Leicester is no stranger to hosting some of the finest musical talent out there. In fact, British legends Rolling Stones played at the city’s De Montfort Hall in 1964.
Just a stone’s throw away from the De Montfort Hall is Victoria Park, where BBC Radio 2 chose to be the home to this year’s BBC Radio 2 in the Park event.
Over 35,000 people attended the event on each day of the event – Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September – and the audiences were so, so spoiled when it came to headliners and acts across both days with the one and only Kylie Minogue closing the show on the Sunday.
A range of ages were found at the festival and everyone was on their best behaviour which meant the shows were super chilled and fun to be at. Well done, Leicester!
Soft Cell opened and got the party started with hits such as ‘What’ and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ and when they played ‘Tainted Love’ everyone was on their feet, and not for the first time that weekend!
Sharleen Spiteri (Texas) later told the crowd that she had bumped into Marc Almond before her set and, as she has been listening to BBC Radio 2 while driving up from London earlier that day, she had told Marc that the crowds had been singing his lyrics back to him. Apparently, he hadn’t realised because he’d had his “ears” in (in-ear monitor system) and he was so touched to learn about the loving crowd.
More on Texas later.
Busted were on next and they basically won the weekend when they brought on Hanson for a rendition of ‘Mmm Bop 2.0’. If it wasn’t nostalgic enough hearing the songs of our teenage years, such as ‘Year 3000’, ‘Mmm Bop’ really drove spirits up and it was such a lovely, feel good moment.
Busted and Hanson have been touring the UK together so it was great that the Hanson brother were able to join Charlie, James and Matt on the stage for a fun performance.
Once ‘Mmm Bop 2.0’ was over, it was more nostalgia in the form of ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and more. They were a real highlight, but, as we have said before, the whole event was one superb act after another. Busted also played a new single, ‘Good One’ which went down really well. It is a track about accepting that not all good times last but making the best of them at the time.
Next up was Beverly Knight with her powerhouse vocals and hit songs, ‘Keep This Fire Burning’ and ‘Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda’, and many more. Meanwhile, Deacon Blue treated fans to ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’ and ‘Dignity’.
Before James Blunt took to the stage, we were told that the last time he had played a Radio 2 show, he had crowdsurfed on a dinghy covered with Union Jack. We were told he might do it again. And he did! While motioning the audience to take him towards the bar at the back of the field! But, luckily for us, before he departed on his little dinghy, he did play some songs. He played ‘1973’ and, of course, ‘You’re Beautiful’.
Back to Texas and, we have to admit, they were our favourites. Hands down and we don’t mind telling you this because they were so bloody good! They played ‘Inner Smile’ which instantly gave us throwback vibes as the song is featured in the film, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ from 2002. Texas have, in fact, been releasing music from 1989 and have released a ‘Greatest Hits’ album to celebrate. Sharleen Spiteri has such a phenomenal stage presence and was really engaging with the crowd even to the point where she became emotionally “overwhelmed” by all the support. Texas also played their new song, Northern soul cover ‘Keep on Talking’.
Banaramana also hit the stage before Tears for Fears took the headline slot for the Saturday.
Simply Red opened on the Sunday (final day). They were followed by Sam Ryder.
Lemar brought his smooth vocals to the city and wowed everyone by performing ‘If There’s Any Justice’ before Rick Astley, wearing a bright, “banana” yellow suit and a Kylie Minogue T-shirt, showed up and basically smashed it out of the (actual) park. He joked about liking to play other people’s songs and, we never thought we would say this but, he proceeded to play ‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters and it was pretty much the best thing ever. A real joyous moment. Also, Dave Grohl has some serious rockstar competition in Astley. Of course, he played ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
Jessie Ware, in a gold flowing dress, and her dancers were equally stunning when it came to their turn on the main stage. They didn’t play any rock classics, but she did get everyone dancing on a Sunday afternoon. Jessie also played an older song; a more sombre number called ‘Say You Love Me’. Jessie popped back for a little surprise appearance later, but more on that in a bit.
The Pretenders had their catchy tunes in the form of ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ and ‘I’ll Stand By You’.
Pop superstar and ‘Padam Padam’ singer Kylie Minogue was the headlining act on Sunday night and, closing the whole event. With such an impressive back catalogue, she played so many hits in a set lasting roughly an hour, that our heads were spinning. It was incredible! From ‘Spinning Around’ to ‘Kiss of Life’ with Jessie Ware to ‘Kids’ to…’The Loco-Motion’?! A perfect ending to a brilliant weekend!
(The performances can be watched back on BBC iPlayer, or listened to on BBC Sounds)
Words: Narzra Ahmed