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“Still reading through your blog. I heard that Springsteen and McCartney jammed and that the officials unplugged them because of park curfew!!! Where you there for that? Wow, what a story!” – Rob
Yes Rob, I was there.
I am so thrilled to share this experience with you.
It is inevitable that I should be so deeply smitten with Springsteen right now. He is an inspiration – a poet. It was a lovely evening in London, the sun had come out around 6 pm, after raining all day. I was worried about walking through Hyde Park’s wet grounds in all that rain. I didn’t have rain boots, the wonderful Julie of HRC had asked me to buy a pair from Oxford Street but I couldn’t as I was busy walking some other street all day. Julie was at HR Calling last year too and warned me that it can get very muddy with rains. It also rained the previous evening when Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell said ‘Oh well, it’s raining now – that’s great, everybody goes to the park when it’s sunny – fuck it. The real fun in a park is when it rains.’ I couldn’t agree more.
Even the Sun loves Springsteen, almost coming out for him! – every flower smiled under sunshine. Hyde Park transformed into a fairyland! Water shone like diamonds on the Serpentine river which runs through the park, people brought out their chairs and camped outside the HRC Concert arena, dogs seemed happy, the grass was dry and soft.
The Park sprawled with Londoners, most of who weren’t as lucky as me to have tickets but they were all lucky for Springsteen’s voice spilled all over the park and onto the streets outside, bringing the joy of his voice and the energy of his music into the everydayness of London’s lovely streets. Imagine waiting for a bus outside the park and be sweetly surprised by the sound of Bruce Springsteen’s voice and the music from his guitar! At the park, some lay on grass and listened to Springsteen while some peeped through the tiniest gaps like this!
I ‘liked Springsteen very much’ until I found myself at Hyde Park this July and was desperate to listen to ‘Born in the USA’ or ‘Pink Cadillac’ but who knew he would surprise us with my all time favourite ‘Hey Jude!’ That was a pleasant surprise but I couldn’t have guessed why Bruce played it. Nobody knew then, or at least I had not a clue that Sir Paul McCartney was right there, behind the stage – the tickets/passes or promotion, nothing mentioned this Beatles Star but he didn’t come on to the stage until almost the end of the show.
What I most enjoyed about the crowd that evening was the variety. There were people from ages 2 to 70! Or maybe even beyond. I love such crowds and music which is enjoyed by all. The most wonderful sight was seeing middle-aged people in groups swaying to the music, going back to the days of their youth when Bruce was younger, he was their hero and they basked in their invincible energy. The previous evening was wild! Soundgarden has a lot of young admirers and they seemed very dominant as the park was filled with young hippies just the evening before. I enjoyed that madness greatly but Bruce Springsteen’s rock comfort is soothing, pure pleasure.
Springsteen is a poet, a charmer, a gentleman, a beauty and people who came to see him came more for meaningful music. I was lost in him, mesmerized in the beauty of his words, the melody of his voice. He spoke to a crowd of thousands of people but for me – it was like he spoke to me, direct – person to person, heart to heart – that’s a gift!
I was very happy to wear the Hard Rock Café Peace Shirt which says – Hyderabad! I am not sure if there was anybody else at Hyde Park that evening, wearing a similar ‘Hyderabad’ Peace shirt, I’d have loved to find out but it was impossible for obvious reasons. There were cold drinks too but with such huge lines, I thought ice cream is easy and better – especially when the sun is shining bright!
Springsteen is the greatest example to what you can be if you don’t do drugs, don’t drink too much, eat right, stay healthy and are genuinely passionate about what you do. There’s so much to learn from him and no doubt that is why he is so good looking at 63!
It amused me to know that he was taking sign requests. Bruce made someone’s evening truly special that day, I am sure this fan of his will remember it for life. A fan went following Springsteen, from one concert to another all over Europe, holding a sign request for ‘Lost in the Flood.’ Springsteen said he didn’t take the request because he hadn’t played that song in years, it was something he recorded with his band E Street but it never got popular. But that beautiful evening in Hyde Park, Springsteen walked right up to the fan, told the crowd the story of the song and this fan who has been following him, before playing it! Only, exclusively for that one crazy fan who maybe went mad with joy that day.
Thus the crowd had a wonderful three hours and what made it an epic evening was the joining of Paul McCartney on the stage – I hear it was the first time that happened! Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney on the stage for the first time! Now, anything can happen in London you see!
I went all the way to Liverpool to The Cavern, The Beatles Shop and I love the Beatles dearly but I am not fan that could die for the Beatles you know, but at Hyde Park that evening, in the crowd were some die-hard Beatles fans and you can only, only, only imagine their insane joy when Paul McCartney joined Bruce on stage and then their insane anger as The Boss’ microphone went mute around, just 10 minutes after Paul joined him.
The crowd thought it was a tech glitch and hence waited, also The Boss kept playing but when the crowd and I realized that it’s the curfew police that plugged Springsteen and McCartney, there was great disappointment and people reluctantly walked out of the park.
I was disappointed too – the show wasn’t over. There wasn’t a close. Springsteen hadn’t said ‘bye’ to us yet, didn’t blow us a goodnight kiss. It was left undone, I was just not ready to go home yet. However, I was happy to be there, to witness it, the joy, the energy and the anger too!
I hope HRC doesn’t change the venue of the concert because of this. Of course it is annoying but Hyde Park is a great place! I only hope the police gets a little liberal next time and the concerts go on till 12 am at least! I wonder to date how they could do something like muting the Boss!
I left the park to walk back to the hotel and wanted to pop into Oxford Street because I really like Oxford street. So I took a left from the main road and within minutes found myself on a street lined with Hashish shops, Lebanese restaurants with Shawarma specials, young men in beards and women with strong ittars. I walked further though realizing this can’t be Oxford street – this is a totally, completely, different part of Marble Arch – with no men in suits, no women with light hair, no GPS’, I walked until I heard a voice from a microphone saying ‘People, our brothers and sisters are dying in Syria and you are sitting here conveniently smoking hashish, meeting friends, enjoying and making merry.’ On my left was a group of men smoking hashish and listening to this voice, on my right was the man from where the voice came. The curfew police soon reached the spot and the second microphone of the evening went mute.
I walked back to the main road and into the City of Westminster – it’s a 30 minute walk from the Park’s End to Intercontinental. Walking past the Dorchester I wished I could listen to the man from the Lebanese neighbourhood a little more – he probably would have told us what to do about Syria for I can’t think of any way I can help the situation there and would have loved to hear more on ‘what to do’ than ‘you are sitting here conveniently smoking hashish’ – what can one possibly do? It is interesting to note how messages are put across. The gentleman surely wished for some empathy, some action to help Syria and was seeking it but to hammer the crowd with accusation of indifference defeats the purpose right there, what else would one do on a fine evening in London, so far away from Syria? – if one’s smoking hashish and meeting up with friends, does it mean he is not moved by what’s happening in other parts of the world?
So much can happen in just one evening in London and just adjacent streets can be world’s apart. I peeped into Oxford Street on my way back – the same effervescence and good spirit as the previous day and I peeped into the Lebanese street the next day – the same tension.
The next morning I tried going into HRC London but that was impossible! HRC London is perhaps London’s busiest cafe as they told me that it’d take 3 hours for me to get a table! The waiters there must be Steelmen! I couldn’t go eventually to HRC and couldn’t have my favourite margarita. But, I have a feeling I will soon! There’s always a next time!