We were invited to attend the “Hard Rock Calling” festival at Hyde Park by “James” on Friday. We decided to train it up and back as we thought there might be some alcohol involved. Again, we were assured both guest and photo passes as the Godin project continues to roll. We arrived without a fuss at around 3pm at Hyde Park. We had already had a hearty lunch and bottle of wine to get in the festival spirit!
We approached the “Media and Guest List Booth” and asked for our tickets. As we have become accustomed, these moments are always fraught with a bit of worry, “have they remembered to put us on the list” etc etc. Well, this time, they hadn’t. Saul, the guitarist, was quickly contacted. He assured us he would sort it and get the guys to get us in. Well, 60mins later we were starting to doubt we were ever going to make it in through the front gate! We had already become personal friends with the Security Guard, Rob and the girl in the ‘hut’ Debs. But we were still not in! At last, Kat arrived. Kat was all of 20 years old but she was a PA to the James Tour Manager and we felt we had a lifeline. We wandered back to the smallest hut in the world at the entrance to Hyde Park. Nope, no tickets there. We wandered back to where we started this escapade and Kat asked Debs where our tickets were and what she had to do to get us in. A quick phone call to her Manager and his calling to Justine and we had a pass!! Wow! However, I reminded Kat that we needed a photo pass and she nearly collapsed in front of me. However, three minutes later we had everything. Passes and an entry to the massive gig featuring James (our reason for being there), The Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers.
After entering, I saw an entry point titled “Guest Area”, well naturally, I tried to get in with our wristbands. Amazingly we got in without any fuss and found ourselves pretty much behind the main stage in an area with a few private bars and food areas etc. Well, not wishing to appear rude and not believing our luck, we proceeded to make use of said facilities and grabbed a beer, or two. Within minutes it seemed, we needed to get front of stage where we were going to be photographing to get pics of James and the fabulous Godin Saul was playing. Well, we wandered out to the front, pushed our way past the thronging masses and made our way to the front left stage and showed my photog pass to get into the ‘pit’. “Sorry, you have to go through the ‘Guest Area’ to get into the pit” we were told. Ben flashed his wristband and said ‘Really, can’t we come this way?’. Incredibly, we were ushered quickly through the wrong way and entered the pit. I then set up and proceeded to grab the shots that were the reason we were here. 3 songs later and that was it. We were out, as per normal.
Only, I had a feeling, I had a feeling we had some pretty cool wristbands that were better than the normal bands we received. On trekking back through the backstage areas I decided we should try t0 get on the mainstage and join family and other artistes for the rest of the gig. Well, guess what? Instead of being hiked off as per normal we were waved through and on the main stage we went!! I had my 5D II and a 70-200mm f2.8 strapped to my front, hardly inconspicuous but still no worries from anyone. I shot away, nobody turned a hair!! Amazing. When we had all the shots we wanted we went back behind the stage and wandered unchallenged anywhere we wanted and ended back up at the Guest Area for a few beers.
When The Kaiser Chiefs came on we decided to do exactly the same. To the front for the photog pit and then backstage after the 3 songs. Incredibly we did exactly that. Wandering on to backstage at the fourth song unchallanged due to our wristbands. Cool or what. The Kaisers were amazing! Backstage, I snapped away and then something was shouted in my ear. I couldn’t hear so asked Benno to repeat it. It sounded like he had said, “Prince Harry” was right behind me! Haha! I turned around and guess what, there was Harry! Seriously, I was stood with a 70-200mm lens and two feet behind me was Prince Harry! Well, I wussed it and after 10 mins we left. Leaving Harry to his girls and his privacy and I had no shots of him! Should I have gone for it? I don’t think so, I didn’t want any of him, I was just pretty amazed he had the same goddamn wrist-band as me!
So, a while later and I arrived at the front of stage for the main act. The Killers. Well where were all the other photographers? I got out my camera and within seconds I was pounced upon by the Head of Security! “No photographs of The Killers” he told me. “No way”, I said, “I have been given clearance”, I lied. He radioed through, I ignored him and walked away. He held onto my coat and received his answer. The answer I knew was coming. “Sorry Sir”, he said, “you have to leave!” Bollocks. Never have I been so pissed off. I love The Killers. Oh well I thought. I have this wristband. I shot backstage to get a prime position for some shots from the side of the main stage. Within seconds I realised I had a great wristband but not the best wristband. “excuse me” said the lead singer from The Kaisers, as he pushed past and got onto the main stage. I was told that my pass was not gonna get me on, I needed a green band and I didn’t have one! Bugger!
Out to the front we shot with the plebs! Pissing it down we got soaked but loved the set and sang along to all the classic Killers tracks.
A brilliant gig but so nearly the best we have ever been to……. but not quite!!
Tim Booth from James performing at Hyde Park