Review Barclaycard British Summer Time @ Hyde Park

Exposed heads down to that there London for the Massive Attack day of BST Hyde Park.

We time our arrival with a bit of a downpour so use the excuse to make a beeline for the myriad food stalls on offer, starting first with some gorgeous gyoza before chowing down on the Mac Factory’s “Posh Spice” offering: spicy chorizo, harissa, lyonaisse onion mac ‘n’ cheese. Not a bad start to the day and perfect timing as afterwards the rain stops enough for us to make our way over to the Great Oak Stage for TV On The Radio.

Easing us into the day, the genre merging TVOTR take the opportunity to play much of latest album Seeds. Their fifth record, this is the one that shot them to prominence after many years playing the indie circuits of Brooklyn, New York. Though sounding as tight as ever, and displaying some impressive musicianship, it feels like the band could do with a flicker more of their earlier grittiness and fans familiar with their back catalogue may have left feeling slightly disappointed.

Having missed him at Tramlines festival last year due to being stuck in the office on pesky deadlines, Ghostpoet’s set on the distinctly more intimate Barclaycard Stage is one I had been looking forward to. With his trademark silky smooth, slightly slurred vocals and seamless beats, the twice Mercury Music Prize nominated singer proves he’s more than worth the accolades. Highlights are undoubtedly ‘Off Peak Dreams’ and ‘X Marks The Spot’, which showcases the talents of his band beautifully, especially the stunning vocals of the backing singer whose tone complements the frontman’s perfectly.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01:  Patti Smith performs on stage at the Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park on July 1, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave Hogan/Getty Images ) *** Local Caption *** Patti Smith

Patti Smith is next, and the first of the day’s line-up to voice her concerns over the recent political climate both in the UK and across the pond. She’s as passionate as ever, urging the crowd to “remember you are free” before bursting into ‘People Have The Power’. Of course, the classics feature too and the audience don’t shy away from joining in with ballad ‘Because The Night’. A touching tribute is played to Prince in the form of a stunning cover of ‘When Doves Cry’, a track which really allows her band (of which her son is a part of) to shine. Her set is intense, zealous and anti-establishment, as you would expect, though I do find her speech condemning the greed of large corporations slightly hypocritical whilst she performs on the stage of an event sponsored by Barclaycard… Nevertheless, she’s a true performer whose strong stage presence, vocals and sheer obstinacy commands the audience to watch in awe.

Warpaint are one of those bands that I have listened to on and off since their debut The Fool, yet have always found they make for excellent background music and not much more. For some reason I have never taken the opportunity to catch them live, which is something I begin to regret a few minutes into the foursome’s set at BST. On stage, they have a unique ability to build atmosphere from the mellow beginnings of a song through to crashing almost prog-rock heights. Their lush harmonies delight on tracks like ‘Love Is To Die’ and ‘Undertow’ whilst hazy crescendoing guitars and off-beat rhythms act as the perfect soundtrack to the sunshine/drizzle/actual rainbow that falls over the audience during their show.

Like Patti Smith, Massive Attack also take advantage of standing on a platform in front of thousands to voice their opinions on the tense political situation – namely their condemnation of Brexit and the handling of the refugee crisis. The attack on Westminster is the main focus, with quotes from the EU Referendum campaign displayed on the screens behind the band – ending finally on message of hope, “We are all in this together.”

The trip-hop pioneers take the opportunity to play ‘Eurochild’, for the first time in 20 years, backed by upcoming band Young Fathers. Other special guests include Tricky for ‘Take It There’ (performing with them for the second time only) and a surprise appearance from a recently hospitalised Horace Andy. His broken leg means he only stays for ‘Angel’ but his appearance is fully appreciated by the crowd.

The finale of ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ with the mighty vocals of Deborah Miller leaves us on a high, and with a reminder of the impact the Bristolian duo have onstage.

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