Friday at Wilderness has been a Kaleidoscope of colour and sound; the sun shone brightly on a sea of psychedelic colours and a crowd of sequinned revellers. A sunburst of neon fractals and a brilliance of ’70s shimmers adorned Cornbury Park once again as Wilderness welcomed their beloved crowd of Wild Ones for the sixth year.
Wilderness is an effervescent exploration of music, theatre, arts and so much more. Friday was a sensory feast that heralded an incredible set from rock ’n’ roll royalty Robert Plant, a stunning seasonal banquet from Skye Gyngell, a euphoric show from Roy Ayers, and a carefully curated theatre, talks and debates, and dance programme across the picturesque Cornbury Park thanks to a collaboration of countless talents from across the world.
Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters closed the sun-soaked day with a storming set of new favourites and Led Zeppelin classics including ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ in his only UK appearance of the year. His set was a feast for the eyes. Colour was swirling everywhere and the atmosphere was electric. Cosmic Strip opened the Main Stage with their sweet blend of ’70s Psychedelia and ’90s grunge, before later in the day the ethereal Rosie Lowe played an intimate set to bright-eyed onlookers.
The incredible founder of Spring and former Petersham Nurseries head chef Skye Gyngell opened the Wilderness Long Table Banquets with a fresh seasonal selection of gastronomic delights.
Legendary vibraphonist and acid jazz prophet Roy Ayers performed as part of The Atrium takeover by Jazz institution Ronnie Scott’s. “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” couldn’t have been more apt on a day like today. Earlier The Atrium hosted an extra-special Bollywood dance class featuring a performance from award-winning Pineapple Dance based company. Big Swing Band – The Shirt Tail Stompers provided the soundtrack for Swing Patrol – who taught their tricks with a swing class as well as performing their impressive moves. The Chaps Choir – an all-male 50-piece choir of hotties and ‘lumbersexuals’ performed chart-bothering crowd-favourites that raised the hairs on the back of everyone’s necks.
As the sun sets, The Valley begins to stir once again… Friday night is sure to light up in a blaze of colour as Chicago House original Derrick Carter takes to the decks for a disco set. Derrick’s sets are rooted in house, but he freely travels outside club tastes, seamlessly incorporating old-school disco, soul, jazz and whatever catches his fancy. Followed up by Maribou State b2b with Pedestrian, our kaleidoscopic crowd are more than ready to reach for the lasers.
The Playhouse, a brand new theatre experience for Wilderness this year, is a celebration of new work, devised performance, comedy and cabaret. Award-winning Superbolt Theatre headed up the inaugural appearance of The Playhouse with their luminous show Dinosaur Park – A Jurassic Parody, a play 65 million years in the making… and a theatrical celebration of cinematic nostalgia. Experimental works and twisted parlour games, supreme silliness and radical renegade scripts from new groups permeated the rest of The Playhouse programme, including a specially commissioned piece from C12 Dance Theatre plus new works from Old Vic New Voices, Arcola New Writers, Bristol Old Vic.
The superb programme at The Playhouse pressed on with their Comedy Night, a star studded who’s who of Fringe favourites and up and coming names including the irrepressible and award-winning Sara Pascoe. Tonight the indescribable Scottee brings Fraff – his ‘poetry night for people who don’t like poetry’ – to The Playhouse, to close the stage with guaranteed belly laughs.
When Wilderness Wild Ones wander the site they’re greeted with a diverse harmony of sights and sounds. Dance collective Rambert performed for the first time this year, it was a beautiful collaboration between choreographer Ben Duke (Lost Dog) and the multi-talented composer Tommy Evans (Submotion Orchestra). Wilderness’s lovingly curated dance programme began with hip hop contemporary dance collective The Place who brought their razor sharp composition, musicality, and form led by critically acclaimed Artistic Director Tony Adigun.
The Carousel – programmed by Continental Drifts top dog Chris Tofu – opened with a bang, with a need-to-know selection of world class electro swing.
Combining the finest arts and cultural institutions, eclectic musical talent, Michelin-starred dining, thought-provoking theatre, challenging debate, a Lakeside Spa and so much more, Wilderness has cemented its reputation as a pioneer.