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Killers Boost Volume; Ai Weiwei’s Outspoken Art: London Weekend

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has works on display around London. Source: Tate Britain via Bloomberg
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has works on display around London. Source: Tate Britain via Bloomberg

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Hyde Park’s festival summer season gets off to a noisy start, with U.S. band the Killers headlining the weekend-long Hard Rock Calling event.

The Friday night Killers show provides an urban alternative to Glastonbury, the world’s biggest greenfield festival 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the west where the opening day features U2.

Londoners get a distinctly mixed lineup. Imelda May performs alongside veterans Ray Davies, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks and Adam Ant. Rockers Bon Jovi and Kaiser Chiefs also star. While Hard Rock Calling will never be as cool as Glasto, there’s plenty of talent scattered across its three stages. At least London fans can avoid camping in a sea of mud.


There are many food stalls at the festival, though those seeking somewhere quieter and drier can visit restaurants around Marble Arch. For a casual place to eat, try Vinoteca, a wine bar with London-wide fans.

You can pick from 25 wines by the glass, and the food is simple and inexpensive: Barrel-aged feta, fennel, broad bean & mint salad is 6 pounds. Information: and +44-20-7724 7288.


Celebrate Ai Weiwei’s release after almost three months in detention by viewing a selection of his works around London.

Ai, who is now free on bail after police questioning, has long been one of China’s most outspoken critics.

Ten tons of his handcrafted porcelain sunflower seeds, arranged in a cone-shaped heap, have just gone on show on Level 3 of Tate Modern. A dozen bronze heads representing Chinese astrological animals line the courtyard at Somerset House (through June 26).

A dedicated show at Lisson Gallery includes 31 Han Dynasty vases that he decided needed to be coated with industrial paint. The Lisson also shows Ai’s hefty surveillance camera -- made of gray marble (recently showcased at the Art Basel fair).


Phoenix Palace is a large, old-style Chinese restaurant near the Lisson, popular with Chinese and Westerners alike. Its long menu of more than 300 dishes caters to most tastes. Dim sum is served daily until 4:45 p.m. Information: and +44-20-7486-3515.

Saturday Night

Dominic West -- better known as Detective Jimmy McNulty from the HBO series “The Wire” -- plays the self-loathing lead in Simon Gray’s 1971 comedy “Butley.” Reeling from a collapsed marriage and desperately lonely, he hides the pain with jealous rants and bouts of bad behavior.

“Butley” is at the Duchess Theatre. Information: or +44-844-412-4659.


Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific are the stars of this year’s City of London Festival, an annual celebration of music and arts in the capital’s financial district.

The festival opens Sunday with a 15-piano performance of best-known works by Australian composer Percy Grainger. The instruments will be placed outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

On July 1, a genuine Maori war canoe, with an all-Maori crew of 16, rows the Thames River from Tower Bridge to Blackfriars before performing the traditional haka dance outside St. Paul’s.

Information: or +44-845-120-7502.

(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Farah Nayeri in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

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