It’s with some trepidation I approached today’s instalment of BST Hyde Park with Blur as headliners. After a somewhat shaky performance on last week’s TFI Friday, I was not optimistic. But more on Blur later, first it’s time to explore all that this festival offers, and as I have yet to have lunch, food is on the agenda! There was so much choice on offer and this being London burger and chips just doesn’t cut it or at least not unless its pulled pork in a brioche bun and the chips are thrice cooked! The now ubiquitous ostrich burgers were there, paella with the steam rising from vast pans all colourful and tempting, pulled pork halloumi wraps with garlic paste with all the trimmings tempt the meat free festival goer.
For those looking to try something new, Jamaican fried plantain would be a good call. For a quick energy fix there was plenty of sweet treats cakes, ice cream and jars of old fashioned sweets. In other words you’re not going to starve!
At a festival like this, it’s the early bird that gets the worm.By the time I arrived on-site 30 mins after the gates open and had a bite to eat, Drenge on the main stage had already come and gone, and judging by the buzz, I should have gone hungry!
But fortified with a full stomach I caught my first band of the day and on first impressions I am surprised that The Horrors are not further up the bill; however I don’t know if it’s the early slot, or following Drenge that left me (and I think a lot of the crowd) unmoved by their performance. Despite having the songs, the look and the attitude, they don’t connect.
Some bands relish a challenge and the unrelenting downpour during Metronomy’s set only seemed to lift proceedings as the electropop outfit bring their exotic brand of low-fi electronica to the masses. A stark contrast to the jaunty, sing-along knees up that was to follow. It’s something that on paper shouldn’t have worked, but with a backdrop of bleak, menacing skies and unrelenting rain it somehow made sense.
Having seen Blur many times over the years (the first being 1992 and the last time their now legendary Glastonbury 2009 performance) the bar is set high. An impromptu sing-along by the crowd as they await Blur saw a chorus of 50,000 people belting out 'Tender'. With elaborate visuals projected on the huge screens behind them and an actual ice-cream van adoring the stage they kicked off with 'Go Out' a new song from 'The Magic Whip', which is not the last time some of the new material is given an airing tonight.
As an opener it is greeted by the crowd like an old friend and would not sound out of place on 'Parklife'. In fact almost every song tonight whether new or old, single or album track feels and sounds very much like a greatest hits set! Such is the immediacy of their song writing and material. I’m pleased to say that the problems that dogged their TFI Friday performance were nowhere to be seen. Damon is almost possessed as he leaps, hurls and throws himself across the stage and looks genuinely happy.
Graham (as ever) cuts a shy, introverted figure whilst Alex takes the whole show in his stride looking relaxed and unfazed. Dave meanwhile is a safe pair of hands holding everything together at the back. It’s not long before the ice-cream truck is put to use as Damon charges into the crowd with a load of '99’s' and begins liberally dishing them out. It wouldn’t be a Blur gig without their resident special guest Phil Daniels hamming it up with 'Parklife'. A long teasing intro into 'Song 2' is all it takes for Hyde Park to erupt as the "whoo-hoo’s" kick in.
A close second as to be 'I Broadcast' from the new album, which is delivered with ferocious intent. There were of course more quieter moments to be found, a stunning 'Thought I Was a Spaceman' – again another new song was simply mesmerising. A personal favourite was not over looked as 'To the End' drifts across Hyde Park to the setting sun.
Moments don’t come bigger than 'Tender' as the crowd once again got to play its part and sing their hearts out in unison. With so many hits and classic album tracks to choose from its inevitable some will be left out, I would have happily replaced the irritating 'Stereotypes' with 'Charmless Man' for example; but that’s a very small grumble in an otherwise perfect night. Blur are a band in the right place and the right time, not happy to rest on former glories they continue to push forward winning new fans as well as satisfying the older guard.
Blur (like their ice cream truck) are full of treats, making sure you never go hungry!
Hyde Park is their 'manor' and rightfully so!
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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