Festival Reviews

Festival Review: Hard Rock Calling 2010 (Sunday)

By | Published on Friday 2 July 2010

Paul McCartney

Forgive me for pointing out the lack of ‘hard rock’ on display at the erstwhile mega-successful theme restaurant’s festival; I heard one happy punter fondly utter ‘Dad Rock Calling’, and you know what, he was about half right, for Sunday’s proceedings at the very least. With someone like Paul McCartney headlining a string of radio-friendly nostalgia acts, such as the likes of Elvis Costello and Crowded House, one has to wonder where and when AC/DC’s invitation was lost in the mail. Does anyone really care, though? It’s Macca, for fuck’s sake. He may be the second-to-uncoolest Beatle (sorry Ringo), but the plethora of fans who were there to support him is proof of his prevalence in the music world, from his days in the planet’s biggest pop group onwards (although some might argue not necessarily upwards – but my point is, the devil isn’t always in the detail, here).

The main stage started off on wobbly legs with bedwetting soft-rock from American superwimps More Than Me, but was thankfully saved by the time I was close to drowning my sorrows in cider by the legendary Elvis Costello, who must have been baking like a potato in tin foil wearing his blue velvet suit in over thirty degrees heat. Now that’s dedication, non? Bizarrely sprightly and keen to charm the crowd, that he did, churning out old favourites including my personal favourite ‘Alison’, right before the heat got a little bit too much for some people and the crowd began to, sadly, stagnate.

Onto the Bandstand, where, I’m unashamed to say, I spent the majority of my time from then onwards; how can one resist such a perfect line-up in such an intimate environment? The stand, which was no bigger than my kitchen (which is pretty damn tiny, in case you’ve never been lucky enough to be in my flat), was host to some of the best faces in indie, and amongst them I was able to catch Pearly Gate Music, Here We Go Magic, John Grant, and the stellar Beach House.

Pearly Gate Music, who deserve a special shout for being the early highlight of the festival, are an intriguing little bluesy, indie folk band from the States, who garnered more eager, jumping-in-the-grass fans the further their set progressed. A peak in energy, they set the bar for acts to follow, a bar that, unfortunately, Here We Go Magic – despite their decent set – weren’t quite able to reach. A big fan of the band, I like to think that the intense heat of the day had a strong affect on their playing which, at times, came across as slightly lulled and forced, but nevertheless under-layered with the magic of their amazing sound.

John Grant was next, a casual, dry-witted type of fellow, a sort of cross between Jonathan Coulton, Ben Folds and Grizzly Bear; his set was, in a word, tight. Charming the crowd with both his startlingly-honest humour and talent for putting a good old tune together, his efforts paid off as crowds of people flocked to the stand post-set to pay a princely sum of fifteen pounds for his debut LP, ‘Queen Of Denmark’.

And then there was Beach House. Oh, Beach House, how perfect you are to me. Front-lady Victoria’s vocals are haunting on record, but translate perfectly onstage, and enraptured the crowd who were, by this point, tightly packed around the stand to admire a band who may just be peeping their heads up from the fog of obscurity. And rightly so.

To end the night, Paul McCartney’s main stage performance was, as predicted, raucously crowd-pleasing and – very long. Over two hours, to be precise. Well, like I said earlier, he’s a legend, and you should know that whether you like him or not. I’ve always been a George Harrison girl myself, but there is something to be said about taking away that little slice of music history. Hard rock it wasn’t, but good rock and a bloody good day – yeah, okay, I’ll give you that. TW