Launched in 2013, BST Hyde Park - or American Express presents BST Hyde Park to use its official 2023 title - has witnessed performances from some of the most legendary names in music, with The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Black Sabbath, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Roger Waters and The Who among those who have graced the Great Oak Stage in London's beautiful Grade 1-listed royal park.
This year, running from June 23 to July 9, the festival features 10 concerts, showcasing artists from right across the musical spectrum, classical music to K-pop, Americana to hard rock.
Here are 10 essentials acts you really don't want to miss if you're in London in the coming weeks.
When Bruce Springsteen kicked off his latest world tour in Tampa, Florida on February 1, he did so amid controversy over ticket costs, with Ticketmaster's 'dynamic pricing' system meaning some fans were being asked to cough up $5000 for premium seats. “I know it was unpopular with some fans,” The Boss acknowledged. “But if there’s any complaints on the way out, you can have your money back.” We can't imagine many refund requests were filed.
On stage, no performer works harder, or performs for longer, than Springsteen: at his first UK show of 2023, at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Stadium, on May 30, the New Jersey singer-songwriter and his crack E Street Band delivered no fewer than 29 songs across three magical hours, including five selections from Born In The USA, five from Born To Run, and five from Darkness On The Edge of Town.
The 73-year-old's brace of BST shows, on July 6 and 8, will be his first in the capital in seven years. When he first played Hyde Park in 2012, some jobsworth switched off the PA during a two-song encore with Paul McCartney which crept beyond curfew, leading furious guitarist Little Steven to label England "a police state": pull that shit again next month and there'll be riots in the streets.
From the moment she called out US music executive LA Reid on Don't Let Me Get Me on her second album Missundaztood - 'LA told me, You'll be a pop star
All you have to change is everything you are' - Alecia Beth Moore Hart, aka P!nk, has rarely given two wooden fucks about conforming to traditional, misogynist 'pop diva' stereotypes, making her (and her BST special guest Gwen Stefani) an inspiration for Avril Lavigne, Adele, Katy Perry, Olivia Rodrigo and more.
Rarely one to court publicity, P!nk's celebrity-shunning profile means you could easily forget just how massively successful she is - 60 million albums sold, 35 million monthly listeners on Spotify, three UK number one singles, four US number one singles, etc,. Her current Summer Carnival tour kicked off in the UK earlier this month with no fewer than five stadium shows, and at BST on June 24 and 25, she'll be performing to 65,000 fans each night. If, somehow, you're still wondering why exactly P!nk is on this list, we politely suggest you watch this performance of So What, filmed at Sunderland's Stadium of Light last weekend. You didn't get that with Slayer.
You can be entirely forgiven for not being familiar with Picture Parlour: the London-based quartet have yet to release any music. But remember the name, because you'll be hearing a lot more about this band in the months and years to come.
Influenced by Nick Cave and Patti Smith, and exhibiting some of the otherworldly cinematic grandeur of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, Katherine Parlour and Ella Risi's songs are rich with drama and flecked with darkness, with Parlour's genuinely incredible vocals seemingly beamed in from a different decade. Check out forthcoming single Norwegian Wood (out June 19), Moon Tonic , Neptune 66 and Sawmill Sinkhole on YouTube, then catch them supporting Bruce Springsteen on July 6.
The flying tigers and 'boob chariots' may long since be a thing of the past, but The Darkness never needed that shit anyway, in all honesty. Since their 2011 reunion, the Hawkins brothers and co. have been on consistently fine form, and now that all the speculation about Rufus Taylor's potential transfer to Foo Fighters is at an end, the Lowestoft quartet can get back to reminding everyone why they remain one of the most engaging and entertaining live rock bands the UK has produced in decades, starting on June 30, in support to Guns N' Roses.
With the likes of Motorheart and Solid Gold now neatly assimilated into their regular setlist alongside all those deathless Permission To Land anthems, Justin Hawkins' band will be doing their level best to boost their BST bow to within arse-kicking distance of a Queen-at-Live Aid style spectacular.
Last year at BST, on show number 223 on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Elton John literally knocked hit after hit out of the park, and reminded everyone exactly why he's one of the most revered and respected British singer/songwriters ever. This year, on July 7, expect another iconic Piano Man, Bronx-born William Martin 'Billy' Joel, to do the same. Sadly, for some of us at least, Joel's set list is unlikely to feature any selections from his cruelly short-lived but fabulously over-the-top heavy metal band Attila, but the likes of We Didn't Start The Fire, New York State Of Mind, Movin' Out (Anthony's Song), She's Always A Woman and more will likely offer some consolation.
