Charlie Cunningham is just one man & his guitar. Honestly, my morning wasn't going so well.Grumble grumble grumble and this ray of sunshine entered. What a delight. So lovely. This was music from the heart performed by a sincerely humble guy. He mentioned how the day before he hadn't had a good day & wanted the earth to swallow him up. Watching the support of the Crowd was a bit overwhelming. They were fully behind him and completely wrapped themselves up in his music. "Lights Off" was a highlight for me, easily
The Pierce Brothers hail from Melbourne, Australia and they were AH-MAZING. Folk duo who started busking on the Streets to now performing around the world, The Pierce Brothers were probably the first act of the weekend who made me want to jump around! Their live show was dynamic & infectious ending with one brother playing the guitar, while the other drummed on the guitar! Ramin Karimloo is known for his musical theatre background, performing in Les Miserables for which he received a Tony nomination. He has turned his attention from Broadway to Bluegrass. Nice set with a few musical numbers added in to keep the audiences happy!
Newton Faulkner is a solid performer. He's one of those Artists who you can keep going back to and you know they are a safe bet. Faulkner mentioned that he had been doing the same thing for a number of years. Him & his guitar. He wanted to change things up a bit so he included a band. I'm still not entirely convinced that his music had the same impact on me as it did when being performed solo. There is something about him, stood there, vulnerable with just his guitar & sense of humour. While he was still faultless, I didn't feel that grab that I normally have from his performances. The Zombies formed back in 1962 and god bless them they are still rocking it.
The Shires are probably the most successfully English Country band there has been. Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes had a great connection of stage which would have you believing that they've known each other for years. In fact, they formed in 2013! They are the only band to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. The Shires performed on the Pleasant Valley Stage & were perfect.
When I first discovered Stax! at Cornbury I fell in love. But more than that, every year the Special Guest would be somebody equally as fantastic. This year it would be Beverley Knight. Knight is one of the best singers I've ever heard and had the opportunity to enjoy. Every note that she sings is perfect and the best thing of her set was just how humble she was
Family favourite James Morrison was enchanting and charming once again on the main stage. His newer music is a lot darker than usual but his upbeat persona and personality were a great addition to the Sunday. Having seen Morrison a few times before, I knew that he would be the perfect fit for Cornbury.
Last year the highlight of the festival was Striking Matches. This year it is Kelvin Jones. Stating that he's only been giving the music scene a go for about a year, Jones was on the Songbird Stage ahead of Seal on the Pleasant Valley Stage. This, unfortunately, meant that a lot of the audience were already queuing for their place for Seal. But not me! Jones was absolutely everything I love about music. Humble, unique & surprising! He's won Newcomer of the Year at the Urban Music Awards & is well on his way to headlining his own songs. Having just supported James Morrison, Jones emotional lyrics and guitar riffs were epic. "Closer" was my favourite track of the weekend.
Seal is another level. Closing the Main Stage on the Sunday, he just oozes star power and is hypnotising to listen to and watch. As I was photographing the start of his set, he head off the stage, straight past me and threw himself into the adoring arms of his audience. He is the definition of everything a front man should be. "Crazy", "Killer" & "Kiss from a Rose" were obviously highlights in his set but he also did a Tears for Fears cover of "Mad World" and as a big Tears for Fears fan was much appreciated!
Last year at Cornbury I discovered some incredible acts who I have paid to see by themselves. This year I found one. I truly love Cornbury, I really do & it's one festival that I would happily go back to every single year. I just think that the same acts seem to be doing the rounds. With loyal acts such as Newton Faulkner, The Shires, The Dunwells performing year in, year out I think it may be time to shake things up a bit & stop using the Festival favourites since 75% of the audience (so I'm told) go back each year. Murmurings from the audience suggested I wasn't the only one to think it!
Lets have something which is brand new, unique and some new surprises please!
Until next year.
latest on this festival
festival home page
festival to incorporate covid safety measures
line-ups & rumours