Forest Live: Four Days Of Quality Music at Delamere

Festival News

Sophie Ellis Bextor. Photo by Terry Marland.

By Terry Marland, Rock At Night Manchester

Forest Live Delamere Forest 13-16 June 2024 

Forest Live 2024 

 Forest Live is a major annual music event presented by Forestry England and held across a range of unique woodland settings in the U.K.  It has become a staple event in the music calendar.  Income from ticket sales helps look after England’s forests for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive.  Forest Live concerts have been attended by over two million people in the last twenty-three years and provide a unique platform for premiere and emerging artists. 

 Rock at Night was at the Delamere Forest concerts to cover the headlining sets featuring A-listers Becky Hill, Nile Rodgers and Bryan Adams.  

 Thursday 

Issey Cross – Photo by Terry Marland.

Issey Cross Kicks things off with a punchy half hour performance that gets the crowd moving.  The set highlight is her distinctive Bittersweet Goodbye that has amassed over 40M listens on Spotify and is (obviously) worth checking out if you are not familiar with it. More details HERE.

Becky Hill. Photo by Terry Marland.

 Headliner Becky Hill is celebrating her new album “Believe Me Now?” charting at number 3 in the UK chart.  She show-cases a selection of tracks from the release in her dynamic 90-minute performance, including passionate renditions of “True Colours” and “Back Around” early in the set.  Also renowned as an accomplished songwriter, Hill has an infectious stage presence and addresses the crowd collectively and individually calling out those who have prepared banner messages in advance.  

 Flanked by her band that includes a brass and strings section together with three part backing vocals this is a powerful on-stage mix.  Elsewhere in the set “Geko (Overdrive)” and ”Crazy What Love Can Do” sees Hill orchestrating the Delamere crowd who by now is a sea of dancers.  Hill is a masterful performer who paces the set perfectly and has the crowd onside throughout.  She has a string of arena dates coming up across the UK. Europe and the US with some dates already sold out. More details HERE.

 Friday 

Rock at Night wasn’t at the festival on Friday but our friends who were able to make it enthused that headliner Sting gave a towering performance with a set that was fairly split between classic Police tracks and solo numbers.  

 Saturday 

Deco. Photo by Terry Marland.

Deco is an emerging Midlands band with an engaging 80s vibe. Their set features mainly original songs but also includes a creditable cover of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”.  Their album “Destination I Don’t Know” is released in September and includes “Photograph” that when played this afternoon, provides an opportunity for the crowd to take a selfie with the band. Their new album is released in September.

Sophie Ellis Bextor. Photo by Terry Marland.

The on-stage energy generated by Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s performance is infectious. With an impressive career spanning over 20 years she is more than adept at getting a crowd in dancing mood. She is constantly on the move while belting out a rich mix of songs from her own back catalogue and well-chosen covers.  Opening with her 2001 hit “Murder on the Dance Floor”, and including songs from Abba and Madonna she creates a special vibe in the forest. During her set, Nile Rodgers makes his first appearance side of stage and is obviously enjoying the energy she is generating. 

Later this year Sophie will embark on her first ever North American tour with many dates already sold out. Details of all tour dates HERE.

Nile Rodgers and Chic. Photo by Terry Marland.

Nile Rodgers is a music business legend.  Celebrated as a performer for his dazzling guitar and song-writing skills, he has also produced some of the premiere rock and pop artists. As co-founder member of Chic, he graced the charts with an array of premiere dance floor hits.  Tonight’s set is a career spanning journey through the Chic catalogue along with renditions of his collaborations with some of the biggest names in Rock and Pop music. 

 The on-stage Chic line up is made up of stellar performers including the outstanding Jerry Barnes on bass and the powerhouse vocals of Kimberley Davis and Audrey Martells. 

 Opening with the classic “Le Freak”, the Delamere bowl became a sea of movement as the crowd breaks into dancing mode. “Everybody Dance” and “Dance Dance Dance”  have the fans in overdrive.  Covers of hits from the array of rock royalty that Rodgers has produced include “‘I’m Coming Out” (Diana Ross)  “He’s The Greatest Dancer”, (Sister Sledge) and “Let’s Dance “(David Bowie). 

 He muses with the crowd in between songs about his landmark achievements including Grammys, a host of platinum hits and his studio collaborations with artists including Madonna, Sister Sledge and Daft Punk.  

 Closing number “Good Times” fittingly encapsulates the mood of the audience throughout the performance.  

 More details including future tour dates HERE.

Sunday 

Vivas. Photo by Terry Marland.

Today we open up with Indie rockers Vivas.  Formed in 2022 they have a fast-growing fan base and have already supported the likes of Def Leppard and Motley Crew. Their set of mainly melodic rock tracks includes a catchy “Vinyl Girl” and their final song “Sweet Talker” was well received by the crowd. 

Cassyette. Photo by Terry Marland.

Coming straight from her performance at Download the previous day, Cassyette performs a compelling forty-five minutes that starts relatively slowly before moving on to heavier numbers later in the set. She has been described by Kerrang as “a modern-day alternative icon” and she certainly has an engaging stage presence. Displaying rock, pop and metal influences her lyrics are edgy and attention grabbing. 

The Confessional themed “Dear Goth” released in 2021, is both haunting and lamenting.  I’ve had it on repeat since hearing it for the first time. 

Her forthcoming album This World Fucking Sucks is likely to grab attention for its title alone.  An engrossing performance by any standards.   

More details and future tour dates HERE.

 

Bryan Adams. Photo by Terry Marland.

Bryan Adams is another artist with a rich back catalogue to plunder but starts his set with a newer number and a blistering version of “Kick Ass” from his most recent album 2022’s “So Happy It Hurts”  

With a career spanning over thirty years, Adams’ voice is as strong as ever and now the hits come thick and fast including “Can’t Stop This Thing We started”, “18 Till I Die” , “Heaven” and “One Night Love Affair” 

A Tina Turner tribute of “It’s Only Love” (that she sang with Adams) interspersed with segments from “The Best” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, features a stunning guitar solo from long-time collaborator Keith Scott and has the crowd in raptures. 

For the rockabilly “You Belong To Me” Adams announces the quest to find the worst dancers in the crowd.  Judging by the images we see on the giant screens, that would be hard one to call.  

An exquisite “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” launches a sea of mobile phone lights and has the audience in full voice before unleashing “Run to You” and “Summer of 69.”  

With a setlist as rich as this there’s little doubt that the fans went home more than content. 

This performance brings to a close another year of Forest Live at Delamere. 

Further Bryan Adams tour date details HERE.

Supporting Forest Live concerts helps Forestry England create beautiful places for people to enjoy, run important conservation projects and keep growing trees.  

Across the arena there were banners proclaiming Forestry England’s support for England’s forests. It should be said that in providing a platform for these shows the organisation also show its support for live music by providing top calibre artists for audiences to see making it a win-win outcome for all. 

If you fancy going to a Forest Live gig this year there are still opportunities to catch these artists and more at other UK locations in coming weeks. More details HERE.

PHOTO GALLERY

 

 

 

 

Terry Marland

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