Hyde Park will be transformed into downtown Havana and the volume “turned up to 11” when Jon Bon Jovi becomes the first star to test a £5m revamp of the Summer concert site.
The Wireless and Hard Rock Calling festivals have migrated east to the Olympic Park following complaints by local residents over noise levels and disruption. Rock fans, by contrast, complained that the volume was too low at last year’s Blur concert.
AEG Live, the O2 Arena operator, which has taken over the Royal Park, claims to have solved the volume problem by building a new stage which points away from the luxury penthouses bordering Park Lane.
The capacity will be reduced from 80,000 to 65,000 ticket-holders and the number of concerts cut to six, under new Westminster Council licensing restrictions.
The arena will be re-designed in the style of a “neo-colonial Havana street”, to encourage fans to spend more on food and drink, with increased areas for corporate and VIP hospitality.
Plastic toilets will be replaced by “real lavatories”, installed at a cost of £1.5m. Unsightly kebab vans will make way for bistros, restaurants and a farmers’ market.
Announcing his band’s 5 July concert, Jon Bon Jovi said: “We’re going to make sure we play as loud as eleven. We’ll turn it right up and let them deal with that.”
Bon Jovi turned down an offer to open at the rival Olympic Park concerts this Summer, to relaunch the central London venue. The band promised they would not be forced offstage by the curfew restrictions which cut short a Bruce Springsteen duet with Sir Paul McCartney last year.
“We’ll push it as hard and as far as we can,” the singer said. “Hopefully all the authorities know all the words so they can sing along before they cart me off to Hyde Park jail.”
Jim King, AEG Live's event director, said the volume problem had been resolved: “We relocated the stage, orienting it away from the residents because previously it had been firing straight at them."
“The band will play as loud as they can play. Moving the stage gives us at least 3Db on site increase, that’s a significant increase.” The new Great Oak Stage has been designed to camouflage with the surrounding park environment.
There will be ticketed gigs on the weekends of June 28-30 and July 5-7. The site will be open to the public midweek and host events such as theatre and outdoor cinema. AEG Live has pledged £250,000 per year to The Royal Parks for charitable causes.
Tickets for Bon Jovi go on sale 9am Friday 1st February at www.bstlondon.com