BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park returned for another year yesterday as 60,000 people braved the patchy rain to enjoy performances from some of the biggest stars in the world of music. The day promised plenty of unforgettable performances from a wide variety of musical genres and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Stereophonics kicked off the day’s performances around 1.15pm treating the audience to a selection of their finest hits including Maybe Tomorrow and selections from their new material such as C’est La Vie and All in One Night. It was a more sedate start to the day than I’d expected by frontman Kelly Jones’ distinctive vocals soared as the band got the crowd warmed up for what was coming over the course of the day. As Stereophonics left the stage, Jones played with the audience getting them to cheer several times and grinning wildly while doing so.
Seth Lakeman and Wildwood Kin brought a bit of folk to the day with their set, which was sadly hampered with technical difficulties. It seemed insurmountable for Wildwood Kin, which was a real shame but Lakeman proved that sometimes less is more. Performing at one point with just his violin, Lakeman’s Kitty Jay sounded glorious and it was one of the highlights of the day. He was joined by Wildwood Kin, with whom he collaborated on his latest album Ballads of the Broken Few, after that. I would have liked Lakeman to perform longer than he did and personally I would have put him a little higher up the bill.
Next up was Rick Astley who continually joked throughout his set that Never Gonna Give You Up was on the way as he performed some material from his latest album 50. To be honest the religious focus of his performance wasn’t really my cup of tea but there’s no denying that Astley is a seasoned entertainer with plenty of charm. When he eventually got to Never Gonna Give You Up, the audience went wild.
Scottish sensation Emeli Sande injected plenty of uplifting energy into her set as she performed hit after hit. She opened her set with the fantastic Heaven and she kept the energy up throughout. Next to Me and Read All About It Part III went down well as did Beneath Your Beautiful, a song she recorded with Labrinth. My highlight was the quirky Hurts as it allowed Sande’s voice to swoop and soar over the dramatic melody.
One of the most talked-about performers of the day without a doubt was James Blunt. Known for his biting humour (he is the King of Twitter after all), Blunt opened his set with Don’t Give Me Those Eyes, a ballad from his latest album The Afterlove. Of course You’re Beautiful got a huge reaction from the audience as did newer track Bartender, which shows a more rhythmic side of the singer’s abilities. He closed his set with 1973 before crowd surfing in a blow-up dinghy, getting surprisingly far back in the crowd.
Shania Twain made her UK live return with a hits-packed set. You can read our in-depth review of her performance to find out if she was worth the wait!
The penultimate band on the stage was Blondie. A lot of people in the audience were wearing Blondie t-shirts and the crowd erupted when they launched into their hits such as Call Me, Maria and Atomic. Deborah Harry is still an iconic performer and she brought plenty of style and class to the day. The band knew exactly what the audience wanted to hear and they didn’t disappoint.
The day’s headliners were Take That who arrived on stage around 8.30pm and performed for 75 minutes. They always say you should save the best for last and that’s exactly what BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park did. Opening with their huge hit Shine, Take That focused on the hits for their performance and it went down an absolutely storm. I sang and danced throughout it along with pretty much every else in the crowd. Highlights included a throwback to their 90s selves with Pray, more recent hits Greatest Day and Rule the World, and newer tracks such as Giants and These Days.
The trio beamed as they performed on stage, joked with one another and delivered a superb performance. Their final song for the evening was Never Forget, which has a lead vocal by Howard Donald. The crowd had their hands in the air, clapped along and definitely partied. It was a fitting end to a fantastic set and an incredible day.
There was plenty of entertainment between performances too with various BBC Radio 2 hosts interviewing the stars, introducing live performances and showing music videos to keep the crowd engaged. There truly wasn’t a dull moment during the day.
BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park really delivered this year. Despite the sound issues that hampered the earlier part of the day, it was a hugely polished and enjoyable event. The line up was a perfect mix of artists and it was encouraging to see so many families letting their hair down and enjoying the day. Take That were the perfect choice to headline and I’m pretty sure I was still singing Never Forget as I wandered back to the train station once the day came to an end.
Performers: Stereophonics, Seth Lakeman & Wildwood Kin, Rick Astley, Emeli Sande, James Blunt, Shania Twain, Blondie and Take That Performance Date: 10th September 2017