Bedford Park Concerts 2018!

The first weekend of August 2018 saw the return of the brilliant Bedford Park Concerts. I had an absolute blast last year, so I was excited to attend
again. For those of you who are not already award, this is a three day event that begins on the Friday evening and comes to a close on the Sunday. The
organisers have never failed to provide a fantastic line up. Previously they have given us performances from Jason Donavon, Tom Jones, UB40, Dizzee
Rascal, Kaiser Chiefs and more. Once more for 2018, ticketholders were able to make memories with friends and family whilst watching yet another
handful of brilliant acts.

Upon entering the site at Bedford Park, I could see a wide variety of food vendors, ranging from fish and chips and pizza to vegan street food and
sweets. Also there was an abundance of bathroom facilities and access to a couple of different bars serving everyones favourite beverages. Also importantly, the teams from the brilliant St Johns Ambulance were placed in their own gazebo at the back of the park and also stationed on patrol at various locations around the site. As previous
years the event was sponsored by BMW Barons Bedford, so there was also an array of automotive beauties on display and test drive booking options.


Friday 3rd August i had the weekend kicking off to a great start. The entier evening was filled with chilled reggae and soulful vibes. At times I even
felt like I was being transported to a beautiful  beach covered in white sand with crystal clear waters in my mind. It was one of the most chilled out gigs I have ever been to.
Which was really quite nice and very enjoyable. During this relaxed segment of the evening we got to see performances from British Reggae band ASWAD,
who are best known for their infectious hit singles ‘Don’t Turn Around’ and ‘Shine’. To which were the final two songs of their set.

Also Friday evening brought us a brilliant segment from The Christians, the band had celebrated the achievement of 30 years together just last year. The band from
Liverpool have also seen huge success in their debut album which sold over a million copies. Their set included  their first single ‘Forgotten Town’
which turned out to be quite apt as they had to ask the audience exactly where they were performing which was quite amusing.  We also got to see them
perform their cover of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ which was originally performed by The Beatles after the song was written by George Harrison.

The next act certainly took it up a notch as she ramped up the energy while she dominated the stage.That lady was the sensational Jaki Graham. She
stood out in her eyecatching fringed attire while wowing us with her vocals. It was clear to see she could not wait for her turn to be on the stage.
Graham appeared to be so genuinely happy to perform, she even stated “I came out feeling like Jaki no mates,but here you all are, I love you” which was
followed by plenty of air kisses to the crowds of people before her. From Jaki, we heard hits including ‘Could It Be Im Falling In Love?’,  ‘Ain’t
  and even new music including the title track of her new album, ‘When A Woman Loves‘.

Of course, this night belonged to one man, the legend that is Mr Billy Ocean. The Trinidadian-English recording artist is  well known for his catchy
R&B pop hits, predomintally in the 1970s and 1980s. I was born in the late 1980s but even I can appreciate his amazing talent and infamous hits.
People of all ages were so excited to see this man perform live.  Billy’s set was clean cut while he showcased his smooth moves as he dazzled in a
brilliant white suit.  Billy Ocean may not be as young as he once was, but this performance proved that age certainly is just a number.  His
performance was one of nostalgia and high emotion as he serenaded us with singles including ‘Caribbean Queen’, ‘When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough
Gets Going’, ‘Suddenly’ 
and the huge ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’.


On Saturday 4th August, we got to see a very different line up compared to the previous evening.  The evening was filled with pop and dance tunes.  We
saw performances from up and coming solo act Hannah Jane Lewis, DJ sets in between main acts, male solo artist Sam Willis, who was sat for most of his
set behind a keyboard playing beautiful music and gracing us with vocals that could closely be likened to international pop star Bruno Mars.  So if
you’re looking for musical “Treasure” be sure to check out Sam’s music.  Also there was a very lively set from the band that gave birth to Harry Styles’
music career.  White Eskimo.  The quartet rock-pop band were all smartly dressed in fitted black suits and slim ties around their necks as they gave us
quite the show.  They certainly knew how to work their magic on the audience, especially impressionable girls within their teenage years.  Although,
some did try to cause a stir by chanting “Harry!, Harry!, Harry!”, the lads remained focused and professional as they were seen laughing off the little
stunt and carried on with a brilliant display of musical genuis.  The down to earth band members clearly loved to play up to the cameras and also took
time out after their set for a meet and greet with their fans at the VW Campervan style photobooth on site.

