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The diaTribe blog is our occasional take on life, the universe and everything. Observations on current affairs, the environment, politics, humour and music/gig reviews. Travel diary and extreme sports stories, along with the usual rants/raves are also chucked in for good measure.

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Jun27

Hyde Park 2009

Big TV - Hyde Park 2009.  Photo: P.Mckenzie, Bandanna Club

The annual Hard Rock Callin’ gig in Hyde Park is always a good one and this year featured two classic headliners; Neil Young on the Saturday and Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band on the Sunday.

Unfortunately, this year tickets were snapped up at an unbelievable rate; so fast in fact that all I could manage to get hold of was a one-day pass for the Saturday. Disappointing, but certainly better than no ticket at all.

And so on a gloriously warm summer afternoon, I headed into London on the train, sweated buckets on the tube due to the inevitable signal failures on the Piccadilly line and finally emerged at Green Park (after the tube came to a more permanent halt and we were all kicked off the train). A casual stroll down a shady walkway and across Green park followed and 10 minutes later, I was walking past the touts and through the archway that is the Hyde Park entrance.

Cooling tent

Once through the gates, I headed over to the shady south-eastern corner to stand in the blissfully cool mist of the cooling tent, drank a litre of water and then grabbed a beer before heading over to the main stage in time to catch the second half of the Pretenders. A classic set of tracks included Don’t Get Me Wrong, Brass in Pocket and Back on the Chain Gang. A very nice start to the day.

This was followed by a terrific Texas blues set by Seasick Steve and interesting sets by both Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 and the Fleet Foxes. One trick that the organisers seemed to miss this year was the lack of any kind of MC and I hunted high and low for a lineup list without success.

Just as the Fleet Foxes completed their set, the thunderheads that had been gathering on the horizon most of the afternoon, clubbed together and began heading towards the park, with distant flashes of lightning and deep rumbles of thunder giving an ominous feeling. Within a few minutes the first large drops of rain were spattering across the dry dusty paths of the park and then the showers began in earnest.

The more prepared among the crowd popped up umbrellas or donned plastic raincoats (one or two Blue Peter badge holders made use of large black plastic bin liners as makeshift ponchos) while the rest of us rather stupidly clustered under the Oak and Chestnut trees that ringed the grounds. Nobody’s spirits were dampened and everyone laughed and joked together as the rain fell hard and fast.

20 minutes later the rain abruptly stopped and people dispersed in good natured anticipation of the headline act.

Neil Young

Promptly at 8pm, Neil Young walked unannounced onto the main stage to the roar of the crowd and before the roar had even begun to subside, he kicked off with Hey hey, my my. Awesome start! This was followed by Mansion On The Hill, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and old classics including Cinnamon Girl, Needle And The Damage Done, Comes a time, Heart of Gold and Old Man. Classic numbers all.

Having got the crowd in the palm of his hand, Young played an extended version of Rockin’ In The Free World as his finale. For an encore, Young had a real surprise; a version of the Beatles: A Day In The Life…complete with special guest Paul McCartney! Nice encore and the crowd appreciated it, but it was a little disappointing that other classic tracks such as Powderfinger and Like a Hurricane were not on the list.

On the whole, it was a pretty good gig and well worth the ticket price, but as I was heading home, I couldn’t help comparing the gig to previous Hyde Park concerts and thinking that I’d seen better.

… but not much better wink

Check out the Hyde Park 2009 Photo Gallery

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