer Stage on Friday gave us the talented Lil & Ollie, CC Smugglers and Colin Macleod. All three acts were of the highest standard and enticed some curious and appreciative audiences.
Barclay Card Stage treated us to the very cool Allthingsmata. An excellent band who, as the opener, fired out some brilliant songs!
The field really started buzzing when the one and only Squeeze came on and seriously revved up the tempo. Not even seconds into their first song the crowd were dancing and smiling. Glen Tilbrook is blessed with a stunning and distinctive voice which carries you through the air. With a fine set of musicians what more do you need to sail and guide a mighty ship that is Squeeze.
Quick dash to the Summer Stage to experience Seasick Steve this genius American Blues Singer is phenomenal. Slick guitar and gutsy vocals were the main ingredients that blew everyone away. A far cry from the man who use to busk in Covent Garden and now deservedly ends up on the main stage. Hats off to you Steve.
There was a big star penned by the next act Richard Ashcroft. Last time I saw this man was at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. The first thing I wanted to do was pinch his sequined Harrington – stunning jacket! His aura was magical and the whole of Hyde Park was a sea of chanting and swaying. He pulled out all of the old and new songs which firmly stand individually strong. His whole set was delivered flawlessly and left the crowd begging for more. Only thing is he didn’t leave his jacket for me – gutted!
I thought I had a lot of energy but our headliner Roger Waters proved there aint no stopping him! Jumping from each corner of the stage he didn’t leave anyone out! Roger Waters is the original Pink Floyd frontman who’s back log of work stretches over fifty years. He never fails to impress and you know you’re in for a treat when the Battersea Power station is recreated bellowing smoke and a red inflatable pig is looking down on us all. There was a real feel of ambient tribal sounds and the projected images were powerful and political. We really got an insight into Roger’s anger at what is going on politically with Trump and the world today. The musicians were superbly on it and carried each song in a tight and splendid way. His two backing singers were identical cosmic chicks shimmering in black jet and revealing gold dust palms as they sang in a booming and sensual way. Bringing a school choir onto the stage in orange Guantanamo bay jumpsuits for ‘Brick in the Wall’ really sent a chill down everyone’s spine. A dinner party with pigs heads to laser triangles and fireworks, the whole extravaganza lit up the sky. Roger Waters is the ultimate showman and he still exudes heaps of talent and originality. This was the perfect end to a marvelous first British Summer Time day.
On Saturday It was great to see the brilliant Goldfrapp who can instantly win over any audience. This is one genius and stylish lady who never fails to bring her enigmatic voice to the ultimate level. Everything she does is a colourful explosion and you just can’t take your eyes off of her. Her band is the perfect match and the whole set was breathtaking.
Another great band that all ways steps up to the plate is the Editors. I have seen them a few times and every time feel likes my first. They have a fierce energy on stage and each one of their numbers flowed perfectly.
Growing up with The Cure was a marvelous thing and for me they have never failed to be a timeless and totally unique band. The excitement was obvious and we were all like kids waiting to be spoon fed big scoops of magic. Blasting jets of smoke on walks the band and a very humble Robert Smith. Taking us through his whole archive of top hits, this is a man who can naturally perform and wow his audience. Fantastic projections and crisp, flowing beats filled the park and every song he sang was perfectly performed. It really dawned on me that all of his songs could have been written yesterday. Robert has always been at the forefront of originality and you could play an album ten years on and it will still sound in the present. They still have a strong and loyal following and you could see the appreciation in everybody’s faces. The Cure for me is one of the best British bands this country has produced and they still have it 100%.
Sunday was filled with so many great musicians and when I say stage hop thats exactly what I did. The small stage highlights were Ferris and Sylvester a two piece that sound like a five piece.
Ferris and Sylvester
Another great act was Kelly McGrath. imagine a modern-day Dolly Parton with elements of country and western and some blues thrown in. This bombshell lady has a voice that is absolutely beautiful.
Quick sprint to the main stage to check out Lukas Nelson and promise of the Real. lovely bluesy rock that takes you on a natural high. His presence is powerful and his guitar playing is out of this world. The whole band is a meaty force of nature.
I did have a smile on my face when I saw Chas n Dave on the Barclaycard Stage line up. With a great brass section and strings the whole stage came alive with all of their old classics. What was good to see is that they had a very mixed audience from 20 upwards. Everyone was singing along and Chas n Dave really were on fine form.
Somebody who really shone out for me was Gary Clark Junior. His haunting voice and dirty guitar playing had us all captivated. All the way from Texas his deep and storming music is still ringing in my ears. The whole band was of the highest order and they literally shook the whole of Hyde Park.
Another must for me was Steve Winwood. What an amazing career this man has had working with the likes of The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go this is a man who sings impeccably. Opening the show on piano, he took us down memory lane and everyone was lapping it up. Another genius with some serious stamina this man knows how to belt it out.
The wonderful Italian Zuchero gave us a stunning performance with an entourage of fine musicians and die-hard fans. With a powerful voice and clever melodies he had everyone jumping up and down and the front was packed with arms in the air punching to the skies.
On the main stage and still in the blistering heat the atmosphere was electric. I’ve never heard such a massive cheer for Santana as they entered the stage. Just the name alone says enough. Their distinctive music automatically has everyone’s full and undivided attention. Carlos Santana is a born performer and his wife is one of the best female drummers I have ever seen. This Latin Rock band have been going since 1966 and their current band members are quite frankly perfection. I was amazed that they were right in front of me and to know they performed at Woodstock just blew me away.
As if we hadn’t been spoilt enough the headlining act is another musical god by the name of Eric Clapton. This man is known for his Rock and Blues and that deep smoky voice. beginning his career in 1962 he still has all the vital ammunition to give a delicious performance. As soon as ‘Cocaine’ came on everyone went into a state of wild excitement! Playing all of his platinum disc numbers you couldn’t help but think what a legendary man. His lyrics and playing are thoughtful and meaningful and he cleverly takes every song and makes it sound as fresh as the first time he played it. We were all taken on a magical journey and he is the perfect leader to do that. I feel really lucky to have seen Eric as he represents the highest calibre in the world of music. He has come through several decades and produced some unforgettable songs. A perfect ending to an amazing weekend.
Words Celine Hispiche
Photo’s Jeff Moh