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Springsteen cut short in the park

By | Published on Monday 16 July 2012

Bruce Springsteen

If a band’s been playing non-stop for over three hours, part of me thinks that there should be a law to stop them, even if they have just wheeled out a Beatle, but Springsteen fans would likely not agree.

Many took to Twitter to complain when The Boss’s headline set at Hard Rock Calling this weekend was silenced as the singer, who had just dueted with Paul McCartney, exceeded his curfew. Though few were as angry as E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who took to the net to rant big time after the power was cut to the Hyde Park stage’s sound system, on Saturday night, even though Springsteen wanted to sing one more song, or at least bid his audience good night.

Van Zandt wrote: “One of the greatest gigs ever in my opinion. But seriously, when did England become a police state? We break curfews in every country but only English cops needs to ‘punish us’ by not letting us leave until the entire crowd goes. Is there just too much fun in the world? We would have been off by eleven if we’d done one more. On a Saturday night! Who were we disturbing?”

He continued: “The cops got nothing more important to do? How about they go catch some criminals instead of fucking with 80,000 people having a good time? English cops may be the only individuals left on Earth that wouldn’t want to hear one more from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney! If it’s a public transport issue, I’m sorry but people are adult enough to go get a train if they need to without the cops pulling the plug!”

Of course, anyone who follows the licensing of the various major music events that happen in the London park will know there are quite a lot of local residents who say they are routinely disturbed by the big Hyde Park gigs, and they have been busy lobbying Westminster Council to cut back the number of shows that take place there. And with those local residents scoring some successes with their campaigning of late, Live Nation, which runs the Hyde Park stage, and which is staging even more events than normal there this year because of the Olympics, is understandably cautious of pushing the rules.

Indeed, a spokesman for Westminster Council insisted yesterday that it was a Live Nation decision to end the Springsteen show when it did, in order to comply with its licence. And it was, no doubt, a decision welcomed by local resident groups, and one that may help the next time the live music major is in front of licensing officials negotiating terms, even if it did piss off a lot of Springsteen fans on the night. Though even Vaz Zandt admitted he was pissed when writing his rant, and that the premature shut down “didn’t ruin the great night”, but “when I’m jamming with McCartney don’t bug me!”

Overnight, audience members who attended the Sunday night edition of the same festival, headlined by Paul Simon, were complaining that the sound at the show was too quiet, presumably also because of licensing concerns on the part of the promoter. Given Live Nation has also just had to buy in most of the world’s supply in wood chip to ensure the mud bath of a park is still usable throughout the Olympics, you can’t help thinking that some at the live giant might start wondering whether operating the Hyde Park stage is really worth all the hassle.