Fans ask “Rita who?” as last minute line-up wows the crowds at Bedford Park Concerts

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Bedford Park Concerts Cafe Mambo - Credit Martin Mackay
Bedford Park was pumping with Judge Jules on the decks. Credit: Martin Mackay

Yes it was raining, yes there were ‘last-minute’ changes to the line-up but the organisers of Bedford Park Concerts have put on another incredible weekend of live music in the town.

The event began on Friday (26 July) with some of the world’s best DJs coming to town courtesy of the legendary Ibiza collective Cafe Mambo.

The likes of Todd Terry, Second City, Judge Jules and Bedford’s very own Mark Russell pumped out ‘banging tunes’ from the 90s to today, helping concert goers to ignore the rain and party the night away.

Robin S also popped in to perform a live PA of her House classic ‘Show me love’ which the whole crowd sang-a-long to with goosebump inducing passion.

The team behind Cafe Mambo also flew in from Ibiza for the night and were said to have “loved it” with one source saying “they loved the family aspect of the [Bedford] concerts”.

Hundreds of comments on social media suggest that Cafe Mambo would be more than welcome to come back to Bedford Park next year, and every year, if they wanted to.

Bedford Park Concerts Judge Jules - Credit Peter Hayes
Credit: Peter Hayes

Saturday was the big talking point, however, after ‘last minute’ headline changes when Rita Ora pulled out citing ‘scheduling conflicts’.

On Saturday night, Rita’s Instagram stories showed her to be on what appeared to be a camping trip. We have contacted her management team for clarification.

Rita Ora Insta 28 July
Rita Ora’s own instagram stories showed what she was doing on the night she had been booked to appear in Bedford.

But fans didn’t care that she wasn’t there, they were being blown away by the new line-up.

One comment on social media declared: “Tom Walker was simply fantastic and so worth standing in the pouring rain for! Tom Odell and Fleur East were also fabulous! Rita Ora thank you for cancelling.”

Others also congratulated the Bedford Park Concerts team for pulling out all the stops to replace Rita Ora at such short notice.

“…we were lucky that Rita cancelled! Well done to the organisers, my first BPC but will defo be back next year, rain and all,” said one. “Well done to Bedford Park Concerts for getting such great acts to fill it at such short notice. Rita who?” said another.

Just some of the comments about Saturday night’s line-up

The Saturday night line-up started with 2015 X-Factor winner Louisa Johnson and local dance group and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists, KNE.

Fleur East was up next, delivering a lively and on-point performance, followed by Tom Walker who many said stole the show and proved exactly why he’s one of the best live acts around today.

Tom Odell headlined the stage with a stomping 75 minute set, while MistaJam closed the night with a Saturday night DJ set that left the crowd calling out for more.

Bedford Park Concerts Tom Walker - Credit Bedford Park Concerts Facebook
Credit: Bedford Park Concerts/Facebook

Sunday afternoon saw the return of Bedford Park Proms, hosted by Stephen Bell and the London Gala Orchestra, with guest tenor Wynne Evans and soprano Sarah Fox.

Proms fans were also not going to let a little bit of rain spoil their fun and turned up in their thousands to enjoy the event which is now in its 24th year.

It was wonderful to see regular favourites Bedford Choral Society and Pilgrims Pre-School Choir entertain the crowds, alongside new additions Bedford Rock Choir, who collectively blew the rain away making way for what turned out to be a pleasant evening.

As has become a popular tradition the entire weekend ended with an incredible fireworks display that seems to get evermore awe inspiring each year.

Bedford Park Concerts Proms - Credit Bedford Park Concerts Facebook
Credit: Bedford Park Concerts/Facebook

Organisers told the Bedford Independent they’re already planning next year’s event and dates and details will be released soon.

But if this year is anything to go by, and with the Proms celebrating 25 years in 2020, none of us will want to miss it.