Having lived in London for two years, it was only last week that we experienced our first open-air concert in the rain. BBC Radio 2’s annual music festival in Hyde Park is a wonderful day’s entertainment. Add four seasons into that day, and I bid you welcome to British autumn.
Hyde Park’s summer season of open-air concerts ends with this one. It’s kind of ‘goodbye open air concerts; goodbye summer; hello any season you like, all at once’.
It was a huge line-up that we bought tickets to see. Billed by BBC Radio 2 as ‘a festival in a day’, the programme ran from 3.30pm to 10pm (‘any later and we’ll keep the Queen awake!’), packed in a whopping 12 artists in a row and 40,000 people into the park. The rain came and went, as did the sunshine and wind. The evening ended with a full-moon rising, blurred behind the clouds.
The likes of ’70s African American disco and R&B band, Chic, played numbers from our disco days:
Alabama-born duo, The Pierces, brought new American sounds into the mix, along with dazzlingly popular UK band Take That’s Gary Barlow. Add in some Will Young, James Blunt, Imelda May, Lenny Kravitz, Jonathan Jeremiah, Caro Emerald, Beverley Knight, Bellowhead and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Ruby Turner, Louise Marshall and a rare live performance from Sandy Shaw, and you have a spectacular afternoon of music and entertainment.
A number of the artists were new discoveries for us: Jonathan Jeremiah with his mesmerising ‘Lost’.
Imelda May’s contemporary rockabilly beat seriously rocked, and I was entranced with her playing of the bodhrán (Irish frame drum), not to mention her unique style and talent.
British talent is always popular in London. Will Young was ill and without much of a voice, disappointingly, but he did his best; he even tried miming to one of his songs. That wasn’t such a great idea. James Blunt rocked the park, much to my surprise, and I didn’t see his jumping-on-to-the-piano dramatics coming at all. Not at all.
Beverley Knight brought rocking soul to the stage, while Bellowhead – with their 11-piece band of piano accordion, banjo, mandolin, cello, fiddles, trombone, saxophone and tuba – brought a kind of medieval story-telling into the mix. I really loved them.
Caro Emerald, from Holland, was another new and lovely voice to hear, while Lenny Kravitz – in his trademark shades – was just incurably cool.
Ruby Turner filled the park with her big voice and rousing Infatuation and Moving out of the Cold, with sensational backing from Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Backing singer, Louise Marshall, also grabbed the mic and the audience’s attention; she’s another one to watch.
Gary Barlow stood in for headline act, Lionel Ritchie, who was either ill or busy with a new album, or both. Gary is currently heading the judging panel on the new season of X Factor and, if the contestants represent a chunk of the UK population, a lot of women on this island are in love with Gary Barlow. He couldn’t have been better received.
I have to say, though, that my favourite favourite of the whole day might not be what you’d expect. Contemporary music, new music, rockabilly, heart throbness, coolness, retro beat, story-telling and miming aside; this grand lady floated on to the stage in sparkly short pants, fringed top and shining black locks. With long beautiful legs that flowed all the way to the ground and into two bare feet, her two songs took me back to a childhood in dusty Zambia, where – despite being light years behind the rest of the world – we still knew iconic pop music when we heard it. Even if we were only six.
Here’s the original version of one of Sandy Shaw’s two songs:
Rain, sunshine, wind and many drunken revellers notwithstanding, our red box got richer by two more tickets. And, in the words of Sandy Shaw’s second number last Sunday, there’s Always something there to remind me.
Sunshine signing off for today!
18 thoughts on “These are the good times”
Glad to hear you enjoyed the concert!
I was so happy to hear from you today! We thought this time last week my Sara might be taking a job in Oxford, and we would find ouselves in your neck of the woods. Alas, however, she didn’t get the position.
Hope you have a great week, Sunshine!
Ah, that would have been amazing, Kathy! Maybe you’ll still end up at this end of the stick for a while … much love to you and your Sara.
Quite a show! Quite a show!
It’s amazing how music can take you right back to a particular time in your life. With just a few notes, you’re transported to a specific day with a specific person. Nothing else has the same power as music to do that.
You must have needed to carry a suitcase with you to plan for all of the changes in weather!
It was, jacquelin. And you’re quite right, music has such a power to transport you. So many songs can take me back to a single moment in time. We hadn’t expected so many changes in the weather, but rain jackets, brollies and a waterproof picnic blanket seemed to do the trick!
Sounds like a great day, Sunshine! I didn’t recognize a lot of the acts, but Jools Holland is great, and Chic’s guitarist, Nile Rodgers, is a legend. Hope you’re all doing well.
Hey, Todd – it was a really great day. So many new and old artists, and wonderful surprises right through. Nile Rodgers was on form alongside the two singers – they were fabulous entertainment! We’re doing well, thank you – hope you and yours are too. (Neat editing – did you notice? :-))
Looks (and sounds) like an absolute blast!
It was – a real treat, Tori.
FOMO! Looks great. This is a major avantage of living away from SA.
It was a fabulous day – such a big treat to experience such a feast of talent. You’re not doing too badly over that side of the pond! xx
True! Sting coming up in Dec. Wish you could come with us!
That would be cool! xx
Sounds like a wonderful day, Sunshine! You’re lucky to be able to experience such a variety of music all in one setting. Did they really end by 10 p.m.???
It was an amazing variety, Debbie. Yes, it started at 3.30pm and ended at 10pm – it all ran like clockwork. I guess because it was a radio festival, and was streamed to the listeners, it had to run to time.
How lucky, what a treat!
It was a treat for sure, Cindy.
What a line up Sunshine! And in a beautiful setting too…
It was really lovely, Kate – beautiful setting, even with the rain!