The main Olympic closing party may have been going on a few miles to the east, but Hyde Park for one night had it’s own party, that overall was a lot less frantic, but just as much a celebration of the history of British music.
New Order may look like a bunch of supply teachers these days but hits like Blue Monday and Temptation are undeniable. They close with ‘Love will tear us apart’, an odd anthem for a sunny afternoon, but an anthem none the less.
The Specials fit the environment better, and it’s not long before the crowd is happily skanking away in the summer air. Their songs of social divides and recession are as apt now as they were 30 years ago. ‘Too much too young’ and ‘Rudy can’t fail’ are particular highlights, the latter being dedicated to all the Olympic volunteers.
Blur take the stage under a giant ‘Westway’ motorway arch, launching into a giddy, jubilant ‘Girls and Boys’, it’s clear from the outset that this is going to be their night. Blur are like a mini British music history lesson, the giddy punk, the glorious pop melodies, the eccentricities and artfulness, it’s all there in one band.
The sensitive and intelligent ballad ‘Out of time’ sees them joined by Syrian Oud player Khyam Allami, it’s a touching nod to the situation in that country, and shows that Blur have always been more than just a cheeky mockney pop act.
‘Song 2’ gets dedicated to Mo Farrah, and thankfully previous Hyde park gig volume problems seems to be sorted, as Graham Coxon’s guitar riff takes off like a 747. There really is nothing quite like 80,000 ‘Woo-HOOS’ to put the adrenaline back in your veins.
It wouldn’t be a Blur gig without ‘Parklife’ and Phil Daniels gets to come out and do his thing once again. This time joined by Harry Enfield as another great british institution: ‘The Tea lady’. And why not.
They wind it down towards the encore with ‘No distance left to run’ which is as heart breaking as ever, ‘Tender’ which is possibly the best sing along this side of ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘This is a Low’.
For the Encore they play ‘Under the Westway’ which was written for the occasion and is sort of their ‘A whiter shade of Pale’. For a closer we get of course ‘The Universal’. It’s such an epic song of modern times, loneliness, hope and resigned sadness, it makes you curse the fact that British Gas ever got their hands on it. Still, none of that matters tonight, this one song unifies the crowd just as the Olympics has unified over the last 2 weeks. The following day, we’ll all go back to being sarcastic world weary Londoners, but for one night Blur reminded us that there is more to the world out there. It was their night, but they made it ours.
main image courtesy of http://www.btlondonlive.com/
all other photos: www.markwilliamsphotography.com