Bryan Adams, Mica Paris, The Waterboys and Andy Fairweather Low performing at The Cornbury Music Festival Oxfordshire on Saturday 9th July 2022.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Eighteen years ago Hugh Phillimore stood in a field and had a vision that he could stage an independent music festival that attracted not only great artists but families from all over the country. That dream became a reality with the birth of the Cornbury Music Festival.

With the exception of the pandemic years, there has always been a Cornbury Festival that has attracted the likes of Paul Simon, Amy Winehouse, Tom Jones and The Beach Boys. He has provided gourmet caterers, a Kids Village, and a full blown funfair so that there has been something for everyone.

But it is with a great deal of sadness that the event has reached the end of the road; a result of financial pressures and the loss of its site at Great Tew Park. So 2022 will be marked as the greatest Cornbury party ever with up to 20,000 enjoying the spectacular weather and the awesome line-up.

With both the Pleasant Valley and Songbird stages running alternately rather than concurrently, the crowd had the opportunity to see the sets without scheduling clashes. And the sight of the masses clambering up the hill to listen to an artist on the Songbird Stage and then trawl back down to the Pleasant Valley Stage, was an awesome and unforgettable sight.

The founder member and lead singer of the 1960’s Welsh pop band Amen Corner, Andy Fairweather Low graced the Songbird Stage, and looking as dapper as ever, he may have produced one of the best sets of the Festival. Attracting one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and with his band of excellent musicians, he wowed everyone with Gin House Blues.

Wide Eyed And Legless was given an outing as was Spider Jiving with its tingling saxophone solo. The solid classic La Booga Rooga was well received before Bend Me, Shape Me had everyone singing along as did their 1969 number one hit, (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice that also had everyone waving their arms about and showing their appreciation.

This incredible musician with the look and mannerisms of someone’s Grandad had this Cornbury crowd in the palm of his hand. He had delivered a perfect set for a very sunny afternoon.

It was a visit to the Pleasant Valley stage next to witness The Waterboys doing their stuff. Since their formation in 1984 there have been over seventy musicians who have performed as a Waterboy, but the constant has always been front man Mike Scott.

But with this current line up they are never more in their element than when they are on a stage, and Saturday was no exception. Wearing his trademark Stetson, Scott led the five piece band into arguably their most famous song, Whole Of The Moon, this time with an extended jam, which came very early in their set.

There was an utterly commanding Fisherman’s Blues that saw fiddler Steve Wickham on tremendous form. A Girl Called Johnny reminded the audience what a great song smith Scott is before When Will We Be Married showed ‘Brother’ Paul Brown’s outstanding skills on the keyboards. New song Blackberry Girl from their 2022 album, All Souls Hill was a real highlight and served to show that The Waterboys have no intentions of slowing down any time soon.

Back to the Songbird Stage for London born Mica Paris, who delivered a set that spanned her career. Having been awarded an MBE in 2020 she is a formidable force live as she whipped the crowd into something approaching a frenzy as she enticed them with an intoxicating mix of soul, gospel, reggae and funk.

Dressed to kill with her big hair, she opened with the melodic hit Like Dreamers Do before she sang some of her late 80s hits such as the emotional Where Is The Love? and a potent Breathe Life Into Me. Upping the tempo for a stupendous version of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together she then delivered a lovely cover of Stay.

Mica Paris had delighted with a frenetic, funk fuelled set. She is an undoubted force of nature and on this showing the crowd would agree that she is a pure joy to watch.

The artist headlining the Pleasant Valley Stage needed no introduction. Bringing a fabulous day of music to an end was the music legend that is Bryan Adams. With a set list that included all of his hits, the Cornbury crowd sang every word right back at him. After the John Cleese intro, Adams launched into Kick Ass, a song from his latest album So Happy It Hurts which was released earlier this year.

Can’t Stop This Thing We Started came very early in the set, which was besieged by some sound issues, that didn’t affect the crowds enjoyment and were very quickly sorted. Hit followed hit with the likes of Shine A Light and Heaven before Go Down Rockin’ gave guitarist Keith Scott a chance to take the limelight.

There was an acoustic interlude which included Here I Am and When You’re Gone which saw the crowd listening to his every word before he had them back in fine voice for (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. Back To You and 18 Till I Die had the crowd singing along and when the familiar chords of Summer Of 69 resounded around Great Tew Park, the crowd went wild.

Please Forgive Me and Cuts Like A Knife finished the main set before an encore was demanded and received with Run To You and of course he could not have left the stage without the mass sing along to All For Love, which brought this outstanding smorgasbord of music to a delightful end.