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Live Review: Hard Rock Calling – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London – 29th & 30th June 2013

Check out our review of the acts at this years Hard Rock Calling 2013!

Saturday 29th June – Review: Smiley Dave

The first big festival at Olympic Park was one of the lucky festivals for the UK that had incredible weather for the whole weekend, which we was not prepared for. Walking into the festival around 13.00 the first thing you notice was the astroturf grass which made everyone seem like Subbuteo players, we even considered coming in on the Sunday dressed as a massive finger to flick other festival goers around the area. The fake grass made it very easy for people to sit down, chill and fall asleep during the day if that’s your thing. Not for us, there were bands to see and we needed live music!

The first band seen were indie rockers The Weeks from Jackson, Mississippi. Not the easiest slot but they handled it really well. Getting the few people that were there at this time to make any movement with the sun beating down is going to be a tough sell but although the audience weren’t reacting to the summery tunes, they still kept a high level of energy on stage, eventually winning over the crowd by the end.

As we made my way over the bridge to the tent stages we hear a voice that called like a siren, not in a ‘Sail your Ship to the Craggy rocks’ kind of way but a ’Bring your gently cooked cheeks to the Band Stand’ kind of deal. Natalie Shay was on this tiny stage hidden by tree. What a voice! It was amazing to hear that this North London singer/songwriter was only 14! Definitely one to look out for in the future.

Lower Than Atlantis came out firing on all cylinders to an unresponsive crowd. It’s clear by this point that there is a prominent indie feel to the day, the first three rows were going crazy but it was very hard to get anything out of the rest of them. Lead singer, Mike Duce, at one point resorted to Butlin’s Red Coat tactics which paid off, finally winning the rest over – an awesome performance.

Jack Soveretti on the Hard Rock Rising stage was an awesome find! You can literally put anyone of his songs in a Sons of Anarchy episode and it would fit perfectly. With a voice that was rich, gravelly and tuneful this was definitely one of the favourite acts of the weekend.

In the Pepsi Max tent were Twin Forks with their pop-folk music fronted by Dashboard Confessional singer Chris Carrabba (we found that nugget of information after the festival and were quite surprised). They put on a fun set perfect for the hot summer weather; the need to drink cider was strong at this point… it’s a folk music thing. A big sound from a pocket sized band.

Kodaline were on the Main Stage, by this time the number of people at the festival were rising and picnic blankets were everywhere… we definitely haven’t been to a festival like this before. Kodaline made it very easy to just lie back in the sun one second and break out into festival dancing the next, especially when they arrive at ‘Love Like This’ in the set list. A passionate performance from the Dubliners.

The Twang play to a nearly packed Pepsi Max tent. The crowd that they drew, was a rather impressive feat – people on shoulders, singing along and at one point even a Pimm’s patio parasol being crowd surfed in the middle of the tent… If we had seen a bunch of people launching scones at each other we may have patriotically welled up.

Twin Atlantic come out on the main stage and naturally charismatic front man Sam McTrusty informs the crowd, “We’ve brought the Scottish weather with us”, as the home fans slowly melt in the sun. An incredible performance, with CD quality renditions and great between song banter.

Miles Kane and the indie train has now left the platform, an epidemic of old face/youthful haircuts strike the people of Olympic Park. The crowd are more united than ever at this point as the first bit of moving life is seen by people rushing forward. Fresh from playing Glastonbury the night before, Miles was all over it. At one point the cameras showed ‘The Mod-Father’ Paul Weller enjoying his performance.

Finally, it was the big mans turn, Paul Weller hit the stage, sorting out the remaining few people on the ground who have now decided that there is more to life than picnics. Playing all his big hits from The Jam, Style Council and his own solo music, everyone started to dance, bob and sing to this guru of indie music.

