Il Divo

ED FOSS Blickling Hall


A smattering of rain drops early in the evening, then a short sharp shower half way through the main set - and we all thought we had got away with it.

But even though the skies emptied themselves with conviction towards the end of Saturday evening's outdoor gathering, these four international pretty boys kept a packed house thoroughly entertained.

Mind you, the screaming fans down at the front were probably better off with a quick cooling down.

Although the whooping was a little less wild than a week before, when four other pretty boys in the form of Westlife drove their fans into complete frenzy, Il Divo quite clearly share the 'cute' tag of their Irish counterparts, even if this was opera rather than pop.

This was the final of the summer's six outdoor gigs at Blickling and kicked off with an endearing and at times mesmerising warm up act by New Zealander Hayley Westenra - something for the boys before the girls got their kicks.

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The main act arrived accompanied by a medley and - of course - the inevitable shrieking. A sizeable stage-based orchestra thumped out all evening, adding guts to the performance.

David, Sebastien, Urs and Carlos began with Unbreak My Heart (Regresa A Mi) and worked through much of their familiar catalogue, including the likes of All By Myself (Solo Otra Vaz) and Unchained Melody (Senza Catene).

Il Divo are at the tail end of a six-month world tour, which would help to explain their slick, polished and relaxed performance.

They engaged the audience - even those of us who would not count Il Divo as favourites - and were well worthy of their place at Blickling.

The band's suits, which were changed once during a mid-break and again for the encore, were rather questionable, but their singing and stage presence was anything but.

A couple of critical points to end - not aimed at the band, but at the organisation of the event.

The big screens are a welcome addition during the music, adding another dimension to the gig. But the adverts and the film clips in between warm up and main act? This is Blickling, so no thanks.

And a little more thought needs to go into the exit arrangements in the car park. For us veterans of outdoor events, we all expect it to take time to get out and appreciate the limitations of the site - but it was close to unpleasant at times, queues crossing over chaotically and very little marshalling.

But it was nowhere near enough to spoil a fine evening at the finest of locations.