Live Review

The Who, Hyde Park, London

26th June 2015

Paul Weller, Kaiser Chiefs and Sleaford Mods also appear.

Sleaford Mods look half at home, half disoriented. In front of them stand embarrassed sons with their embarrassing dads. Union Jacks. People drinking cocktails out of actual melons. People who wear Who t-shirts not just because they’re 12-years-old and HMV is their main stylistic touchstone. Sideburns. Paul Weller, everywhere…

All the corporate jokes have already been made about this festival (the VIP area is as large as the main site, lol, etc), and you can imagine the Mods are more than a little cynical about it. “All right?” caws lead vocalist Jason Williamson. “All right!” the crowd shouts back. The Nottingham duo charge through a strangely compelling set of moaning, rasping rap and buzzing post-punk. It’s a profane and unrelenting half hour: the bass lines go on and on; Williamson faces the crowd side on, spitefully venting into his microphone, churning out bitter remarks about society, capitalism, 9-to-5 disillusionment. A fight breaks out during ‘Jolly Fucker’ – someone taking things a little too seriously, perhaps – and it’s all quite hilarious. ‘Fizzy’ is another standout; fiery, spunky lines like “I fuckin’ hate rockers; fuck your rocker shit” slip down rather well.

The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London

A more daring festival would have programmed the Mods’ buoyant racket on the main stage, where Mr Melodramatic, Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, now bounds on stage for an overenthusiastic hype routine. Jump-kicking all over the place, running lengths of the stage, attempting to stand on every bit of raised staging he can, he and his band career through a retrospective set that takes in ‘classics’ like ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’, ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘Ruby’.

After getting slightly bored during Johnny Marr, who reels out a surprisingly convincing Morrissey impression on ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, and before him, Gaz Coombes, another guy playing his old band’s songs, comes Paul Weller, whose set strikes a decent balance between old and new, loud and quiet, fast and slow. ‘The Changing Man’ gets a near-capacity crowd singing along, while heavier new songs like ‘Long Time’ sit nicely alongside more the more restrained hits, from ‘You Do Something to Me’ to ‘Going My Way’. Miles Kane, “a mate of ours”, comes on stage to sing and play guitar on Jam song ‘That’s Entertainment’, while ‘Saturns Pattern’ is a lilting soul number that sees Weller perch at a piano and stretch his voice far beyond its usual range. After spending the day constantly thinking we’ve sighted Weller traipsing around the park, it’s reassuring to finally see the actual guy up on stage. His defining authoritative air leaves the vast crowd in a weird, beer-bellied rapture.

The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London The Who, Hyde Park, London

Headliners the Who have are currently rolling the ’The Who Hits 50!’ anniversary tour into its second year, culminating this very weekend with a headline set at Glastonbury. And tonight is as triumphant as ever: what Roger Daltrey and co do best is live shows that are transformed into live records, and tonight’s performance will apparently be the latest double-disc release. In an inevitably lengthy, two-hour greatest hits set that sees colourful, kaleidoscopic visuals light up the stage, we get ‘Pictures of Lily’, ‘Baba O’Riley’, ‘My Generation’, ‘I Can’t Explain’, and all the rest. There’s little to say that hasn’t been said before. Pete Townshend, dressed in a blazer, handles his axe with just as much control and precision as ever, insistently doing that thing where he swings his arm round and round like a malfunctioning clock hand. Magnificently, Townshend’s clattering, fiddly riffs and the cooing refrain of ‘Who Are You’ echo around Hyde Park in a brilliantly intense moment of nostalgia.

Come 2024, we wouldn’t put a 60th anniversary tour past these guys.

Photos: Carolina Faruolo

Tags: The Who, BST Hyde Park, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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