tue 21/05/2024

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Hyde Park review - electrifying American classics | reviews, news & interviews

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Hyde Park review - electrifying American classics

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Hyde Park review - electrifying American classics

The Lumineers and Stevie Nicks join the 40th anniversary party at the British Summer Time Festival

A rare gig from the King of American rock

Tough security checks mean I make it to British Summer Time’s main stage just moments before the opening chords of the early evening set from The Lumineers.

The Denver-based band’s rousing folk rock beats burn beneath blue skies; a kick drum and chilled Americana vibes warming up the crowds for the forthcoming acts – Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The crowd cranks up a gear as the band kicks off with the famous "Ho Hey", but frontman Wesley Schultz halts proceedings as there’s not enough audience participation. He does realise that this is the British Summertime Festival… right?

It feels like short versions of their songs "Cleopatra" and "Gun Song" for this one-hour set, but the trio luxuriate in "Dead Sea", stretching out the longest notes for the longest song. Schultz tells a story about "Charlie Boy" – written about his Uncle Charlie who left behind plans to become a doctor after being persuaded by a rousing speech from Kennedy to serve, and went off to fight in Vietnam. Schultz advises us that “the words of our leaders really do matter”. It’s a mixed and possibly misunderstood message for us Brits in the middle of Brexit, political uncertainty, party infighting and social unrest. He’s on safer ground when he takes it back to “I’m so happy to be here” kind of territory and the band strike up "Slow It Down" before the piano rolls into "Ophelia". Schultz ditches his guitar for a good ol’ fashioned shake of the tambourine before a best-for-last finale with the nu-folk fun of ‘Stubborn Love’.

When Stevie Nicks is the support act for a show, you know this gig’s got to be good. The 69-year-old singer took to the stage to run through a catalogue of hits from Fleetwood Mac’s "Gold Dust Woman" to the much anticipated solo song, "Edge of Seventeen", sung to a backdrop of her late friend Prince. If at times Nicks seems moved by the BST experience, the fans come over even more overwhelmed by this American classic – the “ooh-baby-oohs” must have been heard from Clapham up to Clerkenwell.

Her voice has hardened from the soft, familiar sound of the 1970s, a time Nicks harks back to, telling tales of working as a waitress in LA, writing "Crying in the Night". She tells us “See, dreams do come true. Because 44 years later you can sing a song you thought nobody would ever hear in Hyde Park in London, England”. She grants us an epic encore with "Rhiannon" – a song she’s never not done since 1975. “You just can’t get rid of her,” she quips, before a captivating performance of “Landslide”. A picture of her and Tom Petty in their heyday fills the backscreen, a man she describes as her “saviour rock star” before leaving the stage.

Freefallin' into the headline act of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is an experience like no other. Celebrating with the band their 40 years of togetherness, fans old and new wave their hands in the air, sway and dance around to "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "You Don't Know How It Feels" and the singalong Schultz had prepared us for with "Free Fallin’".

The crowd reaches fever pitch, as the “honorary girl of the band” Stevie Nicks comes back on stage to sing "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", after which Petty remarks, “Well, that was fun.” An understatement. Not one for too much chitchat, other than a lot of thanking the crowd, proceedings calm with a set of songs from the Wildflowers album. "Good to Be King" takes us into an ambient realm with a golden guitar solo, before we’re back into the great wide open, "Learning to Fly" and beyond with "Refugee" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" and some more sensational sounds from guitarist Mike Campbell. With "American Girl" as his showstopper, Petty doesn’t fall short on his promise to “drop the needle all up and down” the vinyl of his sound as he brings the 10-day London festival to an electrifying close.

When Stevie Nicks is the support act, you know this gig’s got to be good


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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