Chrissie Hynde has never not been cool. A former NME writer, mates with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned at the dawning of punk rock, Hynde was never going to be satisfied living in anyone's shadow, and with The Pretenders, she's spent five decades at rock's high table, influencing everyone from Madonna to Shirley Manson in the process.
Inducting the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2005, Neil Young called the The Pretenders “one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands that ever lived”: but proving that she has lost none of her punk rock attitude, earlier this year Hynde called out the institution as “just more establishment backslapping”, and said “If anyone wants my position in the… Hall of Fame they are welcome to it.” Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is a huge fan: try not to lose your shit too badly if he strolls out onstage for a guest appearance on June 30.
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
When Bruce Springsteen listed Frank Turner as one of his favourite contemporary songwriters during a 2017 interview with Variety, a gobsmacked Turner responded with a Tweet reading 'Holy. Mother. Of. God.'
Turner has covered Springsteen's Born To Run and Thunder Road both live and on record, and if anyone is going to assume the Conscience of America's 'Hardest Working Man in Showbiz' mantle it's Turner: his appearance at the Southside festival in Germany last night (June 17) was show 2782 for the 41 year-old Englishman, which is frankly ridiculous. No-one, but no-one, upstages Bruce Springsteen, ever, but when a fired-up Turner and the Sleeping Souls walk out onto the Great Oak Stage in front of a partisan home crowd on the evening of July 6, you can bet your life they're gonna give blood, sweat and tears to push The Boss all the way.
Guns N’ Roses
The rehabilitation and rebirth of Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses across the past decade has been nothing short of remarkable: from his superb stint fronting AC/DC to the blockbuster success of Gn'R's Not In This Lifetime... tour and through to the present day, Rose has been charm, grace, humility and professionalism personified, meaning that the horrors of his band's darkest days (Download 2006... holy fuck...) have almost been forgotten.
Guns' shows in the UK since the return of prodigal sons Slash and Duff McKagan have been widely praised, and with Larkin Poe, The Darkness and The Pretenders due to light a fire under the BST crowd on June 30, the stage is set for LA's hard rock kings to deliver a show for the ages. Welcome to the royal parks isn't quite as evocative as welcome to the jungle, but we're sure Guns can adapt accordingly.
Lana Del Rey
While Guns N' Roses' appearance at BST Hyde Park was flagged up right at the beginning of December 2022, Lana Del Rey's festival-concluding headline date - her second and final UK show of summer 2023 - was only announced in late-April.
The LA-based singer/songwriter wasn't best pleased when her name was listed below more than 20 other acts on this year's initial Glastonbury poster - "Thanks for announcing that I was headlining the other stage. Thumbs up" she sarcastically wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post - so BST will provide the perfect opportunity for the artist formerly known as Elizabeth Woolridge Grant to demonstrate exactly why she deserves to have some motherf**king respect put on her name. With the curtain dropping on BST '23 as darkness falls on July 9, LDR's dramatic, slow-burning, beautifully-crafted songs of love, loss, redemption and vengeance should be nothing short of mesmerising.
In the mid '90s, former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McClaren became obsessed with the idea that East Asian pop music was going to take over the western world. He even launched his own Chinese girl band, Jungk, comprised of five models aged between 19 and 23, who also just happened to be - gullible idiots in the UK media duly reported - kung fu experts. Riiiiiiight. "They sound perfectly poised to catch a global zeitgeist," gushed The Sunday Times, in an article sensitively headlined 'Wok 'n' Roll' (no, really).
Readers, they did no such thing.
Still, maybe McClaren wasn't entirely wrong, as the global success of K-Pop now suggests, and on July 2, ten weeks after headlining Coachella, BLɅϽKPIИK will become the first East Asian band to headline a major music festival in the UK. No-one's who's watched their 2020 Netflix documentary Light Up The Sky, which shines a spotlight on the insanely intense work schedule which has taken Jisoo, Jenni, Rosé and Lisa to this point, could argue that the quartet have earned their superstar status, and their debut BST show promises to be spectacular coronation for the Queens of K-Pop.