New York legend Billy Joel headlined last night’s show to kick off the final weekend of this year’s American Express presents BST Hyde Park, with a spectacular romp through more than 50 years of hits.
Arriving on stage to a roar of cheers, Joel delved straight into “My Life”, saying: “Thank you, London, England! Good to see ya, I don’t get to come here that much. And I’m not sure when this old ass is going to be back again.”
With 22 songs to perform across more than two hours, showcasing powerful ballads such as “Always A Woman”, fun pop tracks such as “Vienna” and piano-led highlights such as “New York State of Mind”, Joel’s widespread artistry was put on full display.
Not least when he unleashed “The Longest Time” upon the crowd, with 65,000 voices singing back. “An Innocent Man” weaved quickly into “Start It Up” the Rolling Stones cover.
Speaking about his vocal range, 74-year-old Joel admitted, “Your voice deepens as you get older. I didn’t think I’d do this song in my 70s, I didn’t think I’d be doing this gig in my 70s!”
Closing the set was a five-track encore, featuring “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “Big Shot.”
Highlights from the evening were a special tribute to Tina Turner, where Joel interlaced “The River of Dreams” with “River Deep, Mountain High” and of course, the harmonic “Piano Man.” There was even a Beatles-inspired “Hard Days Night” interlude in the mix.
Then came the ultimate pop classic, “Uptown Girl”, for which Joel was joined on stage by Joe Jonas. “I’m going to bring a friend to sing this next song with me. Please welcome the Jonas Brothers’ Joe Jonas,” he announced to the excited audience. The night ended with the 65,000-strong crowd dancing their hearts out to “You May Be Right.”
Second on the bill was American rock ‘n’ soul singer, Daryl Hall, who delivered a nostalgic walk down a memory lane of 70s and 80s hits. Performing a string of solo songs and tracks from his days as a part of America’s popular musical duo, Hall & Oates, the 76-year-old artist was in fine form.
Launching straight into “Maneater”, he continued with “Dreamtime”, each song celebrating the success of his 2022 album, “Before After”, which features the star’s expansive five-decade long musical career. As he relaxed into the set, Hall took his seat at the piano, to offer a thrilled audience classic Hall & Oates; such as “Rich Girl” and “You Make My Dreams.”
Natasha Bedingfield took a nostalgic look over some of her back catalogue in her set. Opening with” Love Like This” and “Pocketful of Sunshine”, she went onto play a fiery rendition of her first ever release, “Single.”
“I just want to say how special it is to perform songs in London,” she told fans. “I love Billy Joel, as we all do, and Daryl Hall, whoop!” Natasha teased the crowd with covers of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and Prince’s “Purple Rain,” before ending on “These Words” and an acoustic version of her biggest hit, “Unwritten.”
Music on the Rainbow Stage presented by British Airways, opened with Ugandan-born, Texas-based singer-songwriter Jon Muq, who brought his stirring vocals and expressive pop to Hyde Park.
He was followed by British country-pop trio Remember Monday, who made their debut on the BBC’s “The Voice”, in which they reached the quarter finals. “Jailbreaker”, their original song that made them famous, featured in their set.
Acclaimed Pakistani-British singer, Rumer, closed the Rainbow Stage with a selection of her most popular tunes, including “Slow” and “Aretha.” Her latest single, “Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow”, a collaboration with Redtenbacher’s Funkstra, also featured.
Kicking things off on the Great Oak Stage were husband and wife duo from Nashville, Tennessee, Bowen * Young (stylised with *). Composed of Claire Bowen and Brandon Robert Young, the pair celebrated the release of their new single, “Water To Wine”, by opening with the song.
Australian-born Bowen said: “G’day everybody! It’s such an honour to be with you here today… We just love being here with you, so we’re just going to keep rocking. Is that alright?”
“Hello Hyde Park,” added Young. “It’s warm today! I don’t know if we’ve seen this many people in one place before, you’re making a dream come true today and we really appreciate it.”
The couple, who were married by John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash and June Carter, displayed their unique musical style with a haunting cover of Beyoncé’s Halo.
[Also on the bill were Brad Heidi, Sophia Alexa and Alyssa Bonagura.]
- BST Hyde Park 2023 returned this summer for its 10th anniversary year, with a strong line-up: 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 (9th July).
Photos: Dave Hogan – Hogan Media