Westminster Council have a reputation for sucking the fun out of any party. The pubs in Soho are well known for the draconian restrictions placed on them in terms of drinking outside, and the fenced-off demarkation zones have to be strictly enforced on pain of a heavy fine.
But now they’ve gone to far. Although the blame has yet to be categorically laid at their door, Westminster Council are at least indirectly responsible for cutting off Bruce Springsteen.
The Boss was playing in Hyde Park last night as part of Hard Rock Calling – a weekend of gigs that this year include names like Paul Simon and Soundgarden. As ever, he gave his all, delivering a dynamic three-hour set, culminating in a couple of Beatles songs featuring none other than Paul McCartney. It was a gig destined to go down in history as one of the most memorable of the 21st century.
Which is exactly what happened, for all the wrong reasons. At 10:40, after a barnstorming blast through Twist And Shout, the speakers went dead. A technical fault? A power outage caused by the miserable weather? Nope. Westminster Council had imposed a 10:30 curfew on the event and, in an act of jaw-dropping hubris, an unidentified jobsworth cut the power. McCartney stalked off stage and Bruce, after an abortive attempt to kick off one last song, was forced to mutely shrug to his audience and leave.
Accusations are flying, with Westminster Council defending their curfew but pointing out that it was the concert organisers Live Nation that cut the power. After all, every minute that an artist goes over the scheduled finish time triggers an increasingly hefty fine. This was an argument that didn’t fly with Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt, who took to Twitter to simply point out:
Even Bozo Boris the Comedy Mayor has entered the fray, saying on LBC Radio:
“If they’d have called me, my answer would have been for them to jam in the name of the Lord.”
Van Zandt’s loyalty to Live Nation aside, it looks like this isn’t the first time Hard Rock Calling has stomped on The Boss, whose epic sets are notorious for over-running. Twitterbuddy and fellow Bossaholic Simon Aitken recalls the last time Bruce played Hard Rock:
…which sounds like the sort of buzzkill for which Westminster Council have a great deal of form. The end result is that a gig that should have gone down as one of the all-time greats will be remembered for very different reasons. I hope the joyless pen-pusher who authorised cutting the mikes, and the spineless jobsworth who actually did the deed, are very proud of themselves today.
I doubt that we’ll see Bruce in Hyde Park again anytime soon. The last time I saw the Boss, at the Emirates, he put on an amazing show that merrily over-ran by half an hour. Somehow, we all survived and got home without any problems. Shame Westminster Council can’t see how that could possibly work.