Paul Simon in London

The Scribblaire had a fantastic day out in Hyde Park recently at day 3 of the Hard Rock Calling festival.  It was less of a festival than three separate days of music at the same venue, but all the same, a pretty impressive line up. The venue was a fenced-in area of Hyde Park housing four stages and lots of food and drink outlets.  What more do you need?

Day 1, Friday 13th July – Iggy and the Stooges headlined

Day 2, Saturday 14th – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  This event got a lot of publicity since a) the  music apparently wasn’t loud enough and b) when joined by Paul McCartney at the end of the evening, the organisers literally pulled the plug before the end of the set so as not to disturb residents past the agreed finish time.  How very rock ‘n roll.

I would have liked to have been at either / both of these but of the three, I absolutely had to see Paul Simon live so opted for Day 3. 2012 is the 25th anniversary of the release of Graceland, surely one of the greatest album’s ever made and the show was designed to celebrate this.

We arrived mid-afternoon as the venue was filling up and wandered around the site checking out the stages and buying a ‘programme’.  This was a really cool set of cards on a lanyard with the times and running order for all the acts.  I thought this was a clever format for a programme, meaning that it wasn’t necessary to put down bags, umbrellas (this is summer in the UK after all) and beer to see who was on next. We saw/listenend to:

  • Sadie and the Hotheads on the Rising stage – great music, not great vocals, good fun
  • Punch Brothers on the Main stage – folky and talented but a bit experimental for my liking.  Kind of like the Waterboys for the 21st century but nowhere near as good (IMHO).
  • TBC on the Pepsi Max stage – the lead singer has an awesome voice
  • The Guillemots, also on the Pepsi Max stage – brilliant and I will definitely be buying their music
  • Peggy Sue on the Bandstand – Paul Simon excluded, the best band I saw.  I will be finding out more about them.  Two female singers, rockabilly drums and great lyrics
  • Big Country on the Pepsi Max stage (very briefly) – I didn’t like them then, and there was nothing much to change my mind!  They belted out some old tunes though and we all sang along

And then, Paul Simon on the Main stage (obv).  He started a bit early, I suppose to make sure he could get through the set before they cut off the electricity.  I really don’t like it when acts spend ages building up to the ‘star’ coming on stage in an attempt to build up the atmosphere, so was really pleased when PS came onto the stage and just started playing. Brilliant!

We were treated to some Paul Simon oldies, inluding ‘Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard’, ‘Slip slidin’ away’ and ’50 ways to leave your lover’ before the one and only Jimmy Cliff came onto the stage.  Listening live to such a reggae legend singing ‘The harder they come’ and ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ was amazing. Next, Paul Simon welcomed on stage Ladysmith Black Mambazo who accompanied him on ‘Homeless’ and ‘Diamonds on the soles of her shoes’.

At 70 years old, PS needed a rest, so after Ladysmith left the stage to richly deserved and huge applause, more guests came onto the stage.  This included the also fantastic Hugh Masekela and a group of South African singers.  After his break Paul Simon came back to the stage and belted out more of Graceland.

The crowd loved it, I loved it. It was an awesome show and will be added to my ‘best ever’ live events.

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The Scribblaire

August 2012

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