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Sir Tom Jones and Gabrielle bring their best to Thetford Forest with Forest Live gig





I was back amongst the trees of High Lodge in Thetford Forest again for another great night of Forest Live music.

After seeing Paul Weller and Far From Saints blitz the stage last year, it was the turn of another dynamic duo including a Welsh dragon still going strong after sixty years of singing.

But before it was Sir Tom’s time to shine, it was the unmistakable tones of Gabrielle.

Sir Tom was supported by the magnificent Gabrielle at the Forest Live gig in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst.
Sir Tom was supported by the magnificent Gabrielle at the Forest Live gig in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst.

I mean, who wouldn’t like a bit of Dreams sung out across the early evening sky whilst sitting in Forest Live’s new Glade VIP section?

But with her band starting the crowd clapping as the Hackney-born singer came to the mic, I had completely forgotten how many of her other songs I adored.

With one eye covered by beautiful hair and tracks such as When a Woman, Sunshine, Rise and the brilliant Give Me a Little More Time, I would have been happy listening to Gabrielle sing for the rest of the night as it was a perfect fit with our woodland surroundings.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst

The crowd sang along to all the songs with toe-tapping, dancing and were enjoying it as much as she seemed to be shining on stage peeling back the years.

Closing with her biggest hit, 1993’s Dreams, this had the biggest sing-a-long and for some of a certain age (whoever they are) it gave opened a perfect time machine of nostalgia – simply magical.

With her thanking the crowd and a ‘see you later’, Gabrielle left after giving a humble but powerful performance.

It was not long though before we were treated to another special act.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Janice Rodic
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Janice Rodic

At the age of 84, Sir Tom took to the stage, with the crowd going crazy to see this icon of music.

He sat in the middle – just him and his keyboard player behind him – for a touching rendition of I’m Growing Old.

Being that exposed to the thousands in front of him, his voice never wavered and the slight gravel in it due to his young years only gave more gravitas to the lyrics.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst

This Welsh wizard had, within minutes, already captivated the audience with virtual ease.

Finishing and taking the first of many bouts of applause and cheering of the night, the rest of his band joined him and he asked: “Are we going to have a good time tonight?”, which of course was met by a massive cheer.

After his 2021 track, Not Dark Yet, we were given one of his biggest hits.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst

After explaining that he had been recording songs since 1964, he said he was going to sing one that went to the top of the charts on May 1, St David’s Day, the following year.

The place erupted as the band started to play It’s Not Unusual and then singing was joined by swaying as he went straight into his second song from 1965, What’s New Pussycat, written by Burt Bacharach.

Another big name was then dropped by Sir Tom, Dusty Springfield, when he sung The Windmills of your Mind.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst

The track, from his Surrounded By Time Album which made him the oldest man to top the UK album chart in 2021, just memorised the crowd with the atmospheric tone and emotion behind it.

Without a breath and taking the appreciation, he lifted the fans again with a blues version of Sexbomb, which just hit all the right notes.

A pair of Welsh flags were being held aloft by fellow countrymen, so Sir Tom spoke of being a massive fan of Jerry Lee Lewis and then sang a very proud take on Green Green Grass of Home.

Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst
Sir Tom Jones at Forest Live in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Picture: Kev Hurst

The octogenarian, who just looked incredible, then took us on a rollercoaster of emotions, first with the very poignant I Won't Crumble With You If You Fall, which he sang at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer for the 80th commemoration of D-Day and then to a South American carnival fiesta vibe with his hit Delilah, which felt like it was straight outta Havana.

The latter was a personal highlight as well as what the great man called ‘a tribute to Prince’ which a funked up blasting of Kiss.

With songs including You Can Leave Your Hat On from the soundtrack of the 1997 film, The Full Monty, the only thing this knight of the realm left us was wanting more when he left the stage.

His encore, which first had his song One Hell of a Life, pulled at the heart strings and made me realise what a privilege it had been to see him sing live and what a true national treasure he is.

This had been unique gig by two great stars who had shown that they’ve still got it in abundance and if you get the chance to see either of them live, take it, you will not be disappointed.