Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Will Young – Live Review

Will Young is one of the UK’s finest vocalists/artists who simply doesn’t get enough credit. There is nothing offensive about his music, it’s just good music, in fact great music that will never be outdated.

Will first rose to fame by appearing on and winning Pop Idol back in 2002. Since then he has had an impressive career, releasing 8 studio albums, winning multiple awards and appearing in various acting roles.

Will Young is a great addition to Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Not held to a particular genre, Young’s music appeals to a wide range of music fans.

Young released his most recent album Crying on the Bathroom Floor in 2021. The album consists of covers of songs that are written/performed by female artists. Amongst the songs is the stunning ballad Till There’s Nothing Left by Cam, a country music singer/songwriter who we here at BOON are huge fans of.

Headlining the third night of Cheltenham Jazz Festival in the Big Top Tent on Friday 28th April 2023, tickets were sold out and fans were definitely in for a good night!

Will skipped on stage sporting a white suit with a frilled shirt. The crowd was full of hardcore Young fans which set the atmosphere to a high from the get go!

Starting with a cover of Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, the band were loud and energetic. The set up of the band looked particularly beautiful! I liked the idea of three backing singers on either side of the stage. Each band member looked incredibly happy to be there as they all had beaming, beautiful smiles. The band appeared to get on so well with not just each other but with Will too. This came across throughout the evening with each band member laughing and interacting with Young and the backing singers at times, mirroring Will’s dance moves. It was this interaction that made the show even more enjoyable.

The next song he played was Love Revolution and halfway through, when some latecomers arrived, Will shouted “you’re late”!

I Just Want A Lover followed! Will’s vocals are so wonderfully therapeutic to listen to. His tone is beautifully distinctive making him a stand out artist like no other. After the song he addressed the latecomers again.

You were late weren’t you? And you?” He said pointing to two areas in the tent. “It’s always the members isn’t it?” (Cheltenham Festival Members).

Backing singer Elle then points to Will’s laces.

You can tell we get on by her telling me my laces were undone or she would leave me for dead”.

Young’s naturally witty persona was incredibly funny throughout the show. He had everyone in stitches. Unapologetically naughty at times , I could have spent an evening just listening to him talk as well as sing! Honestly, he was so funny I wish I could have had it all written down.

Will explained how he had played in Cheltenham before. An audience member shouts “2017”, and “You did a Cliff Richard number”.

I did a Cliff number?” He asks slightly confused. “When I won Pop Idol my dad said to me that I could be the next Cliff Richard. I said I don’t want to be like Cliff Richard. Not that I don’t like Cliff, oh no the papers are going to say WILL YOUNG SLAGS OFF CLIFF RICHARD”.

Telling as story of how he once bored an interviewer by saying he likes to polish brass in his spare time and an even ruder story from those pop idol days, Will went it to singing Light My Fire. This song in particular really showcases the vocal talents he has. His vocal riffs are just gorgeous.

Changes and Daniel followed. The latter being from his Crying on the Bathroom Floor album. Daniel was originally recorded by Bat For Lashes.

After performing Losing Myself and I can’t remember why now but Will went into a hilarious impersonation of Nicola Sturgeon. The band in hysterics too, they began to play the next song to which Will stated “they always start playing when they think I have gone too far”.

Fans in attendance will remember what he meant when he improvised a tune “she didn’t know anything about the hand in the cookie jar”.

Who Am I was performed beautifully. Arguably one of Young’s best songs, live, it is absolutely stunning. The hits continued with You and I followed by a story about when he met Julia Roberts. I will say Pup Idol and that should trigger audience members memories.

I forgot just how many great songs Will Young has. Grace is just one of those songs that transports you back to the noughties. It felt amazing listening to these tracks live and watching Will and the band have as much of a great time as we the audience were.

Things got more energetic during Switch It On. Will got completely lost in his performance and it was a very fun live track.

Joy was wonderfully atmospheric and was the part of the night where it looked like the backing singers in particular were having the best time. Mirroring Will’s dance moves as well as a bit of improvisation themselves, they were very entertaining as were just feeding off each other and sometimes getting it wrong (the dance moves) to a very comical degree. It’s not every show that you feel truly entertained by an entire ensemble on stage. The band and backing singers can often get lost to the main performer but that wasn’t the case at all for this show. As I mentioned above, the relationship between Will and his band/backing singers is obviously close and it rubbed off on the audience because they were all just wonderful to watch and listen to. It was like a party!

Picking up a wall clock that had been placed on stage near Will, he laughs and tells the audience it’s to ensure his time keeping.

Someone shouted “keep playing” to which he responded “I’m far too lazy to go over what I have been contractually asked to do haha”. “after this I will sit on my couch with a silk cut and watch Netflix’ Beverley Hills Housewives”.

He did get a little bit more rude but I won’t say what he said here haha! His mum and sister were also in the audience but that didn’t stop his banter.

Your Game was another song that was sublime live but Jealousy was sensational!

Closing with Leave Right Now, the whole audience sang along and many held their torches up! It was a joyous moment! Leave Right Now is such a timeless classic, in fact many of his songs are.

As people were leaving, thinking it was the end Will says “Ok so we are allowed to do an encore! Too bad for those who’ve already left. You may get to your car quicker but you will miss Evergreen”.

With that of course, he closed with Evergreen. The winners song for when he won Pop Idol, it actually felt like we were in that moment in 2002. I was half expecting confetti to come showering down during the powerful end chorus.

Will Young is an absolutely fabulous showman. He is a phenomenal singer, a naturally hilarious comedian and he just comes across as one of the most humble and nicest people ever. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he would put up with any crap but he is definitely a kind soul. His attitude is inspiring and his warm personality made us feel as if we were amongst family. He is a national treasure and someone who’s music will be loved for many years to come!

It was an unforgettable show and even if you aren’t a Will Young fan, I think you’d enjoy his shows.

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