Barclaycard British Summer Time was a 2 week festival held in Hyde Park with a wealth of acts over 4 stages. Upon entering the site you instantly get the impression that this was a 'City' festival. Beer sponsorship signs surrounding the tent, instantly recognisable branding, etc. Not necessarily a bad thing as this was clearly a lot more family orientated than a lot of the other day festivals around the country, and its always nice to be able to get the things you like.
Using up a sizeable portion of Hyde Park there was plenty of space to lay out a blanket and enjoy the wonderful summer sun we've been enjoying for the past few weeks. Around the edge of the site there were more than enough bars to keep up with the queues, each one styled like a saloon or an old English style pub. Food stalls galore as well with more than enough choice to suit the pickiest of eaters. Add to the mix fairground rides and the infectious sounds of the steel drum band giving everything a carnival feel, you've got the recipe for one fun day.
So the day of music started for me with the mid 90's grunge rockers Bush. Walking onto stage straight away to a distorted guitar you very quickly had an idea of what you were in for. Switching easily between clean vocals to more gruff tones, similar to that of Chris Cornell of Audioslave, the band switched from big distorted grunge inspired rhythms to stadium rock inspired guitar and drum solos. Halfway through the set launching into their own imagining of the Beatles hit 'Come Together' they didn't fail to impress. Slowed down slightly and filled out with a big distorted guitar it definitely gave the crowd something to sing along to. Also playing their biggest hit 'Glycerine', at a slightly slower pace than the original single, they gradually drew the track into a drawn out, distorted, guitar rock anthem, filled with both brilliant guitar solos and incredible drum fills. Definitely a fitting support act for the legendary Bon Jovi.
Next up was Charlie Simpson in the Barclaycard Unwind Theatre, having seen him a few weeks previous at Camden Rocks and finding his live performance somewhat lacklustre, I wasn't sure what to expect, but he'd definitely upped his game for the performance. A lot more natural with the crowd, and allowing a lot more space in the tracks for the band to show off their skills, definitely made for a far more natural performance. Playing tracks off his debut solo album 'Cemetery Gates' he was definitely worth the watch.
The main support act for Bon Jovi was the Kaiser Chiefs, and I'll be honest with you, I've never really been much of a fan, but live, they were definitely a lot more enjoyable. After years of performing you can tell they know how to put on a show, with Ricky Wilson playing up to the on stage cameras, and bantering expertly with the crowd, they soon launched into all their big anthems. The crowd responded by singing along excitedly, although when playing lesser known tracks the crowd were definitely more subdued. As far as performance goes the everything was played well, and although Ricky's voice wasn't the best live it was sung with enough energy and conviction to make it more than fun to watch. Playing in front the main stages giant LCD screen displaying their logo, they ended their set with 'I Predict A Riot'ÂÂÂ, definitely getting the crowd warmed up for Bon Jovi.
Finally it was time for the headline act everyone was waiting for. Starting the set with the rousing stadium rock anthem 'Shot Through The Heart' you could tell straight away that you were going to see all the greats during his hour and a half long set. Playing so tightly that every track sounded like a studio recording they continued to wow the crowd with classic hits such as 'It's My Life' and new tracks such as 'Because We Can'. With singer Jon playing rhythm and acoustic guitar during a lot of the tracks, and even breaking into a few solos, he spent a lot of the tracks dancing like a mad man he definitely lived up to the show you'd expect. With his touring guitarist Phil X on the lead guitar, the songs were filled with endless impeccable solos and drum fills, it was easy to see why the band have remained so strong over the past 30 years. Continually playing hits that had the crowd clapping and singing along for pretty much the entire set, it was nice to see he could still strike a genuine chord with the crowd with tracks like 'Always' which quickly had the crowd swaying around in unison. All in all a pretty spectacular end to what was a more than fun day in sunny Hyde park.
latest on this festival
with Nile Rodgers & CHIC, and Grace Jones, on Sunday 11th July 2021
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with Pixies (Friday), and IDLES (Saturday)
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