Hard Rock Calling Review , Sunday 26th June 2011, Adam Ant, Rod Stewart

Posted on July 2, 2011

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Well where do I start with this one? I had been the previous day and was completely shattered having not got home till 3am due to London Midland train problems. I may as well have stayed out with my friends till the death and came in as soon as the gates opened and slept in the park until the first band came on. But no, I decided to be sensible for once.

The temperature for that day was in it’s late eighties and I was melting like a snowman. My voice was hoarse and alcohol was the last thing on my mind but I’m stubborn and refused to give in to it. I’m on the wrong side of thirty so my body was probably trying to tell me something but my mind said to hell with that, let’s party! So off I went to Hard Rock Calling again with only three of us this time instead of five from the day before. This I knew would be a lot more subdued and relaxed.

This time we got there early enough to catch enough bands and solo artists. The line-up was actually better than the previous day and I think the organizers of Hard Rock Calling have a battle on their hands as it’s on the same time as Glastonbury who will always have the pick of the best at times. But with a Line-up that included Rod Stewart, Adam Ant, Stevie Nicks, Train, Lighthouse Family, Barenaked Ladies, Mike and the Mechanics to name but a few for the Sunday, well I didn’t think they did too bad, catering for all tastes, young and old alike. Hard Rock Calling is the festival for grown ups and musicians alike. I do think though that they will have to do better for next year and should try and sign good quality bands up now if they wish to continue for many years to come. The Fleadh festival was a hugely popular Irish festival held in Finsbury park, London for ten years but fell to the wayside it seemed because it couldn’t get the acts in the end. it had craft stalls, Bungee Jumping of which madness I took part in and other various things. It was a proper festival whereas Hard Rock Calling just sells the overpriced burgers, beer and merchandise and that’s it. In these hard times, people want more for the hard earned money they part with and who can blame them. Incidentally, the Fleadh has now been replaced by the Feis festival held at Finsbury Park to great success it seems. I wanted to be there but alas could not this year but hope to rectify that for next year.

We walked around the grounds in the sweltering heat listening to some bands as we couldn’t access a tent at times as it was full as with Mike and the Mechanics. listening to them though with their new singer Andrew Roachford, they had made a good choice in picking him to lead them. The man is an incredible singer/songwriter who deserves to be a lot bigger than he his. They did all the classics  like Over My Shoulder, Another Cup of Coffee as well as Genesis’ I Can’t Dance to the crowds delight. I could have stayed outside the tent, laying in the sun, listening to them all day but we moved off for Adam Ant on the main stage.

I really only wanted to be at Hard Rock Calling Sunday for Adam Ant who to me is a musical inspiration and genius. He went in a different direction to everyone else back in the eighties and from the ashes of punk came Ant Music. His sound is still widely used today. He did all the hist including Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming, Goody Two Shoes, Antmusic, Dog Eat Dog, Kings of the Wild Frontier and Wonderful. There were some he missed out but he only had an hour to do his thing. Some of the crowd didn’t get him, his style or music, but most did. There was a point when Adam Ant got fed up with the crowd not joining in with him which every artist wants and I felt for him at that moment. It was his first open air festival, the last time he tried this was at Live Aid back in 1985 for just one song so you couldn’t blame him. Also that damn barrier preventing us, the fans from getting any closer didn’t help matters much. He pulled it off though and performed like the star and professional that he is. I hope that he continues writing and performing and puts all of the negatives behind him as his is a rare talent that is long missed and needed.

As the drinks were getting passed back and forth whilst waiting for Stevie Nicks to come on, I noticed how different the crowd was from the day before. First neither the Friday or the Sunday had sold out. You could buy your tickets on the gate, unlike Bon Jovi where that was a complete sell out. Secondly, the crowd seemed to be to be a bit more ruder to me, maybe because this was an older crowd? I would notice this a lot later in the evening.

Stevie Nicks’ set brought the hot sleepy Sunday crowd alive with pure rock numbers. She showed how it should be done and why she’s been around for as long as she has. With songs like Rhiannon, Stand Back, Landslide, Dreams, and Edge of Seventeen which closed the set, an hour was not enough for her. Totally brilliant and someone who I would love to see again.

Well next up was Rod Stewart and I was a little apprehensive about this as to me I think he sold out musically by doing so many Album covers, namely the ‘Great American Songbook’. Yes, it’s made him a lot of money but to me it’s put him in the Cliff Richard stable where he’s there just for old people. I love Motown and most of its artists but not when someone of Rod Stewart’s Calibre copy those songs for as long as he has. Now when he was with the Faces, that was a different matter. As for his seventies and some of his eighties career that was brilliant too. So what did he start off with? His Motown cover of This Old Heart. I was thinking to myself, shall I leave early or stick it out? Then he broke into a Cat Steven’s classic First Cut Is the Deepest to huge cheers. The crowd surged forward, people pushed in and the rudeness of some of the fans was appalling, but I’ve been through worse and wanted to see him do some of his classic, hoping he would do Mandarin Wind. He rattled of Baby Jane, Downtown Train, Young Turks with Stevie Nicks, The Classic Handbags & Gladrags which was worth the ticket price alone, and Every Picture Tells a Story.

Rod Stewart took a break and let one of his backing singers take centre stage to sing Proud Mary by Creedance Cleerwater Revival, then he was back after a costume change, the first of three.

Then the magic really started to happen for me when the legendary Ronnie Wood came on stage with Rod to sing and play guitar on Maggie May and Stay With Me. I was in awe at this pairing. It’s something I’ve wanted to see in a long time and again was worth the ticket price. I just wish they did more than the two songs

Rod and Ronnie at Hyde Park Calling

Then came another cover with Twistin’ the Night Away followed by You’re In My Heart,I don’t Wanna Talk About It, Hot Legs and the cheesy but fantastic Do Ya Think I’m Sexy which apparently he never used to like performing?

And with that he gave us Sailing which after hands a-waving we dually did and to me it was a great weekend of music ended by a legend.

It was Hard Rocks 40th Year and let’s hope they have forty more fantastic years or great music and food!

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Posted in: Entertainment, Music