when Smokey sings at a festival in a day with Radio 2

Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park 2013 review

By Michelle Owen-Williams | Published: Wed 11th Sep 2013

Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park 2013 - around the site
Photo credit: Michelle Owen-Williams

Radio 2 Live In Hyde Park 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Hyde Park, City of Westminster, Greater London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£35, children 3-13 £10 - SOLD OUT
Daily capacity: 30,000

As avid festival goers, this would be our fifth festival this year, T in the Park and Boardmasters in Newquay to name but a few, so the Radio Two Festival in a Day was going to be interesting to say the least. 

As I’ve got older I find myself tuning in to Radio Two more and more, and with the allure of Chris Evans on a morning I find it harder not to listen. I’m not a big fan of London, too much hustle and bustle for me, but when the line up came out for festival in a day I couldn’t resist, seeing Texas and Manics would be an absolute bonus. 

Luckily I have a wife whose a seasoned traveller in London so I don’t have to worry about what tube were getting on, or even where we are, I just hang on to my wife’s coat tails and chivvy along for the ride. 

The day started off rather badly, I lost my bank card, then when we got to the train station I realised I needed my card to confirm the tickets, what a pickle, good job there was someone at Virgin Trains with a brain eh. 

Tickets in hand and we were off. London scares the hell out of me, always has and always will, so it must be something special that makes me get up and go there.

The line up for Festival in a Day was pretty good this year, headlined by soul legend Smokey Robinson, with James Blunt, Jamie Cullum, Jessie J, Simple Minds, Texas, and Manic Street Preachers thrown in for good measure. 

It was quite funny going to a festival and not lugging around pounds of camera equipment, it meant we could both enjoy the day and bask in the atmosphere.

We didn’t know what to expect to be honest, especially as Radio Two and its listeners are branded as stuffy and middle aged, we were hoping today dispelled that. 

Unfortunately we missed the first few acts after misjudging how long a walk we’d have when we got off at a tube station which seemed millennia away. What’s with all this walking milarky!?? 

Once we’d found guest services and admired the lake in Hyde Park we went on our merry way.

The VIP area was totally amazing, the bar and food area was undercover of a huge tent, which we were blessing later in the day as we had a little downpour, then there was a separate press area, which was where the acoustic sets took place, this was absolutely marvellous, especially as we got to see Manic Street Preachers and Texas later in the day. 

The site was absolutely huge, hosting two stages, the main stage and a smaller stage called BBC Introducing,. There were eateries everywhere, rides for the kids, loads and loads of portaloos, obviously. It was a haven for families and a heaven for picnic blankets and fold up chairs.

We’ve seen many festivals this year, and actually over the last ten years, we got called seasoned festival goers, dunno 'bout that, all I say is life is for living and we just gad about to our hearts content loving and listening to music along the way and taking a photograph or two. 

I have read a couple of other reviews of the festival and to be honest I have to say had these people actually been to a festival before? 

Today’s estimated audience was approx 40,000 and at £35 a ticket for the day it seemed real value for money to me. 

The running order of the bands was quite strange, but that’s what you get at festivals, a mish-mosh and something to cater for everyone, We missed Simple Minds and Jamie Cullum, which was a bit gutting, especially as I’d seen Cullum a few months earlier at the Jam House in Birmingham doing a rather exclusive set for a local radio station, with a specially invited audience and to say he was a bit special was an understatement. 

We took our place as near as we could to the stage to see Scottish rockers Texas, their set only last 40 mins or so, but it gathered a blistering pace. Pint sized Spiteri has so much balls, always admired her, not just a pretty face, she can write a tune or too; and my wife has been a fan for over twenty years. 

The set kicked off with fans favourite ‘Halo’, I felt right at home, seemed everyone else was the same age as me and knew all the words, it was bloody brilliant.

Summer Son’s first beats blasted out and it was like a party atmosphere, everyone again joining in, we were both in our element. 

Richard Hawley came on stage to join the band and sing a track off the new album called ‘Dry Your Eyes’, which I later found out was co-written with Hawley and has special meaning to Spiteri, which I found out later when I interviewed her. 

Texas and Hawley then sang ‘Jackson’, which had previously been rehearsed in the dressing room prior to coming on stage, this was slightly apparent as the vocals were slightly dodgy, but it did get better. 

Another Texas classic, ‘Say What You Want’, oh boy, could this afternoon get any better, Spiteri slipped up by saying ‘Fuck’ unbeknownst to her an apology came up on the big screen for the bad language, it was so funny when she found out after being told during the interview, she was slightly mortified, just for a second, and then said oh, 'Fuck it'. 

