Henley Festival 2017 was brought to a spectacular close on Sunday 9th July when All Saints were joined on stage by Melanie C to sing their smash hit Pure Shores to a rapturous crowd.
Black-tie clad revellers danced in the isles as All Saints belted out their classic hits Lady Marmalade and Never Ever. Earlier on Melanie C got the party started with I Turn to You and Baby When Your Gone, written with Bryan Adams, as well as inviting ten teenage girls from the audience onto the stage to sing Spice Girls hit Say You’ll Be There, watched by Victoria Beckham’s parents.
The UK’s only black-tie festival was opened by pop superstar Jess Glynne on Wednesday night, on one of the hottest evenings of the year with her dance hits Take Me Home and Hold My Hand. On Thursday, 80s electro-pop pioneers Pet Shop Boys wowed the Henley Festival audience with an incredible laser and light show. The duo emerged on stage behind spinning discs wearing geometric helmets to put on an array of new and classic hits including Go West, The Pop Kids and It’s A Sin. Friday night saw Chaka Khan take festival goers on a journey through the 70s, bringing the house down at the end of the night with her 80s favourites I’m Every Woman and Aint No Body. Finally, on Saturday night, the Henley Festival crowd were given a huge injection of energy from Goldie, as the godfather of UK Drum and Bass came om stage with the Heritage Orchestra to perform his classic 1995 album Timeless as well as four songs from his recently released album The Journey Man.
Tickets sold to the 25,000 festival goers over the five-day festival have helped to raise funds for The Children’s Society, a charity that supports young carers. Henley Festival is one of the UK’s few festivals that is not for profit with all proceeds going to a variety of local charities alongside The Children’s Society.
Charlotte Geeves, Director at Henley Festival, sad “We’ve been thrilled to host such talented performers across all genres at this year’s Festival. From the truly incredible headliners, whose passion and energy kept audiences dancing well into the night, to the best comedian line-up we’ve ever been lucky enough to host, to the unsigned artists. Hundreds of people have worked incredibly hard to create this year’s festival, and we are immensely grateful to them all. We are delighted to have continued to support The Children’s Society this year, and our other charity partners, whose incredible work supporting child carers is so inspiring to us all.”
Celebrities attending the festival this year included JK from Jamiroquai who came to watch Pet Shop Boys, Debbie McGee and Chris Tarrant, Made in Chelsea’s Ollie Proudlock and Lauren Hutten.
PizzaExpress Live artists at the festival included the King of Soul, Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band Grammy Award-winning American pop/rock singer Vonda Shepard. Friday night saw The Staxs Band taking to the stage with legendary soul singer Mica Paris, while British Jamaican R&B and soul singer-songwriter, Ruby Turner delighted fans with her unique brand of music, while on Sunday night critically acclaimed funk and soul band, Brother Strut, brought the house down on the floating stage.
The comedy line-up was no less starry, with stellar performances from some of the biggest names in British comedy including Sara Pascoe, Russell Kane, Andy Parsons, Seann Walsh, Joel Dommett and Mark Dolan – the festival’s biggest comedy line-up to date.
On Friday, Sara Pascoe, gave the Henley Festival a sneak preview of her new Edinburgh material based around her recent break up from comedian John Robins, who also performed at Henley Festival. During her set, she also impressed the crowd by doing a shot of wine each time she said a rude word. Felicity Ward, got the biggest laughs for her chicken karaoke version of Chaka Khan’s I’m every Woman and the Bee Gees Staying Alive.
While Hammersmith Apollo regulars Seann Walsh and Russell Kane, packed out the comedy tent drawing the Henley Festival crowd in with jokes about cheeseboards and private schools, Angus Deayton brought the comedy tent to a close with song covers in the style of Bob Dylan.
Also performing at the festival were up-and-coming local artists Ed & Ollie Goodale in the Bedouin Tent, and comedians Paul Foot, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Mitch Benn.
The food at Henley was no less popular than the music. Festival goers the 2017 festival consumed 1,000 guinea fowl, 2,500 asparagus spears, 150kg of locally sourced cheeses, 70kg of seabass, 50 sides of salmon, and 500 crème brûlée. While Snob Lobster sold over 350 lobsters over the five days in their American-style brioche buns.
The drinks were equally popular with 12,000 litres of champagne consumed on site and the UK’s first festival champagne vending machine, provided by Moet & Chandon, proving a hit with festival goers.
With the mercury hitting 30 degrees, ice creams were a firm favourite with Henley’s Crooked Billet pop-up selling over 1,000 of their home-made Mr Whippy ice-cream puddings – dark chocolate mousse topped with Mr Whippy-style ice cream and a 99 flake.
Overall 25,000 people attended the festival over the five days, with 250 people arriving by boat, and mooring to the side of the festival site, with an additional 1,000 people partying from their boats each night as they glided past the festival on the river.
Henley Festival’s visual arts programme was kicked off by Mr Doodle who entertained revellers by doodling for on a 20 meter squared canvas each evening, while 26 year old local artist Harriet Riddell, stitched portraits of festival-goers, using her sewing machine, a skill she has honed in Africa and India. Art onsite included a limited-edition Damian Hirst, Salvador Dali and Picasso prints, sculpture by Paul Day the artist behind the St Pancras sculpture Meeting Place as well as a photography exhibition by avant guard photographer Oliver Elliot.
Finally, today’s Family Sunday saw the festival site transformed into a children’s paradise, with dance classes from Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, children’s entertainers, magicians, comedians, musicians and more keeping families entertained, while babies boogied in Baby Loves Disco at the Festival’s Pure Heaven nightclub
Published on 11 July 2017 by Ben Robinson