15 Jul 2012

Born to overrun: Anger as Bruce and Sir Paul are silenced

Rock fans tell Channel 4 News of their disappointment after Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney have their microphones cut off at the climax of a Hyde Park concert.

The ex-Beatle had joined Springsteen onstage at the end of The Boss’s headline set at the Hard Rock Calling concert in the central London park.

After belting out hits like Born In The USA and Because The Night, Springsteen welcomed Sir Paul to the stage to sing Beatles hits I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout.

But neither performer had the chance to thank the crowd after organisers pulled the plug to comply with their licence agreement with Westminster Council.

Springsteen, known for his marathon live performances, had been playing for more than three hours and had exceeded the curfew by half an hour.

Leith Penny, Westminster Council’s strategic director for city management, said: “Concert organisers, not the council, ended last night’s concert in Hyde Park to comply with their licence, which allows them to run the concert until 10.30pm.

“Licences are granted until certain times to protect residents in the area from noise late at night.”

Steven Van Zandt, who plays the guitar in Springsteen’s E Street Band and starred as mobster Silvio Dante in cult US drama series The Sopranos, tweeted: “One of the great gigs ever in my opinion. But seriously, when did England become a police state?

“We break curfews in every country but only English cops needs to ‘punish us’ by not letting us leave until the entire crowd goes.

“Is there just too much fun in the world? We would have been off by 11 if we’d done one more. On a Saturday night! Who were we disturbing?”

He added: “The cops got nothing more important to do? How about they go catch some criminals instead of f****** with 80,000 people having a good time?
“English cops may be the only individuals left on earth that wouldn’t want to hear one more from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney!”

Hyde Park

His sentiments were echoed by many fans, who also tweeted their annoyance and emailed Channel 4 News today.

Andy Lewis said: “Hyde Park is a poor venue, sound was woeful, couldn’t hear Bruce in between songs, faded in and out.

“Hard to see stage too unless right up at the front. In the end it was just rude to not allow Bruce to say thank you and good night. We’d paid over £60 a ticket and had things been ready for him to start at 7, he’d have made the curfew. Shambolic and sad end to an awesome E Street show!”

Christopher Kinch said: “What a finale to bring on Macca like that and then the plug gets pulled…I know the rules are important but you have to have some common sense.

“The crowd could have kicked off – they didn’t but that was because everyone was so mellow at the end of a great set. How difficult would it have been to give him a minute to finish the song and then say sorry but it’s goodbye?”

Tom McKay said: “Would one more song really have inconvenienced Westminster Council that much? I’m sure they have better things to do on a Saturday night when two rock legends were just trying to bring a little sunshine to a miserable Summer in a seemingly miserable country!”

Stuart Stringer said he was “surprised, shocked and totally bemused as to how and why they did that last night”.

He added: “Two living legends vs Jobsworth, and who won? Only in England, saddened to say.”

Matt Morrisroe defended Westminster Council, saying: “Events having a curfew and the plug being pulled on the sound is incredibly common. I’ve managed and played at events on four continents and this isn’t the case just in Westminster, but around the world.

“Local authorities have a very hard time. Whilst they will receive objections to any events from residents when they override these objections to host events they also come under attack if the artist overruns.

“Especially as there are so many events in Hyde Park this summer, the local authority must be very mindful of keeping residents happy so as to avert risk for forthcoming events.”

On Monday, singer Paul Simon takes to the stage at Hard Rock Calling, while on Saturday night 90s grunge band Soundgarden played.

The number of concerts which can take place in Hyde Park will be reduced from 13 to nine from next year following complaints about noise.

The crowd limit will also fall from 80,000 to 65,000, and in some cases 50,000 from 2013 after the decision by Westminster Council’s licensing sub-committee last February.

The number of concerts to be held came into question after residents in well-to-do Knightsbridge and Belgravia complained about noise.

There were 109 complaints from residents in 2011, around twice as many as in 2010.