What impressed me most about these performances weren’t actually anything to do with the acts at all. I can’t continue with this review without mentioning some of the best talent that I saw all weekend.  Just to the leftof the stage as the acts were live, also live were some people communicating in British Sign Language.  These talented people were performing songs along with the acts on stage. What a phenominal idea! I’ve been to a lot of gigs and festivals since becoming a writer for such events and never once had I seen this at any other event before.  Bedford Park Concerts are one of the small handful of events that actually include this thoughtful feature to their line up.

Shortly after 8pm, hundreds of people were seen moving as close to the front of the stage as they could possibly get, as something exciting was about
to take place in the park.  All over the site I could hear chanting demanding “We want Jess!, We Want Jess!” Everyone was stood waiting in ancitipation
for female solo artist Jess Glynne. The music scene first intriduced us to the female soloist back in 2014 upon the UK release of Clean Bandit’s
mammoth single ‘Rather Be’.  Jess‘ vocals shone on the track.

Although a little later than expected, Jess walked out onto the stage, gave everyone a quick “hello” and got straight down to business to perform the
first song of her set, ‘Ain’t Got Far To Go’. The chart topper also included her well known string of hits such as ‘Right Here’, ‘Don’t Be So Hard On
and ‘Hold My Hand’ before then slowing things down to what I can only state was a very emotional segment of her time on stage at Bedford
.  Glynne stood quietly at the front of the stage to introduce her next song of the evening and then dedicated it to a young girl and her mother.
She continued to say “before I came on stage tonight, I got to meet a very special young girl, she’s so special and deserves some love”.  The singer
then continued to sing her balled ‘Home’.  Many sang along as they swayed their hands gently through the air.  It was rather difficult to hold back the
tears during this stage to be honest.  It wasa beautiful and heartfelt few moments.  Jess Glynne is well known for her upbeat pop
tracks, so the pace was picked up once again, getting everyone into the party mood they came to experience.  This performance brought so much to the
weekend’s event. Fun, emotion and pure pop brilliance!

To close saturday night, the organisers of the concerts had the perfect plan.  To end the night on a huge party! Woo Hoo! Bring on Felix Buxton and
Simon Ratcliffe, aka Basement Jaxx! The duo hit the stage and took their place behind a huge DJ deck as they pumped out some ravetastic tunes.  As they
played remixed of their own hits including the mighty ‘Red Alert‘, crowds of people were jumping around like hyper school children without a care in
the world.  All under a fantastic laser light show.  What a way to end the night!


As with previous years, the final day of frivolities at Bedford Park brought the most pompous yet patriotic day of my festival season calendar. The
Bedford Park Proms. Proms day has always been known to feature performances showcasing a variety of renditions of songs from musicals and film
soundtracks.  Before attending the event that day, I had said to my partner (to quote myself) “I guaruntee that we will hear music probably the biggest
film sountrack of the last year, The Greatest Showman”.  Yes,I was pleasantly 100% right! It’s a soundtrack that I personally love to listen to very
regularly, so I was excited to witness the children of the Pilgrims School Choir sing ‘A Million Dreams’ followed by the Bedford Girls School Choir
singing their version of  ‘The Greatest Show’ – which had a brilliant foot tapping routine to go with it.  Parents, teachers and pupils from both school choirs should
feel incredibly proud of their efforts during their performances.

What was fresh to see was a a brilliant set from the very talented Joe Bygraves.  It was like watching a protege of Ed Sheeran’s standing on stage with
an acoustic guitar and soft vocals.  He and his music were definitely a bighighlight of the day in my opinion.  Not only did he perform his own
versions of songs including Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ and Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, he also had a great range of original songs to offer too, including ‘Childhood Sweetheart‘ and another, which was inspired by the fiesty fictitious character Daenarys Targaryen from the popular TV series Game Of Thrones.  Joe’s music can currently be found on both Spotify and itunes.  I highly recommend you check him out – especially if you’re a big fan of a certain red headed guitar playing male
solo artist.

The official start to the Proms begins now! The Bedford Town Band kicked things off with a pretty impressive feature.  All of their music was taken
from the 1996 film ‘Brassed Off’ which starred Ewan McGregor.

