On Saturday at Hard Rock Calling, the first band I managed to see was Tom Morello – The nightwatchman. Given that he is part of the band Rage Against The Machine, I wasn’t expecting it to be just one man with an acoustic guitar. It was certainly a surprising choice for a main stage act and it didnt really seem to go down that well with the crowd – the main reaction seemed to be one of apathy.
Bored by Tom Morello I headed over to the Pepsi Max stage to catch the last part of Needtobreathe’s set. In my view they were far more entertaining and they’d managed to pull a good crowd so clearly other people shared my lack of enthusiasm for Tom Morello. Needtobreathe are another band I’d certainly like to see again in the future.
Lady antebellum got things going much better on main stage. They had two singers – one male, one female, with a good guitar driven sound. I’d hear good things about the band and depsite them being more pop rock than rock I was pretty impressed – they’re a band well worth watching.
Over in the Hard Rock Rising tent, Gabriel Bruce was playing to a packed out tent and what little I could hear from the entrance to the tent sounded pretty good.
Next up on the main stage was John Fogerty. When he gets introduced by Bruce Springsteen as a friend and an idol then you know that he’s going to be good. By this time the park was very busy by this time – probably three quarters full. As the man behind Creedence Clearwater Revival I was hoping we’d get some of their songs and happily I wasn’t disappointed – we got a set packed full of them including “Born on the bayou”, “Have you ever seen the rain” (rather appropriate given the days weather), “Bad moon rising”, “Proud Mary”, “Fortunate son” and more. We got a Roy Orbison cover – ” Oh Pretty woman”, and then we got a surprise guest for the encore. For the encore he brought out Bruce Springsteen to rapturous applause, and they performed John Fogerty’s song “Rockin’ all over the world” (the song made famous by Status Quo). John Fogerty’s set was absolutely superb and was a real highlight of the weekend for me.
As soon as John Fogerty finished I dashed over to the Pepsi Max tent to see the rest Amy MacDonalds set. The tent was absolutely packed for her performance and she gave us a great set including her hits such as “This is the life”. As part of the set she also did an excellent cover of the Bruce Springsteen hit “Born to Run” which really went down well with the fans.
Once Amy MacDonald finished then people flooded out to get a good spot to watch Bruce Springsteen – something easier said than done though as the place was packed and was probably 80% full, with maybe 60,000 fans there to watch The Boss.
Bruce Springsteen was due on at 7pm, but was around 30 minutes late – a decision he’d regret later (more on that further on). Opening with “Thunder road” he was playing in front of a huge crowd of people who were all there mainly to see him. It was certainly a set for fans with his best known hits saved till late on in the set, but with this crowd he could play anything he’s ever done and he’d have got a great reception. He played one song he rarely plays “Take ‘Em As They Come” after seeing a fan holding up a sign asking for it – now that’s one fan guaranteed to go home deliriously happy. Bruce showed what a true performer he is and made the three hour set look easy where most performers half his age would have collapsed from exhaustion long before that
He brought out guests – John Fogerty joined him for “The promised land”, and Tom Morello joined him at several points to play five songs in total with him.. His biggest surprise though was saved for the end of the set when he brought out Paul McCartney who played “I saw her standing there” and “Twist and shout”. It was at this point the late start came back to haunt Bruce as the sound was cut as soon as they finished “Twist and shout” leaving them unable to thank the crowd (reportedly they also wanted to play another song too). Sadly the concert had overrun and the organisers had to cut the sound off because of noise restrictions imposed on them by the council (local residents complaints over noise levels have resulted in strict conditions in terms of sound levels and how late the music can go on till). Still it was a great performance and a great day.