For the third year running the Chilfest outdoor festival rocked Tring with two spectacular nights of top quality music.
Pendley Meadow was filled to capacity with festival goers intent on having a great weekend, and the weather behaved perfectly too.
Grammy award winning legend Billy Ocean topped the bill on Saturday night on a stage that also included The Real Thing, Bad Manners, ABC, Limahl, The Blow Monkeys and Sonia.
The opening night on Friday saw Sister Sledge, Shalamar and Jocelyn Brown rock the meadow alongside Shalamar, Odyssey and Shakatak.
And for the first time at Chilfest a team of talented performance interpreters took to the stage with the bands and enthusiastically signed every single song for the benefit of the deaf community.
Festival organiser Steve Butcher was run off his feet, but found time for a quick chat. He said: “I’m blown away. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more. I’ve got an amazing crew and I think God’s on my side with the weather.”
Eleven and a half thousand tickets were sold for the two day weekend, 2,000 up on the three day event last year, and Mr Butcher was delighted to report that this is the first year Chilfest has turned a profit.
He said: “I spoke to various promoters before starting with Chilfest three years ago and they said it would take three years to turn a profit and by god they were right.”
On Friday evening Jocelyn Brown had the crowd rocking as she belted out Enough Is Enough before Sister Sledge took to the stage looking incredibly stylish and glam dressed in black outfits with neon pink lettering and glitzy jewels to perform their hits He’s The Greatest Dancer and We Are Family.
Sonia was the opening act on Saturday afternoon, but had come down from her home in Cheshire for the whole weekend with her husband and their daughter and they were all there on Friday to feel the vibe and enjoy the show. From the artistes Green Room she said: “I wanted to come tonight to get a feel for it and to see Jocelyn. I’m looking forward to performing, I do a lot of festivals. I’ve just got back from doing concerts in Brazil.”
Dressed in a tiny white and purple jumpsuit and with a huge ponytail Sonia was a mini firecracker on stage on Saturday afternoon belting out Walking On Sunshine and Young Hearts Run Free before singing Hopelessly Devoted To You from the musical Grease, which she performed in on the West End stage some years ago.
Next up on Saturday was The Real Thing and what an apt name. Three of the original members, Eddie and Chris Amoo and Dave Smith had the crowd eating out of their hands as they performed all their greatest hits including Can You Feel The Force, You To Me Are Everything, Ladies Night, Celebration and Can’t Get By Without You.
Throughout the two day festival performance interpreter Marie Pascall and her team Paula Cox and Jacqui Beckford stood on stage using British Sign Language to sign every song to the audience. Ms Pascall said: “There is a huge gap in the music industry for providing interpreting access. Theatre has been doing it for some time but the music industry is behind.
“Steve contacted me because there was a demand for it this year.
“There was a lady coming for her birthday celebration and she was bringing a lot of people and she asked if an interpreter could be here.”
Over the weekend social media was overflowing with praise for the festival, and the quality of the music and also included comments from the deaf community with one lady saying: “I was able to understand/follow what was being said/sung.”
Former Mix 96 roadshow DJ James Marlin Hudson and television personality Keith Chegwin provided the entertainment and links between live acts.