BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2011 review

Gary Barlow at Radio Two Live in Hyde Park by Michael Cox
Gary Barlow at Radio Two Live in Hyde Park by Michael Cox

Overall: 8/10

Click to see the best BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park photos.

In the last decade Radio 2 has gone from strength to strength in terms of gaining a wider audience and moving away from the image of being tailored for the ‘older generations’.

However their ‘festival in a day’ is not full of the usual festival crowd gracing this summer’s live events – there is definitely a more mature audience in the Hyde Park site.

It’s a decidedly relaxed Sunday afternoon atmosphere with the park being filled with picnic hampers, blankets and families enjoying the day out together.

The day offers to showcase the best of Radio 2’s talent with the station’s presenters providing interludes between the songs with the likes of a very humorous Patrick Kielty, an over excited Vanessa Feltz, Jeremy Vine, Craig Charles and Chris Evans amongst others.

Caro Emerald (7/10) stands out on the stage with her traditional European look complete with black beret, stripy jumper and provides an extremely quirky but loud set.

A very poorly Will Young (9/10) coughs his way through his show and apologises profusely to the audience for the shortening of it due to his illness. Nonetheless he wows the crowd with an extremely soulful and strong voice, and charms them with jokes throughout. 

Lenny Kravitz (9/10) could not come onstage at a better time as for the first time all day the rain ceases for longer than ten minutes; complete in a black leather jacket and shades, he looks every inch the rock superstar as he belts out ‘Fly Away’ and ‘American Woman’.

Imelda May (7/10) is introduced as one of Radio 2’s greatest finds; her cutesy rockabilly style is fun but her voice seems slightly lost on the big stage.

The act that has the over 20’s going weak at the knees is James Blunt (9/10) who comes on to deafening cheers as well as tears! He delivers an emotional set with the likes of ‘Wisemen’ and closes with a version of ‘Beautiful’ that is sung out with the crowd.

The headline act is supposed to be Lionel Richie but a few days before the event it was revealed that he is ill and Gary Barlow will be stepping in last minute, along with a special guest.

Classic disco legends Chic (10/10) liven up the event with their powerful soulful voices, brightly coloured lighting, and exuberant performance. Unfortunately as things are running behind schedule they have to squeeze in their set, as does Gary Barlow (10/10).

However, ‘Le Freak’, ‘Everybody Dance’ and ‘Good Times’ are exquisitely performed and have the crowd dancing about.

Barlow performs some of Take That’s biggest tunes, old and new in his short set, and declares that he, “has always dreamt of replacing Lionel Richie” and goes on to perform Richie’s ‘Hello’ accompanied by piano.

As a solo performer at such short notice he blows the top of Hyde Park and finishes with a rendition of ‘Rule the World’, which is accompanied by fireworks and rapturous applause.