Festival success music to our ears

The Last Night in the Gardens concert in full swing at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens

The Last Night in the Gardens concert in full swing at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens

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In what way should we be most grateful to 1970s pop group 10cc? Their cheerful melodies perhaps, or providing the bittersweet soundtrack to countless school discos with their hit I’m Not In Love?

The answer is none of the above, according to Andrew Bates, joint production manager for Music in the Gardens, Sheffield’s outdoor concert series which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The Last Night in the Gardens concert in full swing at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens

The Last Night in the Gardens concert in full swing at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens

For he believes the band can be credited with saving the festival from disaster when they appeared at the Botanical Gardens in 2012 following nine days of constant rain.

“10cc saved us, really,” said Andrew.

“Without people pre-booking tickets, we would have gone bust and wouldn’t have been able to survive.”

Since its smaller-scale beginnings as the one-day Jazz in the Gardens concert, the festival has raised more than £220,000 to date for good causes.

And a good turnout this year means that tens of thousands will once again have been raised for charities supported by the Rotary Clubs of South Yorkshire, which organises the four-night event.

Last weekend’s crowd numbers were up slightly on 2014, with around 7,000 people heading to the gardens armed with picnic rugs, chairs, nibbles and drinks for concerts by Paul Carrack, Lindisfarne and The Proclaimers, as well as a ‘Last Night of the Proms’-style spectacular with lavish fireworks.

Andrew Bates, joint production manager, said it was ‘a good success’ overall.

“Every night people loved it,” he said.

“Paul Carrack was great, and for me Lindisfarne was probably one of the best nights in terms of audience participation.

“They said it was the best concert they’d played all year. The Proclaimers were blown away by the audience, too - they had a capacity crowd in of 3,100.”

A much bigger stage set-up was introduced this year as a way of celebrating the concerts’ 10th birthday.

“People really loved the bigger stage and the better visuals we were able to create with that,” said Andrew.

“Overall we had roughly 7,000 people in over four nights, which is very respectable and a couple of hundred up on last year.”

Sudden downpours added an element of surprise for audiences, but mostly the skies remained clear.

Explaining the secret of Music in the Gardens’ appeal, Andrew said: “It’s a combination of keeping it fresh, and keeping the interest up.

“I describe it as a festival for people who don’t like festivals. The venue is unique and it’s a top quality event, for a low price. And the bands aren’t tributes - they’re the real deal!

“But ultimately it’s about raising money for charity.”