Walking through Hyde Park with the sun shining down I knew it was going to be a great day. Everyone we passed was in a good mood and the buzz of The Strokes coming back to London was electric.
Inside the festival, there was a good variety of food and drink in the general access area. Beer prices were £5-£5.50 which I felt was a bit excessive when the cheapest tickets were over £68 (after booking fees) plus travel/hotel cost.
Barclaycard 'Better View' ride was back. You book your 'flights' at the Barclays tent before being strapped in to your seats around a large table and then a crane lifts you 100 foot in the air. The view was amazing and just in time to catch The Wytches open their set on the Barclaycard stage below. The Brighton band went down well with the crowd as a small mosh pit formed and the fans danced in the sun enjoying themselves, the festival had well and truly started.
Ride over and whilst walking back to the main (Great Oak) stage my attention drew me to the singer on the screen by the main stage. Samuel T. Herring the compelling singer of Baltimore band Future Islands had me drawn to the stage like a moth to a flame. His moves were original, awkward yet cool and even fresh.
The sound from the main stage was near on perfect as I made my way to the front which is divided into a general admission area and a premium area for VIP/Barclaycard upgrade ticket holders.
Beck came onstage at 7pm as the park started to fill with people as they finished work and the atmosphere went through the roof (trees) as Devils Haircut blared out. His set was steady with hits including Loser and Where It's At, the summer vibe fitting so aptly with the weather we were privy to.
9pm and all the other stages have come to an close as the crowds emerge onto the main stage in readiness for The Strokes. With them came some familiar faces making their way into the front of the crowd. Alexa Chung, Miles Kane, Alex Turner and Radio One's very own Grimmy were amongst the famous fans in attendance.
The Strokes opened with 'Is This It' from their debut album followed by hit after hit pounding out of the speakers. Last Night had people singing at the top of their voices and dancing with the sun setting and the lighting on the stage changing the mood of the performance.
The Strokes are a band that many describe as the saviours of guitar music and one that a lot of youngsters in the audience were finally getting to see in the flesh. Julian Casablancas with his drone like vocals reminiscent at times of Joey Ramone, Nick Valensi with his recognisable riffs and Albert Hammond Jnr strumming the solid rhythm all looking very cool. The New York band topped the perfect day helped along by perfect weather and friendly crowds making it an event that you would have hated to have missed. As I made my way to the underground along with the other 65,000 people I wished I had a ticket for the other Hyde Park BST shows this week. But I left a very happy man, and renewed my faith in Hyde Park gigs.
latest on this festival
with Nile Rodgers & CHIC, and Grace Jones, on Sunday 11th July 2021
with Pixies (Friday), and IDLES (Saturday)
festival home page
video of the day