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The Killers bring Vegas glitz to BST festival as Hyde Park is also treated to stunning summer sets from Elbow, Kings of Leon and Tom Petty

13 July, 2017 — By Alan Stafford, Bob Mccabe, Róisín Gadelrab

The Killers in Hyde Park. PHOTO: ROB LOUD

HYDE Park’s BST festival ended on Sunday after three further days of huge gigs headlined by Kings of Leon, The Killers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – and some big-hitting supports including Elbow and Stevie Nicks. Here’s what we made of it…

Kings of Leon and Pixies, July 6

HOT, humid Tennessee skies sweltered over Hyde Park for Nashville’s Kings of Leon on Thursday night. But first, as the afternoon began to melt into the evening, Pixies sweated and growled through Gouge Away, Where Is My Mind? and other stone-cold classics, alongside songs from last year’s solid Head Carrier album. La La Love You and Mr Grieves from 1989’s Doolittle were late highlights and the band finished in uncompromising style with a furious Vamos.

As the long hot day simmered into dusk, Kings Of Leon came out to a rousing reception from the tanned and well-oiled thousands. Old songs like King of the Rodeo and The Bucket, from the days when KoL were a raw Southern garage rock band, contrasted sharply with the well-tooled stadium rock anthems of more recent albums including last year’s WALLS, with Caleb Followill’s (above) distinctively plaintive, tortured voice the common thread running through it all. The title track from their most recent album brought an unexpected emotional response in the form of a marriage proposal – a proper one, with a man with a ring in a box, down on one knee in front of his girlfriend – she said yes! Use Somebody was an epic singalong that the Queen could surely have heard from her back garden up the road. Even that paled into insignificance with the audience response to Sex On Fire, the KoL song everyone knows, even if they’ve never heard of the band (a bit like Come On Eileen, in various ways). The forecast thunderstorms never happened but, it felt like something had finally burst after that.

Elbow and The Killers, July 8

PHOTO: DAVID J HOGAN

ELBOW could not have been a better choice on Saturday, under the blazing rays. Where some bands can get lost in the open-air format, Elbow’s full instrumental sound, together with Guy Garvey’s beckoning vocals, filled the air, permeating the perimeter and beyond. In between songs Guy (above) played on two distinct features: being northern, which he encouraged the crowd to emulate, and general uplifting joy. Garvey was full of love to the world, high on life and the overall general good feeling was infectious. Closers One Day Like This and Grounds for Divorce elevated the atmosphere to a state of euphoria as the entire park seemed to rise in chorus.

PHOTO: ROB LOUD

Brandon Flowers (above) burst onstage in a pink leather blazer to lead The Killers in opener The Man, their new single from fifth album Wonderful Wonderful – to play to a crowd that seemed to be mainly made up of 30-somethings and their parents – as one person remarked, since when did Kings of Leon and The Killers become a heritage rock act? All glammed up and polished, Flowers has evolved into an extremely good-looking part-Vegas showman, part-TV anchorman – all gleaming quiffs and glimmering pearly whites. You can almost see the toothpaste advert diamond bling sparkling from his beaming smile. The set did not disappoint. With the exception of the omission of Bones, likely every other one of the band’s signature tracks were there as they played against the Great Oak stage’s incredible wraparound screen projecting images of Flowers et al against dramatic landscapes. Fireworks and Flowers’ insatiable enthusiasm made for an almost perfect set – ending with When You Were Young and Mr Brightside as silhouettes danced in the dark against ticker tape and stage lights – sublime.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, July 9

PHOTO: DAVID J HOGAN

TOM Petty had many things to celebrate at Hyde Park on Sunday. Not only was he closing out the British Summer Time season to a packed park, his first UK appearance in many a year was also marking the 40th Anniversary of his first album, one that (it seems remarkable to say now) was initially embraced at the peak of post-punk new wave. But before Petty (above) and his Heartbreakers took the stage, The Lumineers’ soft folk gently wafted over a gently balmy crowd, all very pleasant, even if they did misjudge things by playing “the hit,” Ho Hey, first.

PHOTO: DAVID J HOGAN

Stevie Nicks vied between solo numbers and Fleetwood Mac perennials (the latter naturally finding more favour with the audience) in between numerous costume changes. At one point she appeared to leave the stage, kill a goose and return wearing it, before concluding with a shimmering Rhiannon and a delicately lilting Landslide.

Petty and band burst into life with Rockin’ Around (With You) the first song from that first album, before delivering a hits-heavy set that went down a treat, even if most of the biggies were from Full Moon Fever, an album Petty made without his usual backing band. Nobody minded as Free Fallin’ became a perfect summer evening singalong. Nicks joined them for Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, before the Heartbreakers stormed it all back to 1977, finishing with a sublime none-more-jangly American Girl.

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