Thetford Forest holds Jess Glynne's hand as she battles back
PUBLISHED: 11:57 23 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 24 June 2019
Putting a difficult week behind her, Jess Glynne stepped out into the glade at High Lodge, Thetford last night amidst an explosion of sound and light.
She chose the rather apt Hold My Hand to kick off her set, her first performance since a bout of anxiety led to her pulling out of the headline spot at the Isle of Wight Festival at the 11th hour last weekend.
The slow burner was an interesting choice, the lyrics were poignant as she stood on stage, looking out at a crowded field seeking reassurance from her fans that everything was OK.
And it was, we joined her for the chorus and the flame-haired songstress responded by stepping up the power and showing us just what she is made of.
From there this she launched straight into her second song of the night before addressing the crowd with a quick 'Hello, hello'.
The Forest Live series always attracts a very laid back crowd - most people are regulars who love the outside setting, the pre-show picnic and the stunning surroundings rather than being superfans of the particular artists.
It means the stars have to work that bit harder to engage the crowd - not something Jess Glynne struggled with, mixing her livelier tracks with her more folky-vibe pieces in a seamless fashion, taking us on this rollercoaster journey with her.
At times she did take time to reflect on the meaning of some of her lyrics and the place she was in when she wrote them, bringing anxiety, loneliness and depression to the fore but also thanking her fans for bringing her through the dark times.
"We all go through the same highs and lows, we all have the same insecurities," she said by way of introducing my favourite of her tracks. "We all need a little reassurance, and this song gives me this."
And just like that she made Thursday even more poignant.
It is safe to say the whole family were captivated by the strength and beauty of the whole performance. My two-year-old Forest Live veteran (she has now been to four concerts here over three summers) was still wide awake as the set came to a close at 10.30pm, dancing away on my shoulders and loving the attention from fellow concert-goers who were shocked at her late-night energy.
Meanwhile, her big sister was soaking up the vibes, joining in with the familiar lines and dancing with her dad.
And that is why we, like so many others, return to Thetford each year - the opportunity to introduce our children to first-class live music in this safe, family-friendly and fun setting.
Glynne was the third act to perform at High Lodge as part of the Forestry Commission's Forest Live series, after Foals performed on Thursday followed by veteran Paul Weller. Tonight it is the turn of Welsh legends Stereophonics who will bring the 2019 mini-season to a close.
We now wait with baited breath to discover who will make the bill for Forest Live 2020, because there is no doubt, we will all be back.