England ‘Police State’

The decision to pull the plug before Bruce Springsteen finished his performance at London’s Hyde Park led E Street band guitarist Steven Van Zandt to ask when England became “a police state.”

Van Zandt, who performed with Springsteen’s E Street Band July 14, went on Twitter to air his frustration.

“One of the great gigs ever in my opinion,” he said. “But seriously, when did England become a police state.

“We break curfews in every county. English cops may be the only individuals left on earth that wouldn’t want to hear one more from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson joined in the criticism and said cutting the show was “an excessively efficacious decision.”

“You won’t get that during the Olympics,” he said. “If they’d have called me, my answer would have been for them to jam in the name of the Lord,” he told LBC radio on the day after the show.

Westminster council’s strategic director for city management, Leith Penny, said concert organisers, not the council, ended the concert in compliance with their license, which allows them to run until 10.30 p.m.

Promoter Live Nation appears to have little choice in the matter. It faces a constant battle to run shows in the Royal Park, which have often been the subject of complaints from people wealthy enough to live in the neighbourhood.

“It was unfortunate but the curfew is laid down by the authorities in the interest of public health and safety,” an LN spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.

LN said in February that if Westminster Council wanted to further lower the noise limits for the park it could jeopardise future shows. That would make it impossible for the company to spend the £12.5 million it had budgeted for its free-entry events in London during the Olympic Games.

On July 16 BBC News reported that the decision to cut the sound, which was taken shortly after McCartney joined Springsteen at the end of his three-hour slot, was loudly booed by thousands of people in the audience.

LN UK chief ops officer John Probyn told Pollstar there’d been “65,000 people all singing along to Bruce Springsteen and having the time of their lives.”

“Who cares about a bit of mud?” he said, having spent most of last week repairing the damage that the previous weekend’s Wireless Festival had done to the park’s surface.

Tons of wood chips were spread across the ground to cover the mud that had been churned up by vehicles and tens of thousands of music fans.

The Springsteen show was part of the three-day Hard Rock Calling (July 13-15), which pulled crowds averaging 65,000 per day. The other acts on the bill included Soundgarden, Iggy & The Stooges, Paul Simon, Lady Antebellum, John Fogerty, and Alison Krauss & Union Station.