REVIEW: Counting Crows headline at 02 Wireless, Hyde Park

PUBLISHED: 17:53 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010

Ben Harper and Powderfinger join headliners Counting Crows for rip-roaring finale at 02 Wireless, writes Laura Evans IT HAD to happen - a four-day festival was never going to be blessed with glorious sunshine. Unfortunately, the moment the heavens open

Ben Harper and Powderfinger join headliners Counting Crows for rip-roaring finale at 02 Wireless, writes Laura Evans

IT HAD to happen - a four-day festival was never going to be blessed with glorious sunshine.

Unfortunately, the moment the heavens opened was the final day of O2 Wireless when I was striding through Hyde Park ready for an evening of top-class entertainment.

But that - and the tired looking grass - failed to put a dampener on the spirit of the 20,000-strong crowd.

As always, there was an

array of stages featuring performances from little-known bands such as Bowling For Soup, musicians including Alice Smith and, of course, the heavyweights, led on this day by Counting Crows.

Joining the Crows on the main stage and providing able support were Ben Harper and Powderfinger.

The latter are an Australian outfit who are absolutely huge in their native land but barely known in these parts.

The audience appeared to instinctively divide during their performance - the over-excited Aussies and the confused faces of the Brits.

It didn't take long for everyone to have a dance around in unison, however, as Powderfinger are actually rather good.

One lifelong fan - Australian, naturally - tells me: "They rock, man. Every gig I've seen has been magical."

High praise indeed. It is the infectious energy that sets Powderfinger apart from the thousands of other rock band trying to make their mark on the music world. They are consummate performers and an old-fashioned live band.

After an hour of high-energy rock, it was a welcome change to see American singer-songwriter Ben Harper take to the stage.

With his band, the Innocent Criminals, Harper has carved a nice little niche as an acoustic, new-wave soul band which has earned him huge popularity.

It's easy to see why - Harper's blend of blues and a smattering of folk was a hit as he belted out hits from current album Lifeline as well as classics from an illustrious career, which saw him thrust Jack Johnson into the spotlight of fame.

And so to the day's big hitters, Counting Crows. Led by emigmatic frontman Adam Duritz, who led his headlining band through a hugely passionate and energetic set.

The Crows - who hail from California - have suffered mixed fortunes in this country.

Their albums have sold well but they have never scaled the heights of their contemporaries such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam.

On the strength of this performance, they shine when on stage - and even managed to make the pouring rain seem inconsequential.

The Crows delivered to their fans with a tracklist that included all of their classics Mr Jones and Colour Blind and one of the most successful covers yet - Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.

There was a bit of drama and more confusion added to the mix as Duritz sang the whole of Colour Blind stood still with his eyes shut. The crowd loved it though.

So there we have it, a rip-roaring conclusion to O2 Wireless 2008.

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