Young, Springsteen give Hyde Park rock masterclass

Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:46am EDT
 
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By Angus MacSwan

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - If Mount Rushmore featured rock 'n' rollers instead of U.S. presidents, the faces of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen would surely be carved there.

The two elder statesmen showed just why they are venerated by fans of all ages at the Hard Rock Calling festival in central London's Hyde Park this weekend in performances brimming with passion, energy and timeless songs.

To cap it all, Sir Paul McCartney joined Young on stage for his encore, literally bowing at his feet as the Canadian played a feedback-drenched version of the Beatles "A Day in the Life."

Now aged 63 and 59, neither Young nor Springsteen has let up the pace in recent years. Both have released new albums in the past several months which had their moments even if they did not reach the heights of past classics.

They each took prominent positions against former U.S. President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. Springsteen campaigned hard for Barack Obama and played at his presidential inauguration.

Politics was largely absent from the Hyde Park shows though as they focused on entertaining the summer crowds in London, after headlining the Glastonbury Festival earlier in the week.

Young took to the stage on Saturday night looking like an old mountain man seeking shelter from a storm, with his bedraggled, thinning hair, craggy features and muttonchop sideburns. Not known for indulging his audiences, he played a crowd-pleasing set which drew heavily on "Harvest," his best-known album, and the guitar-heavy "Everybody Knows this is Nowhere."

He kicked off in his "Godfather of Grunge" persona with a crunching version of "Hey, Hey, My, My" and its refrain "it's better to burn out than to fade away." He then stormed though a number of hard rockers, delighting rapturous fans, before switching to a mellow mood with a run of country-flavoured numbers including "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man," as night fell on the park.   Continued...