Kasabian round off the day with an awesome headline set getting people properly moving; sun burnt or not people were getting involved. The crowd interaction was fantastic and the informatie updates were better (as guitarist Serge offers: “I’m buzzing my tits off”). They finish the set and after a short while of toying with people’s emotions, they come out with three more songs and ended with ‘Fire’… a successful day in the office for these boys – a truly phenomenal show.

Sunday 30th June – Review: Skye Portman

With it’s spread out floor plan, watered down cider and heat that you could burn in, Sunday 30th June, it was time for Hard Rock Calling, round two.

Starting the day with a belter are a bunch of 19 year olds, The Carnaby set Sunday off on main stage with their youthful innocence projecting out as a modern day version of The Who. The willing to melt anything in its path showed that these west Londoners have charisma, confidence and a good soul attitude!

Moving on to the other side of the festival, The Temperance Movement hit the spotlight at the Pepsi Max tent with the lead singer’s cowboy hat taking all the lime light, pumping out rock and roll vibes into the early afternoon crowd. Consumed into their energy, this rock and roll appetizer was just the start of a epic musical course still to come at Hard Rock Calling.

The audience were pleasant at the main stage for Deaf Havana;covering the front row were non-fans, the true fans had to be subjected to anywhere bar from the front. New material including ‘Boston Square’ and debut live performances of ‘King Road Ghosts’ and ‘Mildred’ (which, the sound technicians didn’t pay much attention to vocal wise) had a heavier, more enhanced version of what Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had planned. Disappointing that more known tunes weren’t played, but limited to a six song set it gave London a slice of what these Norfolk lads are really made of.

“My one true love is rock and roll/He is my first, he is my King”. Brittany Howard from the Alabama Shakes was a dream. Only a day before, they left Glastonbury on a high to present the Olympic Park with their glory; it was an honour. Starting the set with ‘Rise To The Sun’ created a serene atmosphere at Hard Rock Calling’s main stage. With ‘You Aint Alone’ and ending with ‘Heartbreaker’ this was a treat, a marvel, a must see band.

It wasn’t until later on the afternoon where the Main Stage saw a truely packed festival crowd. With fans having a more laid back approach, packed with picnic baskets, blankets and Tesco’s strawberries (rock and roll right?!) awaiting to see The Boss.

As part of their Lay Down With Number 13 Tour Chris Robinson introduced The Black Crowes with ‘Good afternoon everyone, we brought you some rock and roll today’. With aviators and long hair it embraced the cool side of rock and roll (the Almost Famous film type). With cigarette smoking on stage, the band enhanced the Hard Rock substance that had been missing for sometime, where rock and roll becomes raw; the whole reason guitars are uninhibited, drumbeats are enthusiastic and singers can loose themselves in an aura they’ve created.

Passenger bought his soft and soothing bedtime voice to the Pepsi Max stage and mellowed the crowd but unfortunately couldn’t compete with the act in the next-door tent. His performance as a milder Frank Turner, combined with apologies and self-explaining each song, didn’t help, neither did his set time, colliding with The Boss. The only memory from his set would be a brief introduction of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ into track ‘Let Her Go’.

Finally, the days events had lead to the name on everybody lips and baggy t-shirts; Bruce Springsteen. The Boss racked up song after song like a marathon or jukebox player. Starting with ‘Shackled and Drawn’, The E Street Band members, personal favourite being bearded drummer Max Weinberg, played as if it was still the 70’s and they’d just started out as a band. It was such a rush to see a group of men keeping the music tight after 41 years together; now that’s bro-mance! Along the three hour highlights included ‘Wrecking Ball’, with video images of Springsteen looking at the crowd, small amounts of sunset and an almost movie feel and huge hit ‘Born in the USA’ played like it was a walk in the park.

Playing multiple encores, including a request for ‘Jungleland’ followed by ‘Born To Run’, The Boss wasn’t done. He wanted to go wild and continue with the crowd with one final encore, a solo acoustic of ‘My Lucky Day’. Racking up a set list of 29 songs Springsteen fans filled up with more than their fair share of dessert. Roll on Hard Rock Calling 2014!

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