COLOURFUL wellies were the order of the evening as the Wickham Festival made a return to a rather soggy field.
Despite some sporadic downpours and the occasional threatening rumble of thunder, a good time was had by around 7,000 revellers.
The four-day festival got under way yesterday with musical highlights from John Jones & The Reluctant Ramblers, Tony McManus, Dick Gaughan and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, topped off with headline act James Blunt.
The star brought out all his well-known hits and brought the damp evening to a rousing end.
He said: ‘It was fantastic to be back in Hampshire, close to where I was born. It felt like coming home and it was a great atmosphere. The crowd was amazing.
‘It was really nice to play a smaller, more intimate concert and to get close to the fans. Wickham is a really good festival; I loved it.’
Many had pitched up tents and were preparing to camp for the weekend, while locals trekked along the country lanes to join in the frolics.
The Wheeler family were among the happy campers, with mum Sophia, dad Rob, seven-year-old Rose and 16-month-old Freddie, from Soberton, all enjoying a family break in the country.
Sophia, 39, said: ‘The festival is fantastic. We came here last year and had such a good time we decided to come back and camp this time.’
This year the Wickham Festival was bigger than ever, with an increased capacity of 7,000, up from last year’s 5,000, and with more stalls.
The festival appealed to all ages and continues tomorrow with headliners The Lightning Seeds, Steve Earle & The Dukes on Saturday and Bellowhead on Sunday.
Homeless charity Two Saints, which has its head office in Fareham, provided volunteers to man the gates, marshal and to tidy up the site.
For more information go to wickhamfestival.co.uk
Full of cheesiness but fun, if only for the crowd singalong factor - Felix Morris reviews James Blunt
Cheesy, a bit samey but definitely enjoyable – James Blunt’s performance was, above all else, good clean fun, if you discount the muddy wellies.
He entered the stage in astronaut gear and broke the crowd in with lesser-known songs. But after cracking out hits such as Wisemen and High, he had take off.
Clearly a crowd favourite, they joyously sang along to every song, including his new material.
There were enough variations in the set to keep the performance interesting from the ukelele cheekiness of Postcards to the dramatic solo piano performance of Goodbye My Lover.
Blunt clearly connected with the crowd as his banter gained genuine laughs and he even managed a crowd surf.
Granted, after a while his songs began to sound similar, with each chorus containing an ooooh or lalala, but this only engaged the crowd as they wholeheartedly sang along.
So Long Jimmy ended the set, followed by a three-song encore finishing with the crowd singing Simona loudly to 1973
Regardless of some repetitiveness, Blunt was entertaining and worth seeing if only to sing your heart out to You’re Beautiful.