Saturday 21st June 2014 ∏
Kasabian on Summer Solstice Day
The world-famous rock band Kasabian, two of whom were born in Leicester, all three attending Countesthorpe College, played at a ‘home-coming’ gig today. It is not the first time that the band has performed in Leicester but it is certainly is the biggest, previous appearances having been ‘small’ by comparison.
Estimates vary as to how many tickets were sold and how many people went through the turnstiles today but some sources gave it as 55,000.
The gates to the enclosure on Victoria Park opened at 3 pm and large numbers of people could be seen going in through them on this a warm, sunny afternoon. The first of the support acts – Beardy Man, was on stage at 16:45 pm. Joining him later on stage were Rudmental DJs, Zane Lowe and Jagwar Ma.
Kasabian started their set at 9 pm. Keith Jobey reports on the scene from inside the show ground. MIL’s Kevin Gaughan was also inside the ground, with his camera.
|21/06/14 Kasabian in Victoria Park, Leicester|
Summer Solstice day
Trevor Locke reports from the streets of Leicester on the run-up to the gig and its aftermath.
Fans started to head towards the festival ground all day but by 4 pm the centre of Leicester had been transformed. Bars and pubs were full, including those in the streets of the Cultural Quarter, as people enjoyed a drink in the afternoon sunshine.
In the supermarkets in the city centre and along London Road, which leads up to Victoria Park, people were queuing for drinks and snacks. Around the train station touts were calling for people who wanted to buy or sell tickets, calling to the crowds “Tickets to buy or sell.” On the Internet, tickets were being offered at £50, £100, £200 and even more. Outside some of the largest pubs, entire streets had been closed off so that patrons could stand outside, giving some areas a street-party atmosphere. Most pubs in London Road had large groups of people standing outside.
Some outlets and retailers had clearly seen what was coming and prepared accordingly; a few seemed to have been taken by surprise. In the centre of the city, bars, restaurants, shops and takeaways were all doing a brisk trade and news reports said that pretty much every hotel room in the city had been booked up.
By 4.45 the sky was beginning to cloud over as the afternoon began to change from continuous sunshine to sunny periods.
Coping for a situation of this kind, involving this many people, must have taken months of planning by police, fire, ambulance, the Council and area traffic control. Huge numbers of people were walking along London Road from the railway station up to the park, both sides of the road being full of people – all heading in the same direction. The traffic at this time was still moving including the bus services.
Many of the side streets in the vicinity of the park has been subject to parking restrictions and some roads had been subject to diversions. I heard one lady say that she had parked her car “three miles away.” Parking restrictions and road closures around the park has been set in place to protect residents and businesses.
Apart from the multi-story car parks, most city centre streets that do allow on-street parking, have meters and are free only on Sundays. Special parking arrangements had been set up at Leicester Racecourse, about a mile from the park. Fans would have travelled from all over the UK to attend this event and there were reports of people coming to Leicester from European countries just for the gig. Pretty much all the hotels in Leicester reported that they were fully booked for this weekend.
At Victoria Park there were people everywhere. A river of fans streamed along the pathways towards the ticket barriers. People were also sitting in groups on the grass with picnics, enjoying the sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere. Helicopters were flying overhead, either monitoring the situation for the police or filming the scene from the air for the media.
Gig organisers started to build the site, which took up pretty all of the main area of grass on Victoria Park, for over a week before the event, erecting a twelve-foot high perimeter wall around the whole site and then building the main stage and erecting over a million pounds-worth of sound and lighting rigs, sound control systems, bars, food outlets, marquees for quests and others – pretty much what you would expect to find at a three-day festival, such as Download, Reading or Leeds. The only difference being that this set-up would be in use for only one day.
According to event organiser, Live Nation’s Andy Topping, the tickets had sold out within three days of going on sale.
Not even the celebrations for Leicester City being promoted to the Premier League attracted numbers on the scale of this event. There were more people in the city centre today than were there for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee visit back in March 2012.
In fact an event on this scale has not been seen in Leicester since 2003 when the BBC organised a free pop concert on Victoria Park when an estimated 100,000 attended. Both the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV covered the event in their round-ups of local news in the evening.
Kasabian’s latest album ’48:13′ had reached number one in the charts in the run-up to the gig. There was a lot of coverage in the Leicester Mercury and in the national outlets such as NME. Social media was full of comments and reports. On Saturday the Leicester Mercury published a front page special edition featuring the band and the gig.
The show came to an end at 11 pm and the whole body of gig-goers left the site, most of them heading down London Road towards the railway station and city centre. London Road had been closed to traffic from around 9:30pm onwards. Many groups of fans were singing and chanting Kasabian songs as they streamed down towards the city centre. Quite a lot of people were wearing t-shirts – those with the title of the album – ’48:13′ – those saying ‘Summer Solstice’ and others with just the name of the band. Many would have been to previous Kasabian gigs.
Looking down London Road from the top of the hill, near to the entrance to Victoria Park, the whole broad thoroughfare was full of people on the move. The throng was not quite a dense as it was, back in 2003, when twice that number of people came away from the BBC’s One Big Sunday.
Part of the river of people disappeared into the railway station and the rest headed off along Granby Street, into the city centre and, for some, the after-parties, such as those taking place in the nightclubs, including The Fan Club.
Some of the pubs in London Road had already closed by the time the exodus had reached its peak, although a few of them in Granby Street were still open. Many of the smaller shops and fast-food outlets were packed with people.
After the event
On Sunday people were endlessly asking each other “Were you at the Kasabian gig?” Pretty much everyone I met on Sunday (at the Foxton Locks Festival) asked me if I had been there. Some musicians playing at local gigs and festivals commented that they had been up very late the night before and some bands played covers of Kasabian songs in tribute to the Summer Solstice event.
BBC TV news reported, on Sunday, that a huge clean-up operation had begun both on the park and in the city centre. In the same reports it was claimed that there had been only a very small number of arrests, mainly for drug possession or disorderly conduct. The BBC website reported (on its Leicester news page) that the gig ‘has been hailed a great success.’ The report said that ‘Band member Sergio Pizzorno underlined the group’s local roots by wearing a T-shirt spelling out “Les-tah” for the two-hour set. ‘
The article went on to say that Police ‘Officers said there were six arrests for offences including assault and drug crimes. ‘