Tangled up in corporatism

The Who plus Bob plus Eric Clapton plus no booze in a bleak midsummer Hyde Park equals one damp squib. By Andy Gill

It wasn't just the weather that was responsible for the grey, overcast nature of Saturday's Prince's Trust concert in the park. Dismayingly corporate, it was an efficient afternoon's work by those involved - which did not, ultimately, include sizeable portions of the audience, whose involvement was crucially diminished by the alcohol ban which traditionally operates in the Royal parks.

The only way to get round the ban was to pay pounds 200 to get access to the VIP area, where Royal tradition was washed away in a sea of free champers. From my windswept eyrie in row ZZ of the seats, I could see the VIP tent, over whose entrance was strung a banner bearing the corporate sponsor's logo and the mystifying claim "Palace of Rock", wherein such slavering rockbeasts as Virginia Bottomley and the charity's distinguished patron - to whom I overheard one plummy voice refer, with overweening familiarity, simply as "Wales" - could refresh themselves and rattle their jewellery away from the hoi polloi. With no equivalent means of warming up from the inside out, the bulk of the crowd was dependent on the show itself raising the temperature, and this remained steadfastly tepid.

Bob Dylan, with Ronnie Wood augmenting his band, was his usual self, fascinating and infuriating in equal parts. Always contemptuous of his own obligations as a Master of Rock legend, Dylan spends much of his time onstage subverting his own material, rendering some of the most well-known of rock anthems virtually unrecognisable, both to the audience and, at times, to his own musicians, who follow gamely wherever Bob's boot-heels may be a-wanderin'.

Today, they wandered slowly down "Positively 4th Street" and in more sprightly manner through "Silvio" and an encore of "Highway 61 Revisited", while the audience played Spot the Intro. Even spotted correctly, the songs were impossible to sing along with, Dylan twisting his delivery in the most tortuous fashion, flatting most of the melodies in a manner that sounded utterly dismissive of the songs. It was fun to observe, though: I particularly enjoyed the conclusion of "Tangled up in Blue", at whose apparent close the audience applauded, their appreciation tempered with a palpable sense of relief that the band had actually managed to reach the end more or less together. But both parties were blindsided at the last moment, when Dylan decided that what this particular version of the song really needed was another couple of stanzas of harmonica. Like tardy children dithering at the back of the crocodile, the band were belatedly forced to catch up, while the crowd wondered whether they should applaud again at the end, having already done so once.

For The Who's set, the problems of recognition derived simply from the fact that few people outside diehard fans are familiar with the Quadrophenia material, and justly so: long on ambition but short on catchy melodies, this is Pete Townshend's least engrossing group work, with all his favourite chords rearranged in song after song, like anagrams of each other that gradually blur into one bombastic tirade. Gary Glitter tried manfully to inject a little excitement into the proceedings, but despite his efforts, the show never really lifted off as a staged event: the walk-on celebs (Stephen Fry, Trevor McDonald, and Ade Edmondson) generally did just that: walk on, and then stand around at a loose end. Ringo's son Zac Starkey did a decent enough job Mooning around on the drums, though a brief snatch of film featuring the young Keith Moon doing in his drumkit bore sad testament to the distance between the old, anarchic Who and this new, knighthood- hungry corporate entity.

It was right and proper that Eric Clapton should close the show: as always, Eric's performance was well-rehearsed, impeccably played, and presented with excellent sound quality, factors not exactly in abundance elsewhere on the bill. But for all its coherence and dazzling artistry, it was a largely bloodless affair, except for when Jerry Portnoy stepped forward to blow the back off his harmonica. Even the serrated edges of Elmore James's "It Hurts Me Too" were smoothed out in Clapton's rendition: the blues with a Windsor knot at its throat.

Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
The party's over: Paul Higgins and Stella Gonet in 'Hope' at the Royal Court

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special

Broadcaster unveils Christmas schedule

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

books
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Bell in the new BBC series Posh People: Inside Tatler

Review: Posh journalists just can't get enough of each other

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital