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Bruce Springsteen Olympic Park 30 June 2013

Bruce Springsteen by Lilly Allen for The Substantive (portrait)

Fifteen days before a swift return to London, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band played the whole of Darkness on the Edge of Town, the second part in a wonderful three-act performance at Wembley Stadium; it is an album he has described as having the toughest songs he had at the time, uncompromising in the spirit of the emerging punk music of the day and still what he sees as the essence of the band. London and Wembley Stadium were privileged.

With a deserved reputation for being flexible there was little doubt the headline performance at the newly opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for Hard Rock Calling would bring a few different songs from an amazing back-catalogue than those at Wembley and it turned out to be another album show, this time with the back-to-back tunes of Born in the USA in the middle of the set. Continue reading…

Hard Rock Calling Kasabian Weller The Twang

The Olympic Park opened as music venue on Saturday 29 June 2013 as the new host for the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London, with the first day full of guitar based acts including Kasabian, Paul Weller, The Twang and The View.

For all the written words, radio documentaries and television seasons about ignored and neglected communities there is one tribe who still seem to have been treated as invisible for years: the British indie music fan. With original independent music hijacked as a vehicle for bland, middle-of-the-road music marketed to masses of bed-wetters there has been little both original and sensational in the indie bucket in UK in the last ten years, with the exception of the Arctic Monkeys; so, it is no surprise that when The Stone Roses return they are celebrated like a literal resurrection and that even the Saturday at Hard Rock Calling 2013 is pounced upon like a rubber bone thrown in the direction of a starving dog.

There is no Arctic Monkeys, who headlined Glastonbury the previous night, but instead four stages of decent enough music with a number of acts who all have elements of a passionate following. It was far from a sell-out and there were many tickets given away free by organizers who wanted both a spectacle and a captive audience for their £5 pints but  many were there primarily for the bands.

The day attracts lots of people who want to believe in the music, many of whom, throughout the day, spend much of their time turning away from the stage to intently sing the lyrics to the person they are with; they range in ages, from the young who weren’t around in the early nineties, to those who probably not only bought Style Council records on release, but now have haircuts for which their faces look slightly too old. Continue reading…

Confederations Cup: The Final

In his final piece on the 2013 Confederations Cup, Tom Bodell reflects on a stunning 3-0 victory for host Brazil over reigning World Champions Spain.

Just shy of one month ago, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil hosted Roy Hodgson’s England in the grand re-opening of the famous Maracana stadium in Rio De Janeiro. The build-up had all been focussed on Brazil and stressing just how out-of-form the Selecao were. Twenty-eight days later and the same Brazil under the stewardship of the same wily old coach have hosted and won a successful Confederations Cup, with just over a year until the World Cup kicks off next summer. Continue reading…

Olympics London 2012: One Year On

London 2012 - How was it Front Cover

Editor of the new book London 2012 How Was It For Us? Mark Perryman wonders how much one year on Team GB transformed Great Britain as a nation

Many believe that London’s 2005 bid to host the Olympics bid was given the edge over the favourite, Paris, by Seb Coe’s passionate promotion of London as a multicultural city, a home to the world. As the bid presentation ended in Singapore Seb introduced on stage thirty youngsters “ Each from East London, from the communities who will be touched most directly by our Games.” This was on 6 July 2005. The very next day of course London would be rocked by explosions on the London Underground and bus system, 7/7. The juxtaposition couldn’t have been more dramatic, with many, too many, blaming the atrocities on the very multiculturalism that Seb had been celebrating as London’ virtue via the thirty star-struck youngsters beside him on the Singapore stage: “ Thanks to London’s multicultural mix of 200 nations, they also represent the youth of the world. Their families have come from every continent. They practice every religion and faith.” Continue reading…

Confederations Cup: Semi Finals

Tom Bodell’s on the Confederations Cup semi-finals.

After two more thoroughly enjoyable matches of the this year’s Confederations Cup, we have our finalists: hosts Brazil and World and European Champions, Spain. This should be an excellent tussle between arguably the two most impressive sides at the tournament, even if it means staying up into the small hours of Monday to watch the game. Continue reading…

Confederations Cup 2013: Stage 1

Tom Bodell looks back at the footballing highlights of an unexpectedly exciting first stage of the Confederations Cup 2013 played against a backdrop of an uprising in Brazil.

The Confederations Cup. It’s hardly a tournament to set the pulses racing; it rarely produces the kind of must-see matches that you plan to sit down and watch in advance and yet I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed and international tournament so much. Continue reading…

England U21s: Big Exit

Tom Bodell looks back at the aftermath of England’s poor showing at the European Championships in Israel.

The Under-21 European Championships in Israel might have provided some of the most uncomfortable viewing for England fans since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but they did at least serve one purpose: alleviating Stuart Pearce of his role as head coach. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Wembley Stadium 15 Jun 2013

Bruce Springsteen, Wembley Stadium, 15 June 2013

When Bruce says he is going to do “something special”, he means it. On his last visit to London earlier on this worldwide mammoth tour, which has now been rolling since March last year and will continue to Rio this September, he gave us an unexpected and majestic stripped down Thunder Road to Roy Bittan’s accompaniment. On Saturday at Wembley Stadium, once again he told his London audience he wanted to do something special, and he did, with a staggering set bestowed with gifts for his fans.

By the time he left the stage, after playing for approximately three hours and twenty minutes without a break, he was like a father consoling his upset children seeing their hero depart after giving them one of the great parties of their life so far, telling them in a soft voice that he’d be back in a couple of weeks. Continue reading…

Two Wheels Are Better Than One

Victoria Pendleton by Lilly Allen

With the Tour de France starting on 29 June Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman argues cycling is part of a progressive society. (Picture by the illustrator Lilly Allen, commissioned by The Substantive).

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. – HG Wells Continue reading…

The Stone Roses, Finsbury Park (8 Jun 2013)

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses are more than a band. They are movement. Their music, their attitude and their style has made them a badge of identity for many of us around a certain age. The thick end of their thin catalogue has continued to inspire on repeated listens over twenty-plus years, bringing to life dancefloors on indie nights, empowering listeners on headphones on public transport and through speakers behind closed doors. Continue reading…



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