Of course, the Bedford Park Proms wouldn’t be the same without the return of the mesmerising talents that make up the London Gala Orchestra.  I’m no
classical music buff, but I didn’t need to be to appreciate just how magical their symphonies can be. They even had me singing rather loudly “Just One
(Some of you will know what I am referring to there) haha. During some performances the orchestra were also joined by other guests including
the Bedford Choral Society and of course the evening’s operatic soloists. Tenor Jeff Stewart and the nation’s musical sweetheart Lesley Garrett.  Both
were intruguing and enchanting to watch as they performed both alone and together.  The pair even at one point sang a beautiful duet while drinking a
glass of tipple and dancing as if they were ready for the wow at the ballroom.


Lastly in true proms style to end the evening and the weekend long event, the site was filled with sea of red, white and blue flags and costumes during
a very british and patriotic segment before the big finale! A very spectacular firework display that filled the air with colour and sparkle and
contentment in our hearts.

There is no doubt about it that the organisers of this annual event deserve a huge round of applause and a pat on the back for yet another job well
done and a successful 2018 weekend event.  I loved every minute of last year, I had so much fun this year, and preparations for next year’s weekend are
already underway.  I only hope I will be lucky enough to attend as a reviewer for a third time in 2019.

For more photos click below

Friday    Saturday   Sunday

All photos by  Kane Howie

Bedford Park Concerts 2017 Review

August 2017 saw the town of Bedford celebrating its 21st year of putting on its brilliant Park Concerts.  With everyone still reeling from the success of last year's event, which saw performances from rapper Dizzee Rascal and the one and only welsh legend Tom Jones, organisers really had to step up to top that for this year's concert weekend.  Boy did they certainly do that! 

The weekend provided three nights of amazing performers. Friday night (4th August) took us back in time to the 80s and 90s for the ultimate party that was oozing with cheesy pop goodness. The evening got off to a great start with performaces from 90s Zambian solo artist Rozalla who was most famously known for releasing the track "Everybody's Free" and singer/songwriter Nik Kershaw. Kershaw not only saw fame as a solo artist but also wrote big hits for other artists. Including Chesney Hawkes infamous "The One And only" which Nik also performed himself this weekend dedicating the song to Hawkes. Friday night also gave us the lovely and rather sparkly Baby D who performed three tracks, one of which was the amazing club classic, "Let Me Be Your Fantasy". One act of the night that was getting people talking was 80s english pop band Go West. The Duo enjoyed their peak of popularity between the mid 80s and onto the early 90s with hits including "We Close Our Eyes" and the iconic song written by the band for 1990 film realease "Pretty Woman" which was indeed the unforgettable "King Of Wishful Thiking". We were lucky to see both of these being performed on friday night also. Friday's biggest performances came from 80s pop hunk Jason Donovan, Livin' Joy and DJ Dave Pearce. Shortly after 8pm, the pit area of the arena was filled with middle aged women anxiously awaiting the arrival of their favourite 80s hearthrob. Donovan still looked great, and performed famous hits of his including "Sealed With A Kiss", "Nothing Can Divide Us", "Especially For You" which he sang with a guest female soloist for Kylie Minogue's segments of the single, the amazing "Any Dream Will Do" from the infamous musical Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" and he finished his energetic set with fan favourite "Too Many Broken Hearts". In My opinion, Aussie favourite Jason Donovan has certainly still got it! His stage presence was charismatic, cheeky and comical. During sets for Livin' Joy and Dave Pearce we were treated to many 90s club classics and heavy bass beats while watching an amazing laser light show from the stage which filled the grounds. 

Saturday evening (5th August) Bedford featured artists including, London based band Victoria, Bedford town boys The Wholls, 90s indie band Feeder and headliners Kaiser Chiefs! In amoungst thousands of people eating pizzas, mexican cuisine and drinking rather large quanitities of Pimms, I could feel how electric the atmosphere within the park really was. Chatter of people so excitedly waiting to see their favourite bands of the evening, including the performers families and friends.  Rock/indie, Bedford boys The Wholls drew in a younger audience while performing original songs "Give It Up", "Perfect Waste Of Time" and "Roll It Out". The local lads are quickly climbing up the music fame ladder after recently signing to big recording label Sony. If you like new up and coming bands, you should definitly check them out. Their debut album is out now. 

