With the sun shining over Childerley Orchard, the 2024 edition of The Cambridge Club got off to a great start on Friday.

Ahead of performances by a trio of pop heavy-hitters, many festival-goers had already pitched up their tents and claimed a place at the front of the main stage by the early evening.  

Mel C set the tone with an hour of thumping techno and piano-house edits of pop bangers - including plenty of Spice Girls hits, of course.

Giving it her all behind the decks, she delivered a high-energy bass-heavy set that was packed with crowd-pleasers to satisfy all ages, including a guy on his stag do whose ginger wig and Union Jack dress recalled Geri Halliwell (scroll to the bottom to see his outfit). 

(Image: Alice Howard)

He wasn’t the only audience member who dressed up for the occasion, though; a scan across the site showed a range of rave gear, fur jackets, huge butterfly wings, bucket hats and freshly-bought sunglasses.

Even though it had only just turned 6pm, there were middle-aged dads drinking out of a cup placed in their trainer. 

After a 30-minute interval dinner break, popstar Natasha Bedingfield bounded on stage in a salmon pink play suit and beret, sunglasses and white Doc Martens.

She wasted no time in getting the large crowd to sing and clap along to fan favourites ‘Love Like This’ and ‘Pocketful Of Sunshine’.

(Image: Alice Howard)   

Vocally, she really went for it and showed off her range throughout the career-spanning set that at times saw her rock; a swaying, guitar-heavy cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ was particularly special.

Closing her show with ‘These Words’ and ‘Unwritten’ - both having had viral moments this year - she held the audience’s attention for an entire hour – no easy task.

“Having all these powerful women out here is great,” Bedingfield said, teasing the audience that she had been hanging out with the night’s headliner, Jessie Ware, backstage; “I love her. It’s gonna be such a great show”.

(Image: Alice Howard)

She wasn’t wrong. Arriving on stage in a royal blue gown, Jessie Ware brought the Pearlettes - aka her flawless backing vocalists, dancers and full band - to add a theatrical air to her sophisticated disco-soul-pop.

Launching into the title track of her new album ‘That Feels Good’, the tone was for 75 minutes of slick choreography and sensually suggestive hits under a haze of pink strobes.

Album highlight ‘Pearl’ felt both old school and contemporary at the same time, especially her worshipping dancers slink around her. 

The whole performance was expertly staged, and there was even time for 2013-throwback to her timeless Disclosure-collab ‘Running’.

(Image: Alice Howard)

Pulling a young girl up from the crowd to sing ‘Say You Love Me’ with her proved an adorable moment, too, especially as they shared a hug together.

Throughout songs, Ware had a witty Adele-like patter with the crowd, and each person on stage was given their moment in the spotlight – impressive considering backing vocalists are usually constricted to staying behind their microphone stand.

The finale of ‘Save A Kiss’, ‘Beautiful People’ and ‘Free Yourself’ brought a warm and celebratory air to the field, something that was much-needed considering the chilly temperature. 

(Image: Alice Howard)

While day ticket holders left for their cars, the campers were kept entertained until the early hours  thanks to an after-dark DJ set from Denise Van Outen and a glowstick-throwing session of Bongo’s Bingo that ran until 2am.

The Cambridge Club continues today with performances from Sister Sledge and Earth Wind & Fire Experience.  

Tickets are still available online via www.cambridgeclub.co

(Image: Alice Howard) (Image: Alice Howard)