ALAN CASTLE: Taking centre stage once more

Status Quo and 10cc concert at The Pastures. Photograph Bruce Jobson
Status Quo and 10cc concert at The Pastures. Photograph Bruce Jobson

I won’t be the only person in north Northumberland who is delighted the concerts are coming back to the Pastures.

They had become quite a fixture in the social calendar of the area ever since the first one back in 2006, when we welcomed the amazingly-talented Jools Holland to the stage beneath Alnwick Castle.

Some pretty big names in the music industry have graced the series, including Status Quo, 10cc, Marc Almond, Alison Moyet, Toyah and Midge Ure, albeit many of them were no longer at their peak, but voices from the last century.

Credit must go to the Duke and Northumberland Estates for having the vision and drive to facilitate the events – they have been a roaring success.

Apart from the fact that the gigs have brought visitors – and their cash – to Alnwick, with not a room at the inn to be had anywhere, they have also raised the profile of the place and put it on the map for high-profile musical events.

So it came as a shock in 2013 when it was decided to have a fallow year and allow the Pastures to recover from the Olympic Torch celebration and the biggest concert of them all – Jessie J.

Suddenly, the town was stripped of its party night.

But after the heavy rain in the summer of 2012, the Pastures were looking really shabby and it was an understandable decision to abandon last year’s show.

Thankfully, it’s all back on track – with two concerts planned for August. It makes economic sense to have a double-bill – once the staging and equipment is transported here and set up, a second night will be relatively cheap.

Although it will be fantastic to see another big band, Simple Minds, perform in the heart of rural Northumberland, I am just as excited about the patriotic, prom-style orchestral performance, with an aerobatic display from a magnificent Second World War Spitfire, on the second evening, Sunday, August 17.

At a time when we are marking the centenary of the start of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, this will be a poignant celebration and I’m sure will be well-attended. All we have to do now is our sun dances and pray for good weather to make summer 2014 another one to remember.