British Summer Time, Hyde Park, London

BST delivers six scorching hot shows in Hyde Park, London.

By Mark Taylor.

Now in its sixth year, the BST events grow from strength to strength with all six live shows featuring a stellar line up to suit all tastes completely sold out.

 
Roger Waters headlined the opening night with a spectacular display of visual art, stunning surround sound and a strong political message. A collection of Pink Floyd classics was accompanied by solo offerings from his most recent solo release, Is This The Life We Really Want.

School children from the nearby Grenfell community, dressed in Guantanamo Bay prisoner boiler suits, joined Waters for Another Brick In The Wall Part II. 

After the interval, Battersea Power Station chimneys loomed large over Hyde Park as an inflatable pig drifted overhead with images of Trump displayed far behind on the screen. This was eclipsed with a laser prism and fireworks leaving the crowd comfortably numb.

 The Cure graced the leafy Great Oak Stage the following night in celebration of their 40th anniversary. Dressed fully in gothic black, Robert Smith walked onto the stage jokingly making a crucifix with his fingers to ward off the blazing hot sun. 

A mammoth career-spanning set that included a nine-song encore rounded off with tracks first performed when they originally formed reduced grown boys to tears. 

Completing the opening weekend was Blues master Eric Clapton who had a strong supporting cast before him. 

Fans flocked to the Barclaycard Stage for the sweet harmonies of The Wandering Hearts, the Rockney charms of Chas N' Dave and Italian star Zucchero.

Steve Winwood made his return to Hyde Park 49 years after being here with Clapton in Blind Faith. His swirling Hammond to the max for a pulsating I'm A Man led the green light for Traffic's Pearly Queen. The soulful vocals were perfect for the summer breeze of Higher Love before the temperature rose further for a rousing Gimme Some Lovin'. 

Santana provided a fusion of colours and addictive rhythms from the instrumental grooves of Soul Sacrifice to the salsa flavour of Smooth, all complemented by the jazzy finesse of Carlos' exemplary guitar. 

Eric Clapton was accompanied by his six-string partner Doyle Bramhall II as they both rattled out opener Somebody's Knocking. 

As a sturdy groove got going, Clapton sat down for the acoustic strum of Layla and the mournful Tears In Heaven. Co-writer Marcy Levy brought Lay Down Sally to life and Carlos Santana made a return for a jam on High Time We Went with keys-man Paul Carrack on vocals which ended a day of the highest calibre. 

The following weekend saw the most diverse of bills. After the sweet country rock of Catherine McGrath and Megan McKenna, The Feeling delved back into their 2006 album, Twelve Steps And Home, and they can rock out when the pop requires a little bang!

Bananarama was performing for the last time as a trio, however, they had an absolutely fabulous time with their party dance routines in a set packed with crowd-pleasing hits. 

 Van Morrison followed in perfect sun setting pitch. Moondance, Jackie Wilson Said and Brown Eyed Girl were warmly welcomed. Luckily, Van had just finished singing Gloria before the heavens opened with a clap of thunder that drenched the crowd. 

A suited Michael Bublé came out singing in the rain to a rapturous hero welcome. He dazzled in the spotlight of the flickering rain as he waltzed down the ego ramp to get close and personal to his adoring fans. 

Backed by a 25 piece orchestra, the Canadian held court in true Rat Pack style making them laugh, cry and singing along to favourites from Dean Martin, Johnny Ray and Ray Charles as well as his own popular hit You Just Haven't Met Me Yet. 

An emotional and entertaining set ended in style with a stunning version of Always On My Mind. 

The sunshine returned for the following day with the festival catering for the young generation with pop star Bruno Mars headlining. 

The ten-day long event ended with the final ever UK solo performance from Paul Simon which brought all ages together. 

Earlier, the red-haired Bonnie Raitt gave a lively and assured set followed by the folk wisdom of James Taylor who delighted all with the sublime You Got A Friend and Carolina In My Mind. Tales of meeting The Beatles brought a passion to Something In The Way She Moves. His cover of Marvin Gaye's How Sweet It Is(To Be Loved By You) was a cheery send-off. 

With a career spanning seven decades, Paul Simon, at 76 years old, has every right to think about retirement. His lengthy 26 song set started with the soul searching America before his dulcet voice breathed into 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. 

A hair raising Bridge Over Troubled Water was brought back to life after years of absence from Simon's set. The crowd of 70,000 are a little unfamiliar with a lot of the songwriters material but it set the template for the finale of the bass-driven You Can Call Me Al and Still Crazy After All These Years leading to a memorable five-song encore which included the delicate breeze of Homeward Bound,The Boxer and a golden Sound Of Silence where the whole of Hyde Park was reduced to a hush as everyone listened intently and whispered along with Simon to the dreamy lyrics: a truly magical moment. 


Paul Davies