BLACK SABBATH/SOUNDGARDEN/FAITH NO MORE/MOTÖRHEAD
4th July 2014: Hyde Park, London
The British Summer Time Festival
Liz Medhurst: Video by Colin Irwin: Photos by Solange Moreira-Yeoell
The pop-dominated British Summer Time series of gigs was today given over to the good stuff and the park was filled with 55,000 rock and Metal fans to witness a gathering of the greats.
The running order for the main stage was Soulfly, followed by Motörhead, Faith No More and Soundgarden before the mighty Sabbath, so not too shabby by anyone's standards.
The event lived up the billing as hardly a foot was put wrong by any of the bands on stage, the weather was glorious and even the reduced decibel level of Hyde Park didn't annoy too much.
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Having Motörhead and Black Sabbath on the same bill may not have happened since the mid 90s, the days long before everyone had a mobile phone, but in one aspect the nostalgia-fest was taken a bit too far. In those olden days, if you wanted to find your mates at a big gig you chose a landmark and a time, and if you got split up you just watched the show from wherever and hoped to meet up afterwards, running the risk of being spit up permanently.
That was pretty much what a lot of people had to put up with today as mysteriously, from having full 4G coverage right outside the compound, once through the barrier there was hardly any basic phone network service, with texts taking over an hour to get through, and not even GPRS, never mind 3G. The cynical types may think that this was a ploy to get punters to pay £3 a day for the venue's Wifi.
Motörhead took the stage and all eyes were on Lemmy to see what shape he was in.
Well, it was apparent that he has slowed down and needs to take it easy in relative terms but his essence was not diminished at all and his mighty presence easily filled the arena, right from the start with 'Damage Case'.
Midway through the half-hour set, during 'Doctor Rock', Mikkey Dee launched into a long drum solo. Now I am always banging on about how I think drum solos are just unnecessary, but in this case it is the exception that proves the rule as it provided a mid set rest.
Whitfield Crane came on to share vocals on 'Killed By Death', although the mix was off and you could hardly hear him. Still, overall this was a solid set and as Lemmy said the immortal words: "We are Motörhead and we play rock and roll", the collective roar of the crowd had to agree. Yes they do. It certainly ain't over yet.
Faith No More arrived on stage adorned in dog collars and surrounded by flowers. They made a strong start with 'Zombie Eaters' and 'Epic' making an appearance early in the set. New track 'Leader Of Men' went down well with their flock and fans were left happy with this set.
Soundgarden played the album 'Superunknown' in its entirety. It was no surprise that '4th Of July' made the cut, considering today's date, but the entire album was unexpected. The band pulled it off though with an engaging set and this was one occasion when the typically soft sound of Hyde Park worked well with the trancy undercurrent and spacey grunge riffs.
Soundgarden also introduced a guest appearance as Chris Cornell welcomed Pearl Jam's Mike McCready onstage to play guitar on the title track.
As the sun set it was time for the main event, and air raid sirens ran out around the park and the stunning video backdrop heralded the intro to 'War Pigs'.
The set list didn't bring any surprises, as there has been little deviation since the reunion and the '13' tour started, but it was still magnificent.
Ozzy Osbourne was never the greatest vocalist at the best of times, but now, as then, gets through on sheer force of personality. Geezer Butler was directing the low end like a boss and Tommy Clufetos provides real power and quality on the drums.
It is Tony Iommi though, commanding the stage looking like the King of Fucking Everything, who is spellbinding. This is a masterclass in stagecraft, riffing and being cool.
What was fitting was that after the glorious sunshine all day, as the first strains of 'Black Sabbath' rang out the sky darkened, the clouds drew in and the rain started to fall. Such is the power of Black Sabbath that they can command the weather to add to the atmosphere.
The on-stage relationships between the band members are all good, and Ozzy can still make Tony laugh and shake his head with his antics after all these years.
The band are on form, in their stride and there is no way they can call it a day here.
As fireworks exploded from the top of the Great Oak Stage following 'Paranoid', it truly was a celebration of Black Sabbath Time.
This video of Sabbath's Hyde Park triumph was shot and produced by our very good friend Colin Irwin.
Black Sabbath Set List:
1. War Pigs
2. Into The Void
4. Age Of Reason
5. Black Sabbath
6. Behind The Wall Of Sleep
8. Fairies Wear Boots
9. Rat Salad
10. Iron Man
11. God Is Dead?
12. Children Of The Grave
13. Paranoid (with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath intro)