Entering the Great Oak Stage to a rapturous applause for this hotly anticipated gig, the band thundered into the snarling ‘It's So Easy’. With an over-excited Axl Rose taking a tumble early on during ‘Bad Obsession’, the famously moody singer proved that he's got a sense of humour quipping that he'd; “hopefully got all the slip sliding out of the way”!
Focusing on their world-beating debut, ‘Appetite For Destruction’ classics ‘Mr. Brownstone’ and a ferocious ‘Welcome to the Jungle' followed, with the amped-up front man declaring; “London I want to hear you scream!”
Classic after classic followed with the epic ‘Estranged’, seductive ‘Rocket Queen’, and 'Terminator 2' anthem ‘You Could Be Mine’ winning over the last of any doubters in the leafy London park.
Much has been written about Axl’s voice over the past few weeks, but he can still well and truly belt out a song, if admittedly, more limited in his range than he was four decades ago, and with the inevitable ‘Sweet Child O' Mine’, leading to the always amazing ‘Coma’, this was a vintage set list from a band many seem all too happy to write off.
Changing gear, Axl took to the piano for ‘November Rain’ accompanied by screen and - less fortunately - real life rain. Providing the perfect backdrop for Slash to unleash that iconic solo, the song's dramatic finale crescendo proved one of the evening's highlights.
With the main set ending on a driving 'Night Train', Rose explained that the band would “forgo doing an encore and all that showbiz stuff”, remaining on stage for a majestic ‘Don’t Cry’.
With what else but a euphoria-inducing 'Paradise City' to close out the evening, Axl - adorned with a Union Jack hat - declared; “thank you very fucking much for coming out!” Taking their bows, the more keen eyed spotted London-born Slash show off his delight to be back in the city, with a celebratory handstand.
Earlier in the day, The Pretenders impressed with a hits-filled set that included ‘Talk of the Town’, ‘Back on the Chain Gang’, and ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’. Band leader Chrissie Hynde meanwhile dedicated an emotional 'Hymn to Her' to friend and writer Meg Keene who sadly passed away in 2022.
Meanwhile British institution The Darkness made their first Hyde Park appearance, celebrating twenty years of their 'Permission to Land' album. Only Justin Hawkins and co would have the balls to play a Christmas song at the height of summer, with the unseasonal ‘Christmas Time (Don’t let the Bells End)’ going down a storm!
BST Hyde Park continues until 9 July 2023 with Blackiink, Bruce Sprinsteen, Billy Joel, Lana Del Ray all set to perform. The event also includes Open House, the free midweek schedule featuring live music, entertainment and activities. For more, visit the BST Hyde Park site.