Sunday, July 15, 2012
"....thank you !...and for our last number tonight...the great Billy Joe Royal classic..."Hush!"....."
Something like this.
London (CNN) -- Bruce Springsteen had been waiting for this moment for a long time. "I gotta tell you," he said to the 65,000-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.
London's Westminster Council later 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.
Conditions for holding concerts in London's biggest central park have been tightened in the past year, the BBC reported, due to an increase in complaints from local residents. 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.
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 [@lizchong1] demanded the concert organizers apologize for cutting Springsteen and McCartney off mid-song, saying "Won't come again."
Sunday night sees Paul Simon take the stage. He should consider himself warned: Should he too decide to team up with a golden great for a grand finale, they'd better keep a closer eye on the clock.
Having "grown up" with these guys, while having fronted, backed and/or been a part of more than a fair share of peforming bands through the years, I had, as you might imagine, an immediate empathy for both performers and attendees as to the "wtf" sensation that shutting them down naturally evoked.
That said, as a parent and grandparent living in a culture that, with each passing day, prides itself less and less with the idea of showing even the commonest of courtesies to others, I can't help but feel a little "you go, guy/girl" is deservedly offered up to the "rule keeper" who green lighted pulling the plug.
And not to put words, or music, in the mouths of icons...but something tells me that parents/grandparents like Mr. Springsteen, Mr. McCartney, et al might just have walked off the stage with the faintest of smiles that would indicate they agree.