Classic after classic, ‘Black Eyed Boy, it was like stepping back in time, I wasn’t one of the fortunate few who saw Texas in their hay day, but I’ve been making up for it over the last few years. 

Last song of the set was ‘Inner Smile’, back catalogue heaven, loved every minute, they were immense and brightened up an afternoon of middle of the road music i.e. James Blunt and Josh Groban. 

Texas whetted my appetite, I was a bit gutted the set was over so soon, but we can get another helping when we see them later in the year in Birmingham. 

We had to shoot off, well run actually, as I had to go and meet and interview Ms Spiteri, nerve wracking or what. My wife is the avid fan and I told her to do the interview, but she declined.

Doing the interview meant we missed another band/artist, but luckily we got to catch a couple of Manic’s songs in the little acoustic tent set up in the press area, what a gem this was, we were both in absolute ore, we had to pinch ourselves. 

I was in a daze, couldn’t believe Spiteri had been sitting opposite me jabbering away about Kitchens, Chris Evans, the new album and the coldest gig she’d ever played. She even made my wife’s day by having a couple of snaps. I’m the best wife ever now, apparently. 

One Jamie Oliver burger and chips consumed, pure heaven, then a quick dash into the arena and Manic Street Preachers were on stage, this was a first for us as neither of us had ever had the chance to see the Welsh wonders live.They certainly didn’t disappoint, even much so we seriously wanna see them again.

Another short set, which was disappointing, but just a taster I guess, 'You stole the Sun from my Heart' echoed around the park, it was immense, the bands first gig in two years, they needn’t have worried as they were stonking. 

It had rained intermittently throughout the day but the sun was coming out., the bars of 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' bellowed out by Mr Bradfield, followed by latest single ‘Show Me the Wonder’, then fans favourite ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’, I was totally in ore, all my wife kept saying was told you they were amazing, she was right. When’s the tour and new album out? 

‘It’s not war (Just the end of Love)’ and then obviously classic of the classics ‘Design for Life’, the Welsh flags came out with a vengeance. Again a very short set, but it was worth the ticket price just to see Manics live. 

We were lucky enough to get access to the acoustic tent which was set in the press area, Texas did a little set in there, my wife was in her element and kept smiling like a Cheshire cat., this was special, very special indeed and something you don’t see very often, worth the ticket price alone. 

We walked around the site to sample the atmosphere she what the audience was like and what the view was like from the back, everyone seemed so chilled and happy, kids were playing and parents were happy. No drunkenness, well hardly any drunks, and no weeing up hoardings, it was actually pleasant and a pleasure to be there. 

We caught some of James Blunt set, I think he’s an acquired taste to be honest, I’m not really a fan, but again he has quite a catalogue of tunes including '1973', 'Woman', 'Goodbye My Lover' and Blunt fan’s favourite ‘You’re Beautiful’. The only highlight of the set was when Blunt crowd surfed, much to the delight of the audience. Very strange! 

We were looking forward to seeing Jessie J, but after a few songs I found the set quite tedious, too much vocal acrobatics and not enough singing, it did my head in. Although she professes to love her fans, which I’m sure she does, her relationship with the press seems a little strained, especially when you read one of her release forms? 

She was there for the kids and she did her job, they loved her. 

I fear she’s trying to look like Pink, sporting a Pink-esque hair do, but that’s all that did resemble Pink. 

The set started off with ‘Price tag’, followed up by ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and a cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Dont wanna Miss a Thing’. Favourite song for me was Laserlight, after another couple of songs: New single ‘Alive’ and ‘Miss My Party’ we’d had enough and took solice back stage. 

I thought Jessie J had lost something since we last saw her a couple of years ago in Liverpool, don’t ask me what it is, I don’t know, I just know I’m not really a fan any more. 

Headliner tonight was 73 year old Smokey Robinson, surely a legend like this couldn’t disappoint.

One of motown’s biggest stars wowed the Radio Two audience with such classics as ‘Tracks of My Tears’, although he did look a bit worse for wear, well, very plastic, if that makes any sense, a bit too much plastic surgery, but obviously this didn’t detract from his voice and what an absolute legend he is. 

I must admit the day was sensational, not just the music but the atmosphere and the ambience, seriously wanna do it all again next year, that’s how good it was.

review by: Michelle Owen-Williams

photos by: Michelle Owen-Williams

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