Nocturne Live returns to The Great Court at Blenheim Palace in 2022 for the first time since summer 2019, after the enforced break we don’t like to talk about. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and ‘the UK’s most beautiful venue’ has never looked more spectacular under the early summer sunshine this balmy June. On arrival through the gates leading up to the Palace the site is teaming with people happy to be back enjoying live music with friends and family. I am definitely one of them.

The last lineup featuring the likes of Gladys Knight, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tears for Fears and Kylie Minogue has a lot to live up to, but this year's billing has every reason to compete and deliver the shows people are coming to expect from this now mainstay on the live music circuit.

Wednesday 15th June 2022
Simply Red, The Brand New Heavies, Omar
A cracking start to this year's proceedings under sunny skies and a temperature of 26 degrees features our soul inspired evening, first up featuring Omar who got the evening underway in glorious fashion.
Next up were The Brand New Heavies, fronted by Andrew Levy, well dressed Simon Bartholomew and Angela Ricci on lead vocals. The funky band have the audience on their feet singing along and in the mood for the main act of the evening.
Introducing Simply Red and Mr Mick Hucknall, a band who have been on my list to see for a long time. Mick knows what he is doing and has a large back catalogue to revisit and soon has the crowd up and moving. A set which includes ‘Holding back the years’, ‘Stars’, ‘Fairground’, ‘Money’s too tight’ and ‘If you don’t know me by now’ was always going to be a winner, and they did not disappoint.

Thursday 16th June 2022
David Gray - White Ladder 20th Anniversary, James Morrison, Nerina Pallot
This was probably the evening I was most looking forward to. Proceedings got underway with Nerina Pallot before James Morrison took to the stage. Morrison has a great stage presence and makes a few jokes to the crowd about asking their parents who he is. With a back catalogue featuring ‘Broken strings’, ‘You give me something’ and ‘I won’t let you go’, the audience are not disappointed by the time he leaves the stage.
Then came David Gray in his white suit to huge applause. It’s been 20 years since the iconic White Ladder was released, but it sounds as fresh as ever. Belting out hits like ‘Babylon’, ‘This years love’ and ‘Sail away’ gives the audience what they were looking for in between newer numbers, before coming back to ‘Please forgive me’ and ‘Say hello, wave goodbye’. Gray goes on to regale a story about his dad meeting Bowie backstage at Glastonbury before going on to cover Bowie by singing ‘Is there life on mars’ and ‘Oh you pretty things’. This was a night I was looking forward to and it did not disappoint. Thank you!

Friday 17th June 2022
UB40 feat. Ali Campbell, Maxi Priest, ASWAD, Cleveland Watkiss
An evening of Reggae awaited us this evening, with Cleveland Watkiss opening proceedings before ASWAD took the stage and then Maxi Priest. All three acts seem to build on each other, and you could tell tonight was going to be special. Not only was it the hottest day of the year so far, with highs of 31 in the local area, but it was Friday and the crowd were here to party.
Welcome to the stage Reggae Royalty UB40 and Ali Campbell. What a voice. The crowd were already on their feet and ready to dance and the energy didn’t fall once during the evening. The band whipped through the set and any act that can finish with classic’s like ‘Kingston Town’, ‘Can’t help falling in love’ and ‘Red Red Wine’ are worth their money in my book. An amazing evening of live music and one I won’t forget in a while.

Saturday 18th June 2022
Simple Minds, Deacon Blue, Caezar
The day the rain came. After the hottest day of the year yesterday, today things are a little different. Clouds are in the sky, and the temperature has definitely dropped. The Scottish inspired evening is started by Caezar who have a lot of energy try to blow the clouds away.
By the time the second Scottish act of the day took the stage, the rain had started to pour, and my camera didn’t know what was going on. Deacon Blue had their work cut out now. Thankfully the crowd were pretty well prepared for what was about to happen, but a few were caught short and looked a little wet. Final track ‘Dignity’ is a personal highlight alongside the classic ‘Real gone kid’ are great to hear live.

The final act of the concert series are Simple Minds, who made many comments about being Scottish and bringing the weather with them. Jim Kerr is full of life sliding on his knees and talks to the crowd in between songs. His energy is enough to keep the crowd going through the performance, although there are a few empty seats come the end of the show, with people having to walk through large puddles to exit the arena. What a difference 24 hours makes. ‘Belfast Child’ is well received during the middle of the show, before bringing the evening to a close with ‘Don’t you (forget about me)’ and ‘Alive and kicking’ - again, great to hear these musical classics alive and kicking.

Unfortunately Lionel Richie was scheduled to perform on Sunday 19th June, but due to cancelling his entire summer tour this ended what would’ve been a fantastic evening. Let's hope they persuade him to come back one day…

All in all, another fantastic run of shows from the team at Neapolitan Music and another great festival in Oxfordshire.

Nocturne live will return in 2023, 15th-18th June, with the first announcement coming in Autumn 2022. Keep an eye out.