“This is a rock and roll song,’ croaks Motorhead’s frontman Lemmy. ‘You like rock and roll, don’t you?” It’s one question that hardly needs asking, with today’s British Summer Time day festival themed entirely to appeal to a heavy rock audience. Still, always good to check the crowd are on the same page – though, frankly, who’s going to argue with Lemmy? Motorhead steam through their set in the baking mid-afternoon sun, bringing in the always anticipated Ace Of Spades as the penultimate song.
Faith No More take a characteristically untypical approach to rock stage design by flooding the place with flowers and appearing dressed as priests. It’s the maverick nature of the band and their flawlessly powerful delivery that makes their ongoing reunion shows both enthralling and surprising. Epic, Caffeine and Midlife Crisis are just some of the highlights. Extremes of whispering, screaming and crooning highlight both singer Mike Patton’s impressive vocal range and the band’s striking diversity and daring.
Soundgarden’s frontman Chris Cornell strides on stage ahead of the band to explain that they’ll be playing their pivotal 1994 album Superunknown in full. A tangible wave of delight ripples through the crowd. The group deliver the goods and bring on Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready for even more guitar power on one track. With their backdrop simultaneously showing black and white multiple, split screen footage from the show, we watch as if the band inhabit a corridor of dark mirrors – much like a trip through their music. By the time they, rather appropriately, play 4th Of July, a chill wind has whipped up and the sky has begun to darken.
The elements seem to be preparing the audience for the legends that are Black Sabbath. The headliners take to the stage and open with War Pigs and Into The Void. Ozzy Osbourne’s rock legend status and their influence on the bands that preceded them on tonight’s bill bring this heavy rock marathon to a fitting and celebratory conclusion.
British Summer Time – Motorhead, Faith No More, Soundgarden, Black Sabbath.
Hyde Park, 4 July 2014
Words and photos by Imelda Michalczyk