HSE backs the Boss in rock-curfew fiasco
“We keep pretending that there’s nothing wrong. But there’s a code of silence and it can’t go on.”
Lyrics from a pretty obscure Bruce Springsteen song (Code of Silence), but ones that aptly sum up the ongoing saga surrounding the decision to pull the plug on the Boss and Sir Paul McCartney, as they broke a 10.30pm curfew at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday.
Outrage over the move to cut the gig short – a story that has made headlines across the globe – prompted a statement from Hard Rock Calling promoter Live Nation, which claimed that the curfew was imposed for health and safety reasons.
The statement read: “It was unfortunate that the three-hour-plus performance by Bruce Springsteen was stopped right at the very end, but the curfew is laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public’s health and safety.
“Road closures around Hyde Park are put in place at specific times to make sure everyone can exit the area in safety.”
Yesterday the HSE issued its own response, denying that health and safety had anything to do with the decision to silence the rockers.
The regulator’s deputy chief executive Kevin Myers, who was in the crowd and describes himself as a long-standing Springsteen fan, said: “The fans deserve the truth: there are no health and safety issues involved here. While public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not health and safety and it is disingenuous of Live Nation to say so.
“It’s ironic that this excuse has been used in relation to Bruce Springsteen, who certainly knows what real health and safety is all about – look at the words of ‘Factory’ from Darkness on the Edge of Town, referring to the toll that factory work can take on the health of blue-collar workers.”
The 1978 song, which includes several observations about how factory life affected Springsteen’s father, also features a reference to noisy machinery and the lack of hearing protection for workers in 1960s’ America: “Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life; the working, the working, just the working life.”
Myers concluded: “People will now only be able to speculate what the final number should have been. Given that he’d already played Wrecking Ball and that Paul McCartney was on stage, how about Don’t let me down?”
More likely the final number would have been Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, a song from Springsteen’s Born to Run album, which the rocker has played throughout his current tour to pay tribute to saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died last year. Unfortunately, for many fans who attended the concert last Saturday night, it was the Boss himself who was frozen out.
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