At last the long awaited day dawned and we set off on the long journey North. The SatNav said it would take 3 hours and 57 mins but miraculously in just under 3 hours we found ourselves only 10 minutes from our destination. The scenery was stunning so we stopped at a roadside burger van for the best ever breakfast baps and that set the tone for a day full of "best evers".
On arrival we were given a warm welcome by Richard (the host) and were awestruck by the setting for the party. We found a hive of activity lead by Joe slicing mountains of veggies for the feast, Robert master minding something on his iPad and a number of technicians erecting marquees and setting up the bands equipment. Our first duty was to sort out the parking arrangements which meant a flying visit to a most accommodating local farmer to get his cows moved and a fence opened up.
The faithful began to arrive, everyone in party mood and blown away by the location. The bar was doing a brisk trade in local ale, appropriately named Thirst Born (a nod to First Light & Earthborn maybe??) and the sumptuous feast of a numerous different salads (lovingly prepared by Joe) and traditional BBQ fayre was tucked into by all, followed by strawberries and cream for those who had room! Robert charmed everyone by giving an impromptu concert on the piano and the band were mingling with all their adoring fans. The only person missing was poor Max who had been laid low by some fiendish bug.
After everyone had eaten themselves to a stand still there was a period of postprandial contemplation and chatter. Then an air of delicious anticipation took over as everyone started to take up their positions for the highlight of the whole event. There was a hint of anxiety too as we all wondered if Max would be well enough to appear. We need not have worried as, trooper that he is, he gathered all his strength and emerged to cheers and encouragement. So Max, Joe, Robert, Jason, Dave & Dom took to the stage and our hearts soared as we were treated to a unique experience, The Enid at their very best, perfect acoustics and the most wonderful setting on an English summer evening.
They opened in a burst of nostalgia with Judgement and In the Region of the Summer Stars, taking us back to 1976 (so Joe said but that was before my time!!). Then an energetic and mischievous Who Created Me followed by the dark driving beat of Witch Hunt. Next was Leviticus which had the crowd singing back with gusto and they closed the first set with the one of their most recent songs Someone Shall Rise, which has a haunting melody and has become many peoples "earworm".
An unexpected high light was a guest appearance by Little Max who joined the boys on stage, seemingly to check that Max was ok and that Joe was behaving himself before wandering off again and returning to take a nonchalant bow. What a pro!
At the end of the first half Robert gave a heart warming and honest glimpse into the future of the band and his role as Master of The Enidi, which he will take on soon, after a very special project with Jason. He introduced the newest recruit, Zac, who will be joining next year to bring his multi instrumental talent to take The Enid forward on their journey as they evolve and reach new appreciative audiences.
The second half began with a big surprise with the classic Chaldean Crossing. This seems to have been many peoples first introduction to The Enid and from the reaction it will now be a favourite with those who heard it for the first time. Joe then returned to the stage after a brief taste of what the audience were experiencing and gave us the whimsical and much loved Summer melting into Something Wicked. Joe then introduced us to a brand new song 1000 Stars which has a very intriguing source for the lyrics and compelling memorable music. If this is a taste of the next tour "Dust" we cannot wait for 30 October at The Stable Milton Keynes for the unveiling. The second set closed with an awesome (in the true sense of the word) version of Dark Hydraulic which had everyone on their feet cheering for more.
Fittingly the encore was introduced by Robert who revealed that he had lived in the area for a while and that with one of his great friends and fellow member of Barclay James Harvest had spent many hours walking on the moors. So he dedicated Mocking Bird to the memory of Woolly Wolstenholme. I am sure that his spirit was roused by the crescendo of sound that brought this amazing, perfect day to an end.
Thank you SO much to Richard for opening up his beautiful grounds to the "disparate bunch" as Robert called us and to everyone who worked so hard to make the day such a resounding success. We all knew that The Enid are a very special group of musicians and lovely people but which other bands would give their fans so much back?
My only regret was that it was all over so soon but perhaps we can do it all again next year????