17th July 2011
Oh dear, oh dear, where do I start. Magic Radio should hang their heads in shame at this symbolical attempt at an outdoor music concert. Thank goodness for the musicians who saved the day and were the only people who knew what they were doing.
Firstly there was the parking. From the Old Hatfield entrance to the car park early in the day took over an hour. This seemed to be the norm throughout the day, even VIP so called fast track parking did not exist. People who had paid £95.00 a pop for VIP tickets which should have enabled nearer parking were not all catered for. Parking was a nightmare for everyone There were no designated disabled parking
areas. I heard one very distressed lady who was pushing someone in a wheelchair complain how disgusted she was having had to trudge through grass for a considerable distance – no thought or consideration seemed to have been given to this and no one had any answers. This whole pantomime was repeated at the end of the day. I started to leave just before the last of Elton's songs fearing a repeat of the mornings fiasco and I was not disappointed. As soon as I got in my car total gridlock for an hour and a half. Apparently parking fields further along had flooded, or so I was told. This should have been pre-empted. The torrential rain we had hours earlier would have exacerbated the flooding situation of course, but maybe something could have been done in the intervening hours. But no.
A fight broke out between two woman in cars behind me (where VIP now stood generally for Very Impatient people). It became very serious but, as you might have guessed by now, it took a good half hour before any intervention by stewards. Shocking. One lady was so traumatised she needed medical treatment. Upon leaving the site there were no signs at to what road you were being fed onto. This was disorientating for me and I'm sure many other people too.
Moving on to what was laughably called catering for 20,000 plus people. The cues were abysmal with cues over two hours in the main arena at some times! The toilet cues were just as bad. In the VIP area it was little better. There was not enough choice all round, no where to shelter during the downpours (I remember the days when you could shelter in a beer tent but not on Sunday.) I heard people complain of the caterers running out of food and drink. People were banned from taking their own food or drink onto the site, and there was only one drinking fountain on the whole site!
(I might add that this was not just a problem in the VIP area and main arena. The photographers, journalists and media people who were covering the event did not have time to cue for any refreshments due the the structure of the day and there was not even a can of coke between them. One photographer managed to smuggle a cereal bar onto the premises and was nearly mugged by fellow photographers. )
I have been attending music concerts, gigs and events for 35 years and this is by far the worse one I have ever been to in terms of organisation.
Now to the good stuff
The event, situated on a massive field on the estate headlined by no less than Sir Elton John. The two hour set kicked off with Saturday Night's all right for fighting and immediately slowed it down with Blue Jean Baby. The great bottle neck guitar playing on this song gave it a distinctly country flavour.Philadelphia Freedom followed. Elton then got the crowd singing along to the chorus of Yellow Brick Road and managed to lift the audiences spirits despite the adverse conditions.
EJ and his magnificent band performed some of his well known hits (your song, rocket man to name a few). Along with some new material from his collaborative album The Union, with Leon Russell due out later in the year. The new songHey Ahab gave fans something to talk about with its high octane and real rock feel, with sublime backing vocals from Lisa Stone gave it a feel to Pink Floyd's Dark side of the moon. His performance of Sorry always seems to be the hardest word was truly excellent and highly emotive, to the delight and appreciation of the audience, further enhanced by a duo of Croatian cellists (2cellos) who Elton discovered on You Tube!
The whole band were absolutely amazing too, really tight. He still has his original excellent guitar player (Davey Johnstone)and drummer (Nigel Olsson), and the guys are still rockin! Elton himself still has an amazing voice but slightly lower these days which was apparent withSacrifice giving his singing an even more raunchy sound. Loved it! Elton has lost none of his magic since I first saw him up close and personal at Watford's Top Rank in the seventies, and still every bit as brilliant. Long may he rock!
Rumers live performance, was great just as good as on record, if not better. Although she does sound reminiscent of Karen Carpenter on CD but live, her voice had a wonderful soulful quality that reminded me of Dusty Springfield. She gave a good solid and heartfelt performance and although she has only been really in the public sphere a short time, with a voice this good I hope she achieves the longevity in the music business that she deserves.
The Overtones particular brand of do wop, R&B, pop and 'Glee' had the crowd sing and dancing, not to mention a few hearts racing. These guys are every bit good live as you think they should be. Tight choreography and their harmonies refreshing in the modern climate of manufactured pop. I expect see great things from this very talented quintet.
The girl group Wonderland formed by Louis Walsh and Westlife member Kian, (the latter was there to support his band) were the first act to perform in the event. After a nervous start, the talent of these girls shone through proving they can sing which is rare in this day for pop stars with Sharon and Jodi proving particularly strong vocally.
The sister duo The Pierces were particularly good and gave their all despite the rain, although having recently played Glastonbury they may have felt at home. Lead vocalist Catherine gave an animated performance and showed influences on both Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks. Even the sun managed to come out during their performance of their hit song Glorious.
Another highlight of the day was an amazing performance from the newly re-formed Lighthouse family, back together after an 8 year hiatus. Lead singer Tunde really looked happy to be back performing and relished being in front of a live audience. It didn’t take long to remember how good the Lighthouse Family actually are, even though they haven’t been on the scene for a while. I'd recommend to any music fans to catch these guys on tour.
In-between the main stage acts, the West end stage gave us a flavour of such hit shows as Mamma Mia, Wicked, Jersey Boys and We will rock you performed by the stars of the shows, which the crowd seemed to really enjoy singing along to.
It is very sad that what could have been a good memorable day was let so much down by the organisers Full Circle Live. At the time of writing this Magic have been forced by the many complaints to issue a statement apologising for “organisational difficulties”. These difficulties put such a damper on the day that I feel that even the thrill of seeing Sir Elton and the other truly professional performances left the audience feeling fed up. It was far from the magical event it should have been. I only hope that if they want to make this an annual event that next year the standards improve, although it may be too late, for some the magic has gone forever.