Words: Karen Hetherington / Pictures Robert Sutton Photography
Following a two year social distancing hiatus I was more than a little excited to be back in Hyde Park for British Summer Time where some of the most famous musicians in the world have already graced the stage for 2022, and with more yet to come it is likely to me remembered by fans as a summer of musical delights. The site, which was easily accessed was set up in the usual village style with an excellent selection of food, drink and merchandise including Hard Rock who partnered with AEG for this years festivities. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for two consecutive days of mind blowing entertainment and beautiful weather.
Saturday 25th June 2022
THE ROLLING STONES
Lets face it, The Stones are no strangers to Hyde Park and have been famously linked with the venue since their iconic free concert in the summer of 1969. The days of them playing free concerts may be long gone but it seems somehow fitting that on their 60th anniversary tour they play the park not once, but twice.
Saturday past was their first performance at the venue since the passing of drummer Charlie Watts, a devastating loss to a band which is British institution – yet they show no sign of waning…. Jagger took to the stage with the gusto of a man less than half his age as he belted his way through classics such as ‘Tumbling Dice’, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, Honky Tonk Women and ‘Paint it Black’. Having to cancel their Amsterdam gig a couple of weeks ago due to a brief illness, his energy and vocals were incredible.
Partner in crime Keith Richards sang lead vocals on ‘Slipping Away and ‘Connection’ while Jagger (who was noted to be slugging on water occasionally throughout the show) had a short rest and a change of clothes. Richards, who has a happy-smiley disposition and is an absolute character; sporting his trademark bandanna, looked to be enjoying himself exceedingly and made all the right sounds in all the right places while Ronnie Wood totally excelled himself on guitar.
The ultimate highlight for me was a blistering performance of ‘Gimme Shelter’ which featured a extraordinary sing off with Jagger and gospel singer Chanel Haynes who totally blew me away. The on stage chemistry between the two was intoxicating in the extreme.
The spectacular encores ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction left the crowd on a high – buzzing, yet still wanting more. They packed in 19 songs in all. Jagger has still got the moves, the voice, Richards and Wood still have the sounds and the charisma. You have to wonder, while they still live and breathe will they ever stop, or would we want them to?
There is no such thing as a bad Stones gig but then again, there is no band quite like The Rolling Stones – long may they rock!
Photos from the 2nd Stones show on June 3rd
Sunday 26th June 2022
ROBERT PLANT AND ALISON KRAUSS
As a lifelong Led Zeppelin devotee and having gone to see Robert Plant in various endeavours over the years – just because it was Robert Plant, I have to admit to having reservations about what was his second collaboration with Bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. Having noted the hour long set I had anticipated a rendition of their new album in its entirety with maybe a couple of tracks from their debut thrown in for good measure – music which is not entirely to my taste… To say I was pleasantly surprised by the performance would be altogether doing it an injustice. The two work beautifully together with voices which complement.
Krauss, who is an amazing vocalist appeared to have a demure, almost timid stage presence – her eyes often downcast and although she smiled she did not address the audience. Plant more than compensated for her lack of spoken word like the veteran showman he is although I confess I found him slightly more sedate in stage presence than on previous tours. The undoubted highlights of the set were the cover version of ‘It Don’t Bother Me’ by the late great Bert Jansch – performed by Krauss and the ethereal ‘The Battle of Evermore’ dueted by Plant and Krauss with Krauss replicating the vocals originally provided by the late Sandy Denny. Its obvious that Plant is taking the opportunity to showcase this masterpiece on tour while he has a female to fill the obligatory role. It was a phenomenal, haunting interpretation. In such a short set, filled with covers they managed to pull off an impressive three Led Zeppelin tunes, and Zeppelin never did write short songs!
LA rockers The Eagles have been a bucket list band for me for a very long time. While undisputedly a few of their songs are more country than rock, I grew up listening to them and have always loved their melodies and laid back easy listening style. Celebrating their 50 years together they absolutely blew me away and it seemed there was no end to their arsenal of on stage surprises.
Don Henley was superb on both vocals and percussion as they steam rolled their way through a 23 song set which consisted of every possible track a fan could want to hear and then some! The vocals were alternated between Henley, Vince Gill, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Deacon Frey, son of the late Glen Frey who performed 3 songs stunningly.
Mid set Henley thanked everyone for taking the band into their hearts and their homes over the years – in case they don’t get back this way again. Reading between the lines this could be a hint at the end of the road for them, but hopefully not just yet…
The set, which could easily be described as the live version of ‘The Eagles Greatest Hits’ (with bonus tracks) featured ‘Life’s Been Good’ and ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ by Joe Walsh who quipped “it was more fun being 20 in the 70’s than it is being 70 in the 20’s” – I’m not quite sure I believed him as he seemed to be having plenty of fun to me, he was exceptional on guitar and talk-box and interacted brilliantly with the crowd. Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ was also thrown into the mix and as the sun had gone down in that place, on that summers night it seemed such a perfect addition.
The otherworldly, intangible ‘Hotel California’ was played late into the set just after Henley announced “This is the part where were are supposed to walk off and come back, but we are going to skip that as its getting a bit cold!”
They finished on a high with ‘Already Gone’ and were joined on stage by none other than tennis legend John McEnroe! I was informed later he was in town for Wimbledon and had swapped his racket for a guitar for the concert finale.
It was an evening of nostalgia, of surprises, of emotion and of musical perfection which I feel honoured to have experienced and as I exited Hyde Park for the second night in a row I definitely had that ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling!’