Words, Pics & Videos: Adrian Hextall
Day Two at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park delivered a perfect slice of Punk Rock to 65,000 people on a baking hot, sunny afternoon.
Last year, the line-up had something for everyone from indie favourites The Strokes, to Blur, music icons The Who and a pop extravaganza led by a triumphant Taylor Swift. The event also held 3 star packed comedy nights on the main Great Oak Stage, which saw fans settling in with picnics on the Hyde Park grass for an idyllic evening.
Every year, each headliner is joined by a full supporting line up across 5 stages, from major superstars to handpicked developing acts performing for fans from across the UK and the world
With a list of bands that took in past, present and future, this was THE rock show of the 2017 festival season. Headlined by the legendary Green Day, with genre stalwarts Rancid as the main support, the sold out show was crammed with a fascinating mix of young and old in the crowd, those who’d seen the dawn of punk some 40 year ago and those who were there to see what all of the fuss was about.
Celebrating 40 years of doing what they do best, British pioneers The Damned got the ball rolling early on with a collection of the sounds that first introduced them to the public in 1977. Short, tight and filled with the sort of energy and attitude that belies the number of years that the band have been doing this. If all bands were this enthused after such a lengthy career, the world would be overrun with unbelievable live shows.
Swedish rockers The Hives took their place on the main stage later on to a roar from the crowd, before belting out classic hits such as “Tick Tick Boom” and “Hate to Say I Told You So”. The only gripe about what was otherwise a great set was the amount of waffle vocalist ‘Howlin’ Pelle’ got through. Minutes and minutes were lost with rather pointless chatter to the crowd. If it had been a headline show, fantastic, interact, get buy in and make it a mutual experience. When you’ve only got 40 odd minutes to play with, shut up, get on with it and get a couple more tracks into the set list. Pelle did however hurl himself into the crowd at the end .
New York’s wildest Gypsy punk group, Gogol Bordello set the park alight, arriving on stage swigging red wine and performing a thunderous rendition of “Start Wearing Purple”. “Pala Tute” added a real folk flavour to proceedings and the video for the performance can be seen below.
Before the headlining set, The Great Oak Stage played host to 1980s punk veterans Rancid who brought a slice of genuine authenticity and chaos to the festival. All too often bands can be accused of being ‘punk-lite’, too commercial or even sellouts to the style and genre they supposedly champion. None of these things can be labelled at Rancid and their set reminded us all of what a proper punk group can do to a crowd given half a chance.
Fresh off the back of their UK and European dates on Green Day’s Revolution Radio tour, Rancid had the crowds on their feet with most pits and circles opening up across Hyde Park. Songs old and new were aired, including “Track Fast” from their latest album Trouble Maker.
When it came to playing ‘Telegraph Avenue’, the band dedicated it to Louise Distras. Described by Kerrang! Magazine as “The one woman sound of revolution!” Louise Distras is already garnering comparisons to famous artists like Brody Dalle and Courtney Love. If you’ve seen her play live, you’ll know that this British indie songstress is already a woman in a league of her own. She channels her anger, hopes and fears into anthems of love and fury for yet another let down generation with her new single ‘Outside of You’. Always there to champion new music and artists, fair play to Rancid for bringing Louise to the attention of some 65,000 potential new fans!
Before Green Day closed out the show, over on the Barclaycard Stage, seminal rockers The Stranglers got the crowds charged up with classics from the British music scene over the last 40 plus years. Like The Damned before them, they too make the festival the perfect fit in the heart of London. Spearheading the punk scene back in the late 1970s with tracks like ‘No More Heroes’ and ‘Hanging Around’ which got a fantastic reception in Hyde Park, the band even branched out into the pop market in the 1980s with tracks like ‘Golden Brown’. A true bucket list moment for me as I finally managed to get to see one of Britain’s greatest live for the first time.
And so to Green Day who stormed onto the Great Oak Stage to the raucous cheer from 65,000 fans. The Californian trio, made up of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, guitarist Mike Dirnt and fluorescent-haired drummer Tré Cool, opened with their thunderous hit “Know Your Enemy”.
Always one to make sure the fans are a part of the show, Billie Joe then handpicked a fan from the crowd to lead on vocals who got completely carried away at one point hugging everyone on stage before he was directed by Armstrong to take the plunge and and stage dive back into the audience. That moment when you place absolute faith in your heroes and security and the crowd…… yep, he clearly just thought ‘screw it’ and took off like the latest Space-X rocket launching for space.
In unison, crowds screamed along to new hit “Revolution Radio” and the iconic “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, possibly the finest song the bands have ever written as Billie Joe unfurled a British flag which he draped around his shoulder.
Second fan, Stella, was brought on stage to play along to “Longview” and with some rapid instruction on chords, G,D, C all barred, Stella gave it her all, got to keep the guitar and left to the immortal words from Armstrong…. “make sure you get some practice”.
Green Day treated fans to a medley of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude”. During “King For A Day”, the band paid tribute to George Michael as the saxophonist Jason Freese played “Careless Whisper”. Looking over the crowds of Hyde Park, Billie Joe said, “I don’t need any politicians telling me what to think. When I see people singing and dancing together, this is proof. This is the human experience. We come here tonight; we sing together… drink together. This is about freedom.”
The trio then burst into a rendition of “Teenage Kicks”, originally by fellow punk rockers The Undertones, followed by “I’m Still Breathing” from their latest album Revolution Radio.
Green Day closed out the main show with “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia” but the band are at their most impactful when it’s simply a man and an acoustic guitar and with “21 Guns” causing a great sing along, Billy Joe finished the night with the wonderful, sublime and immensely moving “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”.
Did we have the time of our lives? Undoubtedly. This was one of the tightest shows I’ve seen Green Day play. There’s many years of life in the band yet. What an amazing day.