“Hello, London!” Springsteen announced as he arrived on stage, before the familiar introductory guitar riffs to No Surrender began.
Hit after hit after hit followed, both old and new, then blasted from the stage: Letter To You, Ghosts, The Promised Land, Kitty’s Back and My Hometown – with the 73-year-old even stepping off the stage to take selfies with tearful fans.
The 18-strong band, which included guitarist Steven Van Zandt and saxophone player Jake Clemons – nephew of original member Clarence Clemons – also offered stellar cover performances of The Commodores’ Nightshift and a song written with Patti Smith, Because The Night.
Two hours in, Springsteen slowed the set down to share the story of his friend and original bandmate from The Castiles, George Theiss, who Springsteen had played music with at just 15 years old. Having sadly lost Theiss to cancer just five years ago, he dedicated the gentle Last Man Standing and Backstreets to his life-long friend, the latter of which included a spoken ode. “Be good to yourself and those around you,” he softly advised a silent crowd.
Closing the epic three-hour set was a phenomenal encore, packed with the iconic Born In The USA, Dancing In The Dark and Born To Run, as well as Bobby Jean, Glory Days and 10th Avenue Freeze-Out. An acoustic rendition of the haunting I’ll See You In My Dreams brought Thursday evening at Hyde Park to a memorable end.
Second on the bill was American country-rock band, The Chicks, who were previously known as Dixie Chicks. Composed of Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer – and hailing from Dallas, Texas – the trio hit the stage to Sin Wagon, followed by the likes of Gaslighter, Julianna Calm Down and Landslide (a Fleetwood Mac cover).
“Are you ready for Bruce Springsteen?” called Maines from the stage. “That’s Martie, that’s Emily and I’m Natalie and we’re going to attempt some pre-show entertainment.”
The band unleashed a string of their greatest releases – White Trash Wedding, Daddy Lessons / Long Time Gone, March March, Not Ready To Make Nice, and Goodbye Earl to ecstatic cheers from the crowd.
Frank Turner opened the Great Oak Stage this afternoon with his backing band The Sleeping Souls. “Alright, Hyde Park? Let’s get warmed up.” he exclaimed to the waiting audience.
“Welcome to show 2,788 for us – which is a pretty big number. I’m a bit nervous about this show, [but] arguably we’ve done 2,788 warm up shows just for this gig in sunny London [town] this afternoon.”
The British punk-turned-folk singer-songwriter showcased an array of tracks from his nine studio albums, including The Next Storm, Recovery and the “country folk-rock dance number”, Photosynthesis. While the intricate beats of melancholy Haven’t Been Doing So Well from Turner’s 2021 album, FTHC, led the way for his own guitar solo.
“This is a song about anxiety and mental health,” he admitted. “Which is something I have issues with. I have learnt the way to deal with anxiety is to face your fears.”
Today’s action began this afternoon on the Rainbow Stage presented by British Airways with word-of-mouth sensation Picture Parlour playing Hyde Park just seven months after their first live gig in front of 150 people. The four-piece from Manchester took their role as warm up for ‘The Boss’ with pride, wowing waiting fans with their debut single Norwegian Wood. They were followed by Mersey moshers STONE, who played a selection of tunes from their 2022 EP, Punkadonk.
“We are STONE from Liverpool,” announced the band. “It’s an honour to be supporting ‘The Boss’, Bruce.”
Then it was the turn of Dublin rockers, The Coronas, who entertained the crowd with a string of homegrown songs. The three-piece band showcased hits from their impressive 26-year career including All The Others, Addicted To Progress and Listen Dear.
With three days of more brilliant live musicians to come, it’s been a phenomenal day at American Express presents BST Hyde Park 2023.
BST Hyde Park 2023 returns this summer for its 10th anniversary year and we’ve got even more legendary headliners this year: All Things Orchestral presented by Myleene Klass and featuring Alfie Boe (23 June), P!NK (24 and 25 June), Guns N’ Roses (30 June), Take That (1 July), BLACKPINK (2 July), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (6 and 8 July), Billy Joel (7 July) and Lana Del Rey (9 July).