After six amazing days of music spanning from pop megastars in Bruno Mars to rock royalty The Cure, the final show of this year’s British Summer Time Hyde Park was headlined by the great Paul Simon – performing the farewell date of his last tour, ‘The Farewell Performance’ (outside of North America).
The anticipation in the crowd was palpable. After an epic seven-decade career, Paul Simon was soon to play the last show in his farewell tour to a packed-out Hyde Park. The shaded figure marched onto the stage and struck the opening chords of “America” – one of the many iconic hits from Simon & Garfunkel.
Simon and his note-perfect band proceeded to play an inspiring 26-track set, ranging fromGraceland’s “The Boy In The Bubble” and “Diamonds On The Sole Of Her Shoes” to Stranger To Stranger’s ‘The Wristband”. Each song seemed to top the last, with Simon & Garfunkel’s 1970 track “Bridge Over Troubled Water” echoing back to the stage by the thousands of onlookers.
It was fitting that Simon closed his tour and our festival with a stunning “Sound Of Silence”, solo on acoustic guitar, the huge crowd hushed with emotion, breaking into deafening applause.
Gracing the Great Oak Stage before Paul Simon was fellow singer songwriter James Taylor – an American folk-rock hero with 100+ million records sold worldwide and five Grammys to his name. The gorgeously staged “You’ve Got A friend” received the biggest cheer of approval, closely followed by other classics including “Carolina In My Mind”, “Shed A Little” and “Shower The People”.
“I’m now going to play you a song I played for Paul McCartney and George Harrison”, said Taylor before performing “Something”. “The Beatles had just started their own record label and were looking for people to record – I just happened to be in the right place in the right time. It was an amazing stroke of good fortune as is everything that has happened since, certainly leading up to this amazing day in front of this amazing audience.”
Bonnie Raitt demonstrated why she is considered by many as one of the greatest singers and guitarists of all time as she delivereda heartfelt performance to a packed stage. “I love playing these club shows,”Bonnie deadpanned, as she worked her way through her extensive back-catalogue.
“Woo!It’s aptly named this one”,shesaid with a chuckle before breaking into an inspiring rendition of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House”, one of the closing day’s defining moments.
Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit maintained the folksy vibes of the day with a stirring set on the Great Oak Stage, backed by mesmerising mushroom visuals. Frontman Flynn’s flawless vocals were the main attraction, as they worked their way through tracks from 2017’s Sillionas well as from Flynn’s other albums.
British country-pop duo Ward Thomas performed last year on the stage, and sounded even more impressive on the main stage this time round, treating Hyde Park attendees to a sneak peak of some of their new music such as “No Filter” and well-known tracks like “Carry You Home”.
Opening the Great Oak Stage was South Coast rockers Wild Front. Their shimmering live rendition of “Rico” was the perfect way to kick off the final day of music, with the laidback, mellow harmonies appreciated by all the early festival goers soaking up the sun.
The final day at the stage also impressed, with America’s Sarah Darling kicking off the proceedings, also featuring the melodious Jesca Hoop, three-time Grammy Award winner Shawn Colvin andformer Keane frontman Tom Chaplin – oozing class as he played tracks off his 2016 album The Waveas well as Keane favourites such as “Somewhere Only We Know”.
The Summer Stage welcomed the guitar-tinted sounds of Blueprint Blue, Dublin rock band Keywest, London quintet Night Flight and Callaghan – driving home an unmissable set with her stunning vocals and gripping songwriting.
Well known fans included – Daisy Ridley, Jimmy Carr, David Walliams, Dustin Hoffman, Pierce Brosnan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Noel Gallagher, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Johnny Vegas, Tim Healy, Bob Geldof and Steve Diggle.