Even a spontaneous torrential downpour isn’t enough to dampen the enthusiasm of a spirited crowd on the first Saturday of Barclaycard presents British Summer Time. As the damp attendees shuffle through the ticket barrier there’s an atmosphere of excited anticipation about the evening ahead.
As Kendrick Lamar takes the stage the crowd seems split between fans there to lose themselves in his high energy set, and those who are only there waiting for Florence Welch to strut onto the scene. Despite the musical divide, there’s still a feel of community across the event.
Lamar’s set is as one would expect. Direct, almost blunt (if music can be described as such). Admittedly, he seems to be an odd choice as a support for a British, bohemian indie group. But he does make himself more accessible by incorporating more contemporary elements to his set, including teasers of the track ‘Bad Blood’ which he recorded with Taylor Swift.
At the Casa Bacardi, set in a mock Cuban village to the rear of the main stage crowd, there’s a tongue in cheek Latin vibe. With bars keeping the mojitos flowing, and vans selling deliciously fragrant Spanish food, the whole experience is expertly headlined by the charismatic and charming Cuban Brothers, supported by 5 samba dancers all dressed in traditional Rio Carnival attire. One can’t help but smile as they win the crowd over with Latin music and humour in parallel.
As the sun starts to tickle the horizon of Hyde Park, a fast growing and ever more impatient crowd erupt into applause as Florence’s band (her machine) take their place on the main stage. With not much suspense, the leading lady walks calmly into sight, a smile lighting up her face as she witnesses what she acknowledges as “the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to”.
The band starts their set with ‘What The Water Gave Me”, which immediately gets the crowd limbering up their own vocal chords as the chorus kicks in. As Florence, who remains barefoot for the entirety of the set, dances around the stage, she draws focus like some more internationally established artists could only dream of doing. This, along with her charm as she addresses the crowd, cements her as a talented, accessible, and individual artist.
The evening is very much about the hits. ‘Spectrum’, ‘Dog Days Are Over’, ‘Shake It Out’. In fact, the event almost seems more like a sing along, with Florence even asking the crowd to “be our chorus”.
Despite asking the festival to put their phones away (a tall order in 2016 London) she receives love and support from start to finish, with the fans unsurprisingly reaching their peak adoration as the band begins to play arguably their most recognisable track, ‘You’ve Got The Love’.
As the sun sets and the last chord is played, the good vibes that Florence + The Machine brought to BST continue out of the barriers of Hyde Park and onto the streets of Mayfair, as revellers make their way home with smiles slapped across their faces that even a sweaty night bus couldn’t extinguish.