Sunday at Hard Rock Calling started late for me due to a few transport issues, so the first act I caught was Christina Perri. For some reason she was on stage around 20 minute early (as were all the bands after her). As well as her own material she did a cover version of “Be my baby”. The song that went down best was her massive hit single, “Jar of hearts” but the closing number, “Arms” also got a great reception. She sang and played piano and was clearly having a great time and was bouncing around and unable to sit still, while her band added the power to the music. A very enjoyable set.
Next up on the main stage was Alison Krauss who’s country music was good but unexciting and after a while it became fairly boring really. A shame as the crowd didn’t seem that inspired by her performance.
Happily Big country headlined the Pepsi Max stage for fans wanting something with a bit more energy. They kicked off with “Look Away” and then went through a selection of their back catalogue. Rather than just performing on stage, for one song the singer climbed off the stage and into the crowd and performed most of the song from towards the back of the tent. Sadly after the band played “Wonderland” then the screwed up stage times on main stage meant it was time to head over to see Paul Simon – had the main stage ran at the publicised times then people could have watched the whole of Big Country’s set and then gone over in time for Paul Simon.
As with the other bands Paul Simon started 20 minutes early – perhaps an attempt to avoid over-runs but sadly the lack of any publicity about the change did cause annoyance for many people. Once he started though, issues like that were quickly forgotten as he put in a fantastic performance. I’d been curious as to how the performance would go – I like some of his stuff but don’t have the Graceland album and wasnt sure how I’d enjoy a ful show from him. I have to say that my doubts were quickly extinguished as he put on one of the best shows of the weekend. Playing in front of a huge crowd he really did make it look easy. As well as singing himself after a few songs he introduced a guest – Dr Jimmy Cliff who played several songs with him – “The harder they come”, “Many rivers to cross”, “Vietnam” then finally “Mother and child reunion”. Those few songs were fantastic by themselves and that was just a small part of the set. After a few more songs he brought on Ladysmith black mambazo who performed several songs with him including “Diamonds on the soles of her shoes”. Again we got a few more songs from Paul Simon before another guest was brought on stage – Hugh masakela. It was impressive that after 25 years Paul Simon had managed to reunite the original Graceland band from the 1987 tour.
The set ended with “You can call me Al” – in itself a great end to the night, but there was more to come. For the encores we got “Sound of silence”, “The boxer” and “Late in the evening” before the night was brought to a close with “Still crazy after all these years”.
A fantastic end to a great weekend of music.
There has been criticism of the choice of Hyde Park as a venue due to noise levels and curfews, but over the weekend I found the sound levels were fine in most places – just a few places had poor sound, and the early finish makes it easier for people reliant on public transport – something that is easy to use from Hyde Park, so overall I think it’s still a pretty good place for events, and despite the wet weather this years Hard Rock Calling was a great weekend – roll on next year !