For the first Sunday of events, it was family day, and there was plenty going on to keep everyone entertained. The site was still the same layout, but now rather than the acts playing on the giant LCD screens in the middle of the site, it was the Wimbledon Final, which definitely added a lot more atmosphere to the days proceedings. With families galore enjoying the day with a jug of Pimms and watching the tennis, you could straight away tell it was going to be a different vibe to Friday's activities. Also, I must admit, it was a good place to be when Murray won, it may not have been Henman Hill, but there was definitely still an excited roar and jumps of joy from all the thousands of people in Hyde Park that day.
Entering the site on Sunday the only thing I could hear was thousands of children chanting "Divorced, beheaded, died", which instantly led me to wonder what was going on, and as it turned out 'Horrible Histories' were acting out part of their theatre show, and everything didn't seem so sinister anymore. Horrible Histories weren't the only shows on for Children that day, there were a number of shows spread throughout the site, with the 'Brainiac: Live' and the 'Gruffalo' acts performing a few times around the day. For the parents there was plenty of entertainment as well with a wealth of comedians such as Carl Donnelly, and Chris Ramsey performing stand up sets on the Sony Music Unlimited Stage all day, and as always bars and food stalls galore. As always the steel drummers were making their way around the site getting everyone dancing, alongside a number of other performers, it definitely made for a fun and friendly atmosphere.
So the days music started for me with Tich on the Bandstand Stage. Performing her own brand of fun, summer pop music and she put on an enjoyable set. Although not to my taste there's no denying that playing her tracks along to an acoustic guitar rather than a backing track was definitely a good choice. With plenty of energy in her voice, and the pop rhythms replaced with a ska influenced acoustic guitar rhythm, and a few well placed trombone fills, it definitely gave the crowd something to dance to in the early afternoon sun.
Next up was Paul Young, and as you can imagine he didn't fail to impress. Armed with synths, two drum kits, guitars and bass, Paul walked out onto stage with his indominable pop star swagger and instantly had the older members of the crowd dancing. Playing the majority of his old hits during his set, it was nice to see that none of them played out like the album recording, each being given their own modern take bringing things a bit more up to date. Although you could tell this was definitely still a set for the parents, as most of the younger people in crowd weren't exactly dancing away with the same energy as the older generation who were singing along en masse. Paul Young as always performed amazingly with a voice that has an amazing pitch and tone, yet still cracks and warbles at just the right times. I'd also like to say the female drummer who was performing a lot of the backing vocals also had a stellar voice, and it was nice to see two drummers playing alongside each other, it definitely made for some exciting drum fills and solos. And as always, the bands guitar and synth solos resonated over the crowd, making for a more than impressive set by the veteran pop star Paul Young.
Following on the main stage were The Saturdays from X-Factor fame. Now I'm going to be honest, I'm not a fan of pop music in general, but especially boy and girl bands, but as a reviewer I need to be impartial. In this case though, if I'm being honest, it definitely wasn't anything impressive. Definitely a show for the younger members of the audience, the girls' voices just weren't on par with the other acts of the day, their dancing lacked energy, and unfortunately their interaction with the crowd was just plain stilted. Now don't get me wrong, if you're a fan of The Saturdays, you might well enjoy their show, but for me personally, I wouldn't recommend it.
Now the band I'd been waiting for all day were up next, Beach Boys. With Mike Love now leading the set alongside the only remaining long term member Bruce Johnston. With Love's son on the guitar, the tracks were all played and handled well. With tracks such as 'California Girls' and 'Surfin' USA' providing snippets of genuine pop joy to the crowd and they danced the afternoon away in the summer sun. It was also hard to deny that was you were witnessing was something special, music that had survived decades and was still popular to this day, being performed by true masters of their trade. Unfortunately though without the Legendary Brian Wilson leading the show, there seemed to be a little bit of magic lost to Mike Love and his troupe of hired musicians, it lacked the soul and sentimentality that Wilson brought to all of his tracks. This being said though, they were still by far, the most entertaining, most talented, and definitely the most fun band to play that day.
The headliners for the day was JLS, now embarking on their 'Last' ever tour, they played a straight 45 minute set. Once again, JLS are not really my thing, but one thing I will say is they at least demanded a lot more presence than the Saturdays. You could tell they were a lot more comfortable up on stage, and a lot more comfortable interacting with the crowd. As far as their performance goes as well, they were definitely the better of the two pop bands of the day, with a lot more energy and Aston's trademark backflip they definitely danced better than The Saturdays and their voices also outshone theirs too. This being said the show was a fairly standard affair, performing a number of their hits throughout their set, you could tell the younger members of the audience were mostly in awe of the show, but after seeing the infamous Beach Boys, the older members and parents in the audience definitely seemed to be a bit lost as to what exactly they were meant to find entertaining.
All in all though, an impressive opening 3 days for the Barclaycard British Summer Time event, and with the great list of acts left to perform, I'm sure the remaining days were just as impressive.
latest on this festival
with Nile Rodgers & CHIC, and Grace Jones, on Sunday 11th July 2021
line-ups & rumours
with Pixies (Friday), and IDLES (Saturday)
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