Taking to the stage on the first night, it was alone Vedder that initially stepped up in front of the crowd. Calmly strapping on his Fender Telecaster, the icon began the initial chords of ‘Better Man’ to rapturous applause, before the band joined as the song kicked into gear.
It was a stunning opening, and a sign of what was to come; a band self-assured, and completely glad to be back where they belonged; on stage.
Greeting the crowd and acknowledging the beautiful evening sun in the park, singer Vedder said; “Good evening. Fuck its beautiful out there! How's everybody? Man I just feel like... it feels good, like really good!”
Acknowledging Frank Black and co who had performed earlier in the day, he continued; “To be here today to share this stage with the Pixies, in this country, in this town, it means so much to us”.
Blasting through a number of tracks in quick succession including ‘Quick Escape’ from 2020’s ‘Gigaton’ album, and fan request ‘In Hiding’, it was with the remarkable sunset that coincided with ‘Given to Fly’ that the night really ramped up. With the stunning beauty of the colours lighting up Hyde Park, and the pink hue in the sky, Eddie was moved to ask; “Is this really happening?!”
Going on to perform an uplifting ‘I Am the Answer’ with Simon Townshend, a spirited take on Public Image Limited’s ‘Public Image’, and rarely aired ‘Vs’ closer ‘Indifference’, it was a night packed with surprises.
Acknowledging the magical that was happening the overawed front man admitted; “I don’t want to offend anyone who's ever seen us before, but this is the best crowd we’ve ever had in London”.
Saturday night brought with it an almost entirely different set, with Vedder announcing; “We're so grateful that we get to do it again, and we're going to try and play everything that we didn't yesterday”.
Kicking off with another 'Vitalogy' high point in ‘Corduroy’, Saturday’s set focused heavily on 1992’s ‘Vs’, with a gnarly ‘Rats’, spirited ‘Leash’, singalong ‘Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town’ and groove-laden ‘Animal’ all being aired.
As if that wasn’t enough, fans of the band’s early material were treated to every song from multi-million selling debut ‘Ten’ over the two nights, with the exception of only ‘Release’ and ‘Oceans’. With highlights including a moving ‘Garden’, and jaw-droppingly emotive ‘Black’, Saturday was simply unforgettable. ‘Alive’ meanwhile, appeared on both nights; one of only two repeats from across a forty-four song spectrum.
Adding Smiths’ guitar hero Jonhhy Marr for both a swaggering take on Neil Young’s ‘Throw Your Hatred Down’, and finale take on The Who’s epic ‘Baba O’Reily’, the two night stay ended on a glorious high.
Taking their final bows, an emotional Vedder confessed; “Hyde Park, London, we’re so grateful. If we never get to do it again, we're thankful for the last two days”.
BST Hyde Park returns in the summer of 2023. For the latest news and announcements, visit the official site.
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