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No wonder he’s coming back

After playing a four-hour BST show in 2016, the legendary Stevie Wonder will be among the big names in Hyde Park this summer

29 March, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Stevie Wonder will bring his Song Party to Hyde Park on July 6

BACK in 2013, Barclaycard’s British Summer Time took over the reins of Hyde Park’s big double weekend of open-air concerts from Hard Rock Calling and Wireless festivals.

The ensuing six years saw a change in tone to the central London gigs, with the Great Oak Stage playing host to huge names – The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Killers, Paul Simon, Carole King, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Blur, Taylor Swift, Kylie, the list goes on – against a powerful backdrop, made even more effective by the bands that chose to use the huge wraparound screen to its maximum capacity, a Cuban-style village set of bars, free comedy, cinema screenings, a street food market and much more mid-week, generally creating a warm and fuzzy feeling all round.

Looking back, it still feels like Lionel Richie in the series’ debut year (2013), headlining after Jennifer Lopez did her sultry thing, was responsible for one of the most friendly, joyful concerts in Hyde Park’s BST history, as Lionel, in the concrete-splitting sun, his beaming smile radiating across the fields, ran through his extensive back-catalogue, lighting up the faces of the multi-generational crowd, temporarily turning this pocket of London into an ’80s feelgood movie of strangers dancing together.

So, we’re just hoping the sun is as kind this year when Lionel takes to the stage on July 6 to warm up for Stevie Wonder, who played a sold-out show at BST in 2016, running through Songs In The Key Of Life in a four-hour extravaganza of classics.

Neil Young will play in Hyde Park on July 12

This year Stevie brings his Song Party show to the UK for the first time, described as “a Celebration of Life, Love and Music” – a career-spanning hits show which has been playing a limited run in the US.

The announcement completes a first weekend with Celine Dion on the Friday (July 5), Stevie Wonder (with Lionel Richie) on the Saturday and Barbra Streisand on Sunday (July 7).

The festival has not been without controversy this year, firstly when Neil Young was announced as joint-headliner with Bob Dylan, only for Young to say he would play Hyde Park but not under the sponsorship of Barclaycard, due to his concerns about their “fossil fuel funding”.

Instead, Dylan and Young will play on July 12 but not under the festival sponsorship, with tickets costing from £84 to £400!

There was further controversy in recent weeks after Streisand was forced to clarify and apologise for remarks she made about those who claim they were abused by Michael Jackson.

But likely all this will be a distant memory as the festival approaches. As ever, it will host a midweek programme of entertainment – yet to be announced – but which usually includes free screenings of Wimbledon, open-air cinema and last year included hip-hop bingo and more.

The festival will conclude with the return of Florence + the Machine and The National, with Lykke Li + Khruangbin + Blood Orange + Nadine Shah + Aldous Harding + Marlon Williams + Let’s Eat Grandma + Goat Girl (July 13), and Robbie Williams playing his only UK open-air show of 2019 on July 14.

Supports for Robbie were announced this week to be Black Eyed Peas, Keane, Texas, and Feeder. More acts are expected to be announced in due course.

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