ED FOSS Blickling
The star-studded series of Blickling concerts came to a spectacular close last night as Welsh heart-throb Tom Jones strutted his stuff in front of thousands of fans.
Welsh flags were waved alongside dozens of pairs of knickers as Jones gave the sell-out crowd the performance they had come for.
The familiar pattern of the last few days was repeated throughout yesterday, as fans queued outside the gates hours before they were allowed into the fenced-off lakeside field.
Several heavy downpours might have made life uncomfortable for some during the afternoon – but they were certainly not complaining.
"The rain is nothing, not when you are getting ready for a night like this," said 52-year-old Sarah Clifton, who had driven with friends from Derby to watch the show.
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"You don't get better than this – the man with the biggest and best voice in the world, in a setting as gorgeous as Blickling."
Once the main event swung into action, the rain was a long-forgotten niggle. Jones, who was wearing dark jeans and not the black leather trousers for which he was once famed, wowed the crowd throughout with a mixture of traditional favourites and newer material.
Playing up to his ladies-man image, Jones asked the audience: "If this is Norfolk, are they the broads down here?" while pointing to the hundreds of women below the front of the stage.
He gave a well-received and polished performance reflecting his record of around 40 years of hits, including such classics as It's Not Unusual, Kiss and Green Green Grass of Home.
Alongside the timeless masterpieces were archetypal singalong tunes such as Delilah and What's New Pussycat.
"He has mixed it up brilliantly," said 44-year-old Tina Bradley, a regular at Jones' gigs for nearly 20 years.
"From the traditional stuff to the newer material he has been doing with Jools Holland, it was as fantastic as it ever was, but the venue has made it one of the best nights ever for me."
Patsy Webster and Ada Williams said they had been to about 10 gigs at Blickling over the years and that Jones' performance had been the best.
"It was the slickest and most professional I have seen here, a great night out," said Mrs Webster.
"Tom is a real sex bomb."
The National Trust property near Aylsham has been the scene of six major gigs this year – the others being Simple Minds, the Opera Babes, Donny Osmond, Sir Cliff Richard and James Taylor.
After last night's event had drawn to a close, Norwich music lover Pam Mickleson, who had almost managed to complete the full set of six, missing only the Opera Babes, summed up the evening. "All five nights were fantastic fun but Tom and Cliff were just incredible – real megastars," said the 43-year-old.
"Tom has it all, the music, the voice, the sexy image. It was a wonderful evening."