The sun sinks into the pine scented air, pink and orange bands of light stretch around white fluffy clouds. Stage lights burst into the sk and bathe the tall pines in blue and green light.
I’m in Sherwood Pines, with the Forestry Commission, to experience Forest Live, a series of gigs in forests across the UK. Joined by three friends and fellow mums and we’re all excited to be out, and OUT! (That’s out of the house and outside for the evening, not out of the EU which is being decided the same evening).
The scent of the pine, as Nina would sing, is so absolutely refreshing, the stresses of the day are forgotten as we devour a little M&S picnic, cider and champagne and wait for Jake Bugg to take to the stage.
Jake delivers his trademark nasal tones and jangly 60s beats to begin with, mellowing out and funking up as he moves into new album territory, just as the sun stretches its final rays and the stage lights take over. There is something magical about watching a show in the falling light, the orange light illuminating the tall trees and fading into a pink candy floss sky. Jake is playing with his voice and finding new styles, his new album has met with mixed reviews – some critics are saying it is too broad – but branching out was always going to be tricky for someone who started with such a distinct sound. Plus he’s still so young, he’s got talent, let the young man play a bit.
In Jake’s defence, from the first track he has the crowds off their picnic chairs and rugs. The small handful of songs we all admitted to knowing before he starts, open out into a hour’s set of songs we feel like we already know and before long the picnic and drinks are completely abandoned and we’re dancing with the rest of the happy forest clearing.
There are more soulful songs, of love and romance and it feels like the album of someone growing up. Never Gonna Dance is a particularly memorable one, especially on the night of the EU referendum.
And if suddenly you leave
How we learn to stay?
Cause you don’t need a guy like me
Who never wants to dance
Jake Bugg is humble, he thanks the people of Nottingham, for their support, and for coming out when many of us have work tomorrow. He sounds a little bit unsure about being back, the difficulties in coming home as someone who rose to huge fame is a topic he has explored in interviews, it can’t be easy, yet the crowd seems really proud of this ‘Nottingham boy done good’. It’s a packed and confident set, although the lack of encore is strange feeling after such a joy filled evening. Luckily the novelty of walking through the dark woods back to the car means that’s soon forgotten.
Happiness comes from being outdoors, from singing and dancing with friends. I absolutely recommend Forest Live, what a beautiful way to experience live music, I also love that profits help to develop the sites.
A few hours in the forest can work wonders, as we left my friend, who is a mum to a baby and a toddler said, ‘Thank you for making me feel like a person again!’
Absent friends were really missed, this will have to be the first of many mums’ nights out, out. That’s out the house and outdoors, and, as I have just checked, the news to discover, out the EU too. This is a night that will be forever etched on my memory as the night when everything changed.
Do find out more about Forest Live gigs around the country below, I would love to go back and if it hadn’t been a school night, I would absolutely take the kids, there were all ages there, multi generational families and its a lovely relaxed set up, lots of space to dance and good sight-lines. It’s great to have the option of getting to the front easily and safely or setting up picnic chairs at the back. The catering, toilets and beer tent had barely any queues and the food was good – it’s the little things that make or break a gig. There were lots of friendly security and medical staff on hand to help too.
Fancy dancing in the forest?
Check out the line up near you here.
Thanks to the Forestry Commission for supplying the tickets for this review.