Review: The Winery Tour 2017 at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands
Considering the mostly dismal summer we've been "enjoying" so far, the organisers of this year's Winery Tour must have been opening a celebratory bottle of the good stuff when Saturday morning arrived with bright sunshine.
Had they planned the concert for the previous week they would have had a soggy, weather-beaten disaster on their hands.
Seven days on, however, and conditions couldn't have been better in the noticeably not-a-winery TSB Bowl of Brooklands, with rising star Benny Tipene taking to the stage around 6pm under a cloudless sky.
It can't be easy being first on the bill, especially when many of the audience – the organisers claimed 1,700 – are still arriving, setting up their chairs, unfolding their blankets and grumbling about being forced at the entrance gate to empty whatever bottles of water/squash they'd packed in their picnic basket.
Still, Tipene and his two musicians rose to the occasion, and although he appeared somewhat nervous between songs, when he plays the former X-Factor contestant certainly doesn't lack confidence.
He proved a big hit, and when he closed his set and told the audience he would be at the merchandise tent to sign autographs, he probably didn't realise just how many people would take him up on his offer.
By the time he walked over a large line of fans had formed to meet him.
"I had a lot of fun," he said afterwards.
"Tonight was nice. The sun kept off my face, there was a nice breeze and everyone looked beautiful in the field."
It's just Benny and two other musicians on stage.
"We had a keyboardist that was playing but he broke his hip ice skating. He's in hospital, he's really sick,and I don't think he can join us on the rest of the tour."
No such troubles for Kiwi chanteuse Bic Runga, who took to the stage shortly after 7pm to cheers.
She was last here for Womad 2016, and immediately drew an enthusiastic throng, mostly aged under 10, who lined up to dance at the water's edge and stayed there throughout her 50-minute set.
"Cool dancing over here," Runga said, from the stage.
"That's awesome. It's getting quite choreographed now."
She ended, inevitably, with Sway, which was welcomed like an old friend.
And this time quite a few parents came down to the waterline, too.
Headliner Brooke Fraser came on as the sun began to set, drawing many more people down to dance.
The Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter said she was delighted to be back in "the 'Naki", told us she was expecting a baby and then ripped through well over an hour of her own and other people's songs, including Therapy and a thrilling rendition of The Sound of Silence.
Both Runga and Tipene returned to the stage to join Fraser in a rousing cover of Crowded House's Better Be Home Soon, before Fraser closed the night with Arithmetic, accompanying herself on the piano.
All-in-all, an enjoyable evening at the Bowl, and organisers say they are already looking to return in 2018.