The folks at British Summer Time are no stranger to a festival exclusive.
Last year they welcomed The Strokes to the iconic Hyde Park stage for their only 2015 UK performance, and their first London show in more than five years.
And whilst doubts were raised as to the ability of the New York indie-saviours to deliver a truly barnstorming show on a stage of this size, those fears were soon put to bed after a triumphant performance from a band who seemed to have something to prove.
The year before, BST brought The Libertines back to forefront of the British festival scene four years after their historic Reading and Leeds headline slot.
Despite the slightly over-zealous and enthusiastic fans temporarily bringing the show to a halt, they proved in their inimitable and slightly chaotic style that they were well and truly back.
The Hyde Park performance went on to be the springboard to further shows, a long-awaited album, and festival headline slots the following summer.
But this year it’s safe to say the organisers of the annual concert series have really outdone themselves.
Not only will bona-fide music icon Stevie Wonder be bringing his acclaimed Songs in the Key of Life show to the UK for the very first time; legendary singer-songwriter and composer Carole King will be performing her seminal album Tapestry live in full for the first time ever.
Carole King – Sunday 3 July
Tickets and packages: available here
When Tapestry was released forty-five years ago it won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and it has since gone on to sell more than 25 million copies worldwide - about the same number as Bob Marley’s Legend and Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel (putting it in pretty good company).
Carole King’s second and most famous album, which includes classic songs I Feel the Earth Move, You’ve Got a Friend and A Natural Woman, has been described as the album that ‘ushered in the age of the singer-songwriter’ and was chosen by VH1 and Rolling Stone as one of the greatest albums of all time.
In other words: it is truly something special.
So the fact that British Summer Time have managed to offer fans the chance to hear one of the greatest songwriters ever perform her most celebrated work in full for the very first time is really quite astonishing. A genuine moment of music history that may well be talked about for years to come.
She’ll be joined on the day by Don Henley, Michael Kiwanuka, Ed Harcourt and her perhaps unsurprisingly talented daughter Louise Goffin, among others, who are set to make the whole affair even more special.
Stevie Wonder – Sunday 10 July
Tickets and packages: available here
As if one exclusive performance of a classic album wasn’t amazing enough for a festival, British Summer Time are also welcoming Stevie Wonder to perform his masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life to the adoring London crowds.
Following a critically acclaimed sell-out tour of the album across North America in 2015, the main man is bringing the show across the pond for the very first time, forty years on from the album’s original release.
Featuring classics like I Wish, Sir Duke and Isn’t She Lovely the album has been cited by the likes of Prince, Elton John, Kanye West and Barack Obama as one of their favourite albums as of all time - making it an undeniably big deal.
It’s only fitting that a spectacle of such impressive proportions should take place in one of the most historic and globally renowned music locations – London’s Hyde Park.
From the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the modern music concerts of the 21st Century, the site has seen its fair share of spectacles. The Rolling Stones performing to an estimated half a million people in 1969, Queen playing for hundreds of thousands of adoring fans back in 1976, Pink Floyd reuniting their classic line-up for the first time in over thirty years for the Live8 benefit concerts of 2005.
And now, since the first edition of British Summer Time back in 2013, Hyde Park has once again become the capital’s home for the huge-scale, unmissable concerts that have made it such a recognisable name in the world of live music.
It’s not just the exclusive performances from Stevie Wonder and Carole King that are worthy of a mention though – not by a long shot.
Joining them as the festival’s headliners this year are some of the biggest names in music:
Massive Attack are marking their return in style, kicking of BST 2016 with their headline performance on July 1st - following on from their recent Ritual Spirit EP and a string of sold out shows across Europe.
Florence + The Machine and Kendrick Lamar co-headline the next day, with the Compton rapper making only his third appearance in the UK since his phenomenal 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly and Florence Welch playing a home-town show a year on from her unexpected but brilliant Glastonbury headline slot.
A fellow Worthy Farm headliner top the bill the following Friday (8th July), as festival stalwarts and firm favourites Mumford & Sons bring their energetic brand of folk-rock to Hyde Park, five years after supporting Arcade Fire on the same stage.
And the day before Stevie Wonder brings British Sumer Time to a close for 2016, the ultimate man-band Take That will make their debut Hyde Park appearance treating their ever-devoted fans to any number of their countless hits.
All this before you even begin to look at the unbelievable list of acts lower down the bill - Pharell Williams, Patti Smith, Jamie XX and Alabama Shakes to name a handful.
Few other events bring such an impressive lineup of brilliant and diverse artists and musicians to such an iconic location, and the incredibly exciting exclusive performances this year are the cherry on top of the already delicious cake.
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