Summer Sessions – All Saints and Family Fun Day
Summer Sessions is a four-day festival that took place last week in the splendid grounds of Chiswick House. I am a local resident in the area and have brought up my children with regular family visits to this beautiful historic park, which surrounds the magnificent neo-Palladian villa in West London. This week it was transformed into the perfect setting for Puccini’s classic opera Tosca, 90’s girl band All Saints, a Family Fun Day and finally a Ronnie Scotts Jazz evening under the stars. I was able to attend both the All Saints concert and the Family Fun Day.
Saturday evening, as the sunset over Chiswick House and gardens, successful British/Canadian super cool, 90’s girl pop group All Saints made their live stage comeback, newly reformed after 20 years, older, but looking absolutely fabulous, Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis and sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton took the stage, performing to an intimate audience made up of old fans and new, all who stood up from their picnic blankets and were united in a single roar of applause and anticipation.
The girls, I can be forgiven for using the term ‘girls’ as the four friends seemed to have hardly changed from their earlier success in the 1990’s where their combination of skill as songwriters and performers brought about massive success and recognition. Somehow they have always created their own niche in the ‘girl band’ world as sassy, alternative spirits, singing with a sense of wisdom about life as they know it.
Tonight they played a string of their old hits, many of which reached number one in the charts including ‘Never Ever’ (the second best-selling girl group single of all-time in the UK, behind the Spice Girls’), ‘Bootie Call’, ‘Lady Marmalade’, ‘Pure Shores’, and the beautifully melodic ‘Black Coffee’ as well as interweaving the set with songs from the new album ‘Red Flag’. I particularly liked their catchy new single ‘One Strike’, written by talented songwriter/band member Shazanay in a ‘direct response” to Nicole’s divorce in late 2014 from Liam Gallagher of Oasis fame and based on a heartfelt phone call Nicole made to Shazanay in the messy aftermath.
Twenty years on and they didn’t disappoint, the crowd were dancing and were immediately transformed back to the 90’s. The performance was polished, professional and perfectly choreographed, but it was the warmth of their friendship, highly evident on stage and the pitch perfect rendition of their songs that won the hearts of the audience and as we all sang at the top of our voices “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here” we were united in experiencing a triumph of a night…Welcome back All Saints!
Family Fun Day
Sunday morning and I was back, this time with my daughter, her partner and their young family, two boys aged 5 and 2, the perfect age for this Family Fun Day event. The sun kindly paid a visit and we were able to picnic in the grounds, with superb pickings from a variety of delicious food stalls from Peyton & Byrne, and a fine selection of drink stalls (aimed rather more at the adults than the kids!). However, food and drink was not the main focus of the day for the children as they were constantly entertained by face painting, arts and craft activities and a series of exciting guests including the much loved Paw Petrol, Peppa Pig and an impressive dancing dinosaur.
But undoubtedly the main attraction for my two young grandsons was the opportunity to meet in person with both Batman and Spiderman, surely every little boy’s dream, although Beau was rather taken with a mermaid! All in all, a perfect way to spend a Sunday with my family, relaxed and friendly with great entertainment for the young, appetising food and in one of my favourite London parks.
Summer Sessions at Chiswick House & Gardens
Twitter – @SummerSessionUK www.facebook.com/SummerSessions16