Ipswich rocks to radio beat

ONE Big Sunday doesn't come much bigger or better than this.For three hours yesterday afternoon 100,000 people, gathered together in Ipswich, proved to the nation that this is a town that knows how to party.

By Jo Macdonald

ONE Big Sunday doesn't come much bigger or better than this.

For three hours yesterday afternoon 100,000 people, gathered together in Ipswich, proved to the nation that this is a town that knows how to party.

They screamed, they whistled, they shouted and they cheered as some of music's biggest stars performed for them on the Radio 1 stage.

And despite the blistering and at times exhausting heat, the energy and excitement in Chantry Park was at boiling point throughout the afternoon.

The turn out was beyond everyone's expectations.

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Billy Brennan, head of entertainments at Ipswich Borough Council, confirmed how awe-inspiring it was and said: "It's wall to wall people.

"There are 100,000 people out there and considering the town has a population of 115,000 it means you've nearly got Ipswich out there. It's phenomenal."

The crowds of people from East Anglia and places even further afield had begun pouring into Chantry Park early in the day and by the time Nemone jumped on stage to a rapturous welcome at 1pm the park had been transformed into a sea of people.

Hands, banners and flags were held high as One Big Sunday was ecstatically welcomed back to town. All around the park the atmosphere was buzzing.

There was frantic waving whenever the television cameras, which were filming the show for the big screens and BBC Choice, panned across the crowd, and there was an extra big wave when the Wattisham Air Sea Rescue helicopter made a fly past.

And DJs Nemone, Trevor Nelson, Jamie Theakston and Mark and Lard were blown away by the reception they received as they took it in turn to keep the crowd cheering and introduce the acts.

First up were Kosheen with a fantastic, energetic set of four songs that quickly got people on their feet and dancing.

Idlewild, who had been at T in the Park the previous day and were heading off for a performance in Ireland straight after the show, followed with a rocking performance.

Then it was rising star Ms Dynamite's turn to wow the crowd with her sassy hip hop/RnB sound and confirm why she has been championed by the likes of Trevor Nelson for so long.

Natalie Imbruglia may be diminutive in stature but when she stepped out on stage to perform three singles – Wrong Impression, Beauty on the Fire and Torn – her voice more than filled the stage and the park stretching out in front of her. For many, hers was the performance of the afternoon.

Bringing the show to a close were Liberty X, who were met with a deafening scream of excitement.

As the first lines of Just A Little, the final song in their four-track set, rang out across the park it was hard to hear the band, as their voices became drowned out by the sound of tens of thousands of fans singing along with them.

Even backstage throughout the show it was the roaring of the crowd that dominated.

As Lisa Snowdon sat in a studio behind the stage, interviewing the stars and DJs for the One Big Sunday television programme to be broadcast on BBC Choice on July 21, it was hard to hear what was being said because of the sheer volume of the crowd out front.

As the DJs and stars helped themselves to food and drink in the catering tent any conversations had to be held at a few decibels higher than normal to be heard above the screams, cheers and music bass lines.

But as the artists, DJs and Radio 1 staff walked back and forth soaking up the atmosphere and the sun it was clear they were enjoying the day as much as the crowd.

Natalie Imbruglia and Liberty X may have been reticent to talk to too many members of the media but they offered smiles of apology as they sauntered past.

Meanwhile, the Radio 1 DJs, Idlewild and Kosheen were more than accommodating and happily stopped to recount their experiences of the day and every one of them agreed that One Big Sunday in Ipswich had been a show they would not have missed for the world.

It had been three hours long but in a flash the show was over. One last greeting from the DJs brought one last echo of screaming and then a Radio 1 jingle sounded the end to the live broadcast from Ipswich.

It had been a memorable afternoon.

Mr Brennan said: "One Big Sunday is a fantastic event for Ipswich because it has raised the profile of the town on a national scale.

"It is a great opportunity for the town to show what it can do.

"Without the support of the public we wouldn't be able to have events like this. The crowd have been fantastic and the whole day is absolutely brilliant."

And as the crowds slowly dispersed they were happy in the knowledge that on the day One Big Sunday came back to town they had been part of something very special.

Summing it up, Radio 1 spokesman Nick Caley said: "The bottom line is we've had 100,000 people in a park seeing a load of amazing bands in the sunshine.

"Radio 1 is glad it could make that happen – but not without the help of all its fans in Ipswich."