The first of the most anticipated acts of saturday night were met with a rather loud roar of excitement from the crowds of people in front of the stage.  Of course this excitement was when 90s welsh rock band Feeder stepped on stage. The band  formed in Newport in 1992 and were originally named Reel. The band found fame with the name feeder later on in their career. They are said to have been inspired by Nirvana, The Police and The Smashing pumpkins. Feeder gained much more media attention in 2001 during the release of their third album which featured lead track "Buck Rogers".  Now some time on are now looking very different, but can still play an amazing live gig.  Over the weekend we saw them perform a variety of hit singles including the chart topping "Buck Rogers", "Feeling A Moment",  "Just A Day" and the very mellow "Just The Way I'm Feeling" which caused the arena to become filled with fans gently waving their mobile phones with torches on in the air. Lead vocalist Grant Nicholas also revealed that they will be releasing a best of album in September 2017. This album will feature all the favourite hits and also debut nine new tracks. During the final song of Feeder's set a flare was lit in the crowd which to be perfectly honest looked quite spectaluar with its yellow glow and smoke filling the pit area. Despite looking rather awesome, this was a big hazard which could have caused harm and this was dealt with very swiftly by the security team looking after everyone over the weekend. 

Onto Saturday night's headline act! English rock band Kaiser Chiefs! The park was filled with screams and excitement when members of the band stepped on stage. Even more so for front man Ricky Wilson. The band was formed in Leeds in the year 2000 under the name Parva and released just one studio album which was titled '22' in 2003 before then establishing themselves as Kaiser Chiefs. With six studio album releases under their belts they are still going strong and continue to make great new music.  The five piece opened their exciting set with the ever popular "Everyday I Love You Less And Less" to which at the end of the song singer Ricky Wilson came to the very edge of the stage to encourage ticketholders to be louder and dance.  Over the course of the evening we saw them perform hits including "Never Miss A Beat", "Modern Way", "The Angry Mob" which we saw Ricky teaching lyrics to the audience to sing along with him, "Ruby", the massive "I Predict A Riot" and a favourite of Wilson's from their latest album "Hole In My Soul". Their latest singles from the 2016 album 'Stay Together' are quite different from the slightly heavier rock style that we are used to hearing from Kaiser Chiefs, they have a bit more of a slight pop/indie sound with catchy lyrics and more mellow rythms. During their set the very energetic front man was continuously playing up to cameras and playing one side of the audience off against the other during tracks. We were even asked by the band to sing "Happy birthday" as a birthday cake was brought out filled with candles on stage to celebrate the birthdays of a member of their sound crew and also drummer Vijay. After filling the park with music, strobe lighting and fans jumping around like caged animals the lads left the stage leaving us all shouting for "More, More, More" The rather tired looking band members returned to the stage once more to perform not one, but two more hits for us. They played "Misery Company" and then ended their set with the brilliant "Oh My God" I can honestly say Kaiser Chiefs have to be the best band that I have ever seen live! I am still feeling the buzz since seeing them on saturday night. And I'm pretty sure I will be for a very long time. Before this weekend I had enjoyed them, but now I love them! 

Still reeling from the night before, we then attended Sunday's Bedford Park Proms. A much more relaxed kind of day with a lovely calm yet excitable atmosphere. This year's theme was Bedford Proms Goes To The Movies. Upon entering the grounds we were greeted by a replica of the famous Delorean from "Back To The Future", which looked amazing with twinkling lights and its doors up in the air so that we could see some fun movie props from the films. All that was missing was Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly. On the far side of the stage we could also see a huge inflatable of Staypuft from the Ghostbusters films and a birds of prey meet and greet tent inspired by the enchanting Harry potter film franchaise. The Proms really was an event for all of the family to enjoy.  The grounds were filled with people equipped with tables, chairs and fancy food spreads. We even spotted someone that brought their own drinks bar with them. While some were sitting in their fold up chairs, covered with blankets just soaking in the ambiance, others were chatting with friends and relatives while dining on some rather exquisite meals which even included snacking on  lobster! Very elegant stuff indeed. A popular and clever food choice taken by many ticketholders was large quantities of watermelon. Have you guessed why? It was a little reference to the iconic film "Dirty Dancing". 

