For the first time in history, two of the world’s greatest musicians performed on the same billing – Bob Dylan and Neil Young. It was a day of music that was simply unmissable, with tickets selling out in a matter of minutes. And it’s easy to see why, this was a unique moment in music that perhaps may never be repeated.
Bob Dylan’s impact on popular music and culture is immeasurable. The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, he is responsible for some of the most influential albums of all time, such as The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. And here, on the Great Oak Stage, onlookers were treated to one of the park’s most special shows.
As soon as the opening notes of ‘Ballard Of A Thin Man’ occupied the air, Dylan commanded the crowd, taking them on a sonic journey through his 50+ year career. Sporting his distinctive hat and a glitzy jacket, he remained mostly perched behind the piano, performing hits such as ‘Make You Feel My Live’, ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ and ‘Like A Rolling Stone’. But with such an iconic voice and a back-catalogue that has made him one of the best-selling artists of all time, that’s all he needed to do. Throughout the set, Bob did it his way – with a grin that made it clear to see he was cherishing the moment just as much as the audience.
Neil Young remains the only artist of the rock era to compare to Dylan, and his performance shortly before Dylan’s was equally historic. Joined by his band, Promise Of The Real (including Lukas Nelson, the son of Willie Nelson and of A Star Is Born fame), they offered a comprehensive, career-spanning set. From the stunning, drawn out guitar passages on opener ‘Mansion On The Hill’ to gorgeous chorus on ‘Alabama’ or the beautiful harmonica chords on ‘Heart Of Gold’, magic was truly in the air.
The onstage chemistry between Young and The Promise of The Real was clear for all to see – best showcased during their playful, riveting guitar and drum solos on ‘Rockin’ in The Free World’. After this, the band collectively bowed and left the stage, before returning for a triumphant encore of ‘Like A Hurricane’, ‘I’ve Been Waiting for You’ and ‘Piece of Crap’.
Laura Marling is another artist who has had her fair share of accolades, winning the BRIT Award for Best British Female Solo Artist in 2011, several Mercury Prize nominations and a Grammy Award nomination. She is also regarded as one of the finest songwriters of her generation. Joined by a drummer and two talented female backing vocalists, they opened with ‘Master Hunter’, also performing the likes of ‘Devil’s Spoke’, ‘How Can I’ and ‘Daisy’. Other than a polite thank you to the audience, she let her music do all the talking.
Charlyn Marie Marshall aka Cat Power left the crowd in awe after an inspiring show. Hushed, vibrant, reverbed vocals floated over lo-fi guitar twangs, echoing around Hyde Park as the US musician and her note-perfect band worked their way through tracks off her critically acclaimed 2018 LP Wanderer and even ‘Song To Bobby’ from her debut album, Jukebox.
Opening the Great Oak Stage was young English heartthrob and Brit Awards Critic’s Choice winner, Sam Fender. After finishing ‘The Borders’, off his forthcoming LP, he declared “This is a day that me and my band are going to brag about for the rest of our lives, sharing a stage with Bob Dylan.” Despite being the first act on, the park was already bustling with eagerness, and Fender’s catchy, cheerful tunes only upped the excitement and anticipation for the day ahead.
Opening the North Stage was Boy Azooga, fresh from their recent stint supporting Neil Young. Also featuring were rock’n’rollers Vista Kicks and US ‘gothic blues’ singer Adia Victoria.
The Summer Stage welcome a whole of host of talent in Hardwicke Circus, Flyte and hotly-topped Manchester four-piece, Big Society.
An iconic show naturally attracted celebrities in their droves, including: Kate Moss, Nick Cave, Woody Harrelson, Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Fallon, Sadie Frost, Cara and Poppy Delevingne.