Day three at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park saw Eric Clapton deliver a timeless performance, bringing a perfect close to a sold-out first week at Hyde Park.
The legendary rock and blues guitarist and singer-songwriter from Surrey walked on the Great Oak Stage for his first Hyde Park performance in 10 years and uttered the three words that has been reverberating through England in the past week: “It’s coming home”.
Plenty of Clapton fans through the generations turned up sporting tour T-shirts from his various career-spanning shows. The three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee wasted no time, launching with ‘Somebody’s Knocking’ complete with full-bodied guitar solos that he is famed for before hitting a hearty rendition of the blues classic ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’.
Where the acoustic section of the set, with Clapton seated to deliver his biggest hits ‘Layla’ and ‘Tears in Heaven’, remains a clear focus point - it is ‘Got To Get Better In A Little While’ and the Cream hit ‘Crossroads’ that the singer shows us his fighting-best vocals.
In ‘Lay Down Sally’ and ‘The Core’ from 1977’s “Slowhand” - one of Clapton’s most critically successful albums - he brought out Marcy Levy (Shakespeare’s Sister) who co-wrote the songs with him. For the grand encore, Clapton brought out Carlos Santana for ‘High Time We Went’ with Paul Carrack on vocals.
Santana made it impossible for the crowd to stand still with his rhythmic, musically sumptuous set. Carlos Santana called out, “I know it has been a long day in the sun but now is the time to go Santana bananas!”
Opening with visuals of Woodstock soundtracked by ‘Soul Sacrifice’, the award-winning musician brought a flavoursome set weaving blues-rock, jazz fusion and Latin and African percussion rhythms. Much loved classics like ‘Oye Como Va’ and ‘Maria Maria’ sent the crowd wild while ‘Smooth’ still reigns as Santana’s most iconic hit, sounding every bit as delectable as the first listen 19 years ago.
Steve Winwood made his monumental return to Hyde Park for the first time in 49 years. The last time he performed here was in 1969 as part of Blind Faith - Winwood’s blues-rock band with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.
Winwood’s distinct soulful vocals still rings clear and strong as ever, giving us the perfect soundtrack to a summery Sunday afternoon, a particular highlight being his signature hit ‘Higher Love’ which got the crowd on their feet and swaying along. The Great Oak Stage screen was emblazoned with record artworks from his genre-shifting discography.
Winwood, performing with a full band including a saxophonist and flautist, alternated between the organ and guitar in a set filled with songs from his bands: Blind Faith (‘Can’t Find My Way Home’), Traffic (‘Pearly Queen’) and Spencer Davis Group (‘I’m A Man’).
Acclaimed blues-rock and soul musician Gary Clark Jr. brought the vibe of a smoky blues nightclub to the Great Oak Stage with a muscly set that mingles his rendition of Muddy Waters’ ‘Catfish Blues’ with high-energy electrifying rock songs like ‘Ain’t Messin’ Around’, and slow burning ballads that really gives him a chance to shred. It is in these guitar solos that the Grammy-winning artist really loses himself and goes in a trance-like state with his eyes rolled back, conjuring the spirit of Hendrix in front of a spellbound Hyde Park crowd.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real opened the Great Oak Stage. With the sun high and gentle breeze carrying their roots-rock songs across the green park, there really could not have been a more perfect scene-setter for a day of incredible live music.
Elsewhere, the Barclaycard Stage hosted a string of crowd-pleasing artists including Italian singer-songwriter Zucherro, English national treasures Chas and Dave, folk-Americana band The Wandering Hearts and country soul heartthrob Ryan Kinder. ‘Rockney’ faves Chas and Dave came on stage to a rapturous applause before swiftly leading the audience into big sing-alongs for ‘Gertcha’, ‘London Girls’ and ‘Margate’ while The Wandering Hearts served up honeyed harmonies on tunes from their debut album “Wild Science”.
Plenty of music lovers were happy to seek refuge from the 30 degree heat under the lush oak trees in Hyde Park and enjoy delicious world-class foods near the Summer Stage where a host of country and folk musicians played. Roots rockers The Americans, Nashville breakout stars Eric Paslay and Kelly McGrath, and London-based folk duo Ferris & Sylvester gave stellar performances to a receptive crowd that clapped, cheered and swayed along to their new music discoveries.
Bill Nighy, Dustin Hoffman, John McEnroe, Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones, Bernie Ecclestone, Cassidy Janson, Laura Whitmore, Paul Whitehouse and Suzi Perry were among the stars who turned up to watch Eric Clapton’s set.
Next week welcomes headliners Michael Bublé on Friday 13th July, Bruno Mars on Saturday 14th July, and Paul Simon on Sunday 15th July.