BST Hyde Park has become a staple of the British Summer gig calendar. Every year the event showcases some of the world’s biggest artists over a couple of glorious weeks in one of London’s most iconic locations. The honour of opening this years festivities fell to P!nk and her Summer Carnival tour. Over the course of two nights she will bring her eye popping stage show to an estimated 135,000 audience members.
Before we get to the main event though, there is the little matter of the opening act. Main support on this run comes in the form of the iconic Gwen Stefani, who is back on UK soil playing shows for the first time 16 years. She wastes very little time getting reacquainted with Ol’ Blighty opening with a lush The Sweet Escape before bringing out some No Doubt classics with Sunday Morning, Hey Babyand their cover ofTalk Talk’sIt’s My Life played in quick succession. In fact today’s set is a well thought out blend of old favourites and crowd pleasing classics, blending both eras of Stefani’s career together nicely. She is clearly happy to be here, beaming from ear to ear, she works the stage like a pro, jumping, dancing and sharing playful moments with her backing dancers. A gorgeous rendition of Don’t Speak picks the crowd up, but the crowning moment of her set comes in its closing moments, with a sensational run of What you waiting for?, new single True Babe, Spiderwebs, Just a Girland obligatory set closer Hollaback Girl complete with banana wielding backing dancers. After such an absence from touring, and returning to the UK in support of a performer of P!nk’s calibre you’d be right in assuming Gwen Stefani would have her work cut out for her. You would however be wrong, she effortlessly rose to the occasion and proved once again why she is one of the most beloved and iconic frontwomen in modern music. (8/10).
As the sun gets ready to set on a lovely day here at Hyde Park, the amassed crowd waits in anticipation for tonight’s main event. P!nk appears on the giant video screens in a hilarious homage to Max Headroom. As the video comes to a stop, she appears behind a giant mouth at the top of the stage, before bungeeing down and kicking off with a rabble rousing Get this Party Started, a request that the 65,000 strong crowd are more than happy to oblige with. Tonight’s show is a heady blend of Cirque Du Soleil and the neon glow of MTV’s 80s heyday. A giant studded ice cream cone and disco dall adorn the stage along with giant neon arches and a tube light flamingo.
There are no shortage of hits to match the on and offstage high jinx. Raise your Glass, Who Knew and Just Like a Pillget early outings ensuring the energy levels start at the highest possible point. Act II of the show kicks off with a heart in your throat aerial display during Turbulence, a beautiful piano led rendition of Make you Feel my Love originally by Bob Dylan, which is punctuated by a proposal in the crowd. Just Give Me A Reason and Fuckin’ Perfect kick off more animated singalongs, while Alice in Wonderland soundtrack deep cut Like a Fire transforms into a full blooded cover of Pat Bentars Heartbreaker half way through.
Act III sees the show slow down a little bit as P!nk takes some time to interact with the crowd, collect some gifts from the audience, while also signing after items. It’s these personable human moments that really punctuate tonights performance showing the human under the performer and creating a further unshakable bond with her fanbase. Please Don’t Leave Me is as every bit as heart wrenching live as on record. Cover Me in Sunshine features a special guest in the form of P!nk’s young daughter Willow who shares vocals with her mother in another truly special moment.
Irrelevant is one of the show’s true triumphs. Starting with a speech about all of the abuse and trolling she has faced over her career, the backdrop shows moments throughout history of some of the world’s greatest and most important moments featuring iconic and inspiring women. It’s a real fists in the air moment that makes you really appreciate the messaging behind her music and how much she values herself as a strong female role model.
Act IV brings the show to a chaotic conclusion. We get a sensual cover of Sade’sNo Ordinary Love, Runaway allows the backing dancers a chance to live out their best Olivia Newton John physical fantasies, giant dancing pink lips appear during Blow Me (One Last Kiss) it’s a sensory overload that gives the audience one last megadose of serotonin before sending them off into the night. The encore of So What sees P!nk take to the skies overhead as she flies around Hyde Park like a living breathing Tinkerbell, spinning, twirling and gliding through the air (all while singing I might add) before landing and setting off one last blast of fireworks to cap the night off.
All that is left now is for everyone in attendance to pick their jaws up off the floor and head home. P!nk’s live show is one of the most spectacularly eye popping things you are ever likely to see with your own eyes. Even for someone as cynical and seasoned at attending live shows as myself, I was left constantly impressed, confused, entranced and wondering to myself just what the hell was going to happen next. Over the course of the last 23 years P!nk has not only graduated into a top tier performer capable of holding a crowd in the palm of her hands, she somehow manages to remain an incredibly humble, oftentimes hilarious and self deprecating person amidst all of the chaos. When all of these things are combined they create a hell of an experience and one I’ll not be forgetting any time soon (10/10).
American Express presents BST Hyde Park continues with shows from the likes of Guns n’ Roses, BlackPink, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Lana Del Ray and Take That. For more information and tickets visit the official BST Hyde Park website