Hard Rock Calling, Saturday 29th June 2013 Review

Posted on Jun 30, 2013


The Venue – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Headline Acts – Kasabian, Paul Weller, Miles Kane, Kodaline

HRC 2013

Picture courtesy of http://www.whtimes.co.uk

The Venue

The day started off hot and it was soon to get hotter.
Having unexpectedly won tickets to Hard Rock Calling from Absolute Radio and journalist Greg Burke, I prepared for a day of music and mayhem at the new home of the yearly festival at the former Olympic site.
It almost felt like a ghost town as we walked from Stratford station, herded like sheep to the site. It must have been a mile or so walk.

Once there, the venue was huge, bigger than the old home of Hyde Park. There were two stages upon entering the venue, the music already pumping loud, melding with every heartbeat.
The first thing I noticed was that there were no stalls selling random festival items like there used to be and upon crossing the bridge to the main stage area (a five-minute walk), I noticed the same there too and also that this part was the same or similar size to the Hyde Park venue. Why would they have the stages so far apart I wondered for surely the smaller stages would lose out as people scrambled for space in the main area.
Still, it is their first year there and in being so a learning process.

We were given free programmes for the event but there was no line-up, times or map in this to refer to. You have to buy the laminate tour guide that hangs around your neck for five pounds. I have always got these in the past but now deem them a little expensive for what they are, along with the food and drink stalls charging £5-6 for alcohol, £3 for soft drinks and £4-11 for food that had a cardboard taste and look. The prices had risen slightly since last year I noticed. But what do you expect anyway at gigs. This is always how it’s been and will continue to be so.
A word to the management team though; put stalls there that sell sun-cream, flip-flops, hats and all manner of protective gear and sell it cheap. Also disposable or inflatable seats for your backsides maybe? Make it a proper festival and lose some of the commercialism like the Fleadh festival in Finsbury park used to do. Market stalls that sell creative goods and foods. Face-painting and all things festival/fairground is what it needs.

The Music

Starting off on the main stage were The Weeks and Lower Than Atlantis, Kodaline and Twin Atlantic who were all brilliant.

I was looking forwards to seeing Irish chart toppers Kodaline and I wasn’t disappointed when they had people singing along with songs High Hopes, Love Like This and finishing with Take my body. They are going to be huge, mark my words.

Miles Kane was stunning and I must admit, I wasn’t expecting him to be so good! Paul Weller Mark-2 I think. Most try to emulate the Modfather but he is the closest to doing so and carrying on the torch for a new generation with songs like Inhaler, closely followed up with Give Up; finishing up with the brilliant Don’t Forget Who You Are.

Paul Weller

Paul Weller at Hard Rock Calling 2013 taken by the author, Darren Greenidge

For me though, it was all about the living legend that is Paul Weller, someone I have never got around to seeing until now. Belting out hits like Sunflower, Changing Man, Peacock Suit and old Jam songs Going Underground, Start and That’s Entertainment; he simply blew us all away and his set was way too short for my liking but the headline act, Kasabian, were waiting in the wings as were an eager and hungry crowd.

Suddenly the stage darkened a little, then lit up and the BBC theme tune to sports show Grandstand belted out of the speakers that I was close to. People were being handed out ear defenders and a woman in her fifties next to me said no, looking at me as if to say are they crazy?
And then they were on. The crowd roared, clapped and cheered, and a few barged forwards to get a closer view. This was most unexpected and I prepared for one hell of a wild two-hour set.

Kasabian turned up the dials a notch or six, launching into new track Days are Forgotten, the crowd in their thrall within moments. They quickly followed up with Shoot The Runner, the crowd going wild.

Feeding off the energy from the crowd, Serge screamed “I’m buzzing off my tits” to us all. They played all their hits and also a cover of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You to the delight of the crowd.
A rousing encore of Switchblade Smiles, Vlad the Impaler and Fire set the crowd alight and into a frenzy, some crashing to the crowd as many jumped and pushed to the delight of and anger of others standing in close proximity. Tom Meighan finished off alone with Beatles classic She Loves You to an appreciative crowd who sang along. It was a stunning ending to a stunning show.

Kasabian live

Picture courtesy of http://www.nme.in

One thing niggled me a little as I watched band after band on stage; and that was the huge camera’s and equipment blocking half the view from those watching side stage (see picture). There are loads of ways around this as I have seen it many times at many gigs and festivals. Make the stage so everyone can see and not be blocked continuously by technicians, speakers and suchlike.

I met a girl called Liz and her friends from Leicester who kept me company after my friend had to go for a ‘dinner date’ two songs from Miles Kane finishing. They were lovely people and Liz claimed that she had known some of the band from her days at University at Leicester. I was enthralled by this mad eccentric and beautiful red-haired woman and her getting everyone involved in the madness. She made a brilliant day even better as I strolled for an hour in agony from the sun and the crowd but happy nonetheless, to the station that would take me home.

Homewards Bound

This is where I can see major problems if they plan to keep the festival there and both trains and tubes should stay open later at times like this. I only just made my last train back to Euston at 0010, the train leaving at 0017. If I had missed this then I would have had to pay for another ticket at the first train 5-6 hours later or got to Watford at 0230 which is a last stop for the next one and walked for miles from there. The train companies should work with event organisers to make sure no-one is stranded like they used to. When I did get the train, it was full to the brim and dangerously overcrowded, a health and safety violation I expect and a serious accident waiting to happen. People were actually rammed and crushed up against the doors and tempers were flared by some which was slightly worrying for those of us that kept quiet and just wanted to get home safe.

Oh, and then there were the people urinating from the venue to Stratford station over grass, walls and those new flats/buildings. There were dozens of them, men and women all in a line along the street not far from the venue. I can imagine when the area is fully functional and liveable that it won’t be the new home for very long.

The Sunday was the legend that is Bruce Springsteen, someone I have missed out on for the past five gigs I reckon, for one reason or another. He simply blew the East End of London apart with a set that lasted almost four hours as I knew he would. I only wish I was there for it. Catch it on Absolute Radio and listen to it online along with other acts caught live. Links below along with twitter handles. Thanks to Absolute Radio and Greg Burke for the day. It was much-needed.

http://www.hardrockcalling.co.uk/ @HardRockCalling
http://www.absoluteradio.co.uk/ @absoluteradio @GregBurke

http://www.kodaline.com/home @Kodaline
http://www.mileskane.com/home @MilesKaneMusic
http://www.paulweller.com/ @PaulWellerHQ
http://www.kasabian.co.uk/gb/home/ @KasabianHQ

Posted in: Entertainment, Music