One of the biggest concerts of the decade took place this day in 1996. Queen wasn’t there but it was still a “royally” good time for the 100 000 or more people that went to Hyde Park in London for the Prince’s Trust Concert. Although they were the middle of the schedule, most seemed to feel that The Who, playing the entirety of Quadrophenia stole the show.
The Prince’s Trust is a British charity begun by, appropriately enough, Prince Charles back in 1976. It aims to help out young people (under 30) who are struggling, either with school or employment, largely by providing tutoring and training. It has helped out over 800 000 people through the years and raised funds in a variety of ways, not the least of which being frequent big name concerts. The first was held in an arena in Birmingham in 1982. Charles no doubt had a little help from his Lady Di – a confirmed rock fan- to bring in Status Quo, Kate Bush, Phil Collins and others for that.
The ’96 gig was the first to be held in spacious Hyde Park and had on the bill Alanis Morissette, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and The Who among others. Morissette kicked it off with a six-song set of her hits, beginning with “Ironic”. One reviewer remembers her dancing so much that her sunglasses flew off her head into the crowd, giving one lucky concert-goer an unexpected souvenir! Unnoticed then, but of significance now, she was backed with a band that included the late Taylor Hawkins, who’d soon leave for the Foo Fighters. Clapton was on late, playing a 14-song, largely “unplugged” set beginning with “Layla” and including some of his hits such as Cream’s “White Room” and “Wonderful Tonight” as well as a few old covers, like Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
In between, The Who (introduced on stage by Jools Holland) ran through their 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia – considered by many their high-water mark- for the first time in over a decade to the delight of the large crowd. They were joined by a number of guests during the performance, including Gary Glitter and David Gilmour, who played guitar on two numbers.
Prince’s Trust still holds concerts some years although there doesn’t appear to be one slated for this year; they seemed to run a Red Carpet fashion show (albeit one hosted by Lionel Richie) this year instead. The 1996 one was quickly released on home video although it seems only the Who’s performance is featured.