Today Cheltenham hails all jazz - for one weekend only
What a night it was! (from my point of view, which was Imelda May)
But before that, guest performer Joe Stilgoe opened the all new and all free Budvar (Budweiser) stage with so much enthusiasm I thought the sun might come out of hiding. The grounds were packed with jazz lovers despite the moody sky, while an array of originals and unforgettables launched the weekend's offering of free jazz. The Lady is a tramp was a triumphant intro with I Like This One, the second of his four song tease, a highlight of the launch. Waterloo Sunset was played and Kiss, with some clever vocal sax was a fitting final song with the sweet atmosphere filling the square.
Festival goers got a taste of the local talent when Thrill Collins took to the stage on the opening night of the festival and all new Budvar stage.
Despite the rain, Thrill Collins received a hefty response out of the audience with the spirit of the 80s and 90s. Jazzing up songs by the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Peter Andre and Dolly Parton they forced the festival spirit into everyone.
Cindy Lauper's Girls Just Wanna' Have Fun put a bop in everyone’s bonnet early into their set and followed through with Shaggy's It Wasn't Me, performed with a humorous swagger. Last year’s Christmas number one, Killing In The Name Of (the kiddie version!) by Rage Against The Machine, was a surprising choice but certainly didn’t fall short of entertaining. Mocking the summer weather that was vacant for the evening, Mysterious Girl was an amusing and enjoyable addition to the set list.
Englishman In New York, originally by the police, and Lionel Richie's Hello toned down the jokes which exposed a serious side to the Cheltenham trio.
The funky Thrill Collins was on top form, their unique interpretations and witty comments had everyone laughing and no-one left before the end.
The Prince of Bel-Air theme tune closed the first night on the Budvar stage, though I'm not sure jazz lovers of Cheltenham really knew where it came from.
Thrill Collins could jazz up or dust down just about anything. They don't tag themselves 'Cheltenham's best band' for nothing, and all for free!
The first to play the 2010 Jazz Arena was sassy songstress Imelda May.
A seated encounter made for a lack of energy in the arena but Imelda made up for that with her bubbly spark. She performed title track Love Tattoo as the first from the 2008 album along with Big Bad Hansom Man and an array of others. Smokers Song was a highlight and got people going with its on cue chuckles, put on perfectly. Knock 123, a song about after-life love was performed like a lullaby; the beautiful ballad broke up the lively set list. Imelda has the ability to play true to her rockabilly recordings, adding a little extra so you know she's authentic. The bluesy single Johnny Got A Boom Boom went down a storm. Her covers included an unexpected Tainted Love which added some spice to an already spectacular performance.
Teasers for the forthcoming album included Pullin' The Rug flaunting funky bass lines, and a gospel inspired tune that lead to a vocal focused serenade, in which the feisty front woman playfully challenged the audience in echoing her hums.
It's no wonder she was back following high demand and she was more than thankful to be here, she said: "I want to thank the organisers for welcoming us, and the support they give to all kinds of bands, big and small. This is such a fantastic festival that they put on every year. It's lovely to be back, thanks for having us again."
With an irresistible line-up over the bank holiday weekend be sure to lend your ears to the radio station if you can't make to the Imperial Gardens.