British Summer Time Hyde Park
Friday 8th & Saturday 9th July 2022
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PEARL JAM – BST HYDE PARK – LIVE REVIEW
It’s hot, hot, hot! It’s British Summer Time and the hot ticket this year is a two night stay from Seattle icons Pearl Jam. Oh yes, Hyde Park in London is packed in like a giant sweaty sauna with a delicious soundtrack on offer so let’s dive straight in.
This is another event to have suffered multiple COVID postponements but finally the gates upon on a sweltering hot Friday and diehard fans man the barriers and merch stands as they await the arrival of their heroes.
Whilst the Pearl Jam name sits atop of the banner this weekend, there is actually a packed undercard to enjoy as well. First up for us is Simon Townshend on the main stage who plays a decent opening set despite appearing more concerned with the fact Eddie Vedder was going to join him for a song, but couldn’t. When not awkwardly obsessing on the matter, Townshend showed why his own musical pedigree was actually sufficient. Very odd!
Townshend is followed on the main stage by The Murder Capital, who turn the intensity up a little. This is a band that has been winning man plaudits since their 2018 inception, and with performances like this you can see why.
It is then over to the ‘Hard Rock Rising’ stage where the fantastic Daytime TV make an early bid for performance of the weekend. Our recent ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast guests stop early attendees in their tracks, as they pause to savour the likes of ‘We Can’t Be Friends’, ‘Ugly’ and ‘Zombie’. Expect big things from this group.
WATCH ‘UGLY’ FROM DAYTIME TV ON YOUTUBE
Perhaps it’s the sunshine, or the atmosphere and sense of occasion but there are some great sets this afternoon. Both White Reaper and Cat Power entertain the masses on the main stage, whilst sandwiched in between over on the ‘Birdcage’ stage are LIFE. LIFE attract a big crowd to the small stage and certainly make the most of their time on stage as they showcase their upcoming release, ‘North East Coastal Town’.
The quality of the line-up shines through next with a run of Fatherson, Pixies and October Drift before our headliners Pearl Jam. Fatherson first deliver a superb set on the ‘Birdcage’ stage which spotlights latest album, ‘Normal Fears’ with airings of ‘Better Friend’, ‘Dive’ and ‘Love For Air’.
Pixies are a major draw over on the main stage and they don’t disappoint playing a crowd pleasing set featuring ‘Gouge Away’, ‘Where Is My Mind?’, ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ and closer ‘Debaser’. Stood in the early evening sunshine, this is surely the definition of the perfect festival set.
Tucked away on the ‘Birdcage’ stage however is perhaps the perfect opportunistic festival set. That is in sense of a band grabbing their opportunity and their audience with both hands and dragging them kicking and screaming into a moment.
One of those moments that you walk away from and say, “wow”, that you tell your friends about. The band in question is October Drift who deliver a typically visceral experience for the audience, not least when singer Kiran Roy climbs a literal tree mid song.
WATCH THE FULL PELT MUSIC PODCAST WITH GUESTS OCTOBER DRIFT
It’s then finally time for Pearl Jam to take to the main stage much to the delight of those diehard fans still stood stoically. BST is typically a very corporate event with an often stagnant atmosphere, but the Pearl Jam fans help to bring some life this year.
There are upsides to these highly polished BST events such as the good facilities, but a downside can be the various VIP sections sucking the life out of the crowd. Thankfully they have minimal impact this weekend with fans clearly desperate to catch their heroes after a two plus year wait.
Pearl Jam for their part do exactly what they need to do, which for the most part is just play. Vedder does regularly take time to engage the audience but it’s the music that really does the talking tonight.
Friday’s set list is well received and features the likes of ‘Even Flow’, ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Alive’, before a finale of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ with guest John McEnroe!
WATCH ‘ALIVE’ FROM PEARL JAM ON YOUTUBE
There can be no complaints from fans with the band on form, the weather absolutely cracking and the undercard on fire. It’s good then that we get to do it all over again on Saturday!
The weather is again relentless hot as we arrive on day two. There is a sense of déjà-vu with fans again getting in early to stake out their spots and pillage the merch stalls.
Today is different however as we have a wholly different undercard, which starts for us today on the ‘Hard Rock Rising’ stage with Tigercub. The Brighton band help to blow off any cobwebs and get the day started right, with a good rocking!
We are then back down to the main stage for The Last Internationale who have proven themselves to be an incredible live act. Today is no different with vocalist Delila Paz orchestrating the performance from the front. The band’s tight bluesy rock goes down perfectly as the mid-afternoon sun beats down, and day two is already picking up where day one left off.
It’s another day of darting between stages today due to the excellent booking across the stages. Both The Wild Things on the ‘Hard Rock Rising’ stage and Imelda May back on the main stage continue the streak of solid performances next.
WATCH ‘SEVEN’ FROM JAMES AND THE COLD GUN ON YOUTUBE
Next we head back to the ‘Birdcage’ stage for another recent ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast guest, Welsh rockers James and the Cold Gun. The band has been honing their craft supporting various acts over the past year and recently undertook their debut headline tour. Each show that we’ve caught from the band has been better than the last, and again today they hit new heights with a hard hitting show.
Johnny Marr belatedly takes the main stage next and rattles through a set mixed with solo material and Smiths classics that go down very well with the baying audience.
Back over on the ‘Birdcage’ stage Petrol Girls blitz their short time on stage leaving a trail of both awe and bewilderment. Those that get it, get it and those that don’t, don’t; either way the band make an impression, which is all they need to do both musically and politically speaking. Perhaps a little out of place amongst the BST elite, but an important set at a fragile time for this country.
Soon enough it’s time for Stereophonics to grace the main stage and showcase why they could probably headline this venue themselves with the right undercard. Stereophonics are national treasures that can still pump out quality new material. They are also of the best live acts around, so of course this performance was bound to be a huge success.
New material such as ‘Hanging On Your Hinges’ and ‘Do Ya Feel My Love’ more than hold their own amongst mega hits like ‘Have a Nice Day’ and ‘Dakota’. Sing-a-longs aplenty as the band set the stage for the grand finale.
WATCH ‘HANGING ON YOUR HINGES’ FROM STEREOPHONICS ON YOUTUBE
Before Pearl Jam do their thing for a second time, we pop back to the ‘Birdcage’ stage one final time for Whispering Sons who are perhaps the only underwhelming performance of the weekend. Not bad for a festival whose undercards are usually a little tedious. Bravo to the booking team for these two days of fantastic acts.
To top it all off? Pearl Jam of course! Yes headline set number two from a band that always mixes things up. This weekend in London that means two nearly entirely different setlists, a real treat for fans.
Night two highlights include ‘Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town’, ‘Black’, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ and an impassioned speech from Eddie Vedder on American gun culture prior to an airing for ‘Throw Your Hatred Down’ with Johnny Marr.
Closing out the double header with a cover of ‘Baba O’Riley’, Pearl Jam have reaffirmed their status as one of the most vital bands of the past 30 years. Their legacy is built and they have legendary status, but there still feels like there is more to come.
These two days have been a delight with quality performances from top to bottom, plus British Summer Time came through with not a rain cloud in sight – could we have asked for any more?
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