British Summertime (BST Hyde Park)

Review: Country comes to British Summer Time Festival – Hyde Park alongside Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Stevie Nicks

British Summer Time in Hyde Park ran across two weekends with artists including Phil Collins, Justin Bieber, Green Day, Kings Of Leon, The Killers and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. I think it is pretty safe to say that Tom Petty was the biggest draw, the entire day he was playing had a more than fantastic line up with the legendary Stevie Nicks, The Lumineers, Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown, Ward Thomas, The Wandering Hearts, Juanita Stein, Jade Bird, Catherine McGrath, Diane Burch, Jordan MacKampa, The Head and The Heart and The Shelters. For country music and Americana lovers as well as other genres such as rock this day was a dream.

I of course opted for Tom Petty day. I arrived in the scorching heat ready for the days festivities. Running a tad behind than planned due to mass congestion in the tubes I was immediately taken to interview Jade Bird, a UK country music singer that I had seen earlier in the year supporting Brent Cobb.

Just like her on stage persona, Jade is hilarious, humble and very approachable. As soon as our interview was over it was time to chat with Catherine McGrath, another country singer but from Ireland. Catherine is a very lovely girl with a big future ahead of her, after our chat it was straight to the Summer Stage to catch Catherine’s performance.

The Summer Stage was located right by the south entrance. Being first in, Catherine seemed a little nervous but her nerves disappeared as soon as she saw the crowd she drew. Familiar faces in the crowd and new ones too, Catherine had the audience in the palm of her hand with her fairly shy personality which was also very funny at times. Catherine, in her early twenties, writes all her own music and is signed with Warner Music. Her style is somewhat similar to that of Taylor Swift but her early work. Catherine also has a lot of individuality. Catherine’s lyrics are mostly based on her experiences including a hilarious song to which she shared the story of a very bad date she had where the guys ex girlfriend was at the same concert and kept ringing him.

Name him” shouted an audience member
I would” she replies “ but he writes songs and he may find out”

Catherine’s performance was sweet and warming with a lot of likability. Her voice is sweet-sounding with a really beautiful honeyed tone. She carried the crowd well and the audience were sad when her set was over. Catherine proved that she more than deserved to be there and certainly gained some new fans. I felt she had a slight confidence issue but then again, that could be nerves and the fact a festival can be hit or miss, you never know who will turn up, but Catherine needn’t have worried, she had this one in the bag.

For me, I really enjoyed seeing her perform her song Hell Will Have To Freeze Over from her debut EP One and Starting From Now from her current EP with the same title. Catherine has two EP’s out at the moment and you can download them below.

One – EP by Catherine McGrath

Starting From Now – EP by Catherine McGrath

Next up, still on the Summer Stage was the brilliant Jade Bird. As I mentioned before, she is a UK singer/songwriter. Jade took to the stage in a beautiful floral dress and just her guitar. Her crowd was impressively large and she had already won them over in seconds. How do I describe Jade’s personality? You kind of have to experience it yourself to get the full picture but her on stage persona is worth seeing her live as it is. She cracks me up, she is almost goofy but very comedic, she interacts with the crowd a lot, telling them stories or taking the mick out of herself or simply just rambling on in an adorable, charmingly funny way. Jade is a natural on stage and it really is where she belongs. Her voice is a full powerhouse with a lot of depth and a wide range, it is so beautiful to listen to and really captivates you. She has just released her EP Something American, which I highly recommend you purchase.

One of my favourite songs of Jade’s is Good Woman, that song is a cheatin’ song and one I remember very well from seeing her in January. The chorus is clever, funny and everyone was laughing. I have never seen a relatively unknown artist win over a crowd quite like Jade did, everything about her made everyone love her and I have no doubt that the majority of the audience will be going to see Jade again soon and will undoubtedly be purchasing her music. Jade is off to the US soon to perform with Brent Cobb amongst others. Watch this space as Jade is going to take the music industry by storm.

Something American – EP by Jade Bird

After Jade’s set, I got a chance to walk around the festival and grab some food and have a bit of an explore. The place was heaving not in a horribly congested way. There were so many smiling faces, friends, families, children of all ages and so many people with Tom Petty T-shirts expectedly so. What I did notice though that other than the Tom Petty t shirts were the variety or music tastes in the audience wearing t shirts of artists I have enjoyed over the years such as At the Drive In, Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies, Pearl Jam, Whiskey Myers to name a few. This day had clearly drawn a diverse crowd which made it all the more comfortable and interesting.

The festival had a great lay out with the main stage (Great Oak Stage) beautifully decorated with a great oak tree funnily enough. The audience were split depending on which tickets you had, Gold, Platinum or general, sadly that made it hard to get to the front for many.

In the blazing heat, I made my way across the other end of the festival to The Barclaycard Stage to catch Nashville rockers Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown. Their current EP The Wayside is one of the best things that I have heard in a long time and despite being regular visitors to the UK, this was going to be my first time seeing them live so I was very excited. The audience was a good size, not great, they did deserve bigger but that’s just the way it goes at festivals sometimes. A couple of people in the audience asked me if I knew who they were as they had never heard of them. I reassured them that they were in for a treat and I am certain they agreed after the set.

Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown ran on stage shouting “Are you ready for some rock music?” to which the crowd gave a loud cheer. The entire set was like being transported back to a time of my youth listening to artists such as Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden and so on. The band had so much energy and were so much fun to watch and sing along to. They got the crowd participating a lot with fist pumping, rhythmic clapping and much more.

Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown do an awesome cover of Muddy Waters Mojo Workin’ which live was even better. Tyler has a real rock voice which reminds me of Andy Wood. The band really knew how to, lack of better wording ‘rock out’. Tyler kept saying what a dream it was to perform on the same line up as his favourite band ‘Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers’ . I feel we will be seeing a lot more of Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown in the future and will no doubt see some of the festival goers there, I think that they were the biggest surprise for a lot of people and certainly the best find of the whole day. I walked away after feeling that their set alone, was worth the entire journey and entire day out.

The Wayside – EP by Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

Next up on The Great Oak Stage were The Lumineers, I was particularly excited for them as had never seen them before and have been enjoying their current album Cleopatra. Of course, the song most people know is their chart topper ‘Hey-Ho’ which they sang pretty early on which I felt was a good move. The audience sang along in great force and no one left after proving that they were true Lumineers fans or really enjoying the set. The Lumineers are the perfect festival band, they have so much stage presence and are all round entertainers.

For me, one of the highlights was the song Cleopatra as I really like that song. Vocally and musically you cannot fault The Lumineers during a live setting. The folk element of their music is so strong and creates a really lovely atmosphere. Lead singer Wesley Shultz was captivating on stage and a true showman. In fact the entire band delivered a show stopping set which really sticks to the memory and will go down as one of the best festival performances I have seen. Another highlight was the song Ophelia, another great track from their current album Cleopatra.

Cleopatra (Deluxe Version) by The Lumineers

Walking around again and chatting to people asking how much they were enjoying themselves, many people were excited for Stevie Nicks and hoping she would sing Edge Of Seventeen and Rhiannon. Despite the festival being very very large, people seemed to be happy wherever they stood. A lot of people were there in groups of friends and were just having a grand ole time, drinking, chatting, laughing, dancing and just enjoying themselves.

I managed to catch one song from Jordan MacKampa on The Summer Stage. He was a very impressive Folk/Blues artist and I wish I had caught more of his set but clashes happen sadly. What I did hear was fantastic, woth just Jordan and his guitar if memory serves and some fine tuned, stunning music.

Physics – EP by Jordan Mackampa

After Jordan, It was a mad dash then to The Great Oak Stage for Stevie Nicks.

What a draw and what an experience many of us will never get again. Stevie was pretty much why I went. Walking on stage casually to the biggest cheer that I have heard in a long time, Stevie wowed the audience throughout her set with her distinctively perfect voice and the wonderful stories behind some of the songs. Singing solo material and the one song everyone wanted The Edge Of Seventeen, Stevie also sang various Fleetwood Mac songs such as Dreams, Gypsy, one of my favourites Gold Dust Woman and then crowd pleasers Rhiannon for the encore finishing with Land Slide.

Stevie states that she has never once stood on a stage, her stage and not performed RhiannonYou can’t get rid of her” Stevie jokes. One song she had never performed live before this tour or at least not in years was Crying In The Night and she treated us with a story about her and Lyndsey Buckingham before joining Fleetwood Mac how she thought she would always be a waitress and never would she have imagined that all these years later she would perform a song she thought nobody would ever hear in front of thousands at Hyde Park, London UK.

Stevie will be a lasting memory for me and for many I am sure and I am so glad to have had experienced her live, to hear that voice, what a moment!

I returned to The Barclaycard Stage to catch Ward Thomas, a favourite of mine for many years. Having chatted to them earlier that day, I was excited for this set as had actually been a while since I had seen them live. Twin sisters from Hampshire, Lizzie and Catherine Ward Thomas have had one heck of a great year including a number one album for their second studio album Cartwheels.

Ward Thomas always shine on stage and together have two of the best voices I have heard with killer harmonies. They always make me laugh on stage as are unintentionally funny. As usual, the girls put on a flawless performance which drew a very very large audience. My only criticism was the lack of songs from the debut album From Where We Stand as they only did A Town Called Ugley. Again, it is a festival so their set is limited and of course, they are going to perform as much new material as they possibly can including fresh new songs which were very good. I do miss their old sound as it is more energetic but performances of Guilty Flowers and Carry You Home were very welcomed and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I do hope to see the older songs on set lists in the future as they are real gems.

Energy risen, atmosphere unexplainable, audience heaving, it was time for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Everyone screamed with sheer excitement as he entered the stage. Beginning his set with Rockin’ Around With You, Tom treated us with a lot of the classics such as Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin’ and brought back good friend Stevie Nicks for Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. The entire performance was electric, energetic and the crowd knew they would likely never experience this again. Ending with American Girl, the show was more than anyone could have imagined and everyone left more than satisfied and with a day they will never forget. I was secretly hoping for some Travelling Wilburys songs but knew it was unlikely. Tom as to be expected was a pro performer as were The Heartbreakers.

Had there not been clashes, I would have caught British folk band The Wandering Hearts who I cannot say enough great things about. They have a great single out at the moment called Wish I Could, please go get it . The Wandering Hearts are one of the best vocal groups around and hold similarities to Fleetwood Mac. Alas, I did see them at Cornbury the day before so not all is lost. Another artist that I was keen to see had there not been clashes was Juanita Stein, formerly the lead singer of The Howling Bells. I had a quick chat with her earlier that day and she was a joy to talk to. She will be back on tour in Sept/October so be on the look out.

British Summertime was all round a great day out and is well worth the money. If you don’t mind large audiences then this festival is without a doubt, one of the best going. There were no badly behaved people, the food and drink available was of great choice and so many around that the queues weren’t crazy. With various entrances, this maintained a careful entry and exit and most importantly, there were more than enough toilets for them to not be too clogged up as often many are at festivals.

I hope that next year, we get more of a similar calibre of artists and hopefully some great country music. How about getting Shania Twain to headline? After all, rumour has it she was there as a spectator.




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