# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - Henley, Oxfordshire, 8/7/2014...12/7/2014

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 9 / 8 / 2014

Miscellaneous - Henley, Oxfordshire, 8/7/2014...12/7/2014


Nick Dent-Robinson is impressed by this year's Henley Festival, which included a stunning performance from Burt Bacharach

Henley Festival, with its lush riverside venue and (this year) perfect balmy evenings illuminated by a full moon, was the ideal setting to hear a succession of Burt Bacharach's sophisticated easy-listening songs – introduced and performed by Burt himself. The impressively energetic 86 year-old had help from a young and accomplished band plus singers Donna Taylor, Josie James, John Begano and the talented Eliza Doolittle as he sat mid-stage behind a magnificent Steinway. The performers – Burt included – somehow breathed new life into a series of love songs that possibly only Lennon-McCartney could match for quality and quantity. In this, the town where Dusty Springfield lived and with local resident Cilla Black in the audience - like Dusty, Cilla was another fine interpreter of Burt's material - there was clearly great appreciation from the whole crowd that we were in the presence of a musical genius. Within minutes of taking the stage Burt Bacharach and his helpers had delivered sharp versions of 'What the World Needs Now', 'Walk On By', 'Say a Little Prayer' and 'Baby It's You', which Burt casually told a surprised Eliza Doolittle had been recorded by the Beatles. This was a fact that George's widow Olivia and son Dhani, who were both in the audience too, could also have confirmed! After that, the mega-hits from past decades just kept coming and one marvelled at the sheer scale of Burt Bacharach's achievement in bridging “the great Amercian songbook” and the rock revolution with such a range of quality compositions. Towards the end of his 90 minute set, Burt played a medley of his greatest film scores bringing the show to a close by singing - in a deep, husky and almost Dylanesque voice - his own version of 'Alfie' which somehow gave the lyrics of the song a surprising degree of wisdom and gravity that I'd not previously associated with it. After a rapturous reception - the local rock nobility were out in force and with people like Tim Rice, the Hollies' Tony Hicks, David Gilmour and members of Deep Purple and Jethro Tull all clamouring for more - there was an encore of 'Raindrops Keep Falling On Your Head'. This inspired a rowdy riverside singalong with the generally quite youthful crowd led by a smiling and clearly delighted Burt Bacharach. Later the great song writer pronounced Henley the highlight of his year - and for many his appearance was definitely the highspot of a memorable festival. There had also been strong performances by Bryan Ferry, Joss Stone, the Jacksons (which was the fastest selling ticket prior to the event) and former Yes keyboards player Rick Wakeman who told some wonderful anecdotes – including about his time as a session man on 'Life On Mars' and 'Morning Has Broken'. Also at Henley were Rebecca Ferguson, the Overtones as well as local jazz singer and Ronnie Scott's regular, Rebecca Poole (now performing as Purdy) who received a great welcome from her Henley home crowd. “I love performing at Henley. It is always a great atmosphere at the festival and the audience are just so supportive,” Rebecca enthused. Comedians Jasper Carrot and Alistair McGowan also appeared at Henley. And matching the world class performers were chefs Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr. whose 'Roux at the Riverside' restaurant was doing great business on site throughout the festival. The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Rob Percy.

Also at Henley, Oxfordshire

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Miscellaneous - Henley, Oxfordshire, 8/7/2014...12/7/2014

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