Entertainment & Arts

James Blunt crowd-surfs in a dinghy - and other things we learned at Radio 2's Hyde Park show

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Media captionYou're Boatiful: James Blunt makes an unusual stage exit

James Blunt set sail over the audience at Radio 2's Hyde Park festival on Sunday - perched precariously inside a rubber dinghy.

The star's take on crowd-surfing came at the end of a mid-afternoon set, which featured the hits You're Beautiful, Bonfire Heart and 1973.

But he came to a sticky end when the Union Jack dinghy capsized about 30 rows back from the stage.

"Can we have him back, please?" compere Alan Dedicoat asked the crowd.

Image copyright @AnneSolley / Twitter
Image caption The star lasted about a minute before capsizing

Blunt later emerged unscathed, after posing for selfies with (some of) the 35,000-strong audience.

Radio 2's rain-soaked "festival in a day" also saw performances from Stereophonics, Rick Astley, Emeli Sande and Blondie.

And country star Shania Twain gave her first UK performance in 13 years, receiving a rapturous reception from fans who'd been waiting for her comeback.

Image caption Shania Twain was the event's special guest, playing just before Blondie and Take That

The singer has been out of action for several years after developing dysphonia, an ailment where the muscles squeeze the voice box.

But, rising through a trap door in the stage in Hyde Park, she sounded reinvigorated.

Declaring: "London is my favourite city… ever!" she launched into hits including That Don't Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman.

As she played her signature ballad, Still The One, the audience linked arms and swayed along to the song.

There were plenty of memorable moments backstage, too. Here are five of the best stories we heard.

Japan has Rick Astley-themed toilets

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Media captionRick Astley performs Never Gonna Give You Up

How do we know? Because Rick Astley visited them, and lived to tell the tale.

"I have some friends in Denmark who own a beer company, and they made a beer for me," the star explained.

"We went to bar with them in Japan a couple of weeks ago, and one of the bars they own has a Rick Astley toilet.

"If you go in there," he continued, "all the music played in that toilet is me.

"Being in Japan is a funky thing anyway, but going to a bar and having a toilet that just plays your music is a whole different level of funk.

"And I'd had a few beers as well that night. My head was a bit of a mess."

Shania Twain once demanded two horses on stage

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Media captionShania Twain plays Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

As she recovered from her vocal problems in 2012, Shania Twain took a residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

"It was very stable," she explained. "One environment every night - a very controlled environment for the voice - and I wasn't fatiguing myself by touring."

But she needed a little more support. Which came in the shape of... two horses.

"[During] You're Still The One, I had two horses on stage with me," she said. "It helped me, psychologically. I'm serious!

"This whole process of not focussing on my voice really helped. The psychological distraction worked."

Sadly, the equestrian antics were not replicated at Hyde Park. "I can't take the horse on tour," she noted, sensibly.

Blondie's Hanging On The Telephone is a cover

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Media captionBlondie play Heart of Glass at Radio 2 in Hyde Park

Full disclosure: we knew this already - but it took one famous Blondie fan by surprise.

"That one's a shocker for a lot of people," said drummer Clem Burke.

"I approached Noel Gallagher for a song a couple of years back and the first thing he said was, 'I'll trade you for Hanging on the Telephone' and I said, 'Guess what? We didn't write that one.'"

"The original Hanging on the Telephone [by The Nerves] is really good," added guitarist Chris Stein. "I recommend it to anybody who's not heard it. It's a little more pared down, and a little calmer."

Meanwhile, Debbie Harry reassured fans the song would never be dropped from their set.

"It's hard because we want to play the new music," she said, "but we also want to let people enjoy the things that bring back their memories."

Emeli Sande has taken up a surprising new sport

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Media captionEmeli Sande performs Hurts at Radio 2 in Hyde Park

This New Year, Emeli Sande resolved to learn a new skill: skateboarding.

"It's going ok," she laughed. "At the moment I'm just going forward - not turning corners or doing any kinds of tricks."

And where does internationally-famous singer of song Emeli Sande practise her pop shoves and board flips?

"In my driveway! It's quite big. Big enough to skateboard on, at least."

James Blunt's band should check their contracts

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Media captionJames Blunt performs Bonfire Heart at Radio 2 in Hyde Park

When he's not crowdsurfing across Hyde Park, James Blunt is supporting his friend and co-writer Ed Sheeran on his US tour.

"It's extremely calm," he says of life on the road with the world's biggest pop star. "We drink tea. We watch television series - I can't think of which one, but we take it very easy."

Over the last three months, though, he's noticed a big disparity between his show and Ed's.

"I have five people in my band, he has a loop pedal. He's not only a great musician but a great businessman, too.

"It feels highly inefficient of me, and my band sit there nervously, waiting to be fired."

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