Frank Turner received a homecoming hero’s welcome as he took Wickham Festival by storm.
The Wessex Boy grew up just nine miles from the picturesque site and his affection for the area was clear in a pulsating set which had the huge crowd on a high.
Organisers have been after him for years but dates never quite matched – until now. And it was well worth the wait!
From the moment he burst onto the stage to launch into “Get Better” he had the crowd in the palm of his hand – at least until the encore when fans had him in the palms of their hands as he went crowd surfing!
For Frank, it was show number 2,372 but a very special one as he continually referenced his roots and even apologised for taking so long to appear here.
He stressed how he loved the great line-up and the chilled atmosphere then joked: “When I was growing up just nine miles away, I used to lie in bed dreaming that one day I would play my 2,372nd show in Wickham!”
The crowd loved the banter as much as the supercharged set which followed on from another superb show from evergreen Wickham favourites The Men They Couldn’t Hang.
They proved the perfect warm-up for the headline act with a typically high-octane delivery to build on a fantastic set from Grace Petrie.
She was clearly move by the wonderful reception she received, not just for her music but also her ideals and beliefs which came through in her lyrics and her passionate rants.
Her fight for LGBT rights and her campaign against transphobia – or bigotry – went down well with the open-minded and receptive audience.
Meanwhile on the Village Stage Holy Moly and the Crackers were also going down a storm with their magical moonshine mix.
They were followed by Elephant Sessions who won over many new fans before Afro Celt Sound System rounded off another great night at Wickham.
There is still plenty more music to come on Sunday with Hollywood legend Kiefer Sutherland and his band followed by Alabama 3 on the Village Stage.
Over on the Valley Stage there is a fantastic four-pack of Ralph McTell, Lucinda Williams, Lindisfarne and Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Please note Sunday is completely sold out and no day tickets will be available at the box office which is open to receive applications for next year (August 6-9). Fans booking before they leave can save up to £80 on a weekend ticket.
Check out our twitter feed @festivalwickham for interviews with Frank Turner, Swill from The Men They Couldn’t Hang and Grace Petrie. And visit our facebook page for a gallery of pictures from our wonderful Wickham photographers.