British Summertime Hyde Park London 1st July
Today’s sell out show has confirmed that punk is not dead. Day two of British Summertime is the punk rock equivalent to a bag of Revels. We have classic punk, ska punk, Celtic punk and even pop punk. No matter what someone’s definition or taste in punk may be, all fans seem to have turned up to enjoy the festival. Together, the crowd is an interesting melange of mohawks, skinny jeans and smeared eye-liner. And now, we are to witness key band’s from punk music’s elaborate time line.
Stiff Little Fingers began the day with a small but ferocious half hour set. They managed to squeeze in their ’70s Celt arsenal like “Tin Soldier” and “Nobody’s Hero”. Though they were on criminally early, they hosted a bright start to a day.
Then came “Love Song” by The Damned who are currently enjoying their 40th Anniversary tour. The Damned are really good for keeping their set list fresh and interesting. Even though it’s quite early on in the day for the god fathers of punk, they played as though they were a headline act. Dave Vanian stalked the stage while Captain Sensible wriggles behind him. They gave us “New Rose”, “Neat Neat Neat” and end satisfyingly on “Smash It Up”. They set the bar really high, just as they did when they released the first UK punk album… ever.
The only frustration of the day is the inevitable clash of Rancid and The Stranglers. I stick around to watch the opening of Rancid on the main stage. They burst on with 1994’s knee bending “Radio”. Tim Armstrong’s unique vocals sound as clear as day over the BST speakers.
A large crowd has gathered around the second stage for The Stranglers. They really should have been given that main stage slot. There’s barely any room to move as Baz Warne spits out the lyrics to “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)” while Dave Greenfield patters away behind him. Half way through, the unforgettable waltz of “Golden Brown” begins and is almost drowned out by the crowd. They follow with equally pleasing “Peaches” which is executed without a hitch. They seem to have sliced out tracks such as “Always The Sun” but have managed to fit enough of their best gems into their 45 minutes to keep us satisfied. They end dutifully with “No More Heroes” but the band seem to have unfairly lost half their audience and thus half the ambiance.
People are walking back to the main stage to secure their space for Green Day. The punk rockers’ trademark three-song-intro begins; “Bohemian Rhapsody”, then a pink bunny dancing to “Blitzkrieg Bop” and then the soundtrack to the Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Before they’ve even stepped a foot on stage, it’s quite apparent that the band’s set will contain no new tricks. Horizontally performed cover songs? Check. Over-excited fan on stage? Check. Comment on American politics? Check. They have their set down to a pre-calculated art. But for those of us who have seen it before, it’s like watching the band on a post-American Idiot on live replay.
A few cheers sounded as front man Billie Joe announced the beginning of Kerplunk!’s “2000 Light Years Away” which is the biggest treat they have for the older fans. The rest of the set is laced mostly with American Idiot and Revolution Radio tracks. Anything from Uno! Dos! Tre! seems to have been binned. When the band returned for a second encore of acoustic songs, many of the crowd looked at each other quizzically during “Ordinary World” while others sang their bloody little hearts out. With this new album, a whole new set of fans seem to have joined their “Idiot Nation” (their fan club).
As the night falls, the lighters thrust up for the signature ending, “Time Of Your Life”. Even though Green Day haven’t refreshed their live show in a while, they are still worth watching to the end. For the punk revival generation, Green Day are very much an important part of punk history. They may not be your favourite flavour of Revel but you’ll still buy the bag regardless.