Monday, 1 July 2019

Hard Rock Calling 2009 - Day 1 - The Killers

10 years ago, I attended the Hard Rock Calling festival. All of it. And it all happened by chance. I had already booked my Bruce Springsteen concerts in Italy for July of that year (Rome, Torino, Udine) when I noticed that the Bruce Springsteen concert at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park was on the anniversary of my previous and first one in Paris (Well, almost. The Paris concert was on the 27th of June 2008 and the London one on the 28th of June 2009. The following day of the anniversary actually). I thought that it would be nice if my second Bruce concert was one year (and a day) after the first, so I decided to go. The problem was that there weren't any tickets left. So, I paid some extra money and got a VIP ticket. Problem solved. A few days later another Hard Rock Calling date was announced, the day before the Bruce concert with Neil Young headlining and The Pretenders also appearing. "Since I am going to be there" I thought, "why not go to that one as well?". So I did and I was able to find a ticket quite easily. And much much later a third date was announced on the day before Neil Young, with The Killers headlining. "Now there's a new, a 00's band that I like" I thought, "why not go and see them as well?" However, this had quickly sold out as well and so I got another VIP ticket for this one. So I ended up having booked all three dates of the festival in reverse order.
So, on Thursday the 25th of June, we left from Athens airport with an Easyjet flight to Luton. When the plane landed and passengers started turning on their moblie phones we learnt that Michael Jackson was gone. And that happened at a moment in time when he had decided to make a comeback with a long residency at the O2 Arena in London that very summer. 

We got off the plane and after a what seemed like an endless bus ride from Luton we arrived in central London. From there we took a taxi to Earl's Court where our hotels were and the driver informed me that EasyHotel Earl's Court where I was staying was behind Freddie Mercury's house. (I had gone to see Freddie's house in 1996 but back then there was no EasyHotel nearby. In fact there was no EasyJet either.)

The next morning after breakfast, and a stroll through Earl's Court, it was time to go to Hyde Park. I meant to get there early because one of the bands playing at the second stage (the one inside a huge tent) was Air Traffic. Two years before I had bought one of their CD singles from Amazon by accident. I thought I was buying a single from Air who I had seen at the Fly Beeyond Festival of that year in Athens. It was because of this "accident" that I had found out about them and now that I had the chance to see them, I meant to do so. I made it just in time using the London Underground and the changes it required while spotting an advertising poster with a significant meaning for me in one of the stations. 

Upon arriving at the park all I had to do was follow the crowd. My VIP ticket meant that I could enter the park through a separate entrance so at least I didn't have to wait while entering, while in the meantime I could observe the people who weren't going to the festival nut where enjoying their day at the park.

Once inside, I spotted the main stage, where people were already gathering and then looking at the map I found and headed towards the second stage (the one inside a tent) which was called "The Pepsi Max Stage"

I was on time and Air Traffic were inside and performing. So the first part of my mission for that day was successful!

After the Air Traffic set was over, I started walking around on the festival grounds admiring the facilities.

But my aim was to reach the VIP section where I could relax away from the crowds and enjoy the special dinner that went with it. Now, there were two different VIP tickets, the first one, which I had bought provided a special dinner but you had to pay for the drinks. If you bought the second one which was £100 more expensive, the drinks were free. The idea was tempting but in order to make it worthwhile I would have to consume £100 worth of alcoholic drinks. If I had done that, I don't think I would remember what had happened at the festival the following day!

My friends started arriving then and while we were walking around the main stage and they secured their places there, I had to make my way back to the Pepsi Max stage. It was time for Echo & The Bunnymen!

Ian McCullough was there with all the favourites like "Seven Seas" and "Bring On The Dancing Horses". And then the moment we were waiting for finally came: "The Killing Moon"! But no, it wasn't to be. Ian changed his mind, stopped halfway through the song and played "The Cutter" instead. Afterwards he played "The Killing Moon" in its entirety!

They even managed to insert a snippet of "Walk On The Wild Side" while they were playing "Nothing Lasts Forever"

After that was over it was straight back to the main stage for the main course of the day! The Killers launched straight into "Human" one of my all-time favourite songs.

The rest of the set was magnificent, after all in 2009 the band were at their peak form. I had lost my friends by that time and couldn't find them but I somehow ended up with some British guys dancing in a circle and chanting "I got soul but I'm not a soldier"!!! "Did you enjoy yourself?" they asked me. "Yes" I replied, all the while thinking "who are you people?"

And on that note the first day of Hard Rock Calling Festival 2009 ended for me. What I didn't know at that time was how lucky I was to be there in London seeing them live. They were due to play at Terra Vibe in Athens around that time but because it had rained the organizers pulled the plug. Yes, the very same organizers that kept making us go all the way to Terra Vibe each time we wanted to see one of our favourite bands. They would finally play in Greece in 2017!
I found my friends at the exit and some new arrivals who had come for the second day of the festival and started trying to find somewhere to eat. Not an easy task when you're in London around midnight. We did finally find a place somewhere near Piccadilly Circus and then it was back to our hotels. Neil Young (and the Pretenders) would be waiting for us the following day...

01. Human
02. This Is Your Life
03. Somebody Told Me
04. For Reasons Unknown
05. The World We Live In
06. Joy Ride
07. Bling (Confession Of A King)
08. Shadowplay
09. Smile Like You Mean It
10. Spaceman
11. A Dustland Fairytale
12. Read My Mind
13. Mr. Brightside
14. All These Things That I've Done
15. Bones
16. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine
17. When You Were Young

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