Fun Lovin' Criminals, Sugababes

ISABEL COCKAYNE Thetford Forest

ISABEL COCKAYNE

From middle-aged rockers and 30-somethings to excited teenagers and super-cool funk lovers, Thetford Forest's summer line-up whet the appetite of a range of music fans.

Thanks to the hugely popular events, which this year drew a total of 18,500 people over four nights into a clearing in the forest, it is now celebrated as one of the region's most important venues.

Headlining in June were 70s icon Bryan Ferry and former Style Council and The Jam front man Paul Weller.


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And this weekend the summer concerts were sweetly wrapped up by the Sugababes, whose unarguable talent and passion for music makes them the UK's most credible girl band, and the fabulously hip Fun Lovin' Criminals.

Over the past six years, the events have grown in popularity, boasting appearances from Jools Holland, Courtney Pine, Status Quo and the Beach Boys. And this year it brought in its largest ever crowd of 6000 for Weller's performance.

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The Forestry Commission's tourism operations manager Peter Rawlinson said last night pulling in vastly different crowds is the secret to their success.

Mr Rawlinson said: "The concerts are an eclectic range of music for all age groups and walks of life. We've tried to broaden the appeal and it has been pretty successful.

"The Commission is getting quite a reputation within the music fraternity, as we offer a quality show and a good experience. Bands are beginning to come to us asking if there is any chance of playing sets, which is something," said Mr Rawlinson.

Numbers are limited, meaning the crowds are not overwhelming for organisers and concertgoers get value for money.

Mr Rawlinson added: "Any profit is invested into the forest infrastructure – the wildlife and the recreation. It's a win/win situation."

On Saturday, the pop vixens Sugababes prowled the stage singing their sassy songs to the delight of thousands of screaming fans.

Although still young, the seductive girls have the experience and romped through their well-practised set, delivering hit after hit, from opening song Freak Like Me through Too Lost in You and Stronger to final encore Hole in the Head.

Mutya Buena, 19, Kiesha Buchanan, 19, and Heidi Range, 21, were waving and smiling at the avid audience, looking like they were having as much fun singing the songs as the 5000-strong crowd enjoyed dancing and singing along to the tunes.

One lucky man was even invited up to the stage for Virgin Sexy – and he loved every minute of attention lavished on him by the stunning singers.

And last night, there was a complete change of mood as hip and chilled out New Yorkers, Fun Lovin' Criminals took to the stage.

Some 3500 people watched front man Huey Morgan, guitarist Brian 'Fast' Leiser and drummer Mackie Jayson play until the sun set – then ….

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