Royal Turnout at Hyde Park Calling

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Steve Jenner | 02 July 2006

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, along with her daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, were among the tightly squeezed throng of guests enjoying the headline set from the side of the main stage on the first night of Hyde Park Calling. The backstage enclosure was certainly a cut above the usual gaggle of Big Brother evictees and Eastenders E-listers.

Now courting the same establishment that many of his lyrics were directed against, Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters, backed by former bandmate Nick Mason, had clearly grown old gracefully. Yet that did not dilute the sheer power of the epic stage show, delivered in no less than three separate sets over nearly three hours.

Set one was a crowd-pleasing Pink Floyd Greatest Hits set, featuring gems spanning most of their classic albums, including 'Wish You Were Here', plus a new song entitled 'Back From Beirut'. After a brief intermission, the second set, which featured Mason on drums,  was the highly anticipated run-through of their magnum opus 'Dark Side of the Moon' album. As the dying strains of 'Eclipse' rang out beneath a magical pink sunset, fans were then treated to an unexpected bonus of highlights from their other seminal release, 'The Wall'. The energetic performance was enhanced by a typically dazzling laser and lights show, stunning, crystal clear surround sound and astonishing pyrotechnics - enormous flames jetting high above the stage - during encore 'Comfortably Numb'.

Drama had featured throughout the day - the hottest of the year so far - as temperatures soared to 31 degrees C. The England Vs Portugal World Cup Quarter Final match dominated proceedings initially, with the majority of the crowd standing with backs to the stage to watch the action unfold on a big screen at the back of the arena. New Zealanders Breaks Co-Op introduced themselves as "the background accompanyment to the game". Starsailor admitted they were miffed at having to miss the second half in order to play, with singer James Walsh moaning to VF afterwards that: "They told us we wouldn't get our fee if we didn't go straight on." Lightening Seeds later lifted the mood of defeat with a rousing 'Three Lions' in the second stage tent.Hyde Park Calling continues today with The Who topping an electric bill that also includes Primal Scream, Razorlight and The Zutons.


As the match stretched into penalties Texas songbird Sharleen Spiteri stepped gallantly up to the vain challenge of stealing the crowd's attention. "What, are there only ten of yers here?", she mock-scolded the sea of tense backs in-front of her. For one humourless fan near the front, it was all too much, and he threw both of his own shoes at the singer.

A reader who witnessed the incident at close range told VF: "I was standing with my girlfriend yards from the guy who threw his shoes at Sharleen - yes, both - the first one was wrapped in an England flag and missed, the second came very close to her!  Everyone around us was outraged by this idiot's behaviour and fully supportive of Sharleen's outraged reaction. Throwing missiles at the stage isdisgusting should not be tolerated"

Shortly after Texas' set had finished, Roger Waters delighted waiting fans with a premature, unscheduled appearance on-stage, to throw the offending shoe back into the crowd. Spiteri herself snorted when a one-shoed Virtual Festivals reporter later approached her, asking in jest for his other shoe back (For the record, VF deplores the throwing of footwear or any objects other than non-reinforced underwear at performers on-stage).

Day Two of the festival brought even higher temperatures, as The Who delivered another triumphant Greatest Hits set, packed with classics that had a broad age range of fans dancing and singing all the way to the back. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend were on buoyant form, thrilling fans with classics such as 'Won't Get Fooled Again', 'Pinball Wizard' and 'My Generation'. Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller and all of Primal Scream and Razorlight (who had both performed storming sets earlier) watched from the side of the stage. It was a fitting conclusion to a relentless, high octane day of live rock

Stay posted for our full coverage of the event.

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