Entering its sixteenth season of commissioned shows across the country, Forest Live takes place at seven stunning locations. My visit took me to Delamere, bang in the heart of glorious Cheshire.
First up, the venue. Perfection. A delightful natural amphitheatre, surrounded by countryside and wildlife. Considering these are pop-up arenas, the organisation is second-to-none. Parking was a doddle, with the kind event staff even allowing us parking room closer to the entrance for my pregnant wife. Queues were not existent and palaver nowhere to be seen.
Actually, this was the most relaxing gig experience I’ve ever had. Ample room to set up the camp chairs and before I know it, I’m eating a picnic with a glass of pop watching Steve Mason rattle through his tunes. It’s a pleasant change to be allowed your own food and drink, with gross-profits at the back of the Forest Commission’s mind. With that comes a lack of options if you did decide to purchase at the venue though. The bar was sound, with no queues in sight. However, if you’re a fussy eater, there are only 3 or 4 options for you.
I’ve only got one complaint about my whole experience and it’s my own fault. My loyal Adidas Spezials were destroyed by a damp and messy photo pit. Luckily for the four other photographers, they seemed to have been wiser and taken a trip to Go Outdoors.
Elbow really are something special. Palm of the hands stuff every time Guy Garvey takes to the stage. There’s arm-waving, hand-clapping and finger-twinkling as per, mixed in with a generous dose of northern humour. Garvey chuckles his way through the wrong words during ‘The Bones of You’, in his element in the intimate forest environment. They’re a festival band and the outdoors is more Elbow than arenas will ever be.
We’re introduced to a Klangers tin on stage, in use for charitable donations after every celebrity name drop the gladsome Garvey makes. It doesn’t stop us hearing the favourite songs of Sir Paul McCartney and Bob Geldof alongside shout-outs to Yoko Ono (New York Morning) and fictional brothers Mark and James Morrison.
The performance features numerous cuts from their latest album ‘Little Fictions’, with the title track really standing out as a live anthem. Finishing with a rousing ‘Grounds for Divorce’, Elbow once again demonstrated their prowess as a headline act. Delamere Forest was the picture-perfect setting and it led to the creation of an endless wish list of who I want to see in the Forest next year.
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