The BST Hyde Park concerts are so established now that you can comfortably rely on the experience year to year. All Points East have cannibalised the Indie market away, leaving BST clear to go for big, expansive mainstream acts - upping the £££ and further segregating the audience into those who can afford to have good tickets and those in the "cheap seats" of General Admission.
Roger Waters opens up the 2018 series with his huge, theatrical 'Us and Them' show. He's already toured the world with this mega Floyd extravaganza and this is his only London date. Sold out and on a blisteringly hot Friday evening, we are taking this 2018 sun for granted. The last time Roger played Hyde Park was over ten years ago touring Dark Side Of The Moon Live; that day had a rather significant England football game too....It didn't come home then.
On a rather oddly curated supporting bill, Verve's Richard Ashcroft played solo to the white collar commuters rushing from their Friday day jobs to pack in Hyde Park. It was a toss up between which chant you heard more - "Football's Coming Home" or crowd calls for "Bittersweet Symphony" - which of course Ashcroft delivered - but still very odd as to why he was supporting Roger Waters. Even earlier bill additions of Seasick Steve and Squeeze seemed leftfield. You couldn't walk three yards without seeing a Floyd T-shirt anyway.
Many confuse a BST Hyde Park gig with something akin to the more relaxed Party In The Park, and this often causes irate punters. For instance, audience members lay blankets down on the grass trying to reserve an area - even if this is at the front of the Gold Circle. This is a concert not a picnic. Also, because of the relatively middle-class and middle-aged demographic, these Hyde Park gigs can be bad tempered due to the heat and the alcohol. You'll regularly see arguments and audience members far too drunk (considering the price they paid for tickets). Speaking of Gold Circle - the even more expensive Diamond Circle, occupying the front section of Hyde Park, was approximately a quarter full. It's too big an area and they need a section rethink. So many fans would have loved to have been a few feet from Roger.
Minor gripes aside, Roger was simply fantastic. All the Floyd hits interspersed with his trademark unsubtle political gestures. No issue is ignored. From calling Trump a pig to lecturing on the Israel-Palestine saga. The crowd are there for Floyd classics and probably zone out when being preached to anyway; album staples such as Animals, Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall are featured splendidly with some brilliant visuals. The Great Oak Stage is transformed into Battersea Power Station one minute and then a huge, Orwellian wall the next. Bringing on local school children to sing Another Brick In The Wall is a fun , nice touch. Or how about the huge flying pig dangling perilously close the the Hyde Park faithful, just as the sun sets in glorious pink? However, it's the encore of Comfortably Numb that gets everyone emotional and hugging. Even Roger - who treats the song as a lap of honour - mouthing thanks to us all as he finishes triumphantly.
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