I can't tell you how glad I am that we came out to the Penton Proms. In aid of James's Place, Penton Proms put on a killer event with some great acts.
You know how it is when you come to event, go half up the drive and then get accosted by the security team intimidating and officious? Well what a complete contrast to that and a pleasant surprise it was here! We saw the security guards, we made our introduction, saying that we were from Andover and Villages website as we'd already spoken to one of the organisers via our rapidly growing Twitter page. Justin Wright – or Geordie, as his colleagues call him – said that he'd heard that we were expected and immediately set to work trying to patch through to let the organisers know we were there. We had a good banter with fellow security guard, Tim Davis who was checking new arrivals, what a refreshing change to see such a friendly security team. It took a little while, but what was nice was that they didn't make us wait for the 'okay', they let us park up and get ready. Not something you frequently see from security.
We arrived as most of the stands were closing, but it was clear that it had been a busy day, with a busier evening to come. The beer tent was still open, though, so all was very well! We grabbed a couple of drinks from the well stocked bar with three bar staff members servin.
The Warminster Military Wives Choir
Drinks in hand, camera at the ready, we headed into the astonishing vista of Penton Lodge Gardens, to the sound of gorgeous voices from The Warminster Military Wives Choir. The conductor took control, bringing in the ladies' voices with great mastery. They were all clearly well rehearsed as was the conductor, as she controlled the levels and length of notes. I was lulled by the arrangement of such songs as Rule the World by Take That and one of my persona favourites, U2's With or Without You. It was just so good to hear all the beautiful chords played out through the medium of beauteous voices. And then we had the weather on side – as though they had lulled the rain to sleep, too.
The conductor Donna chatted to the crowd between songs and encouraged them to get up and dance, she also managed to get Jake Ward up on the stage and we almost had an auction for him after he had told Donna he had a girlfriend but as she wasn't there, it didn't really count!
The Wives ended the set with Sing, which they had performed at the Queen's Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace. Stealing myself away from the stage, I was greeted by an audience in awe. It was clear that everyone whose ears were graced by such melody were encapsulated. I overheard that the Military Wives may be rebooked for next year's event which is such great news.
Daniel Farr is 18 and is a terrific singer. Dressed in a black tie, he took to the stage and eased himself into the favour of the audience with Let Her Go, Passenger. He sang this so well, with a gentle vibrato that, I have to say, I preferred to the original.
Next up was Everything by Michael Buble and again, it was smooth and soulful, in a way that really captured the Buble essence.
He finished with Elton's Your Song. His performance of it was excellent and couldn't have ended his set in a better way. His passion for music was clear through every song.
I have had the pleasure of performing with Jake before, so I knew how good he was before he got on stage, and he delivered, in spades. Watching him again, I was reminded of just how good he really is. In fact, I was reminded and then impressed all over again. He's just got that way of completely drawing you into what his show, like he's got you in the palm of his hand. Even considering the fuss at the start of his set, with the sound problems, he held his nerve and stayed calm, keeping the crowd calm, too.
He started with Feeling Good, Michael Buble's version, which he performed 'to a T', dishing out the suave and the sophistication, as well as the subtle niceties. The roar of the crowd was testament to his performance and then he fired into Mack the Knife, a collaboration of Kurt Weill's upbeat music and Bertold Brecht's dark and contrasting lyrics. I heard it come on and immediately knew that he was going to do it justice. He did. From the start to the finish, where his confidence was so rich that he finished it sitting down on one of the deck chairs. Jake is such a hit with the ladies, suave, sophisticated and with a glint in his eye.
Thank you Jake. Fabulous!
Victor & Albert
We could only stay for first bit of the these two guys' set and, from what I heard, it was very good and very funny. They play on their original looks to their advantage by pretending to do something classical and then stopping, changing the key to something modern. It was catchy and surprising and I found myself enjoying it not just because it was different, but because it was done well, with clever lyrics and interesting music.
It was a joyous evening and I can't wait for next year's event!