Rare dry gig has that Feeling

The Feeling, Thetford Forest, July 12According to Roger Woods, one of the organisers of this year's series of summer concerts, Thetford Forest has its own microclimate (all to do with the forest canopy and transpiration rate).

The Feeling, Thetford Forest, July 12

According to the organisers of this year's summer concerts, Thetford Forest has its own microclimate (all to do with the wooded canopy and transpiration rates).

For umbrella-poised concertgoers, this translated into a forecast-defying summer evening so pleasant it even surprised headliners The Feeling.

The balmy night was even enough to make the band's lead singer and guitarist Dan Gillespie-Sell admit it was their first dry concert of the summer. Although dry only in the sense of precipitation.

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As the concert got into its stride, Gillespie-Sells, an angel-faced soft man of rock, complained he was being fed too much whiskey.

The Feeling are five twentysomethings from Sussex and London most of whom met at the Brit School of Performing Arts in Croydon that produced Katie Melua, Athlete and the Kooks. The Feeling's bassist Richard Jones is married to the singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

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As well as sporting five achingly pop-star hairstyles (Gillespie-Sells also models M&S's poshest clothes range) they are responsible for some of the catchiest pop songs of recent years.

With more hooks than a cloakroom, The Feeling's debut album Twelve Stops and Home sounds more like a greatest hits album than a first attempt.

So, with arms aloft, the capacity 6,000-strong crowd gladly belted out all the classics including the emotionally-charged Sewn, to the up-beat Never Be Lonely, with the hit Fill My Little World also resounding around the woodland clearing.

The band earned their gigging stripes playing live to holidaying skiers in the French Alps (they answered an advert in NME wanting a cover band). For two seasons they performed twice a day and at two different venues. Their skill at engaging the crowd, on occasions dividing it into two choruses, was effortless.

The shyness of Gillespie-Sells' lyrics - a writer on the outside looking in - have a haunting quality that suited the magical forest setting.

One of the highlights was the band's interpretation of The Buggles' classic Video Killed the Radio Star with the children at the family-friendly concert belting out the lyrics alongside their parents.

Pop has become a dirty word in certain sections of the music industry. But The Feeling, like one of their influences Queen, are pop and proud.

Paying homage to Freddy Mercury, The Feeling rocked the forest with a cover of Fat Bottomed Girls - a great performance, in a magical setting.

The band is currently working on its next album and chose only a sprinkling of gigs to intersperse with recording sessions. Top marks to the Forestry Commission - woodcutters turned Harvey Goldsmiths - for landing them.

Georgina Wroe

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