To get the musical evening off to a start we saw the young, talented and very brave children of the Pilgrim School Choir enter the stage with their teacher. All smartly dressed in their school uniform sporting lovely green blazers the children began to sing some of their favourite classics from the movies. Their time slot gave them the chance to perform well known songs from musicals and feature films including "A Whole New World" from Disney classic Aladdin, "When I Grow Up" featured in Matilda, "Do-Re-Me" from the timeless film and stage show The Sound Of Music and popular Mary Poppins track "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" which was made famous originally by Dame Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The small choir sang beautifully and were very professional on stage during their performance. It was very lovely to watch as the primary school children smiled at their families who were sitting in front of them in the pit area with cameras and tears of joy feeling immensely proud of their little ones for such an amazing achievement. 

Shortly after a small interval entered the next act of the evening. The students from The Redford School of Speech and Drama. The teens looked flawless as they were elegantly dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns as they walked onto the stage to take their places. The teenagers began their set with their rendition of the chart topping single "Skyfall" which was the title track originally made famous by popstar Adele from the James Bond film Skyfall. With gentle harmonies their version was just beautiful and soothing. The Choir then went on to perform Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" which was also featured in hit TV musical show Glee. The choir featured a male and female soloist during their version of the peppy pop song with the rest of the group performing in an accapella style.  One memorable part of the performance from this group of talented people, was a female soloist coming forward to sing latest disney release "How Far I'll Go" which happens to be the lead track on the soundtrack to Disney's Moana. The single was originally performed by Auli'i Cravalho who also voice's the lovely Moana in the animated feature film. The young blonde vocalist in the school choir sounded remarkably like the original voice actor while performing this song. She had the most beautiful and delicate voice, her rendition literally gave me goosebumps. The group performed a medley of music from feature films to finish their set, which again featured acapella vocals. During the medley the choir performed tracks which included "Part Of Your World" from The Little Mermaid originally sang by Jodi Benson, the "Star Wars Main theme", "Rule The World" originally performed by Take That for the film Stardust, "The Circle Of Life" from The Lion King, "The Time Of My Life" from Dirty Dancing, and an amazing leg slapping routine to "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" which was used in the film Pitch Perfect and was performed by actress and singer Anna Kendrick. During this amazing medley of memorable soundtracks the group also performed approproate theatrics on stage to accompany each hit that they sang. These young people had amazling talent and really could go far in the music industry.

For the main concert, which started around 7.30pm our ears were treated to the sounds of the London Gala Orchestra who also introduced the Bedford choral society and west end stars Joanna Forrest, Daniel Koek, and opera vocalist Alison Buchanan. Daniel had performed "Born Free" and also sang "The Prayer" alongside Joanna. Alison Buchanan performed the ever wonderful "Ave Maria" with the orchestra also. During the concert we heard many well known soundtrack releases from feature films being performed by the London Gala Orchestra which also heavily focused on the amazing compositions of the award winning John Williams to which they played some of his most memorable pieces such as the "Star Wars Main Theme", "The Imperial March" also from Star wars, the "Jaws theme" from the movie of the same name, the "Superman Theme", the "Jurassic Park Theme", the theme from the whiptastic "Indiana Jones" and many many more. At the end of the night the orchestra brought their time to a close by playing the patriotic "Rule, Britannia" and "The Land Of Hope And Glory" as they were joined on stage by all three vocalists wearing great britain attire. The grounds was a sea of Union Jack flags waving in the wind. They then performed famous music from the James Bond film franchaise during a spectacular firework display, which also saw the organisers set off what I can only explain as mushroom cloud flame throwers which were situated in the pit area of the park. Sunday was definitly the most enjoyable night of the three for me (minus the Kaiser Chiefs on Saturday evening). There was no rushing around, no being trampled on by people trying to see their favourite acts. Just good old fashioned patriotic fun.


My weekend at Bedford Park Concerts was certainly a busy one. But nevertheless a very enjoyable one. I loved my time there as did our photographer and our 2 year old son. 

I wonder how Bedford will be able to top this next year? 
I can't wait to find out what they will have in store for their 2018 weekend!

All photos by Kane Howie

For more photos visit