Festival Guide

Sunday 27/06/10 Paul McCartney @ Hyde Park, London

Sunday 27/06/10 Paul McCartney @ Hyde Park, London

June 29, 2010 by Lawrence Poole | Photo by WENN.com
Sunday 27/06/10 Paul McCartney @ Hyde Park, London

Arriving at a dusty, sweltering Hyde Park I was greeted by gaggles of disconsolate England fans nursing lukewarm pints and bitterly digesting the World Cup result – Macca it would seem, had a job on his hands.

If there was an ‘in an emergency break glass’ artist you would crack open in times of football-related woe to massage the spirits of the masses, it’s surely arguably the world’s greatest living songwriter. And he duly did, waltzing through a 34-strong hit-tastic set, which sparked sing-alongs loud enough to drown out even the most ebullient of vuvuzela-toting armies.

But first it was left to those West Coast grandpops Crosby, Stills and Nash to get the ball rolling. Blending a lazy, hazy swag bag of hits, lesser known tracks and judiciously selected cover versions, it fitted the occasion perfectly.  They may have a combined age in excess of 200, but the folk-rock forefathers’ harmonies were as sweet and summery as ever. Bluebird floated across the crowd dreamily, while their lovingly executed rendition of 'Our House' sparked a misty-eyed sing-along.

And so to Sir Paul. Possessor of undoubtedly the greatest cannon of hits in popular music, it was just a question of which ones he would unleash. Understandably though, the football still appeared to be playing on many of the crowd's minds – he was wise not to bring it up - so the raucous sing song that would generally accompany the Wings’ classic 'Jet' was strangely absent. Slowly but surely the sheer relentlessness of the Liverpudlian’s armoury proved overwhelming though with a tender 'Blackbird' lighting the communal touch paper.

From then on, an unmemorable rendition of The Fireman's 'Sing The Changes' aside, it was like the greatest Beatles karaoke night you've ever witnessed - with thankfully only one performer on the mic. As ever, he tipped a hat to absent friends with a heart-felt 'Something' for George Harrison and punchy 'Give Peace A Chance' for John Lennon.

Elsewhere, powered on by the tour de force drumming of Abe Laboriel Jr, 'Band On The Run' and 'A Day In The Life' were joyous and poignant respectively, while 'Live And Let Die’s' drama was magnified by a frenzy of fireworks and 'Hey Jude' saw girlfriends hoisted onto shoulders and beery hugs dished out.

Surprisingly though, the most giddily received airing was a song often lampooned by Beatle detractors - Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. It's 'life goes on' refrain seemingly proving strangely comforting after the Germany debacle.  Unlike England's football team, music and performers as good as this, rarely let you down.

In times of trouble, there's The Beatles.

Hard Rock Calling 2010

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