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Hyde Park, London 27 June 2010
McCartney, Crosby Stills Nash, Crowded House, Elvis Costello
If truth be
told, I was never a Paul McCartney fan in my formative musical years.
Partly because this was the time of his naff duets and banal songs about
frogs and wonderful Christmasses, but his work both with the Beatles,
Wings and solo always came over as being too pop, and twee pop at that,
for a rock hungry teenager.
So what am I
doing paying £65 to see him especially on a day when England are playing
in the World Cup? Part of the draw was that Hard Rock Calling at Hyde
Park festival has emerged as a credible alternative to Glastonbury and
other festivals for those of us wanting to see the greats (Neil Young
and Bruce Springsteen headlined last year, Pearl Jam and Stevie Wonder
on other days this) too metropolitan to enjoy the full slumming
selling point was a strong four band bill with no acts I had seen
before. And finally was a realisation that I really should witness for
myself the most significant figure in pop music history still alive.
After all, on my trips to the American Mid West the standard response to
finding an Englishman is always (other than ‘do you know the Queen’) ‘I
love the Beatles’.
of the supporting cast? Elvis Costello had to compete for my
attentions and those of many others with the big screen showing
England-Germany though surprisingly he did not even refer to it.
impressed with the richness of his voice though the once angry young New
Waver is now a sedate singer with a country flavoured band -
nevertheless I enjoyed songs I knew like Every Day I Write the Book and
A hot sunny
day and their gorgeous, Beatles-inspired melodies should have made it a
perfect day for Crowded House, but it never quite happened for
them. Perhaps most of the crowd were feeling downbeat after England’s
defeat by Germany - never did Don’t Dream Its Over sound less
good moments in World at Your Feet, Private Sun and Distant Universe,
and Weather with You got the best reception, but at other times their
set rather meandered before closing with a cover of Road to Nowhere.
Stills and Nash were another all-time great to ‘tick off’ and the
band so influential in developing the West Coast sound made a storming
start with Woodstock, Stephen Stills not only singing but showing what
an underappreciated lead guitarist he is.
was perfect for their laid back sounds and Graham Nash provided some of
the best moments with Military Madness and This House, but I was
surprised that covers of Ruby Tuesday and Behind Blue Eyes featured at
the expense of the likes of Marrakesh Express and after David Crosby’s
Déjà Vu and Almost Cut My Hair seemed to go on for ever, the set rather
faded away disappointingly.
Dorian Gray-style youthful even at 68, Paul McCartney began a
marathon set playing bass with his excellent (though disapppointingly
uncredited) band in surprisingly rocking fashion, with Wings numbers
such as Jet to the fore.
As the set
wore on, he was seen more and more at the piano or playing acoustic
guitar, as he mixed a leavening of Beatles classics with solo material
but the pace rarely flagged, except during some over rehearsed anecdotes
about the sixties that would have been better delivered in a TV studio
chair to a fawning Michael Parkinson.
also noticeable, at least from where I stood, was that twenty and thirty
somethings - many speaking in foreign tongues - were at least as much in
evidence as the baby boomer generation, proving that his appeal spans
It was in
the final third of the set that things really kicked off with hit after
hit - Eleanor Rigby, Band On the Run, Back in the USSR, Paperback
Writer, A Day in the Life which segued into a snatch of Give Peace A
Chance (he paid tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison) and Let
It Be, with 50,000 people singing along.
like them or not, these are the songs that formed the great pop
songbook, and influenced many of our favourite classic rock bands to
pick up a guitar originally.
best was yet to come, with a spectacular lights and firework show
enlivening Live and Let Die (who needs Guns n' Roses?!) before Hey Jude
had the whole crowd joining in a mass communal singalong which continued
a good couple of minutes after he left the stage.
continued the fun, with the crowd singing along to Day Tripper, Lady
Madonna and a rocking Get Back. He played Yesterday by himself, joined
of course by the whole crowd, but in contrast Helter Skelter was almost
metallic, before Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band closed a
remarkable 2¾ hour marathon.
not you are a Beatles fan, you cannot deny this man’s influence over
music and to see him show off his back catalogue at such length and in
such a great communal atmosphere was a total privilege.
by Andy Nathan
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