Detroit met the Home Counties as the annual concert series turned the heat up for a final evening of vintage soul
Words: Tobias Gourlay
On Thursday it was The Best of John Williams. Friday brought Max Richter. Saturday was jazz night with Jamie Cullum. Finally, on Sunday, Nocturne Live’s relaxed crowd could cut loose. Because The Jacksons were coming to Blenheim Palace.
Woodstock, Oxfordshire is not synonymous with music festivals like its 60s hippy-mecca namesake over in New York, but the organisers of the Nocturne Live concert series - now in its third year – are doing their best. This year, the courtyard of the 12th Duke of Marlborough’s majestic home
had been given over to a stage and just a few thousand temporary seats.
VIP tickets got you into the Great Hall for a pre-show dinner, while any sort of ticket gave you full access to the estate’s rolling grounds. If we’d been more organised, we would have ordered in one of the Nocturne hampers for two. Instead, we put together our own picnic by the lake, moving easily between the cooling waterside and nearby food stalls.
It was only at 6pm, with the sun easing and Andreya Triana striding onto stage, that a full crowd emerged from the shade, and we took our seats with the friends we’d made sheltering in the lee of the sound desk.
As the temperature dropped, it was the musicians who brought the heat. First, Kool & The Gang set the crowd to simmer with an hour or so of funky disco, before the main event. With four of the original Jackson Five still together and enjoying themselves – and Michael being paid copious video tributes – they delivered an exemplary greatest-hits set, from ‘I Want You Back’ through to ‘ABC’.
We do indeed want them back soon, and we wouldn’t mind a return trip to Blenheim either.
It’s not too late to treat clients to festival hospitality tickets this year. Check out our favourite late summer festivals with VIP offerings here.