I think I can now die happy. Well, ok, not really, but musically what we saw at the end of the Hard Rock Calling festival Hyde Park today is pretty hard to top.
It was a funny old day - burning heat, then a thunderstorm, then overcast. Great atmosphere though, with thousands of people lying around, chilling out or standing up to watch the bands play.And what a lineup. The Pretenders and Fleet Foxes (excellent), Ben Harper (mediocre - played only one song I knew, though that was a cracking cover of Led Zeppelin's Good Times, Bad Times) and the brilliantly mad Seasick Steve. He this a grey beared old coot who dresses in ancient overalls, plays instruments like a one-stringed stick thing and sings bluesy swamp rock. He could have stepped out of a Jack Daniels ad, except he's the real thing.
Top of the bill of Neil Young. He played a great set, with a lot of the hits (Heart of Gold, Rockin' In The Free World) that he didn't play when I saw him last year. Only criticism is that he's over-fond of the big, drawn out crescendos of drums and guitar at the end of the rock tracks. Shorter is sweeter - like with my highlight, The Needle and the Damage Done.
Sadly, the happy atmosphere of the rest of the show was also tarnished too. There was quite a bit of grumpiness in the crowd, as older fans (possibly fueled by drinking all day) got mad at people getting in their line of site or bumping into them. The worst offender was a very drunk woman near us who kept leaning on people around her as she woozily tried to take photos on her disposable camera. Security pulled her away eventually and she promptly collapsed, which was a sad way to end a gig that obviously meant a lot to her.
But all that unpleasantness was forgotten during the encore, a terrific cover of The Beatles' A Day In The Life. A couple of verses in, this brown haired guy walks on to sing with Neil. I was wondering who it was when the camera zoomed in and Lauren suddenly grabbed me.
It's Paul McCartney.
We, and everyone, go mental. A Beatle. Singing with Neil Young. In front of us.
It doesn't get better than that.