Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney have sound cut off at London festival
Fans left angry and disappointed as rock idols are forced to cut set short
Concert organizers pull the plug in line with local council's strict curfew
NEW: Lead guitarist says: "When I'm jamming with McCartney don't bug me!"
Bruce Springsteen had been waiting for this moment for a long time. “I gotta tell you,” he said to the 76,000-strong crowd, “I’ve been trying to do this for 50 years.” For the finale of his headline slot in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday, he’d arranged a very special treat: An onstage collaboration with Beatles legend Paul McCartney.
But the rock megastar hadn’t banked on the local London council deciding to show him who was boss.
At the climax of his three-hour set, Springsteen and McCartney, backed by the E Street Band and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, played a storming rendition of “I Saw Her Standing There” to a rapturous crowd. Springsteen’s delight was palpable: He grinned throughout, his face lit up like a child with a super-sized Christmas gift.
The supergroup then segued into a sizzling version of “Twist and Shout” – but as the night peaked against a backdrop of fireworks, a drably dressed man with sensible hair could be seen waving frantically at the back of the stage, indicating the rock legends’ time was drawing to a close.
Then, at 10:40 p.m. local time, as Springsteen and McCartney were winding up the extended “Twist and Shout,” the sound suddenly dampened, and went quiet.
At first, the Boss didn’t seem to notice. He attempted to address the crowd, apparently unaware that they couldn’t hear him. But as it became clear that there was no amplification, he and lead guitarist Stevie Van Zandt played what looked to be a brief a cappella goodnight for the benefit of the front rows, shrugged, and left the stage.
Van Zandt tweeted later, “I’m sorry but I have to be honest I’m pissed … It didn’t ruin the great night. But when I’m jamming with McCartney don’t bug me!” He also implied his fans were denied their final number, saying, “We would have been off by 11 if we’d done one more.”
London’s Westminster Council confirmed that concert organizers Hard Rock Calling had cut the power, saying they “were sticking to their license for the event.” According to the Hard Rock Calling website, Springsteen had been due to finish his set at 10:15 p.m.
But Van Zandt tweeted, “Hard Rock would have let us play all night,” adding, “Feel bad for our great fans … It’s some City Council stupid rule.”
Conditions for holding concerts in London’s biggest central park have been tightened in the past year, the BBC reported, due to a rise in complaints from local residents. The Conservative-run council received 130 complaints about popular music events in the park in 2011. The events, which bring vital funding to the parks management, have been cut in number from 13 to nine and crowd size has been reduced from 80,000 to 65,000 maximum. Campaigners in the well-heeled borough have also sought a reduction in permitted noise levels.
A spokesman for concert operator Live Nation said: “It was unfortunate that the three hour plus performance by Bruce Springsteen was stopped right at the very end but the curfew is laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public’s health and safety. Road closures around Hyde Park are put in place at specific times to make sure everyone can exit the area safely.”
Properties around Hyde Park are some of the most desirable in London, and popular with bankers, foreign investors and politicians.
Springsteen is known for his marathon sets. This night was no different. He’d come on stage at 7:30 p.m. and played without breaks for just over three hours, from a beautiful acoustic “Thunder Road” through an extensive list that included “Badlands,” “Because the Night,” “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” and “The River.” He then hit his high-energy closing set of “Born in the USA,” “Born to Run,” “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark” before bringing on the former Beatle for the finale.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy his fans, who were left baffled, then angry that their idol’s set had been cut short.
“Ashamed to be British right now. Springsteen and McCartney playing ‘Twist & Shout’ in Hyde Park and council pulled the plug cos of curfew,” tweeted actor and comedian Stephen Merchant.
British journalist Richard James tweeted, “Springsteen and McCartney: Only in Britain could a local council pull the plug on the greatest artists of the last 50 years giving it all.”
Fan Liz Chong demanded the concert organizers apologize for cutting Springsteen and McCartney off mid-song, saying “Won’t come again.”