It's that time of year again and I am back on day one of British Summer Time presents. In preparation I tried to find listings and stage times but, to no avail. The website stated the line-up '+ more' so I got up there hoping to plan my day and see who the '+ more' were to be. On arrival it seemed that they were pushing their new improved app for show times hence not getting up to date info on the website.
It all looked the same outside in the park until I entered the arena. The sky was grey but the colourful décor of the movie set bar fascia's made me feel at home. First thing I noticed was that the map layout had been altered with the Barclaycard stage being in the North West corner of the arena. With the Barclaycard Betterview 200m south of this. And with the Playstation Music stage and Great Oak Stage, there were only 3 stages for the first show of 2016.
This year I felt there was actually more choice in food options around the arena. Prices ranged from £5-12 for food generally with Margherita pizzas pegged at £7 and burgers £7 - £10 which is what I may pay in restaurant and not really with street food. I have to admit that the quality of food was so far removed from the type of burger you'd get on a roadside truck so you are paying that little bit more for quality garnish and flavouring. When added to the festival ticket it's going to be a pricey day out so make sure you get lunch before you come in.
The weather had been a tad unsympathetic this week and so areas were already muddy with puddles forming. We had some showers but mainly got away with it and when the sun came out it felt like how Hyde Park BST gigs should be experienced.
I managed to get into the Barclays VIP Summer Garden to see what your extra money gets you. For £142 inc. fees you get a private entrance from the Park, nice toilets and entrance adjacent to the Great Oak Stage. The garden consists of a fairly large area with deck chairs, chill out lounge, access to a few bars and 7-9 food stands including Gordon Ramsey and HIX with food costing £7 - £12. It did feel special but £142 special….maybe as a one off. The problem is once you've been this side once you don't want to be in with the peasants.
The layout had some other changes this year in that you can purchase Diamond View Tickets which gets you in the front of stage area (much like the old Gold Circle). I couldn't find the price but secondary markets were asking £278. Harsh price!
As the day progressed, the half-filled arena soon became busier and harder to get from the Oak Stage to Barclaycard stage with my feet actually aching the following day. It was nice to see groups of people happy, chilled and having a good time throughout the day. The atmosphere was sublime in that nobody seemed to be dwelling on the EU referendum rather in a bubble of music and beers with friends. The carnival area with its vibrant parades that you need to see if you ever attend a BST event. Being next to the Casa Bacardi Stage the dance music blend in well with the events.
On to the music. I started with TV on the Radio whom I hadn't heard much from. The first 3 songs were pretty average and I went for a wander only to be drawn back once I heard 'Wolf Like Me'. OMG what a fantastic live song, how did I miss it in 2006? (I am actually listening to it on YouTube as I type this review). My first highlight from today's gig.
Ghostpoet have had an interesting journey to date. This being their first gig at Hyde Park and main support to Warpaint on the Barclaycard Stage. I managed to get a catch up with Obaro Ejimiwe for an interview where he told me he didn't feel like a big act but, was excited to be on the bill with some great talent. A humble man with some fantastic collaborations which you could hear in 'X Marks The Spot'. I gained a respect for this band's sounds and songs and can totally see where they were nominated for a Mercury Award.
Patti Smith, now here is a character. Pre-set she wouldn't let any photographers near her stage. After reading a lengthy and long poem 'Footnote to Howl' by Allen Ginsberg she allowed them to stand off stage left to take their photos for 2 songs. After the 2nd one they allowed them for a 3rd but, no closer. I must say she really isn't my cup of tea however her cover of Prince's 'When Doves Cry' was my favourite song from her set.
Warpaint are a band that I first saw on Brighton Pier in 2010 and they were 4 beautiful girls playing their debut gig in Brighton. Today they are 4 beautiful women that have played at most festivals and tonight at Hyde Park they open with Elephant into Undertow. Their haunting vocals mixed between Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman gives a 2nd dimension to the setlist which included 'Love is to Die', 'Intro', 'Keep it Healthy', 'No Way Out' ending with 'Disco/Very'.
It's still daylight and Massive Attack are about to hit the main stage. With their digital screen ready to go I wonder if they will pull off their headline show tonight without their light show. The diamond area in front of the stage is rammed with crazy hardcore fans, I cannot get near. I wait with anticipation as to the setlist tonight. Will they bring on guest vocals as well as Tricky (who is rumoured to be playing with them for only the 2nd time).
Massive Attack opening with 'United Snakes' the 2 drummers on either side of the stage get into their beats as the band come on stage. The hairs on the back of my neck raised when 'Ritual Spirit' kicked in with Azekel on guest vocals. Such a mood invoking track much like 'Angels' which did not disappoint me nor the 1000s of fans here tonight. Horace Andy (guest vocals) had an accident on his way to the UK yesterday so was wheeled on to carry out his duties. What a track! A few songs were dropped tonight and 4 were played with Young Fathers which I really disliked. There were a group of people around me with the same feeling. Such a shame. Then we get back on track with 'Inertia Creeps' and the encore 'Unfinished Sympathy'.
Massive Attack were the main reason for my journey today however, I have taken away some TV on the Radio, Ghostpoet and re awakened my old Warpaint back catalogue. Not so keen on the layout this year, enjoyed the food, music and the sun when it showed. Prices are creeping up and missing the straw on the muddy areas. Will still come back for 1 next year.
Pray for Rain
Voodoo in My Blood
Old Rock n Roll
He Needs Me
Take It There
Safe From Harm
latest on this festival
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joined by James Taylor & His All-Star Band, and Bonnie Raitt
on Saturday 7th July with Interpol, Goldfrapp, Ride & more