When Peter Chegwyn began organising festivals 30 years ago, Fairport Convention were the first act he booked. So it was fitting they should close this year’s event which has been the most challenging of his career.
The band were only available because their own Cropredy Festival had to be cancelled due to the pandemic so they know better than anyone just how difficult it is to put on such an event – even in normal times.
As their sublime set came to a close, they took the chance to urge the crowd to show their appreciation for Peter Chegwyn and his team for getting the festival on despite Covid, the weather and the main stage being unusable.
Their plea produced one of the loudest cheers of the weekend from fans just glad to be able to enjoy live music once more.
Similarly Lindisfarne also took time out of their set to praise all those who worked so hard to deliver one of their favourite festivals against all the odds, stressing it was the perfect place for their first live gig in 18 months.
After the heady heights of the Saturday night star Van Morrison, this was a more chilled day but still packed with quality acts which encompassed the eclectic elements for which the Wickham Festival is renowned.
That was never more evident than on the Quay West Stage which had a remarkable array of diverse artists who somehow came together and really worked as a running order.
There was a hugely popular set from political protest poet and Glastonbury regular Beans on Toast whose songs not only entertained but more importantly gave great food for thought to a highly receptive crowd.
However, he was upstaged by his three-year-old daughter Wren who asked to dance on stage during his act, melting hearts faster than the polar ice cap.
He was followed by the hugely talented American guitarist Stanley Jordan who not only asked to come back after last year’s triumph but flew in via Hungary and Croatia to secure a safe travel corridor. His unique style earned another rousing reception from a packed marquee.
Sadly, Scottish band Skerryvore were unable to travel due to Covid so the Alistair Goodwin Band stepped in with a lively set before Edward II closed the night with a pulsating mix of reggae and roots.
Meanwhile the Big Top had more mainstream music with the South playing live for the first time in 18 months and getting the party going with a string of hits beautifully delivered by Alison Wheeler alongside Gaz Birtles.
Lindisfarne were also making their first return to the stage following the easing of lockdown and they kept the momentum going with a lively set capped, of course, by Fog on the Tyne and Meet Me on the Corner.
Folk icons Fairport Convention closed the evening and the event with a crowd-pleasing set for the festival’s more traditional audience – and then, sadly, it was all over for another year.