Hard Rock Calling: The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, James, Wolf Gang & Michael Kiwanuka, Hyde Park, 24 June 2011

Predictably, it started to rain in Hyde Park after six o’clock, which meant the long-awaited performances of Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers were wet through, but by no means ruined. Not even the rain refrained the two bands from delivering two memorable performances.

You can always read something critical and sarcastic about The Killers. For many critics they are too glamorous and extravagant, but somehow British people continue to adore them. But who is right: the snobbish musical critics or the crazy fans gathered in Hyde Park? Based on tonight’s performance, the latter have got it right this time.

Tonight tracks from their debut, Hot Fuss, like Mr Brightside, Smile Like You Mean It and Somebody Told Me sounded like proper party anthems in the quasi-muddy grass of Hyde Park.

But the amount of time given to Sam’s Town is a sign The Killers are more comfortable with bigger and rockier tunes on stage. Closing song, When You Were Young, was the reason people smiled and hugged each other despite the rain and the mud and tunes such as For Reasons Unknown, Bones and Read My Mind reminded us why The Killers started to sell out arenas with their sophomore and best record.

Brandon Flowers appeared confident and charming, and is a great singer. But Ronnie, Mark and Dave were not overshadowed by him at all and on songs like Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine and a cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay The Killers looked like a band with chemistry, rather just Brandon Flower’s comrades.

But before The Killers other indie bravados performed in front of an enthusiastic crowd. If their penultimate Off With Their Heads hadn’t been so unsuccessful and poorly rated, Kaiser Chiefs could probably have headlined the event tonight. But their latest effort, The Future Is Medieval, is a big step forward.

You simply cannot dislike this band as they perform perfect indie songs which are catchy, rocky, raucous and anthemic. You can dance to Ruby, We Are The Angry Mob, Never Miss A Beat both in a pub and in Hyde Park, as they are joyous and addictive. Their energetic set was as good as The Killers and they have definitely come back in style. It’s clear the public has never forgotten their good old days.

James was the oldest band on stage, yet surely the most experienced. Nothing bad can be said about these rock seniors and the thousands of both young and old waving hands on a classic like Sometimes are proof of what a massive heritage these Mancunians have left in British rock music.

To complete the line up, Wolf Gang and Michael Kiwanuka were first to appear on the towering stage. Wolf Gang’s music will probably not change anything in music right now, but the London-based band was quite impressive and confident on a tough Friday like this one.

Singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka was the first artist on the list but did not disappoint at all. His acoustic folk rock might sound a little bit too overheard these days, with all the Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Ben Howard on the radio, but it’s definitely early stages for him and his performance was delivered with passion and professionalism.

Overall, no one could have left disappointed by the first day of Hard Rock Calling. It might have clashed with Glastonbury, but as the text messages running on the big screen said: “Who Needed Glasto with The Killers?”

By Silvia Rucchin

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